Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Vicarious Stress

I'm in a bit of a surly mood today, and I'm making myself write, so it seems like a good time to explicate a pet peeve.

Here it is: lately, people have been saying to me, "I really liked your book, but man, it made me feel so nervous." Then they grit their teeth at me and act like it's my fault that they felt even an ounce of stress.

Okay, people. 

Stories have to have rising action and suspense. That's how stories work. A character has a problem. The problem gets worse. The problem gets EVEN worse until we reach a breaking point. I taught this structure to my third graders, and they totally understood it.

There are no published novels about fun families that never have to face any adversity beyond a tense game of Sorry or Catan. The fact that you feel feelings while reading my book means that I did a good job. I did my job as a writer by making you care about the people and their situations.

I don't really want to hear about how stressed you felt as if it's my job to make you feel happy. You can just say, "I liked your book." Or nothing. You can say nothing.

See? I told you I was in a surly mood.

Friday, May 20, 2022

The End

 It's Shef's last day of high school.

When I started this blog, Shef was six months old. I chronicled lots about our daily experiences together, and so many of our best and funniest stories are right here, searchable.

When he got older, I stopped being so detailed about things in my writing. I can't very well coopt his choices and adventures. This is my website, not his. It's his life, not mine.

But the funny stories kept happening, as did the winning conversations and random moments and track meets and school dances and Covid routines and just everything. It all kept happening.

It'll still keep happening, but we're on a long track to different. The track went in a circle, and now he's on a longer straightaway, I guess, if that metaphor could hold.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

What's Happening Right Now

 I'm feeling the glimmerest of glimmers of creativity.

Maybe that's too strong.

Maybe it's a glimmer of whatever the precursor is to creativity. Maybe it's the willingness to at least sit at my desk and let my eyes wander while I press the keys that will make the words that will become... something.

After all, we cannot deny that I just wrote that little paragraph right up there. And also this sentence and the one that came before. I am, in fact, writing at this very moment.

Also at this very moment, I'm the substitute teacher in a ninth-grade religion class at my school. They're taking a test on Jesus and the early church. From glancing at the assessment materials, I know they have to write about the Acts of the Apostles, New Testament letters, and the Book of Revelation. It seems hard, but the mood in here is calm. The girls seem to know their stuff.

I hope they do. I'm sure they do. I'm sure they can write about Ascension and Pentecost and heaven and hell.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

We're In the Countdown

I really need to fall back in love with writing. 

Or, what I need to do is just reclaim writing as something that I enjoy doing.

Or, I just need to sit down at my keyboard and make myself write something. 

Like these sentences right here.

Writers write, right? I'm not sure who I am anymore.


Here's a status report:

School: Sad to say that with five lessons remaining over eight school days, my students and I have been limping to the finish line. Yesterday, two of my most dedicated told me they were "checked out" and "done," respectively. I heard and understood them, and yet, I made us discuss Chapter 19 of Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Topics of conversation included: God's love and our potential salvation, the role of suffering in our development as humans, the fallibility of romance, and the return of the prodigal son. So, we clearly gave it our all despite our collective attitudinal challenges.

Running: Running is my favorite lately. Thank god for being outside and having a plan to follow and trying hard at something that doesn't involve thinking up brilliant ideas.

Covid: I'm tired of Covid and tempted to become a Covid denyer. I mean, not really. I do believe in science. But, maybe enough Covid is enough Covid. Covid is bad and dumb.

The Future: I'm going to teach school again next year while I write my next book, and it'll be ninth grade. I have never taught ninth grade before, and I'm sure I'll like it. I'm staying here at the school where I work right now, where I've been teaching eleventh grade. I like it here, and I'm going to stay.

Friday, May 6, 2022

I Want to Get Better

I have had an off couple of weeks with sub-par work habits, including extra procrastination and rationalization.

I know the drill: that work breeds work, that discipline breeds discipline, that it's easier to keep going than to start.

But sometimes, even though you know what you should do, you still don't do it. I'm going to start soon. I'm pretty sure.