Friday, January 22, 2010

Writing Elementary School Style

I've made it my goal to either edit or write two chapters of The Clockwork Experiment per day that I either don't have school or get out at 12:00 or earlier. In other words, that's weekends, early release days, and this past week.
If you look at the time stamp of this post, it will occur to you that I should probably be in school right now. It's a Friday that's not a holiday, and it's almost 10:30. I'm not sick, and I'm not skipping. It's exam week, and I completed and passed all of mine, so I have the day off (yes!).
Since  I didn't complete the above goal for any of the days this week, I'm at my old elementary school where my mom works catching up on the chapters I need to do. She's not in her office today, so I've got full run of the computer. The only downside is that YouTube is blocked here (oh no, whatever will I do?).
I might have mentioned this in a previous post, but I'll say it again in case I haven't: it turns out that I already have a good deal of the infrastructure needed to give the robots a more prominent role (no spoilers for those who weren't there last week). The problem was: I wasn't doing anything with it. I dropped all of these suspicious hints, but they never came to fruition. The entire plot line the title is based around never came to fruition according to the outline taped to my wall at home next to my computer. What kind of a novel is that? Not a very well planned one, that's for sure.
The good news is that I haven't had much trouble changing things around (yet). Actually, most of the changes I've had to make so far are phrasing and grammatical stuff. The plot elements that need altering haven't even come into play yet (as of the beginning of Chapter 15, which is where I'm at now). Note: my chapters tend to be short. Some are scarecely more than a page long.
The even better good news is that I've found I still really like the story itself. I like the idea, I like the characters, and I like the world. My dad is always worrying I'll get bored with an idea before I finish it. So far, he's been wrong. Out of all of the ideas I've abandoned (or put on hold until further notice), it wasn't because I was bored with it. There's always been a different reason. I plan on staying in the Capital for a while yet.
It's pretty fun being here at the school. I kind of feel like a "proper writer" with my mug of hot chocolate and half a cinnamon roll. :) I know there really isn't a definition of a "proper writer," but that doesn't stop me from enjoying it. All I'm missing is a MacBookPro and coffee instead of hot chocolate.
My old principal is giving me a hard time about growing up (actually, he was the assistant principal when I was here), as well as some of the other teachers who knew me before I graduated.
Being here brings back all sorts of memories, both good and bad. I miss coming over here in the afternoons after middle school let out. I'll be coming in for the afternoon on Monday as well, to hang out with my friends who are also teacher's children like we used to do. I just hope there will be some chicken in the teacher's lounge like there was that one time...man, was that good chicken.

When you guys were in elementary school, did they talk to you about personality types? (social, artistic, investigative, and one or two other ones). I never saw that until CFNC, but the video my mom's putting into the computer right now for a teacher's National Boards exam is of a lesson about that.

Speaking of which, I'd like to talk about our way of life for a few paragraphs.

Before we start school, our parents prepare us for school by teaching us things. This is all well and good.
Once we get to preschool, it's about preparing us for kindergarten. More about kindergarten later. The latter half of elementary school is filled with emphasis on "in middle school, such and such and such. It's my job to prepare you for middle school." In middle school, from the very first month, it's about preparing for high school. Now that I'm in high school, all of the emphasis is on preparing for college or "the workforce," or whatever it is we plan on doing post-graduation. I've never been to college, of course, but I'd bet lots of money that the emphasis there is on preparing the student for Adult Life. According to commercials on TV and tips on working I've seen at school, it is considered wise to begin saving for retirement as soon as you start work. If/when one gets married and has children, it becomes about preparing the children for their lives. Where's the actual living happening? It's all about preparing for whatever comes next. What about actually doing stuff just for the sake of doing it? This seems wrong. Preparing is good, but shouldn't we have a chance to stop preparing and jump into the pool? Or, since this is a writer's blog, stop prewriting and begin with chapter 1?

Now about kindergarten. In kindergarten, we had this thing called DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read). There were a few problems concerning this.
  1. Many of the kids in kindergarten can't read, or can't read well
  2. We were asked to bring in a mat or a towel to lay down on
  3. They turned off the lights
How was I supposed to read when the lights were off? This was just a disguised version of Nap Time. I don't know if anyone actually slept, but it was awful for me. I had books. I wanted to read them. But I couldn't see a thing! Fortunately, I found a solution. I would spread my towel out next to the door, so I'd have a sliver of light coming in from the hallway.
In preschool, we also had DEAR. There was a basket of picture books (many of them pertaining to Bible stories, since my preschool was at a church), yet they still turned off the lights. Our classroom happened to have many big windows with open blinds, so it wasn't as much of a problem. Unlike in kindergarten, however, I didn't read during DEAR time in preschool. I could read, but it was much more fun to look at the pictures in the Zoobooks. I couldn't read the Zoobooks, but the pictures of hippos running full-throttle at people with their mouths wide open were fascinating.

Speaking of reading (I've got all day here, so this post is going to be longer than most), you know how kids learn to read by reading aloud to their parents or whoever is teaching them? I always thought that you had to read out loud. When I saw my mom sitting on the couch with a book, not saying anything, I was confused. The conversation, to my memory, went a lot like this:

Me: Mommy, what are you doing?
Mom: I'm reading.
Me: But you're not saying anything.
Mom: I'm reading inside my head.
Me: (incredulously) Oh.

Obviously, I remember learning to read and that there was a time before I could read, but I also remember looking at words, and not seeing them. There's a sign near my house that says "Terminex," and I remember a time when the sign was an orange blur. Then, somewhere in my memory, it becomes words. Is that normal, or do most kids not pay attention to words before they can read?

On a related note, I've started reading Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World for the 6th time. I've never finished it before. I'm currently at Chapter 17 or so (less than 1/4 of the way through), and this is the farthest I've ever gotten. Have I posted this before? I don't think so, but maybe. Every time I started, I liked the book and wanted to finish, but it never happened. I'm noticing that there's some similarities between it and Lord of the Rings and Eragon, but it's not really bothering me. There are 11 books in the series. I'm taking a break after this one to read some books my friend David has recommended to me (Parallel Worlds and Hyperspace, both written by the same physicist (David's favorite) whose name I can't remember because it's hard to pronounce.

I've sort of run out of things to write about now, which is probably good, since this post is pretty long and I have more Clockwork to do.
I will add one last completely unrelated thing that I'm pretty excited about: I scored a 100 on my World History exam (yay!).

7 comments:

  1. I got THE EYE OF THE WORLD for X-Mas. I'm not very far, and as I did with LotR, I am "sub-reading" THE LIGHTNING THIEF (finally!)

    This is kinda random, but always (or at least almost always) add humor to your stories. I try to, no matter how dark, scary or depressing they get (even THE ONEIROMANCER, the new draft of which I am trying to make quite horrific).

    I am currently working on Chapter II of a short story called "Witchland", which is going well. I will go write more of that now.

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  2. I said that second part because I noticed how very funny you are.

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  3. ADOS? (apparently I'm bad with initialisms)

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  4. An insightful post, oh-young-and-wise one! What I find pretty remarkable is that you can remember Kindergarten and pre-school so clearly. I have some memories but most of it is vague. All those years of making memories moves the younger memories out...you know FIFO? First In, First Out.

    I hope you don't mind, but there's an excerpt of your post that I would like to cite in a blog post on my site...your take in life. LOVED IT! You are so amazingly observant of this pattern. I agree with you and do the best I can to take in what is happening NOW. It's a good habit to have.

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  5. That's fine! I'm glad you liked it. This post was really just me being bored and writing down things as they came into my mind while hoping they were all somehow related...

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