Back To School

I volunteer once a month in my daughter's 2nd grade classroom. My responsibilities tend to be cutting, stapling, and collating, though once I got to use a hot glue gun. That was cool.

The teacher got wind of me being a writer and she asked if I'd talk with the class about my writing process. The kids do a lot of writing, stories and essays, but are rather reluctant editors. I feel their pain. The teacher asked if I could focus a bit on that and maybe bring in some edited pages.

I was humbled to be asked to do that. And a little nervous. Kids ask the darndest questions, you know.

During my talk, I discovered they do many of the methods I mentioned: checking spelling (of course), reading out loud, and even cutting up a story and rearranging the pieces. Impressive.

I received some good tips. Like not making a title of a story until you're done, that way you know what the story is about. I usually get the title fixed in my brain at the beginning (after all, I need to save the document file as something). Good advice.

And then the questions. They were mostly softballs. For example: What is my favorite story that I wrote? But then came the tough question, the kind I knew would come up.

"Are you a professional?"

D'oh! Wow. Imagine the things going through my head, the subjective nature of the meaning professional writer, or even just writer! But I couldn't waffle. They'd see through that. I had to be honest.

I said that writing was a tough job. That most writers don't make a lot of money doing it and, like me, have another job to earn money. Writing takes a lot of patience and practice but if you love doing it, then it's worth all the work.

So it all went well. The teacher was pleased. My daughter was proud of me, and happy I didn't say anything to embarrass her.

New And Improved

I am motivated. Not unusual for me in January. In prior years I started gearing up in December, recapping accomplishments, setting my goals, updating a spreadsheet. Not this year.


I need to simplify. I'm juggling too many other projects to track each moment and word I've written. Or maybe I just want something different this year. My motivation kicked in this week after getting annoyed with Cory Doctorow.


Doctorow has an article up on the Locus Magazine website. He suggests all one needs is 20 minutes a day to write. Everyone should be able to find that 20 minutes: "You can put up with noise/silence/kids/discomfort/hunger for 20 minutes."


Bullshit. Not everyone is wired that way. It's one thing to say 'This works for me'. To suggest the advice is the one, best, true, right way is unhelpful. In my opinion, each writer should find what works for them.


What motivates me is the broader point of the article, that one doesn't need to spend all day writing. Get one thing done, writing for a short time for example, and then free oneself to the other priorities in life without guilt.


That I can get down with. I might not write every single day, but each day I'll do something: write, edit, critique, blog, query, etc. If it takes two minutes or two hours, I'll get it done and be good for the day. That's my goal for 2009.


What's motiving you this year?


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