Saturday, January 23, 2010

How Many Times....??

How many times am I allowed to say... I'm starting over, I am energized, Here I go...again?!  Diet? Exercise? Writing? Life?

Okay...I'll say it... I'm starting over.

A new semester started this week.  I completely revamped my courses.  Very ambitious changes, and I'm excited!  

If I can do that in my professional life, I don't see why it won't work in all the other aspects of my life -- health, creative, physical... the gamut.  

And the operative word here is Change.  I'm still teaching the same classes, I merely changed the methods and delivery.  I read a new book about teaching college students and the author connected with me in a way I haven't felt since I discovered Dr. Spencer Kagan and the Cooperative Learning gang back in the late 80's (and that episode completely changed my life in numerous ways... whoa).  

What I'm thinking is... if I can change my focus in class without changing the basic subject matter, then I can change my eating habits without changing the fact that I eat (duh) and the same with exercise.

Now I would love to start a whole new novel, but that wouldn't be in the spirit of the message here, would it?  No.  I need to change my approach to the novel that's bugging the heck out of me night and day (and has been for a long, long time).  Yes, well.  It all started as a lark.  Could I just knock out a quick, cheesy romance -- just a short tearjerker.  Sure.  Why not?  Well, for me, the answer to "why not?" is that I don't seem to be able to write crap quickly.  I can, however, write crap in a long drawn out process.  Ha.  Actually, I became caught by the ideas and the characters.  I was ripping away and things happened that I didn't expect (as these things always do when writing is "working").  I began to care about the story.  And the writing.  Always, the writing.  I love good prose.  I agonize over good prose.  Silly me.  I want the words to ooze onto the page like creamy custard in a French eclair.  Ah, me.  And this has slowed me immeasurably.  I think I've switched from the creative person to the critical person way too many times in the early processes of the story.  Now, I'm actually befuddled and have stopped working.  I've changed the opening too many times.  I am frustrated with myself and want the story to be much more than perhaps it can be at this point.  And, I think it's fair to say, I have fear of finishing.  I don't have any ideas about that except to say I haven't finished anything I've started in the writing world since I picked up my pen again about six years or so ago.  I've got a list of "new books" here on my desk -- stories that I've either started and stopped, or brainstormed and stopped, or  in two cases, maybe three, got to about 30,000 words and stopped.  

What do I want to change?  My approach and my mind and my attitude about creative endeavors -- I include my art work in this as well as my writing.  I need to let go and get it done -- like I have in my classes.  I've changed focus to let the students pick options and work toward a grade of their own earning.  Yeah, it sounds weird, but it means they'll actually work harder and smarter, if they buy into the concept at all.  If not, I won't be rescuing them.  I set out the assignments and the points.  I set the minimum points for each grade: A,B,C, D and Fail.  In each class the students have only two required elements.  The rest are optional.  Of course, they can't pass the class by doing only the required elements.  This means they need to make a plan.  Ah ha!  It's called "Learner-Centered Teaching."  The author is Maryellen Weimer.  I'm hoping to attend a conference all about this concept.  That happens May 21-23 in Cambridge, MA.  We shall see.  Will be applying to CSC for $$$.

So, I'm letting go of continually changing the opening to my story.  I'm letting go and starting somewhere I left off and finishing.  Let's try for July 1.

Because... the exercise and weight and eating issue just got a kick in the pants.  Steve is going to "give" me $100 for every pound I lose by July 1.  BUT... the thing is.... he is going to put that money in the bank and not "give" it to me until January 1, 2011.  The deal is... I have to keep the dang poundage off the bod.  By continuing to eat wisely, exercise, and follow a plan.

Change is good.  It's all a matter of how we approach it, I guess.  I have had my LEAP moments -- like moving to Vermont without a plan of what to do when we arrived.  And I fell into the most wonderful job in the universe.  So... I have faith I can find a way to make a new change from all the old changes I've considered time and time again.

Rev up the battery charger, Penny.  I'm on board!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Storm Continues....

Snowing pretty hard now.   Started about the time I pulled into the garage on December 31st, after going to the grocery store with just about everybody else in Rutland. Man, that place was jammed.  At the time, none of us thought we were shopping for  a storm -- just New Year's Eve and weekend.

Non-stop snow, although often soft and lazy flakes, since Thursday.  Funny how two or three inches a day really does build into... over a FOOT of snow now.  Can't see the neighbor's house.  The guy who plows our driveway has been here 3x since Thursday.  That's probably more than all last winter combined.  Oh well, I'd rather have the "big one" now, while I don't have to drive, than when school starts and I'm on the road at 6:30 a,m.

Oh, and speaking of driving.  I'm not.  Or rather, my car's not going anywhere soon.  Guess what?  Remember that trip to the grocery store on Thursday?  Welllllll.... I must not have thoroughly closed one of my doors because this morning when Steve wanted to take my lovely 4 wheel drive Subaru (instead of his lovely Honda Civic which merely has snow tires), my car's battery was... dead.  Ouch!  Hey! Who knew?

Anyway... I spent some time yesterday playing with a new Photoshop Elements program.  I'm testing it for 30 days.  Here's a shot of Lily. I turned it into a sketch.  Would love to turn it into an oil painting, but so far, that's not working for me.  Well, with the storm, I have plenty of time to practice.