Tag Archives: deadlines

Stress

So here’s the truth, I promise.
I HATE stress. I mean seriously hate it.
But I love deadlines. They energize me. They give me a natural high like nothing else.
But they bring stress, which I hate.
My day job, high school journalism adviser, provides me with tons of deadline time.
My night/weekend job, romance writer, gives me even more deadline time.
Right now I have both in major deadline mode.
So I’m witchy, super energized, crazy stressed out, living on the edge writer-adviser-wife-mom-BUT I LOVE LAW & ORDER AND LOST I can’t miss them Mary Beth.
I think I’m crazy.
Sometimes I think it’s fun.
Right now, I’m trying to decide. But Lost just ended and Law and Order’s calling my name. I’ll decide when the news is on.
(Unless there’s a good X-Files.)

Crap. 😦

crazy

Grades go in this week.
I hate grades. They’re a necessary evil, but I’m not sure how much they show about my students and what they know or don’t know.
My staffs know what my expectations are. If they’re not making As, I wonder what they’re doing in the program. Yearbook and newspaper are fun. They’re time consuming. They’re not required. If I have a kid on staff not making As I tell them to go take Home Ec. They’ll learn a lot about life and deadlines won’t reach out and smack them around. Usually that’s the only reason a staff kid doesn’t make the grade. They got in a fight with deadline and deadline won.
But my beginning classes are completely different. I have a mix of kids who wonder what in the world they’re doing stuck in some class called journalism. Or they’re excited and want to be on staff one day. Or they could care less about school. Regardless of which student they are, journalism is usually a new form of communication. Facts. Quotes. Transitions. Themes. They can’t believe it when I tell them they have to tell me what the story’s about and they have 30 words to do it and those 30 words have to fit in one sentence.
They’re just not used to hearing less is more when it comes to the written word.
I’m fully aware of this. So I’ve developed this crazy grading plan that works great for my students but nearly kills me. I let the kids revise their papers as often as they’d like to get them to As. I figure if they revise a paper three or four times but get it right and then get all papers right from then on, they’ve learned and that’s what matters.
The kids can’t believe it when I tell them as long as they meet deadline they have the opportunity to revise and revise until they get the A.
And at first, they think it’s the best thing ever. Until I give them revise papers three and four times. By the fifth or sixth time they’re writing a story, they pretty much hate it.
And I have about a thousand and ten of those papers they hate but keep revising to grade between now and Wednesday.
And if it goes as it usually does, those papers will finally be As. And once again my class will look like the easiest class in the building because even the kids who hate school are making As.
I can only hope. 🙂

Time, hurt feelings and Woo Hoo

Whoa. It seems like only yesterday I was sitting in my big chair posting away about lessons I’d learned on my weight loss journey. Somehow I lost a few yesterdays in between.
This week’s been a killer. Late nights at school, working the state mandated test, church. It’s been a whirlwind. But I haven’t been exhausted, just busy.
then yesterday I finally had some time and I reuined it by taking a critique of the yearbook I advise personally. God, when I get published I am so not reading reviews. I can only imagine what I’d do. What I did yesterday was write an open letter to judges everywhere and post it to an educators loop I’m on. A loop with hundreds of subscribers. One of whom was probably the judge that hurt my feelings. Today I’ve gotten a TON of bravo mails. I’m sure someone somewhere will eventually write a response I won’t be so happy with. 🙂
But that’s okay. I don’t figure the person who wrote the critique meant it personaly, but they might have. They called the typography of the book “dated.” That’s stretching a little in my opinion. Especially since we copied our fonts from InStyle magazine. Oh well. It dsoesn’t matter. The critique actually freed me from the silliness of competitive yearbook. It doesn’t matter. It means nothing. It’s nice when they sing your praises and it sucks when they don’t. I’d just never dealt with the it sucks part before.
On the bright side, we’re down to the last very few pages of the yearbook. Thank you Lord it’s almost over. We’re down to the Index and one spread that needs football coach cooperation. I just don’t think the football coaches get that although they don’t care about accolades and a photo in the yearbook, their kids do. (More than that, their mama’s do!) I’m working on problem solving that issue for future years.
Tonight I get to meet with my critique group. Thank God! I need them. Of course, I have NOTHING NEW. I read a great article in my RWR today. Meg Cabot said she gets writer’s block when something’s wrong with her story. I think that’s where I am. I’m going to work on that with my CPs. I need their help!
Speaking of needing help. Sometimes I think parents need help. We have an incredible teacher at our school. He’s tough as nails but wonderful for freshmen students. He teaches kids how to study and kids who make it thorugh his class say they learned more about how to make good grades from him than any other teacher ever. He teaches Bio. It’s not an easy subject to teach when you live on the buckle of the Bible Belt. Anyway, a parent has set up a website to destory this man’s career. It’s complete with how to write complaint letters and e-mail addresses to send them to.
I’m beyond offended by the whole mess. As a teacher, I can’t even imagine. My daughter dropped this teacher’s class because she wasn’t willing to do the level of work necessary. But even she says the website it atrocious. I think it’s probably libelous. Hopefully by next week it’ll be gone.

Neglect

Okay. I admit it. I’m guilty. I haven’t been back since Monday. Why?
Neglect, pure and simple. And not just neglect of my journal. I’ve neglected my story-telling too. And my family. And my friends.
The only thing I haven’t neglected is my day job. Not exactly the way I try to keep my priorities.
I’ve learned a lot over the last eleven years teaching and eight years writing. The biggest thing I’ve learned (other than teenagers will be teenagers) is life works a lot better if I live my life God first, family second and my job third. God first: He’s in control if I want Him to be. Family second: Sure quality is better than quantity, but that doesn’t cut it if the qualtity is one hour and a quick kiss good morning and good night. Job third: Okay, that’s the hard part. My day job is awesome. It was my dream job and I had no idea how fulfilling it would be. I love it and I love my students. We’re on major deadlines right now, so I spend a lot of my life in the newsroom. And that’s a good thing because my kids understand their paper is the voice of their campus. They understand that they have a responsibility to their peers to show what’s going on around the campus. A couple of them are even working on a first amendment piece after a study showed 1/3 of high school students think the 1st amendment is dangerous. Both the reporters lean to the conservative side and both believe the first amendment is essential to democracy. I’ve definitely done my job! My yearbook kids understand the importance of documenting the year as they see it and talking to people other than their “friends” or the “popular” kids.
BUT
then there’s my other job. Right now that job is a dream. The closest it is to reality is the handful of contest finals I’ve collected to take off the sting of the file full of rejection. Unpublished, multi-rejected writer is DEFINITELY a job. It’s a hard job. It’s a heart-wrenching job. It’s a totally crazy job because it’s unexplainable to people who don’t write. My extended family sees me at family reunion and asks “So you get a book published yet?” and I just sigh and say, “Nope. But I’ve got something in New York right now.” Or like right now, I can say I’ve got two somethings up there right now. And that’s not even the job part of it. That’s just the sigh-inducing annoying part that keeps me going because the family means well, they just don’t understand.
The job part is making myself sit at the computer and let the story flow. Let it flow in spite of the nagging doubts of rejection. Let it flow in spite of the way the cat gets upset and flops across the laptop keys. Let it flow even when the work week’s long and crazy.
Because the only way I’m ever going to sell a book and then another and then another is to find a way to ignore nagging doubts and write the stories I love, even when rejections come along. Even when the day job is busy. Even when the cat, or dh or dd get upset because I haven’t given them enough of my time.
And that leads me right back to the beginning.
God first. Family second. Job third.
It almost sounds like I’m going to say I have to realize there’s just no way I can fit in the job of unpubbed multi-rejected author along with the rest of my life.
And you know what? Sometimes that thought’s almost tempting.
But it’s not right.
Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there’s a reason these stories burn to be told by ME. God gave me my talent and He wants me to write stories that end in HEA, that provide a little fun for people in the midst of their busy lives possibly an escape from desperate times and emotional upheaval.
So getting back to the beginning instead leads to the only conclusion possible. getting my priorities back in order is the one way I can guarantee I’ll find a way to work it all in.
No more neglect. Not for God. Not for my family. Not for my job. And definitely not for my dream.

PS: H/S bought THREE new authors this week! If they can do it, so can I! Woo Hoo!