Sunday, December 15, 2013

I miss school

I remember I once asked my honors project advisor what she felt like when she was done with college. She said she got a job as a journalist, and started a new routine, but she missed going to class. If I remember correctly, I guess she said it was a little boring not having to go to school anymore-- so, she went to grad school. She liked school.

That was funny and weird to hear, even though I've always been a bit nerdy. When I asked her that question, I was on my senior year at college, ready to leave school and start my life, and make all my dreams come true. I was, I guess, very impatient to leave. And I was very tired, too. I'd always been the type who wants to excel at everything, so school life always demanded a lot from me. What I wanted at that point was to start applying in real life everything I had learned.

Well, I guess I understand my advisor now. I miss school. I miss the stress that your life becomes when you have papers to write, books to read, classes to attend, friends to hang out with, and a boyfriend to visit in a different town. I miss life in an academic environment, and it doesn't help that I went to a small, residential private school, and that it was a very close-knit community. I miss, as weird as it sounds, living in a dorm where you don't get your own bathroom. I miss the cafeteria and the big windows facing Fox river. I miss my school's library. And the big oak tree I always saw on my way to and from classes.

If you're a senior at college, enjoy your last year (within reason, of course) as much as you can. I know you're probably very tired and anxious to leave. I know the feeling so well. But, I assure you, you'll miss it when it's over. If you lived in a healthy environment, and if you like your friends, you'll miss going to class, and you'll miss your friends bragging that they have more work to do and that they sleep less than you do, as if sleeping less is something to be proud of. Anyway, you'll miss everything and everyone. The buildings. Your classes. Your teachers. Your friends. Your roommate, if you have one. Your awful / awesome cafeterias. You'll miss your books, papers, chatting, the occasional partying, and the first time you felt independent, as much as you depended on your friends to remain sane. Enjoy it all.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Writing schedule -- I'm so behind!

I usually write 2,000 words per day. There are days when I write a little bit more than that, but only if the scene in particular is one I can't quit writing. And, I have two reasons for restricting myself to that word count: 1) It allows me to finish the first draft quickly, without losing steam. 2) If I write more than 2,000 words daily, I notice that on the day after writing too much, the front part of my head (the regions above and behind my eyes) feel achy and I just can't concentrate, and I feel lightheaded, too. I'm not sure why. Maybe, and I'm just speculating here, that's the region in my brain I use the most when I write. Or, maybe, I just have bad eyes and strain them when I spend too many hours squinting at the screen. Or both.

That's a moderately easy writing goal when I don't have to worry about anything else, other than taking care of my husband. I don't have kids, yet. But, since we've moved to Brazil, we've been hosting Christmas and New Year's, which means I write frantically on the first weeks of December, before my mom arrives. And that's... a bit painful. Don't get me wrong, I love my mom, and I love taking her out to see what Porto Alegre has to offer.

BUT, this year I'm really behind on my writing schedule. She'll arrive on the 24th, and I had planned out a writing schedule that allowed me only three days to work on each chapter, so the first draft of COUNTDOWN could be done by the 23rd. Now, if I want to catch up with my writing, I'll have to be done with chapters 5, 6, and 7 by December 12th... only two days from now. I'm almost done with chapter 5, but I still haven't started chapters 6 and 7. I'm doomed. I just can't write fast enough. I wrote a bit more than 6,000 words the other day, and the day after I woke up with an awful headache.

I know it is possible to write that much in two, three days. I saw people winning at NaNo on the very first weekend of November. That's insanely fast and good. But, I'm just not like that. I take my time. I ponder. I write by hand to feel the words, and then I type them up. It's a process that works when I commit to writing only 2,000 words per day. Well, I guess I need to keep trying. It would be great if I could be done before Mom arrives, so I could spend the two weeks she'll be here not worrying about it, and then begin revising it when she leaves. Any words of advice?