Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back to School

I work close to our local university and I've had the opportunity to be on campus the last few days. Wow. What a beehive of activity! There are parents following their kids around, looking lost and a bit sad while the kids look excited and a bit apprehensive. You can tell the new students from the seasoned professionals by the way they're dressed - the new students still need to make a good impression and the girls are wearing their cute sundresses and have their hair donw while the seasoned ones are quite comfy in their flipflops, cut-off shorts, and hair pulled back into a ballcap.

There's an energy in the air that is just neat to be around. For a split second the other day, I thought, "I want to do this again." But then I realized that although it's a fun-filled environment those first few days, after awhile the newness wears off and you've got to buckle down and get to work. For new students, there's homework, tests, juggling the responsibility of being on your own for the first time, meeting new people, friendships, saying no or yes to the party life, making it to class on your short, life hits you smack in the face.

Hmm. That's sort of like writing your novel - though it's not only for new novelists, but for us all. The newness wears off after awhile, the excitement and anticipation, where everything is fresh and fun and exciting and there are things to be discovered. But then you hit the middle and you're bogged down with plot problems and character SNAFU's and sabotaging thoughts of "I can't do this" and "I can't write, what was I thinking?"

But then, when you get toward the end, just like during finals week, you stretch yourself and write and write and finally, you can breathe a sigh of relief when you type "the end", just like you breathe a sigh of relief when that last final is turned in for the semester.

What a ride.


  1. I hope my students are the cleaned up and excited ones.

  2. I have to say I get attacked more by doubt in between projects than during the actual writing. I can lose myself in the writing, but in between, when I have to deal with the business -- that's where I lose perspective.

  3. Nice analogy. I'm sad to say I never experienced university life.

  4. It's actually easier up here - September used to be so hard for me, seeing all the university students and wanting to be back there.

    But I like your analogy :) Very apt!

  5. I've always liked that energy buzz on campus. It's inspiring with possibility, and can feel the same way that writing a novel does, oh the possibility of it all when you begin! Agree with Tess, great analogy.

  6. I absolutely loved school. I even considered law school just so I could keep going!

  7. Brian - Me, too! Hehe...

    Devon - I have the self-doubt when I'm right in the middle of writing. But I also experience it if I wait too long between projects.

    Travis - Oh, college was such a blast for me. Granted, I went to a small school for undergrad, but still had tons of fun.

    Tess - Since I work downtown, I can really feel the energy of the new school year starting. I even went to the bookstore and saw everyone walking around getting their textbooks. Part of me wanted to be them, the other part was glad I was done!

    Joanne - Thanks for visiting! And isn't that feeling of "anything can happen" at the beginning of a novel just great? :-)

  8. Anissa - I liked school a lot more the second time around. Much more focused. Now, I just want to go in and sit in the classes - no tests or homework to do, though!

  9. I love university campus so much I should have been a forever student.

  10. Diane - If I could just sit in class and not have to worry about homework or tests, I could probably be a forever student, too. :-)

  11. I used to teach at a community collge and I loved this time of year! Part excitement, part nostalgia, and a wee bit satisfaction that now I was on the other side of the desk... :)

    Melissa, have you seen Libba Bray's blog on the love affair with one's novel? It's not only spot-on, it's absolutely hilarious:

  12. Christine - I've thought about teaching at a community college, too - but the competition is FIERCE around here. Maybe in the future, though?

    And no, I haven't read that post, but I'm off to read it now!


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