It was a rude question, in my opinion. Not the words said, but the way she said them.
“How many?” she squeaked. “Don’t you have enough to do? Isn’t one book at a time enough? What about the presentations you do?”
“Did – the kid’s taking that over now.”
“Still, three courses, and while you’re writing another novel?” It was definitely said with a question mark, as in ‘are you an idiot!’ type question mark.
“Online courses,” I say.
“It’s still three courses. Yes, one’s on Monday only, but you spend hours on it. And what about the other two? You spend at least an hour on each of those. Every day.”
“We all break, you know. There’s a limit. And why do you need to do three courses?”
“The kid’s taken over the presentations. How else am I going to keep in touch with what’s happening? Who’s reading what? How stories are being put out? How can I keep up with that if I’m not doing the presentations and pretending I’m teaching kids – when, really, I’m learning way more from them than I can ever hope to give.”
It’s true. I could say I did the presentations to help people. I give a little chuckle at that. It implies I know enough to show people what I know. And I do know a bit, and I’ve been a tutor in a few areas. I know some things; not a lot, not all there is to know. No one could say that. Things change, styles change, the world changes. Nothing ever stays the same.
I have to keep up with how the new readers like to get their stories. And how can I do that if I’m not on the continual learning path?
Would I know that kids listen to audio-books at double-speed to get through it as fast as they’d read it? Would I hear how their parents won’t read this stuff, or that stuff, or how they’re moving into this field, or asking questions about those stories? Or, even more importantly, what they’re sick of now and won’t be reading in the future?
No. I might get the odd glimpse of a web-site or blog that mentions one or two of the things that are interesting, but would I hear it straight from the mouth of the reader (representative of)? No.
A writer may need time alone to get the work done, but in order to know where to aim, who’s going to read it, how they’re going to read it, what’s the point? A story is nothing but words unless someone reads it.
Story only comes alive as it is read. And it’s different for each reader, because we’re all different.
You saw the conflict there, didn’t you? I want to know what they’re reading, but I know they’re all going to read it from their own perspective.
That’s why the courses. To see what new writers are doing, and how they’re doing it. Hopefully, the young writers are there, too, and I can [I don’t plagiarise] learn from them.
Online courses get students from all over the globe. Everywhere. I’ve got an idea now for how a particular character will speak because she comes from [this] background, and I can see from examples of several pieces of writing how the syntax and grammar works for her speech patterns. (It’s only the speech patterns, nothing else.)
The other two courses are defined craft skills. Yes, I think I’m happy with my skills, but … what if I find something that makes it so much more … this or that or the other? How will I know if I stop looking at what people are learning?
So, three online courses, one WIP in the final stages, 37 (39 now, no 40!) story ideas waiting in the story-wheel for their turn.
Oh, if I didn’t have a failing spine (L1-L5&S1=kaput), how happy I’d be, how much dancing I’d do – oh, wait! I’m a writer, I can dance on the pages. As much as I like!
yes, this was supposed to happen tomorrow morning, and it’s now early evening the day before I usually post, but – you might have guessed this – there’s a few hours to put in with the online course in the morning.
C’est la vie!