Excitement in one long sentence.

As an English and writing teacher, it’s fun sometimes to ignore the rules.  I’m so ecstatic for my upcoming weekend away that I wrote the following passage without taking a breath, and apparently without considering the full-stop.  If I read a sentence like this from a student, I’d cringe and slowly shake my head in frustration (“try taking this sentence and breaking it into shorter, more manageable chunks,” I’d say, “you can lose your readers with sentences this long.”).  But because I know that I know better, I can wink and feel like I’m getting away with something oh-so-daring.  Voila:

Tomorrow morning I leave for a weekend in Nashville with my best college friend, Carrie.  I don’t have anything more to say about that right now except that we are both beside ourselves at the thought of jumping in our Toyota Siennas, driving 6-7 hours, and spending the following 48 doing nothing but talking, drinking coffee then switching to perhaps white for lunch and good beer at dinner, eating good food (straying from my mostly vegetarian diet to sample some Tennessee bbq), wandering neighborhoods, discussing the lives of our other dear college friends who aren’t with us (how can we not?  we’ve all been friends for twenty-five years!), analyzing our own lives…and then, not holding back tears, saying goodbye on Sunday morning, jumping back in our mini-vans and returning home to Athens and Little Rock.



How about that.  It’s pouring outside.  The girls are on the couch watching PBS kids and snacking.  Just a few minutes ago, there was some screaming and Charlotte ran to me and said, “Mom.  I punched her BECAUSE…”

“I punched her because!”  Like it’s fine to punch your sister if you have a good reason.  Can you hear my sigh from where you are sitting? Because it’s loud.

#1 done.

Now I know how my students feel whenever they submit a writing assignment.  The tables are turned!  I just sent in the first of the ten articles I need to write this week, and I now must await feedback from the folks in Florida letting me know if I did it right.  It’s nerve wracking but also kinda exhilarating.  What if they hate it?  What if they love it?  What if I did everything wrong?  What if what if what if?  Best case scenario is that they read it and say, “FABTABULOUS!”  Worst case scenario is that they read it and give me a few things to fix, and is that really even a worst case scenario?  Nah.  I was able to crank out something like 650 words in  less than an hour, telling me that as soon as I get the hang of this gig, things will move quickly and finally we’ll have a few more beans to add to our home improvement fund.

Unedited 600 word experiment

Just for fun, I’m going to write a bunch of nonsense that adds up to 600 words.  Why, you wonder?  Well, this new writing work I’ve got asks for 600 word articles, and while it doesn’t seem like that much, I could be wrong.  I know I write in batches of 600 words somewhat regularly, but now I have ten assignments x 600 = 6000 words = sort of a lot of writing.  As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a bit nervous to get this started, just like any new project, perhaps.  Once I jump in, I should be fine, but it’s like anything new: scary until we’re actually doing it.   I hope to take some time today to study my assignments and get a feel for what is being asked for this work.  And then?  When I get it down, I can write quickly and set it aside and have a life outside of it.  It reminds me a little bit of my Uncle David’s career, first at Pan American Airlines, then at Delta.  He never had more than a behind the scenes desk job, nothing glamorous like piloting or anything, but the benefits it gave him were immeasurable.  He could fly for free anywhere he wanted as long as there was an empty seat.  And he could usually go first class, too. AND for many years immediate family was able to fly for some ridiculous discount, like 85% off the original price.  So there you have it.  Work that enables us to enjoy life once we leave it.  It will behoove (I’ve always loved this word) me to learn how to write these assignments quickly, because it pays by the project with the assumption that each project will take about an hour.

Look here!  It’s only been a few minutes and I’m already almost halfway done with my 600 word experiment.  Obviously, the real stuff will take much longer, but I’m confident, yes indeed I am.  Confident enough to say, at the end of this academic year, no more teaching at HC?  Why, perhaps.  Perhaps I may take a major leap and be done with the formal academia for a while.    With this way of making a living, we COULD follow my dream of driving around the USA for a few months in a used camper.  This is of course a dream that certain husbands do not exactly share.  Yet.  Anyhow, I am now over 400 words and this is going pretty quickly, isn’t it?  Yes, I’m writing a bunch of nonsense but that is not the point of the exercise.  The point, and now I’m just trying to fill space, is to see how quickly 600 words can exit my fingertips.  It’s not daunting at all, and in fact, with the articles, the challenge may actually be to keep things under 600 words at times.

Next weekend at this time I’ll be having coffee in Nashville with one of my dearest and oldest friends.  Isn’t it funny, though, to say “oldest” friend?  The friendship is old, but the friend is not.  Don’t people say that, though?  My oldest friend?  There you go, two different meanings.

Thundery skies this morning, which is fine because it’s Saturday and our planned activities are all indoors.  In a bit, we’ll go to the church and hide eggs for tomorrow’s hunt.  Then home, they perhaps next door to color eggs with our neighbors.  And that’s it!  That’s our plan for the day.  And now, just a few words to go and I’ve hit the 600 mark already.  Maybe for the next few days I’ll just do this and get accustomed to having this word count flow quickly.  Wrapping things up at 605.

A few scattered thoughts.

  • I spent a good chunk of yesterday morning pulling out ivy roots and two ugly bush stumps from the side of the house, and I kind of loved it.  It’s  like battling evil forces under all that dirt.  Hardy serpents and trolls fought me from their underground lairs, but my muscles and I emerged victorious.
  • The first batch of my freelance writing assignments have arrived!  Now I’m terrified!  But in a good way!
  • Now that we are leaving for Vermont in just over a month, almost every decision I make is somehow related to our annual shift from here to there.  This change in outlook is always so welcome, yet always overwhelming.
  • The girls and I went to see “Rio” right after Charlotte got off the bus from preschool yesterday.  It was fine. It’s like so many other movies of this genre only with tropical birds.
  • I had a phone interview earlier this week for a full-time teaching job this fall.  It went pretty well, I think, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it led to an offer.  It’s M-F, 9-5.  That routine isn’t what I’m looking for, though I think I would really enjoy it.  With homeschooling still part of our lives and this new writing/editing job I’ve got, how could it work?  I don’t want to be part of the the inflexible 40-hour work week any more, and…
  • I  AM ready to leave it!  How nice to be able to pick up and go somewhere in, say, mid-October?  To actually be able to FINALLY attend the Ghost Ranch Writing Festival without taking any personal days?
  • Weather.com has rain nearly every day in the ten-day forecast.  That will take us into May, when I fully expect this wet crap to stop.