Sunday, November 21, 2010

TSS: 11.21.10

It is very hard to believe that this is the week of Thanksgiving!  We will be spending time today taking advantage of the unusual warmer weather by putting up the outside Christmas decorations; today's high is supposed to be around 70 degrees, whereas the high on Friday is expected to be around 35 degrees.  Such extreme change is temperature is, unfortunately, rather typical for the Midwest.

I am busy making my Black Friday Christmas lists.  I enjoy looking at the ads early online (the site that I use is here, although I think there are several different ones available), but I will also purchase a Thanksgiving Day paper and scour the ads on Turkey Day.  I will not get into the madhouse crowds of Walmart or Target (although I may choose to take advantage of a few online specials), but I will most definitely visit some of my favorite haunts like Half Price Books, Kohls, and Michaels.   How about you?  Do you participate in the bedlam of Black Friday or do you prefer to sleep in and relax?

I have spent most of my free time this week grading narrative papers from English Comp and writing my own narrative for NaNoWriMo, but I did sign up for my first photography course at Big Picture classes.  It is called Picture the Holidays and I look forward to the daily emails which will help me focus on the moment during this hectic, stressful time.  Have any of you taken a class from them?

They also offer several scrapbooking and journaling classes, which I might look into in 2011.  I have scrapbooked for several years, and when I mentioned my current projects and ideas last week, Trish of Love, Laughter, and Insanity asked if I might consider writing a post on that topic.  I was actually a scrapbooking consultant for several years before beginning my career as a teacher (in fact, I am convinced it is because of my scrapbooking business that I was offered my first teaching job) - and while I do not consider my strengths creativity and design, I do have a few tips that I can share regarding organization and getting started.  Perhaps I will find the time during Christmas break to write such a post.

The students, as well as the teachers, are ready for a break.  As a result, classes are becoming less exciting and energetic and more a matter of endurance.  We just need to get through tomorrow and Tuesday, and then we will have five days off to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.  I did, however, have a terrific class in English Composition.  It was one of those days when nothing went according to the lesson plan, and we all left on a high note.  Let me see if I can recreate the bunny trail that led to a terrific second semester project:

  • ME:  looking ahead to next semester, we will have a major research paper to write
  • Student 1:  can we research on anything?
  • ME:  I'm not sure.  I am thinking of it being a three-part paper:  research a time period - research an author in that time period - read a major work of that author and analyze it - then tie it all together
  • Student 2:  can we do a movie instead?
  • ME:  This is English class, I think we will stick to books
  • Student 3: I would rather write another narrative than a research paper
  • ME:  sorry, Charlie 
  • Student 3:  I think I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo for scripts in April
  • ME:  great idea!
  • Student 2:  Can we write a script instead of the research paper?
  • ME:  sorry, Charlie.  You must write the research paper.  However, we might be able to write another narrative or possible script next semester.
  • Student 4:  If we write a script, can we film it?
  • ME:  sure - that is a great idea
  • Student 4:  how many scripts can we film?
  • ME:  well, perhaps all students could write a script and then we choose the two or three that we film together as a class.
  • Student 4:  I think we should have several genres like a horror, a mystery, a romantic comedy....
At which point the entire class exploded chatter and ideas.  These students spent over forty-five minutes deciding how many different stories they could film; how they would film; where they could film; who had film editing equipment; who could work on costumes; how we could turn this into a fund raising event.  Before we knew it, the class period was over.

No, we didn't discuss how to use Examples in our writing as proposed on the syllabus, but we did develop a long-term project that appealed to every single student in the classroom.  It was exciting and rewarding to witness.  Next semester should be blast....once we get through those pesky research papers.

I am still more focused on academics and writing than I am on personal reading.  HOWEVER..last week Wendy mentioned a book that I just knew I had to check out:  Pukka:  The Pup After Merle by Ted Kerasote.  I have not yet read, Merle's Door, but this book is exactly what I needed to read this week.  The story tells of the puppy that the author purchased after the death of his beloved Merle. While we all know that one pet can never take the place of another, our hearts do expand to include enough love for all.  This particular story is told using simple language and lots of personal photographs, which makes it suitable for elementary students through adults.  I have not yet finished it, but that does not deter me from heartily recommending it to any dog lover.

I am also enthralled with this particular method of telling the story.  As I mentioned above, I have been scrapbooking for a number of years and while I have dedicated scrapbooks of my pets, it never occurred to me to use those leftover photos to possibly hone my fictional narrative skills.  With sites such as Winkflash and Snapfish, I can  easily upload photos, arrange them on a page, add my own text, and select "finish product"  Within a few days I can receive my own hard-bound story.  Of course, I can do this with any theme, not just pets, and am thinking this might make a fun Christmas gift:  a story of Princess Mandy or Rock Star Brian or Motherhood for Megan.  Probably not this year.....but it is an idea.

At the risk of jinxing it, I will declare that I will finish NaNoWriMo 2010.  I am currently at 48,120 words - which means I need to write less than 2,000 words in the next ten days in order to "win"  My story will probably be closer to 60,000 - 65,000 words when all is said and done, and I truly do want to try to finish the rough draft by November 30.  At that point, I plan to put it away for the month of December.  I will need to focus on final exams, holiday baking, and hopefully a bit of pleasure reading.  I would like to use the month of January to revise --- there are some gaping holes that need to be filled and some inconsistencies that need to be remedied.  I also want to ensure that the theme is developed throughout the novel and not just in one or two key scenes.  Perhaps March will be the month to edit - try to put all my grammar skills to practical  use - and then I will take advantage of Create Space kind offer to bind the manuscript for free.

I am not sure that this will be a book that I will allow anyone to read (much to the surprise of family members).  This was a book that I wanted to write for me.  I wanted to see if I could do it, and I needed to work through some personal issues and I chose this mechanism to do so.

I am hopeful, however, that this experience has fueled a passion to write more.  I want to pick up my Impressionism story this summer and do a bit more research in the hopes that it will be my NaNoWriMo story 2011.  Hopefully that will be a narrative that I wouldn't mind sharing and receiving feedback.

I wish you and your family safe holiday travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  1. Congrats on finishing NaNoWriMo - seems you will do it! I hope to try again next year.

  2. Woo hoo! It sounds like you're totally rocking NaNoWriMo!

    I don't do any Black Friday madness, but our Christmas is pretty low key these days.

  3. Oh, Molly, I've been noticing you moving ahead rapidly on the NaNo...I'm usually just behind you.

    Today I hope to add many more words, barring power failures, etc. (There's a storm outside here).

    I finished yesterday with 45, 785, so I think I'll complete it by the 30th, but like you, I'll push ahead, since I'll want more than 50,000 words in the first draft. Again, barring disasters....

    Congrats, and enjoy your Thanksgiving and school break.

    Here's my salon:

    (click my name)

  4. THere is so much here, I think I'll just focus on three aspects.

    (1) Better you than me out there shopping on Friday. Ugh. I hate it.

    (2) I have always been fascinated with scrapbooking but haven't tried it.

    (3) Love that you got the kids so excited about ideas for scripts.

  5. We'll be putting up Christmas lights this afternoon, too... but are hoping the temperature hits 40. You won't catch me anywhere near a store on Black Friday - I avoid it at all costs!

    So happy to read about your success with NaNoWriMo. Congratulations, Molly, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. I am so excited for Thanksgiving! I don't usually go out on Black Friday but this year I will be working. Wish me luck!

  7. Congratulations on all that wonderful writing and I can totally understand doing it just for yourself and not for anyone else's eyes. Good for you!

    Somehow I've just never gotten into Black Friday shopping, although I do enjoy going to the grocery store that day and reveling in the restored peace and quiet. There are usually just a few of us there and we all look at each other and smile that we survived another Thanksgiving:) This year I think the only place I'll be going that day besides Publix will be my volunteer job, which I find I'm really thankful for:)

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  8. Molly......I stay as far away from the stores as possible on Black Friday. Actually most of my shopping has been done on line (love that).

    Your week sounded so busy but fun. Take time to relax over the holiday.

  9. I do all the holiday decorating on Black Friday. There's no way I'm leaving the house on Black Friday. I just can't hack it.

    I'm also hoping to complete several projects this week, since there is no school. And, I'm also already planning for the second semester.

  10. I generally skip Black Friday shopping as I hate the crowds and fighting for parking. It's tempting this year to try and see what deals I can get on baby stuff, but I think I'll stay home instead. Maybe take advantage of Cyber Monday instead. :-)

    The script/film project for next term sounds like fun! I hope the students will enjoy it.

    Congratulations on being so close to finishing NaNoWriMo! How exciting that you'll be able to count that as a success this year.

    Have a wonderful holiday, Molly!

  11. Congratulations on NaNoWriMo! No small fete and you are to be commended, Molly.

    No Black Friday for this ol' gal. My birthday is the week after Thanksgiving and we imposed a not Christmas until Mom's b-day rule when the kids were little and found it worked well. Part of this is that we get a real tree and we keep the tree up until January 6, so . . .

    I just love the holidays, however, and first things first with the turkey and trimmings this week here at our house. We are headed for the 60's today, leaves STILL falling and no hard frost as yet. Will it be a mild winter?

  12. I'm staying away from stores on Black Friday though I might change my mind in a few days!

    Congratulations on NaNoWriMo!

  13. Congrats on being so close to your goal.

    Happy Thanksgiving Molly!

  14. The temp is like that here in Michigan..55 tomorrow, 60 Tuesday, and then possible snow on Wednesday!!

    I don't go anywhere on Black Friday but have fun for me!!!

    I had great experiences with Big Picture and I'm sure you will too!!

    Your classes sound great!! I love how they all try to get around writing the research paper!!

    Pukka sounds wonderful!!!

    Yay on the NaNoWriMo!!!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  15. I will only be going to work on Black Friday, thus no shopping--which I wouldn't do anyhow; the madness around here is almost beyond comprehension.

    Way to get a class to brainstorm a terrific idea! Hope it becomes a reality next term.

    CONGRATULATIONS on completing NaNoWriMo!

    Happy, happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  16. I think it is great that you met your writing goal!!! Woo hoo!

    And that class project sounds like a lot of fun.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  17. I love to read your weekly reflection!

    Well, I'm not a Black Friday shopper at all, but my husband used to get up before the crack of dawn and rush over to Best Buy. He doesn't do it anymore. Sometimes I do a little bit of online shopping that day, but usually I stay out of it. I'm not a big shopper anyway.

    During the month of October I joined "Picture Fall" and loved it. I had thought about joining "Picture the Holidays" as well, but since I won't have computer access some time during the class I decided against it. I think I need a severe off-computer time and I have scheduled that for the second half of December. I'm sure you'll enjoy the class.

  18. Well done Molly on doing so well with NaNo. What an experience it has been. I intend to do the same as you and put the draft away until January and just enjoy December.

  19. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Molly and enjoy the break from school.

  20. Already giving you a round of applause for completing NaNoWriMo! I can't believe you found the time to do that with everything else you have going on.

  21. Hoping that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and that you found some great deals on Black Friday. Congrats on completing NaNoWriMo! That's an amazing accomplishment. I'd love to read about your scrapbooking ideas it's something that I'd love to get more involved in.


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