Friday, August 24, 2007


I'm headed off to write in just a minute. Funny how, once you get past the near "spiritual experience" of writing a first draft, it becomes all about the mechanics. It's a far more "professional" looking story at this point than it was three weeks ago. I remain true to my storytelling instincts on this though. The edits aren't about the plot at this point.

My oldest was complaining about his tough English teacher a couple of days ago. I told him she was doing him a favor, that he needed to be challenged more now so college wouldn't overwhelm him (the way it almost did me). He's in an advance English Composition class, on the school publication team, and is a managing editor the school year book. He's also a very talented young man who is prone to "skate by" rather than really apply himself to his school work (Making a lot of Bs and Cs when he could be making all As). He's also prone to be a little self-centered with respect to his personal relationships, primarily his family. As I understand it, this a fairly typical teenage boy, but, frankly, this has also been him since he was two years old. One of our goals as parents has been to keep him real without deflating him. One of my oft repeated lines when I'm lecturing him is "It's not all about you." However, in the face of his complaining yesterday, I told him, "For once--this is all about you. This is your future. I can't make it happen for you. The teachers can't. Your friends can't. All we can do is challenge you enough that you're prepared for it. It's up to you to get in the habit of meeting the challenges." I could see the look on his face when I said it to him, a look I see all too rarely. It reached him. The last two nights he's come home with mountains of homework and disappeared into his room for two hours. No excuses, no "oh I can do it tomorrow"s or "I think they'll give me more time if I ask". I am holding my breath for him.


Unknown said...

It's always good to see another parent actually make a point to their teenager.

The beginning of your post has me curious, though, at what point do you reconsider your plot?

Mary O. Paddock said...

Hi CD,
I've been published just enough to have this much shakey confidence: I tell a good story. I don't ever reconsider plots. I never doubt the story, just the delivery. I do consider details, I do edit (heavily) and I do leave holes that need attention and sometimes I need to remove characters who've wandered in off the street and don't really have a place. I do all of this to make sure I'm telling the story that I have in my head.

It's what we writers do, right?

Scotty said...

All my teachers were tough (but fair) in their own way and I have nothing but the highest regard for all of them, so much so that I have kept in contact with several of them over the years. Each time I go back to my hometown, I make it a point to go back to my old High School and see my English teacher (who's now the Principal)- sometimes we even get together for lunch if circumstances permit.

I'm not sure why, but this generation of kids seems (at times) to treat teachers as if they're the enemy. Some of today's teachers are quite young I will admit, and their duties often go way beyond just teaching too, but I have no doubt that they only want to do the same thing that the teachers of my generation in tandem with my parents, did, which is simply to teach and prepare kid(s) for the real world.

So many kids today have no idea of what it can be like outside of the insular, me-oriented world they live in, and as a consequence, are ill-prepared to face the world.

So, kids, stop treating parents (and teachers) as an enemy who is trying to 'spoil your fun' and treat them for what they really are, some of the best friends you're ever likely to have at that early age.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Mary, that's a good bit of advice that I needed to hear. I operate the same way and was afraid I was doing something wrong.