Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Challenges of Writing

Writing is hard work. I tell my writing students at Class Day and tutoring sessions this fact often. As I've tried to carve out an hour or so a day to pursue NaNoWriMo, I've once again realized how hard it is to get 2000 words out of my brain, through my aching fingers, and into a word processor each day.

And that doesn't count the writing I do with a third-grader at my elbow, wanting help with each and every step of long division. My typical writing scenario looks something like this:

Me: [Typing: "As she turned her back..."]

B: "Mom, how many times does two go into thirteen?"

Me: "What do you think?"

B: "Seven times?"

Me: "Try again?"

B: "Six times?"

Me: "Is that a question or an answer?"

B: "I think it goes in six times."

Me: "Good. Write it above the three." [Where was I ... oh yeah ... {types:}"she began to..."]

B: "But it doesn't go in evenly."

Another math book is thrust into my lap by my 6th grader, J.

J: "Mom, how do I estimate these decimal things?"

B: "Hey, I was talking to Mom! I'm in the middle of a problem!"

J: "You ARE the problem."

J gets sent back to his desk to think about what he just said to his brother.

The front door slams, and T, my 8th grader, comes in from taking the dog out and tosses a stiffened alligator-lizard tail onto J's math book. (I'm not kidding -- this happened as I composed this post.)

J: "Cool! Where did you get it?"

T: "I almost caught the lizard outside, but all I got was his tail."

J: [in a sing-song voice] "Oh, Moh-om! I have some word problems I can't do."

He tosses his book on top of B's book then tells B to stop getting in his way.

Me: {SIGH}

B: "Mom, Jonathan needs help."

Me: "I get that."

I write out an entire word problem into logic boxes. Meanwhile J is singing his version of "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight" which mentions B being eaten by said lion.

J removes his math book off of Benjamin and goes into the next room singing the song for T's benefit, and B follows to protest his inclusion in the song. I call to everyone to sit back down and get back to math. B comes back to sit at my elbow, reporting that T gave him a wedgie. T plays innocent, bent over his pre-algebra book as if nothing happened. He loses ten points.

B now has the dog on his lap, his front paws on the math book. B sets down the dog after a minute and tells me that he doesn't like "big math."

Where was I again?

So the fact that I have averaged 2000 words each day so far for NaNoWriMo can be considered a miracle. I don't get to write in the evenings because my computer is down for the count and Keith uses his computer in the evenings. So my writing needs to be completed by 6 PM at the latest.

Well, life is an adventure. And writing is even more of one, at times. And J did finish his math while I've been composing this post; the other two are still at work.
Homeschooling is wonderful, but not particularly conducive to writing with three boys between the ages of 8 and 13 all tackling math at the same time.

Where was I again?


Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

Hey! Thanks for the laugh!
I love the "blow by blow" commentary! One thing is for sure, life with 3 boys will never be dull. Does the song, "Boys just want to have fun," have any place here? LOL!
Now, imagine a classroom of middle schoolers, 30+ in all and half of them boys. Talk about a challenge!
Anyway, best of luck with the writing. I look forward to more humorous/interesting notes as the work progresses.


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