Memoir of a Liar: Coming of Age

Chapter Fifth: The Requisite Coming of Age Chapter

Every memoir has an episode where the hero is ushered into the harsh realities of adulthood by some event so traumatic that it leaves its imprint on the resulting adult.

Fortunately, I have been able to block that entire time period from my memory, for the most part. I suspect I was taking drugs then, which certainly would account for the memory loss.

Happily, such episodes can be manufactured out of nothing more than teen angst and a soundtrack of top forties hits from the seventies and eighties.

The truth is that all teenagers are exactly alike. All believe themselves uniquely special and feel misunderstood and oppressed. Look inside any teenage diary and you will understand what I mean.

Generic Teen Diary: First Entry

This is just a place for me to get my thoughts out! So I had to delete my old diary because my mom found it and didn’t like what I said!!! So she like read it and everything!!!! But she doesn’t know about this one lol!

So OMG I’m in love! u know i like this guy but he already have a girlfriend and worst he doesnt even no im here or exist!!! Anywayz…

I apologize to any readers who may happen to be teenagers. Just kidding lol. You assume correctly: I was a loser. Whether I still deserve the L, I leave for you to judge.

Anywayz. This episode could be about  More

Memoir of a Liar

Chapter First: I am Introduced to the Reader, Lose my Job, and Turn out to be a Compulsive Liar

It can be fairly judged at this point in time that I am not the hero of this memoir, and I state this with the certainty that the reader will, once these chapters have been perused, agree with this opinion, which is not mine alone, but the consensus of my entire family. I am not heroic.

Either my mother, or my father, or the both of them, must have been less than truthful with one another at the time of my conception, for it is an irrefutable truth that I have been, and always will be, a liar.

If the reader has already, after less than a hundred words, taken offense at the styling of these sentences, I am not a bit sorry, for it is an unyielding law of literature, laid down over many centuries of tedious accounts of great lives, that every memoir shall begin with long, barely comprehensible, and extremely tiresome sentences, the purpose of which is to lend grandeur and dignity to what is truly an insignificant segment of the infinite line of time.

Since I am, as I have stated above, a liar, the reader will justly wonder whether this account is entirely fictitious. If there be any doubt in your mind, honest reader, I advise you to stop reading immediately and find something more useful to do with your time.

But let me not break another commandment of literature: “Thou shalt never begin at the beginning.” Instead, writers are advised to jump ‘in medias res,’ after all the tedious things that readers generally skip over. And so, impatient reader, proceed at your own risk:   More

NaNo Zombies

The Novel that will not die…

NaNoWriMo 2009: 2.4 billion words written. That’s nearly 50,000 novels of 50000 words. I don’t know how many of those words were written by people who finished, but even if it’s half of that number, it’s impressive.

I contributed about 50,000 to that grand total. Even though most people thought I was crazy, I was elated to finish.

It was a lark. I wasn’t even going to enter. The last week in October, I changed my mind. What the heck — I don’t have to finish it, I thought. And it might be a fun experiment, to see how quickly I can throw an idea into novel form. So I started it for fun.

It was a powerful feeling to see my word count going up every day, to pass my weekly goals and finally pass 50,000 – eleven days early! I so impressed myself that I started having grand ideas: I could write a novel every month of the year! Or at six novels a year, reserving the other six months for revision. Surely I’d have something publishable before I knew it. What a great thing deadlines are!

I took December off. January would be revision month, I decided. By summer, it would be done… I even wrote dates in on my calendar: Second draft, February 15, Final revision May 31.

Don’t laugh. I must have been hallucinating. More

The Worst Teacher

As a teacher, I’ve taught under some pretty difficult conditions. The worst scenario was my first year teaching. I drove between three buildings. At each school, I taught mixed-level classes — Latin 1, 2, and 3 in one room, one 42-minute period. Sort like asking a math teacher to teach algebra, geometry and calculus all in one period.

I ran into one of my students at the grocery store months later, and he said, “That was the worst class ever.” I felt like the worst teacher ever.

I love teaching, but it’s a tough job. I don’t know many people who would change jobs with me. Of course there are bad teachers, but most teachers don’t have control over every aspect of their job.

When students complain to me about other teachers, I press them for specifics. Usually they begin by saying, “He just hates me!” But eventually they admit that their own behavior is not great and that they go out of their way to annoy the teacher. They make it hard for him to do his job, and then blame him for not doing it well.

Given ideal students, supportive parents, unlimited technology, and reasonable working conditions, we would all do a better job. Teachers who have to deal with behavioral problems, attendance problems, parents who don’t care, old buildings and outdated technology may be very good teachers, but they also catch the blame for a lot of things that aren’t their fault.

The worst teacher is the one who gives up.

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The World Would Be a Better Place If…

…we would all speak Latin. The fact that the Romans won all those wars while trying to remember all those declensions and conjugations is a testament to their perseverance. Making Latin the universal language (as it once was) just makes a lot of sense.

If we all spoke Latin, we’d all have to carry dictionaries. It’s hard to argue with people when you have to look up words. There would be fewer wars.

And we’d have to make up words for things involving technology, which could be fun. We could have contests to see who could make the best words. Or we could just give up technology, and the world would be a lot cleaner.

We could also start using cows as currency, as the ancients did. That would put farmers way ahead of the rest of us, which is only fair, since farmers have been struggling in this economy. And cows produce a lot of manure, so we wouldn’t have to put chemical fertilizers in the ground.

Going back to Roman numerals would be a great equalizing factor, too. Have you ever tried to do long division with Roman numerals? Computers would be much slower, so people would spend less time online. People who could figure out how to multiply would automatically be awarded college degrees. That would maybe solve the drop-out crisis.

I am going to send a letter to President Obama, recommending that he start speaking Latin all the time. I think he knows a little, since he went to law school and all that. Press conferences would be much longer, but more civilized. Latin is a pretty polite language, I think.

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Overheard at My Own Funeral

“Who died? I think I’m at the wrong funeral.”

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Homework

At 3 a.m. every day, a new word prompt is posted for 501Words. Since I am often awake then, I check Twitter, make a mental note of the word, and try to go back to sleep. I do not always succeed.

At about 5:30 a.m. every day I am up. I set my timer for 30 minutes and write my response to the prompt. Sometimes I go over 501 words, but the point is to write at least that many.

Now I’ve started doing the Plinky prompts – a new WordPress thing. Shorter than 501 words, but still — another obligation.

I am such a good little student.

Yes, I was the one who always handed in homework on time. I didn’t have to study for quizzes and tests because I always paid attention. I am the kind of person who grows up to be a teacher because “School is fun!”

Once I started teaching, I realized how atypical I am. Half of my students don’t do homework. If they study for a quiz, it’s in the few minutes while I’m taking attendance, getting ready to pass them out. Real students don’t feel guilty when they forget their homework. Conclusion: I am not a real person. I am a figment of some teacher’s imagination. “Unique” might be a good thing, but being “weird” is generally what it means.

I haven’t outgrown my sense of duty. Having made these bloggy obligations, I would no sooner abandon them than I would forget to do my homework.

Who’s keeping track? Nobody.

Then why do I do it? Why not be like everyone else – pay my taxes at the last minute, stop writing thank-you notes, and abandon my blog in cyberspace?

Because I like discipline. I enjoy the challenge. To sit down to a project — a novel I’ve been working on since November — doesn’t stir my creative juices as these little daily prompts do. It’s a good thing, I think. If I didn’t do this every day, I would only write what I know best – fantasy. And I would spend a great deal of time stuck in the ditch, spinning my wheels.

It’s in this daily discipline that I focus my writing, cut ruthlessly, consider the audience — all things that writers need to learn. I am a novice, to be sure. But maybe somebody will give me a gold star for trying.

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