Friday, March 7, 2014

On creativity in education

   A funny thing happened after I posted about not having a chance to write creatively under the guidance of our professors. Sure, I know all about the writing process: brainstorming, drafting, editing and rewriting, but what about character development? And plot? How am I supposed to teach students to love writing if all they do is write facts? Sure, I'm well prepared to teach them to really examine other people's work, but that's like expecting them to love vegetables when all I ever serve is cake.  
     So, I found myself face to face with the Dean of Education at an awards ceremony.  After she gave us our pins, she kept asking over and over if we have any burning questions for her. Everyone was so quiet and the conversation was spotty, so the fourth time she brought it up I finally asked her, "Where's the creative writing in our program?" I told her I need something more than just my own experience (which is nil) in writing to teach kids to write well. If they learn to love writing, they will love reading even more.
     As expected, she brought up the new guidelines for education which are heavy on the facts. Then she surprised me by saying she really didn't know why creative writing instruction was skipped over and that she would bring it up to the faculty. So there you have it. I'm not just full of hot air, I actually did something about it. I didn't solve my own problem, but maybe, just maybe, some future students in Bozeman will be taught by experts how it's done.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hello Spring!

 This week we woke up to this

...and yesterday the prairie dogs were sitting on top of the snow saying things like, "What's all this white stuff?"  "I think it's the apocalypse."
bald eagles
 and these bad boys were just chillin'.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why February is an awesome month......(Updated)

I love taking the back roads to campus because they follow the river. These ladies were crossing in front of me....

*For some reason, this picture didn't load on my iPad. Here it is....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pat, I would like to buy a....prompt!

     The big question is: How does a writer cross over to the creative side?

     I've been "writing" for nearly five years. But writing what? Academic papers.(exciting, no?) I can pound out a persuasive essay or 12 page expository piece on a topic I went into knowing nothing about and get a perfect score. Honestly, I have some papers that have so much collegiate jargon that I think my brain was in another realm when I wrote it and it came back down to reality and I can't even understand it anymore!  The professors eat it up, but really those are just assignments to make me learn about topics, so I guess it's worth it.

     As I'm wrapping up my degree, I noticed a big hole in my education. 
Where's the creativity? 

I had ONE art/music class - ONE. Not once was I asked to write creatively. NEVER? What's going on here?  They tell us that creative thinkers are the ones getting the jobs, but they never foster our creativity.

     So now what? How do I cross that bridge to creative writing? Where do I start?

Workshops? Should I spend the money and take a post-grad class just to flex my wings? Truthfully, I've been thinking about diving into a Master's program for creative writing, but how can I know if I have any talent if I haven't even started writing?

 Prompts anyone??
Friday, February 21, 2014

Plot Twist.....tragic or brilliant?

    So, I noticed a trend lately in authors really hitting you right in the gut with their plot-twists. Wait,  is it a plot-twist if it's at the end? Is there another name for it at that point in the story? Is it just the end? The grande finale?

(Possible spoilers here....)

 Over the winter break, I read a couple of books that just blew me away at the end. I mean major book-SHOCK!  I had to just sit there and think and re-read the final chapter to take in all the detail and fit it in my head. I wasn't sure if I was mad at the author or if she is a genius!

     I noticed a trend lately of authors either killing the main character, or secondary character or even more interesting (spoiler here) messing with their brains. Not in just one book, but a few. At first, I felt cheated. After all that time with the character, she dies.or she's lobotomized. his personality is reprogrammed. And I wondered -  is that really fair to the reader?

     And then I thought about it a little more and realized that I think YA authors are reaching a new level of being true to their characters. They are going one step further to make the reader feel. And isn't that why we read?

     I don't think I can take anymore tragic endings right now. As a reader, a little goes a long way. But call me a little bit twisted, I think I'm ruined for happy endings.

Do you read a book without knowing if it's a tragedy? Do you just jump in blindly? Would you read a series knowing a main character is killed?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A very UN-Valentine's Day....pledge for change

...I bet you are thinking, "Here come's the whining...." 

  The funny thing is, I have very mixed-feelings about Valentine's day.  I LOVE everything with hearts. I love pink and red - especially when they are hearts with swirls. I'm a sucker for everything in the holiday aisle at work - glasses with hearts and red stems, pillows with sweet messages on them, and even those chalky-message heart candies. I tell you, when I'm a teacher, we are going to Par-Tay on Feb 14th every year.
     But, when it comes to the "holiday", I don't see it like many of the people around me. I work in retail, so yesterday was like the Superbowl nacho/wings fest. I heard men and women were lined up when we opened at 5am. It was a madhouse and the shelves were picked clean. Men were everywhere wishing they'd come in earlier before all the bouquets in their budgets were gone. It's all good. It's really touching to see all these people trying to find something to express how they feel on a special day, knowing in the back of their minds others will be waiting to hear how it went.
    Of course, with my work schedule I will only be seeing my Valentine for one cup of coffee and some very sweet cards and treats in the morning, and briefly for a take-out lunch break. Out of my two evenings that I don't work, one is on a Monday and the other I have a night class. So, how does this epic day of expressing your love play out in busy people's lives? It becomes a part of life
 as it should be.

      It is not just one day of flowers and candy, but a nice lunch delivered, a breakfast cooked the next day without being asked, a steak and seafood dinner planned and waiting to be cooked at our convenience the day after and the best of all - those times set aside to just be together for 5 minutes or so. No pressure - and it feels great! It affirms what I really believe about Valentine's day - I should be EVERY day. I'm not talking breaking-the-bank every day, but just thinking of Valentine's day as a reminder for taking those moments every day and planning the next ones.

What do you think?   Do you prefer to just get it over with? Or is it too much pressure for one day? Do you appreciate that stores help you step up your game with their creative floral arrangements and balloons? Would you rather we had a section in the front of the store every day to help you express how you feel?


Monday, February 10, 2014

Olympic musings from the public library.....

     Why, oh why, did I forget my phone today!  I only wish I could attach a video clip of the view from the library window. If you've ever heard of Heather McPhee (google Sochi Olympics), you would know that Olympians come from Bozeman, MT sometimes. And quite possibly, I am watching an Olympic hopeful right now. There's a guy within view of the library window skiing UPHILL at a break-neck speed and doing jumps off of a hill in the park. How is he going so fast uphill?  I wonder if there's a downhill slope where he's starting out? Anyhow - awesome!

     And speaking of the Olympics - If anyone cares for the opinion of an average person in this valley - No, Bozeman does NOT want to host the Winter Olympics in 12 years so hopefully they will forgive the citizens of our little city at the base of Big Sky Resort for not being good hosts.

     And I really miss laughing-guy. I wish he was here today, because this warmer weather has brought in a whole slough of 420's and I couldn't even take the elevator for fear of suffocating from toxic air. I hauled my  heavy ol' backpack, stack of books in my arm and extra bag with laptop up two flights of stairs tripping on my skirt all the way. Once I got situated up there, I was surrounded.  It's all for the better though, now that I moved back downstairs I can see the uphill skier out the window.  

Is there an Olympic category for freestyle uphill skiing?