Before I let too much more time get away from me, I thought it might be good to do a quick update. Something to say where I am right now.
So, I just spent two weeks living in the dorms at the U of M. I stayed in Middlebrook Hall and helped my friend Katie chaperone Stage Elements Summer Theatre Institute, which involved getting 28 high school students to bed each night and up each morning and tagging along on a few outings. They were a good group of kids and the gig wasn’t too demanding–really the hardest part was not having my schedule to myself.
Typical day as follows:
6:58 am and I’m turning off my alarm. I stumble down the hallway with Katie, knocking on everyone’s doors to announce that it is 7 am. We split off into our own rooms for 25 minutes or so until it’s 7:29 am and I’m again turning off my alarm and stumbling down the hallway, banging on doors, telling people that it’s 7:30 and saying breakfast like words.
Then, most days, Katie and I head down to breakfast in the cafeteria. (On the days we don’t head down at 7:30, we usually head down at 8 … that extra 20 minutes meaning so much.) Once we finish breakfast, we try our best not to fall asleep for the next hour, because at 8:45 we gather everyone and walk them across the street to Rarig for their morning sessions and that’s it for the day. From 9 am until about 8:30 pm we were pretty free. Most days I didn’t stray from the dorm, focusing on writing and reading (didn’t get as much writing done as I hoped–I found that as soon as I was getting warmed up to it the kids came back and threw me off–but I did get a fair amount of reading done, reading three books). At 8:45 we would head across the street again to Rarig to pick them up from their evening sessions/ rehearsal (they got themselves back and forth for lunch and dinner) and then brought them back to the floor. They had until 10 to be in common areas, at 10 they had to be in a room and then at 11 they had to be in their room, with lights out.
Of course they fought us on this nightly. It became almost a game with different variations on the theme of “Just 5 more minutes …” A few times at the end we busted up their gathering at 10 to 11 and this worked a little. It wasn’t perfect, but at least we didn’t have to keep continuing rounds for a full 40 minutes, as we did on some nights. It seemed a little silly, to enforce lights out/ no talking, but the schedule was so full our jobs were all about making sure that they had the proper environment to get enough rest.
Throughout the two weeks Katie was pretty convinced that it was all going horribly awry and that the kids all hated her, I tried to convince her otherwise, but she was so connected to it that it’s hard to get enough perspective to realize that everything is going fine. It worked out, the kids liked us fine (except when we were getting them up at stupid o’clock and putting them to bed at night) and we went on several outings (we took a trip to Showboat to see The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, to the Guthrie to see God of Carnage (and get a tour), and on a campus tour of the U of M. Katie also took most of them to Chipolte on Sunday morning (they had a free morning and many of them wanted to eat off campus). I stayed on campus with the handful who preferred not to go. It was a good experience and I’m glad that I did it.
Things I’m happy are passed: living in the dorm room–two weeks was enough on this go ’round. Ditto for the cafeteria food, I loved having it there, but it gets monotonous after the first few days. I also like having my schedule back, being free during the day was fine, but there was no time to wind down at night since those were the hours that I was “on” so I spent much of the two weeks pretty tired. Free access to beer is also nice. Just saying.
Friday night, once all the kids were safely away, I went to Blue Door with Meaghan and had a couple of beers and a delicious burger (Luau Burger … wonderful). Throughout the weeks in the dorm I was microblogging on Twitter, so if you know who I am on there then you can be entertained. It’ll be a fair bit before I go more public with my Twitter account or this blog though, so if you’re not in the know, you might not know.
Writing is going pretty well. I started, while in the dorms, over at the beginning. I had new plot elements and structural details to weave in and since it’d been a while since I’d made headway, starting over provided me with the means to re-gather my momentum. I rewrote the chapters that I had completed (adding a couple thousand words in the process) and am now in “new” territory, writing chapters for the first time. I’ve shifted to composing on the computer to keep things moving, but I’m doing a lot of note taking on the side, so the refining of ideas is happening in both places. This just means that I’m not going to have a completely handwritten zero draft of this book. I’m taking the outline that I had to create for class and revising it as I go, scribbling notes all over the hard copy, and retyping it a few chapters ahead at a time. This is giving me a good map to follow as I’m generating new work and I don’t feel like I’m spinning my wheels. Coming to some great realizations about the story too! It feels like it is starting to pull together.
I wrote 1600 words yesterday and I’m 1300 deep already today. To make my goal for this book I have to do about 2500 a day, five days a week. I think that I might be able to get a head of that though after the first week or two. We’ll see.
That’s all I’ve got right now. I have to go crack open another Red Bull and crank out another thousand or so words. Later this week I’m going North to visit my folks and to go to the dentist. Next week I’m going to see my friend Kris. Tonight, I’m meeting the barista from B&N at Old Chicago for drinks.
More later …