I Am Not A Poet! But I’m Starting A New Poetry Series Anyways

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So, I rolled the prompt to write a poem for February. Since I’m not a poet, like at all, really, I thought it might be nice to experiment and learn about some new forms.

I referenced the Master Class blog for the fifteen forms.

Here’s me struggling through it:

Since I chose a Pastoral Romance poem, let me briefly explain. This is a poem without strict form rules (rhyme, meter, etc.), and it focuses on idyllic views of nature. Think: city life bad, country life good.

Without further ado, here’s my terrible attempt at the Pastoral Romance.

Evergreens shroud the horizon

Putting miles between them

And industry’s dirt and smog.

Sweet morning dew swathes

Her bare ankles and long, sneaky

Vegetation slips up her skirts.

Bushes full of berries, plump and ripe

Leak juices along her fingers

As she loads her basket.

Tart and refreshing for him working

Sweat plastered cloth to his back

And chest as he licks his fingers clean.

Cutting trees and carving wood

Has his blood humming as red

Stained her mouth and tongue.

She gathered up her voluminous skirts

And tempted him with her pink skin,

Ripe and ready to be devoured.

Wind rustled the tall grass and

Sheep bleated as he thrusted a moan 

From low in her belly.

The sun dried her tears and

Between her thighs before

They rose back to their duties.

Herding sheep, picking fruits and nuts,

And sowing wild oats for the land

To bloom and fruit for the Fall.

Yup. That wasn’t great, but it was fun to try! If you want to join me on this poetry series, learn about poetry forms and types, and write some poems with me, please share them with me! I’d love to see what you write.

Let’s talk Dystopia

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I rolled a trope prompt for my writing game, and I spun my wheel to Dystopia. So we’re going to explore characteristics and examples and try creating a few of them in a brief free write.

First: The Definition

A negative or undesirable futuristic society that is seen as dangerous and alienating.

Second: Common Traits in Dystopian Societies

  1. Society—most impose severe social restrictions on community members.
    • Social stratification strictly defines and enforces social class.
    • Ruthless egalitarianism (believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities to the extreme).
    • Repression of the intellectual.
  2. Social Groups—total absence of social groups other than the “state.”
    • Independent religion is omitted.
    • The family unit is broken and creates a hostility to motherhood. 
  3. Nature—characters are isolated from the natural world.
    • Citizens are conditioned to fear nature.
  4. Political—the government asserts power over citizens.
    • Flawed in some way. Often portrayed as oppressive.
    • Filled with pessimistic views of the ruling class: rules with an “iron fist.”
  5. Economic—the state is in control of the economy.
    • Black markets sell items that are banned or seen as contraband.
    • Many businesses are privatized.
  6. The Hero—protagonist questions society and has strong intuition.
    • They will escape or rebel.
  7. Conflict—a societal group somewhere not under control of the state.
  8. Climax—may be unresolved.
    • The protagonist either dies or is reeducated/conforms.

Within these main elements, we have some fun and awful tropes, like heavy propaganda, the use of secret police, implemented curfews and violent punishments, humans losing the top spot on the food chain, unflattering and dully colored uniforms, neutrals and metals everywhere, individuality is the enemy, forced happiness, love is bad, the food is gross, resources are scarce, education is lacking, the children are sacrificed or revered, everything is filthy or sterile, someone will triumphantly rebel, and many, many more.

For my experiment, let’s build a world rather than a scene because this would be where I start with my process. Although as I say this, the spark is usually a scene or character or situation, but when I really start working, I start with the world and understanding my limitations.

  1. Society—people’s worth is based off of likes, views, and comments. Teehee. Citizens’ online presence determines their social standing, their education and job options, the stores they can shop at, their curfews, and their available mating pool.
  2. Social Groups—Citizens are separated by their niche and have to worry over losing followers and social status if they change niches. They also lose all of their friends/connections in their previous niche. This is highly enforced. Individuality is nearly nonexistent, and their happiness is forced. Children are used for content, their childhoods sacrificed to be paraded out on the screen and behave certain ways for content creation.
  3. Nature—most citizens fear nature or merely use it as a prop. Those in the wilderness niche may primarily live in nature due to their content. 
  4. Political—content platforms are run by the government; they control the algorithms and means of reaching followers/consumers. This means that propaganda or content that reinforces the “right” message are the ones that gain the most viewership and others are suppressed.
  5. Economic—most available resources are cheaply made and need replaced often, which means a black market is built of handmade products that last and services that fix machines or equipment. Because education doesn’t focus on conservation of materials or fixing household items, this, too, is handed down through families in secret. All products are trademarked and hold copyrights that can put someone caught fixing or creating similar items into workcamps/factories.
  6. The Hero—A low-level computer programmer that finds the hidden code that keeps individual content suppressed. They rebel, searching through the hidden content to “magically” make a video/channel/page/profile/post go viral that doesn’t fit the norm.
  7. Conflict—the biggest small niche are the independent thinkers, those who push education or teach viewers how to circumvent the government’s laws against DIY projects or how to keep things working for longer. 
  8. Climax—uses a few leaders of the underground to infiltrate the top government CEOs and programmers while keeping the rest hidden on black market channels for the people to get free access to. This also opens up the ability to find mates outside of their niche—for love. Leaders on both sides die in mutually guaranteed destruction, but the hero leaves his own operation going perpetually, undoing the government’s complete control.

So, there we have it, my dystopian world packed full of tropes. Obviously, I’m satirizing social media and its effects on society, which is what a dystopia does. This was fun!

What kind of dystopia would you make? Which tropes are your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

How I Did in 2020 | End of the Year Goal Review

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Okay, so I’m pretty sure everyone understands that 2020 didn’t go as planned. My year didn’t either, and with that in mind, I’m going to be loose in my evaluation of my goals.

2020’s actual goals:

Write 152,500 words in various projects, like the second Lily Graves novel, Loving Them Both (the final installment in a trilogy), and seven short stories.

Edit On Time, Lily Graves 2, and those seven shorts.

Market with consistent content, Kickstarter, Bookbub, swaps, and A/B ad testing.

Build a Broken World companion, a family cookbook, freelance clients, tutoring clients, and a $40k income.

Reach bestseller status, Kickstarter success, financial freedom, and 175 pounds.

Learn twelve new recipes, web coding, my camera settings, insta stories, and how to use a saw.

Create On Time book boxes, a new desk, and a filming space.

Fitness: 1 pull up, run 5-10k, do a handstand, and increase flexibility.

Make a habit of writing every day, increasing water intake, increasing cardio, eating cleaner, work abs, and reading regularly.

Fix my home.

Yeah, that’s a lot of specifics, isn’t it? I can tell you right now, most of this didn’t happen. First, let’s see what I did accomplish.

2020’s ACTUAL accomplishments:

I wrote 246,215 words in 2020. Fiction words. This does not include all of the other things that I write regularly. Next year, I will be tracking those as well. So, I definitely hit my word count goal, although not in the projects I’d planned.

I edited and published On Time. Check!

I created consistent content on YouTube, better content on Instagram, and okay content on wordpress and facebook and emails.

I started taking notes on my Broken World companion, although it’s not much. I’ve also collected a great deal of recipes for my cookbook.

I reached Kickstarter success with our On Time campaign!

I learned twelve new recipes, one includes an amazing chocolate cake that I make weekly. 

I created and mailed 26 book boxes, unearthed a plain filming space, and built new organization for my desk.

I can hang for a full minute but no full pull up, and I’ve made greens a major part of my diet. Butter is still my greatest weakness, however.

I succeeded in my writing habits, my cardo habits, and my reading habits (over 100 books this year)!

And I got myself a better paying job with some fun people.

All in all, that’s not a bad list.

I feel like I’ve accomplished much of my intentions regardless of the projects I poured into. Lofty goals always make me push harder, so I plan to keep making them.

How did you do in 2020? What are you plans for 2021? Let me know in the comments below!

Refilling the Creative Well | What I’m Doing to Soothe End-Of-Year Burnout

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It’s the end of the year, and the burnout is real. Writing nearly double the words in 2020 as I did in 2019 and NaNoWriMo killed my brain function. I swear.

Pair that with editing and publishing an anthology with 74 stories, and brain has mushed. As it has a tendency to do. I often like to push myself past where I should.

I probably wouldn’t do this so often if it didn’t produce such nice results. The problem with this, however, is when my productivity dips, I chastise myself with how lazy I’m being, how I could be making this or getting that done. It’s not healthy.

So, it’s time to refill the well, and if I plan some of it into my schedule, I can feel like I’m not just wasting time.

Here are some of the things I plan to do to take care of my creativity and mental health:

Baking—chocolate cake, brownies, cinnamon rolls, cookies (of all varieties), and pies. I love to make sweets. The boys love to eat these, too, if they can get ahold of them before I do. I found this new chocolate cake recipe that is the fudgiest thing ever. We compared it to the boxed stuff, and man, does this beast kill on flavor. If you bake, try it out and let me know if you like it!

Trying New Recipes—cooking in general is my main contribution to my family, so often, this feels like another chore. Unless I’m trying a new recipe. I love experimenting. It’s the best when the family likes the new meal, which also adds a new choice to the rotation, but I also really like to try some strange things. So when I get a chance to meddle in something that’s just for me, it’s a real treat. Got any suggestions? Drop them below for me!

Reading Books—on average, I’ve been reading between eight and twelve books a month. With my new job, I’m not sure how those numbers are going to sway, but reading amps up my creativity. I’ll read in my genre, out of my comfort zone, nonfiction, and it all offers me something new. I love that about books. If you’re a reader, please make me some recommendations.

Coloring—I’m a big kid, and as I’d like to start drawing and painting again, I love to color. Give me a line-drawing and hand over those colored pencils, and I am on top of that. I’m layering colors and using different strokes to enhance my masterpiece. I used to do this for my bullet journal. I have a Bob’s Burgers coloring book that I can’t wait to crack open. 

Sudoku & Puzzles—I LOVE puzzles, number puzzles, word puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles. I need to get my hands on more of the last. I’ll spend an entire day working on a 1,000 piece one, and the best part is that the family can come and help. The downfall…cats. We need a safe place to store them.

Planning—I truly love my bullet journal, my traveler’s notebook, and my home-made mini–Happy Planner. I also have so many sheets for preplanning and book planning, and I probably overdo it just a tad, but when I’m exhausted, I like to dabble in them. It means drawing and crafting and paper and markers and a different kind of creativity that can lead to future results. Two birds meet stone.

Down Time with the Family—Sometimes, it’s just nice to sit on the couch, play a game on my iPad and have the boys talk about gaming and stocks and reddit and the news. It’s nice to play with the kitties. It’s nice to watch a movie or new show or eat cake together and talk. It’s just nice.

YouTube Binge—I have some clear trends on my YouTube feed: Korean cafes and cooking, planning/bullet journaling, booktube, authortube, cake decorating, Eva Fitness (Mira is magnetic y’all) and other workout girls, soap making (Royalty Soaps!), illustrators and their packing videos, and pop music. I can find myself running the rabbit hole in spirals. 

Working Out—this is a habit that’s serving me so well. I started working out consistently about ten years ago. And not only does it have all of those chemical reactions that signal happiness and elevate the mood, but I’ve noticed while working with some people half my age to eight years my junior that I have a lot more energy than they do. I don’t have complaints about standing around, bending or lifting things, or a bad back. I mean, sure, my back or my hip or my neck might get me on the occasion, but regular weights and stretching and cardio really do keep me young. Also, walking and running and stretching is a great way to brainstorm ideas, too.

Resting—Oh, this one is hard. Sitting or lying with nothing to do. Just letting my mind wander…it’s not something I often do. Even when I go to bed, I have cartoons playing in the background. It’s my overactive mind. When I don’t engage it, it goes off on its own, and that can be great, but it isn’t always, which is likely why I tend to avoid it. I think some meditation or guided breathing might do me good.

Yup, that’s a great big list. Is there anything on your unwinding, self-care, or refilling the well activities list that isn’t on mine? Please, share them with me! I love new ideas. If you do anything on my list, tell me about it!

Thanks guys, and may your wells be full for 2021!

I Wrote 50,000 Words in November | NaNoWriMo Final Update

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Hello, lovelies.

Check out my writing vlog with the kitties and Bob’s Burger Monopoly, sweet tart martinis and workouts, bullet journal set ups and lots of freaking out about my word count racking up to the sweet 50k.

Welp, I did it. I wrote all of the words.

Somehow, the universe lined up just right to let me complete this challenge. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I put in A LOT of work. I sat with my book when I didn’t feel like it, when I barely had the time for it, when the words didn’t want to come, when I had too much going on with life. I forced myself to hit that wordcount or make it up if I got behind. And it worked.

I managed no zero-word days. One day below a thousand, and most of the days were close to the goal (between 1600 and 1800 words). I got one day of over 3,000 this week because of my 500-word day, which was Thanksgiving. I had a headache all day, plus, holiday.

So, let’s look at my final numbers:

Week Four & Five| November 22-30

Words Written: 50,053

Words Ahead: 53

Total Words in Manuscript: 204,116

Yup. That happened. It really did. And as excited as I am about it, I think I need a rest! Not that I plan to put my book down for any length of time. I’m just going to take it easy on myself. 850 words a day doesn’t sound too bad after 1,667 a day, right? Well, we can thank my writeropoly board for that.

Ultimately, it pushes me toward my goal of consistently writing a thousand words a day. One day. One day.

I also have no planned celebration for winning Nano (and getting a new job). Let me know what you think I should do to celebrate. And please tell me about how your November went in the comments below.

An “Okay” Writing Week | NaNoWriMo Week Three Update

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Hello, lovelies.

Check out my silly writing vlog where I freak out about how close I am to completing not only NaNoWriMo but my manuscript as a whole. Yikes! I also pack and ship my new book boxes.

This was a good week for the words, which is odd since I had a couple of low-energy days. Or to say plainly, I’m getting tired. However, I am almost DONE with story thirteen of fourteen. Yeah.

Yeah.

I’m pretty sure the looming end is the only thing keeping me going, even though I have no idea what I’m doing in story fourteen.

I also had two interviews this week for a job, and that’s made me excited and is pushing me to get the words before I might not have the time to put into it.

But y’all. I am actually keeping up. I can’t believe it.

So, let’s look at my numbers so far:

Week Three | November 15-21

Words Written: 35,047

Words Ahead: 40

Words To-Be Written: 14,953

Look at that! I’m way past the hump, and if I’m being honest, I’m a bit terrified about the end of this project.

It’s so long, and it’s come together so quickly. I hope I make the right choice at the end.

As a side note: with the tired I’ve been feeling, I’ve distracted myself with some fun, like making a new reading challenge game (aka a TBR game), and it’s complicated, which I totally love. Next week, I’ll be working on my new writing challenge game.

If you didn’t know, I currently play bookopoly and writeropoly every month to challenge myself.

So with that in mind, if you have any challenges or prompts for either game, please leave them in the comments below for me so I can add them to my game. And be sure to let me know how you’re doing!

Getting Behind & Potential Burnout | NaNoWriMo Week Two Update

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Hello, lovelies.

This week came with its ups and downs, but I’m actually doing nano… watch me freak out a little about it in my vlog:

I had a few days where I wasn’t feeling particularly productive, so I let myself have the day on Saturday to putz around, play games, and read after I struggled to get any words out on Friday. I did, however, return to my manuscript and bang out over seventeen-hundred words.

I’m trying to listen to my body more, and when the words don’t come after some heavy work, I might be close to burning out. A headache usually confirms it. Hence the rest day.

I keep making it back to put the work in, though. It’s all about that grit at this point.

So, let’s look at my numbers so far:

Week Two | November 8-14

Words Written: 22,819

Words Behind: 519

Words To-Be Written: 27,181

With all of these words, I was able to get through story twelve of fourteen. Only two stories are left in my project, and I can’t believe it.

Unfortunately, my plotting has fallen behind, and I haven’t finished figuring out what’s going to happen between Winter and Newt. That isn’t such a good place to be in, but I have a feeling that writing Newt will help me more than the planning might.

And I also might be freaking out a little bit about story fourteen. I still don’t know who I’m going to choose or how much of that part of the story is meant to go. This terrifies me, but it shouldn’t. Afterall, I used to write entire books without a plan.

Maybe, it’s how massive this one is that scares me. I guess we’ll see.

All right, y’all, now that I’m rambling about my fears and process, it’s about time to get back to it instead of yammering about it.

Let me know how you’re doing this month in the comments below.

Preptober Reflection, NaNoWriMo Goals & Week One Update

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Hello to all of my lovely friends.

It is NaNoWriMo season, and I have been training hard to create a consistent writing routine. Last month with my writer-opoly challenges, I got my 750 words a day—or 23,250 words for the month. I was 500 shy of that goal, so I still consider this a success. It helped me get ready for 1,667 words a day in November.

Yup, that’s what National Novel Writing Month is for: writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

We authors are a crazy lot, yeah?

Well, it’s the first time I’ve gotten to participate in the ACTUAL NaNoWriMo because November is usually the time for grading essays and midterms and readying for finals. It’s usually a time of editing stories for a December publication. And since I have neither of those things this month. I’m going to give that 50,000-word goal a genuine try.

Here’s a little comparison of my Preptober goals, and all of those nice boxes that I did not check off, with my goals for November, where you’ll see I was nicer to myself because…let’s face it, the word count goal for the month is a killer. It’s hard to do anything else.

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One thing I’ve really noticed during the first week of Nano is that the sprints have been my friends. I’m doing four or five of them a day to combat with writing fatigue, and my chart is a lifesaver for keeping myself on track.

I’m off to an okay start for week one. Even with going to the dentist and the job interview that I got lost after, I’m not as far behind as I would have predicted.

So, let’s look at my numbers so far:

Week One | November 1-7

Week One | November 1-7

Words Behind: 221

Words To-Be Written: 38,552

See! I’m doing okay. I’m roughly 165,000 words into Wooing the Alpha, and that’s over 600 pages, by he way. My end goal is 210,00-220,000 words for this project, so I’m getting close.

Here’s hoping NaNoWriMo gets me to a good spot where the end is in sight.

This project has been a rollercoaster. And being in the muddy bit—the end of the middle—during a high-powered month like this may seem a little insane. I’m not running on the shiny new project high to get me through this.

This is all grit and grinding, folks.

I’ve trained all year for it. And damn it, I want to be a winner at the end of this.

So wish me luck, y’all, and tell me about what you’re working on in November. Is it Nano? Is it something else? Let me know in the comments below.

And check out my first week’s NaNoWriMo vlog:

Writing Prompt: “The Sparrow’s Leg”

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This month for Writer-opoly, I got this for a writing prompt:

Genre: Steampunk

Hero: Werewolf

Heroine: Thief

How do they meet?

And this is what I came up with, accompanied by an inspirational photo and a vlog of me completing all of my challenges this month:

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“The Sparrow’s Leg”

The other guests had a normal mixture of reactions to her steam-powered tentacles. They were the perfect guise for her limp, the perfect distraction for her sleight of hand, the perfect ploy to get close to the baron and his master set of keys. 

Jasmine adjusted her bodice, the thin boning not as flexible as she liked, but it did wonderful things to her cleavage, accentuated by the copper chains dangling between her breasts. It was stop two on the way to her face, where her charcoal-lined eyes with enhanced lashes and red-painted lips could be used as tools for persuasion.

And tonight, her satin gloves reached past her elbow to cover the mechanics of her fake arm.

No one here needed to know that Jury-Rig Jasmine crashed the exclusive party meant to charm foreign powers and businessmen, all of which held prized purses and trinkets to take. Many that have come close have lost them already, thanks to her third tentacle on the right.

Baron Brodsky, however, was her way to the private rooms in the back of the giant house and the sparrow’s leg that she meant to retrieve. Sure, while she was there, Jasmine would nab a few other objects that had high demand on the black market—the hog’s knuckle, the camel’s tail, and the rhino’s horn topping that list. All of which Brodsky had in house.

A tall, black gentleman in stark white took hold of her elbow, her left one, and smiled politely down at the copper ropes disappearing into her bodice. “Miss, the baron would like an audience with you.”

“Would he? Right this second?” Those enhanced lashes batted, and she let heat fill her cheeks.

“Yes. Right this second.” The man’s grip tightened but didn’t hurt as he ushered her forward, past the dancing couples and the tables of appetizers and spirits to a room shrouded in flowing cloth, hard woods, and copper accents. Sandalwood and patchouli transported her to a faraway place, mixed with magic and promises.

Jasmine blinked away the darkness and the expectation of seeing guards and women and others milling around the room, but Brodsky sat alone on a sleek white couch. It made the silky black of his suit pop against it. His dark hair and eyes catching the light enough to show their shine as she stopped before him, the steam from her tentacles lifting her skirts enough to be tantalizing. Her boots kept anyone from seeing her skin, but most didn’t peer beyond the steam-powered appendages.

Brodsky’s gaze moved like a physical touch, catching on every little distraction she’d employed before he waved away the tall man.

“Miss Gusev, you’ve created quite an uproar in my little circle of friends.”

Jasmine smoothed the boning of her bodice with both palms, glad when his gaze dipped to enjoy her deep breath. How did he know her real last name? “Have I? I suppose my little darlings disturbed more than a few of them.”

“Indeed.” Brodsky stood, showing her how imposing of a man he could be, bigger than the man who’d escorted her to him. “Do they part for dancing?”

She smiled at him, looking up through those lashes instead of tilting her head back. Fingers traced the copper chain to straighten a phantom kink, and pheromones dropped a more earthy scent between them. “I’m afraid they don’t. Sorry to disappoint.”

Her tentacles lifted in their own dance, showing him the way they moved and lacked accommodation for an intimate affair, but they did touch him enough to extract what she’d come for.

“That is disappointing.” Somehow, his long arms reached beyond her mechanical barriers and drew her closer to him than Jasmine expected possible.

Her gloved hands pressed against his chest as if she could force more distance between them, but his touch sashayed up the laces along her spine, finding flesh beneath her ironed curls. The room seemed to shrink from the heat of it, and Jasmine struggled to catch her breath.

“You, however, are not.” The darkness in his eyes parted as she finally craned her neck to examine them. The copper flashed behind them, and she realized her mistake.

Baron Brodsky was not a normal spoiled elite. He lived by the moon. The one full in the sky tonight. And she’d put herself on his alter for sacrifice.

“Now, tell me you cannot make those things dance.” He lifted the keys from her tentacles slippery grip and held her fast by the back of the neck.

“Can you blame a girl for trying?” 

I Quit My Job: 10 Reasons I’m Going to Miss It

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I had this idea for a video as soon as the semester started, and I wasn’t standing in front of four new classes of students.

Instead of being depressed, I thought I’d reflect on what I loved about my job and what I’m going to miss about it.

Want to watch me be a weirdo and tell way too many stories about being in the classroom, check out my video about these ten reasons I will miss my job teaching English at UCO.

The Reasons

One—My Students

I loved connecting with my students, sharing stories, jokes, exchanging movies and books and game recommendations, having them learn how to trust me not to judge them or be a stuffy, uppity college professor.

I loved learning from them, about jet mechanics in the air force, about Korean drama and K-pop, about what it’s like to be an underage single mother, about drought and cloud seeding in Oklahoma, about what it’s like to be the eldest of twelve, about what it’s like to come out as gay to unsupportive parents…you name it, a student has told me about it. Written about it.

I’m going to miss teaching them that having their own perspectives is okay, and how to strengthen their own opinions.

Two—Those Aha Moments

When I’m building trust in the classroom, I like to show off. I like to blindside my students with facts or ideas that they’ve not thought of before. Then, I show them the connections and blow their minds. I love their wide-eyed wows and gasps and holy shits. When they tell me, I’ve never thought of that before.

Well, of course not. You’re not taught to look at things the way that I do. That’s why I’m here, to show you how. To jumpstart their critical thinking. To show them that something as stupid as Family Guy can be broken down to reveal the creators’ perspective and support it with connections and evidence.

It’s funny because most people complain about a lack of common sense or common knowledge. Welp, you know what? There is no such thing. Every one learns differently, has different pasts and perspectives, and it’s ridiculous to think that someone else has the same knowledge as you or your family and friends or community.

That’s where I come in. Let me show you what you haven’t thought about seeing yet. And you can show me. And we can expand each other’s minds.

Three—Revisiting the Material

I’ve taught a lot of the same lessons throughout my eight years as an English Professor. That means seeing the material over and over again. Each time I interact with a story or tv episode or article or topic, I find something new to say about it. I love that process. I love how it changes with each set of students, too, because of what they contribute to a class discussion.

Four—Being the Non-Traditional Professor

Y’all. If you don’t know already, I’m this weirdo hippie who likes vampires and violence as much as she likes to spoil people with baked goods. I walk around my classroom barefoot, swear, and show cartoons in class. We talk about so many things that we really shouldn’t. But my students are adults, so I treat them as such, and that allows us to have a good time. An informal time mostly, except when I hand out grades.

Since we have a bit of one-on-one time together, I also stop being that scary professor real fast. I’m there to help them. To REALLY help them, not just get a paycheck. So by the time we’re done with their first draft of their first paper, they’ve learned to ask me questions and laugh at my silliness, and forgive my terrible handwriting.

I’m no gatekeeper. I’m a mentor. So, let’s talk about that elephant in the room and paint him pink.

Five—Showing Off My Skills

When I’m building trust in my students, it’s a bit counterproductive to have the weirdo silly me up there, saying trust me, laugh with me, learn with me, if I don’t show them that I know what I’m doing.

Sometimes, this is simply my reading an assignment that I’ve asked them to do. Sometimes, it’s asking the right questions or having the right response to one of theirs. Sometimes, it’s commenting on something they said that other professors might avoid.

My favorite is when I ask them to write paragraphs about their hometowns, and I use my magic trick to tell them how they feel about home based on what they say about it. Nine out of ten times, I’m right.

I’m not perfect after all.

Six—Growth

Thiers and mine. 

I love watching my students improve. And most of them do. The ones who do even the barest minimum of work will get better.

And every semester, I have one student who doesn’t think they can do it, but I keep after them, and they keep trying, and they pay attention, and by the end of the semester, I get to tell them how proud I am of them for sticking it out. For improving.

They’re a lot smarter than they give themselves credit for sometimes. Yes, English is scary. Writing is hard. The only way to get better is to keep doing it.

That’s it. No magic advice. Just keep writing.

Then, I also grow with them. On top of them teaching me new things, I am always seeing new ways to offer up advice, to suggest attacking a problem, to get them to understand what I’m asking of them, to make them better writers. 

I have to keep practicing, too, to improve.

Seven—Community

My classroom, typically about four-to-six weeks in, starts getting loud. If I didn’t have a class full of talkers, by this time, students are starting to get to know each other and me better. By the end of the semester, we have a small roar to contain before class starts with people sharing breakfast, nursing hangovers, and catching up on assignments.

Many of my students make friends in my classes because I make them interact with each other. Group work without the pressure of getting a serious grade on it can help a whole lot. It also means that we get to have more focused lessons and those who may not speak out in front of everybody will talk in a smaller setting.

Even if they don’t make friends in class, they get to build some type of rapport with me.

I also get to keep tabs on some of them after they’ve left my tutelage. The internet and social media help greatly with this. I love seeing them grow up, graduate, get married, have kids, begin careers, and become smart adults. It’s nice to know I had a hand in that, even if only for sixteen weeks.

Eight—Baking Them Treats!

I like to bake, especially when I’m stressed. I also like to experiment. The only way for me not to gain a hundred pounds in this process is to be sure these treats get eaten by someone else.

Give me half a room of football players, and I have no trouble leaving school with an empty baking tray.

Plus, I love to feed the people I care about. And I certainly care about my students. It’s an easy way to show affection.

Nine—Finals

When I collect finals, we have no test. I simply sit in my office with my husband for four hours and have them drop off their portfolios. Usually with a new batch of treats, too.

This means students will come and linger, talk to us for a couple minutes or a couple hours. Get hugs. Thank me for being cool. Tell me about the other things they’ve started to notice thanks to my class. Offer me a treat in return. (I got some fabulous pumpkin cookies one year, with the recipe!) 

They also get to chat with my husband, whom I tell stories about the entire semester because he’s lived a crazy ass life. And he’s more science brained, so those who don’t get to talk to me about that get to talk to him about that.

It’s usually a good time.

Ten—Colleagues

I worked with some amazing people. Other teachers who would share war stories and tell me about lessons they were testing and offering opinions amongst each other.

I love to learn, so I love with my colleagues teach me something valuable for life or the classroom.

We also simply have some awesome and ridiculous conversations. I’ve learned about their health, about their degree programs, about their families, about their creative projects, about their favorite books and movies, and so much more. 

They’re wonderful people.

My bosses were also pretty darn great people, too. Mentors.

I could ask any of them for advice, and they’d help.

Plus, they let me teach how I wanted to teach.

Well, guys, this was a job I didn’t want to leave. One I resisted leaving for far too long.

I hope that I can find a new job that allows me to be the weirdo that I am.

Let me know in the comments, what your favorite educational experience is: a favorite teacher, lesson, class, student, experience. Anything.