Where Will Your Month Go?

leaves fallingSometimes I think that this blog wouldn’t have many entries if I didn’t do so much cribbing from other sources. Gretchen Rubin is a big crib, but another one is Laura Vanderkam, whom I’ve mentioned before. She’s quite a gal; I last wrote about her in this post about downtime. In addition to her quasi-daily blog posts she also sends out a weekly newsletter that sums up her week or gives ideas for the week or month to come, appropriately called “A Week’s Worth.” (The link is to the signup form.)

Today she had some wise things to say about the beginning of a new month and was particularly pushing the idea of pushing oneself to get a first draft done in a limited amount of time. November is NaNoWriMo. You know what that means, right? National Novel Writing Month. There’s a whole backstory about how this one-a-year craze got started, but I won’t go into it here. Its premise is that you can write a first draft of a 50,000-word novel in a month by hitting a daily word goal of 1,667. You have to up the count if you want to skip Sundays and Thanksgiving. I did try this one year and got to day 15, which isn’t all that bad. I ground to a halt mainly because I had no idea where my plot was going and also because I needed to do a lot of research. (This putative novel is set in ancient Rome; I think it has real possibilities, but man! What a lot of work it would entail!) My son nagged me unmercifully during that month and did finish his own draft.

A brief phrase of Laura’s in today’s newsletter, though, reminded me of something else Gideon said once. Laura makes the point that “here’s the thing: eventually it will be the end of November anyway.” That statement brought to mind a conversation we were having once at a dinner with friends and I was talking (for about the dozenth time) about how hard it would have been for me to get a teaching certificate here in Colorado. While I taught for a number of years on the high-school level, I never needed a certificate because I was teaching in private schools. When we moved back here in 2009 I had the idea that perhaps I could do some part-time teaching in a public school, but I’d need those credentials. It was very discouraging, though, to find out how much time and money I’d have to spend to get that piece of paper. Even though I had years of experience, plus a BA and two MA’s, I still would have to jump through quite a few hoops. In the end I’d have to find a school that would let me teach without a certificate for two years. I think the whole procedure would have taken four years, so about the same as if I’d been starting from scratch. Too long!

But, as Gideon pointed out, by that time four years had passed since our move. If I’d just gone ahead and gotten started I’d have been done by the time of that conversation. I didn’t have a word to say. He was absolutely right. (Interestingly enough, I would probably have been able to get a job teaching college-level freshman English with the degrees and experience I have.) My failure to go ahead and get certified probably speaks more about my lack of real desire to get back into the classroom than about the length of the process, but the point still remains: time gets spent no matter what. You don’t get to say, “Oh, I’ll use that time later and for now leave it in the time bank.” Isn’t that an astoundingly obvious point?

So here it is Wednesday afternoon. I have some major goals for this week, notably 1) getting the tulips planted (mostly done by Jim, bit I needed to lay them out so he’d know where to put them) and 2) getting all of my Christmas music posts edited and downloaded as PDF files so that I can start marketing them to choral groups. How far have I gotten on that second goal? Not all that far. Guess I’d better wrap up this post and get some finished before dinner. Maybe even count up the total and divide it up into the time segments I have left. And as for the month . . . well, perhaps I won’t get into that. I’d be very happy if I were to get those done, though. Maybe I’ll do a report at the end of the month.

What would you like to have done by the end of November? How can you assure that it will get done?

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