Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new...almost

Need a little variety in your life? Ever think you must know more -- must broaden your horizons to be better able to write about diverse cultures, locations, and professions? All I can say is: careful what you wish for! It might not be quite what you think.

Here's a recap of my interesting year as a "non-traditional" (*whisper* that sort of means older) college student. As the new schedule comes out for another semester of college (for Spring 2011, my 4th semester, counting the summer), I can hardly believe I've spent this year immersed in classes on a little of everything.

Let's see. My journey started this year with deciding I would be a History major. This is my niche. Hmm. It wasn't quite as I thought. The focus seemed to be too political and not at all the romance of history I've enjoyed as a writer/reader. I did enjoy my literature class, but I also (surprisingly) enjoyed my general Biology and Historical Geology. I should be an English major logic tells me, but for some reason I'm resistant. On the fence, I switched from history to a dual Biology major and Humanities Major. Oh, and I added a Geology minor.

Summer came and went with the joy of a Humanities class and an Environmental Perspective and also, thrown in like getting stuck in a cold rain, something called Algebra. Then came fall. Somehow or another I decided to load up on the sciences, which all came with lab work. How hard could it be? Oh, boy. Chemistry Lab with safety goggles. Stylish! And more math. (Actually, the fear of being blinded, burned or inhaling toxic fumes is not so bad when compared to all kinds of craziness involving huge numbers "normal people" aren't meant to comprehend.) And I think, hmmm. This isn't quite what I thought I'd be doing.

But I also took a Theatre class. That couldn't be too difficult right? Funny thing is, that one hasn't turned out quite as I thought either. Some exposure I have enjoyed, but just as in literature, not all theatre is my "cup of tea." Japanese Noh Theatre, for example. Sorry, but no. And something called the Theatre of the Absurd. Again, sorry, but no. In fact, the point of Theatre of the Absurd is that there is no meaning. Search all you want, it isn't there. It is, by definition, a genre where the characters have lost their bearings in a ridiculous world and everything cycles back to how it began. Now, you can imagine how difficult this kind of a philosophy is for a romance writer to grasp. After all, finding meaning, as a romance writer self-trained to search out motivation for characters is what we do! So, if numbers give me a headache, it's nothing compared to trying to analyze a genre that says there is no point. I definitely had a hard time with that series of assignments! So much for drama being my "comfort zone."

What am I? A glutton for punishment perhaps? So, what does Spring semester have in store? Once again, it's time to pick an odd mix of want to and have to. The thing is, I'm not sure which is which. I'm running away from chemistry for now and lightening up on the course load a bit.

Spanish I, Ecology, Mineralogy & Petrology, and yeah, more Algebra.

Who knows what surprises this new schedule will bring! I'm hoping it will bring new favorites with enough challenges to keep me enthused and yet still be enough in my "comfort zone" to not scare me into believing I should be taking a nice easy classes -- like basket weaving or something. My luck, there would be some math involved there. Like a plot for a story, it doesn't stay simple!

I think, as I belatedly try to tie this blog to writing, that there is a hint of my search for balance in how I portray my characters. They all want to keep things simple but it never, ever works out that way. The plot gets chaotic because life is chaotic. It doesn't go as planned. And I think it's fascinating to work out those problems for a character -- with a character -- until they do get it right. I'm definitely a fan of "classic" structure -- an inciting incident, conflicts, climax, and most of all, resolution.

So that's my update on my continuing experiences with college. With all that said, I really, really need to just sit down with a romance novel and let someone else experience the variety for a while!

4 comments:

  1. Melissa, I really do admire you. I think the benefit of being a "non-traditional" student is getting to explore all these different topics. When I was in college in my teens and 20s, I didn't really appreciate that aspect -- they were just topics to get through, so I could get my degree and GET ON WITH MY LIFE. LOL

    It definitely sounds chaotic, but exciting too, to learn about things you might have overlooked otherwise.

    Still, I'm a fan of classic structure when it comes to writing and reading. Good thing we have that to fall back on when life gets crazy!

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  2. Thanks so much, Donna! It is exactly as you say...choitic, but exciting too. I keep thinking it will sort of be like finishing a book -- the plot may branch off, but eventually comes a day when you know writing The End (for this particular story anyway) has arrived. I will get a degree (or two!) eventually. LOL And maybe there will be sequels. (masters?) LOL

    The hardest thing has been not being able to get in the writing groove for my novels. But I'm hoping to devote next summer to actually revising/finishing my two WIP books then I can dive back in to fall classes with hopefully the two out on submission. How does that sound for a plan? :)

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  3. I think that sounds like a great plan! Although I'm fainting at the thought of you going for a masters too. Eeek!

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