600 Words

by | Jun 2, 2007 | Pedagogy, Writers

Related Categories: Pedagogy | Writers
Posts by: Brian

Let’s take another gander at a previously-noted quotation from Virginia Woolf:

Thinking what to write, it seems easy; but the thought evaporates, runs hither and thither.

Did she have ADD, too?

Yesterday, I got down a truly pathetic grand total of 600 words. While acknowledging the possible trap of obsessing over word counts a la the young Kerouac, I should explain that this was on a day that was to have been devoted completely to writing. Thursday I’d gotten everything out of the way – scythed through the elephant grass produced by our recent rains, went for a long bike ride, finished reading a book, even cooked up a big batch of paella – so I would have no excuse for not working. And then spent most of the day glued to my chair staring at the computer screen, getting words down in dribs and drabs.

The horror, the horror.

Usually, I can at least point to the reasons for my failure to get work done.

Did have an interesting dream last night, however. There’s a school of thought which claims that everyone in a dream is really the dreamer, which might be a good way to look at this one.

I was teaching an English class. It was the beginning of the hour. The students weren’t quite settled down, but I thought that after I’d passed out the pile of textbooks that I knew was on a desk behind me, we could get to work. The textbooks were not there. An administrator explained, with some embarrassment, that the school didn’t have that many books, and another class had borrowed the ones I needed.

Undaunted, if slightly miffed, I began to announce to the class that we would get going anyway. Except that there was a young man playing guitar in the corner, and I had to stop to ask him to put it away.

It was an awkward classroom; students were spread around in such a way that it was impossible to face them all at once.

About to restart my lesson, I heard the student still playing his guitar. He had merely moved out of sight on my right. He was, by the way, noodling away at very nicely at a standard tango number. I left my position at the front of the class to tell him (in Spanish, I might add) that it was not the time for playing tangos, but for English class, and I offered to take the guitar. He did not give it up, but did sit down. Students began to pass the guitar around, keeping it from me, until a serious-looking lad politely handed it to me.

Back in front of the class, I resumed. Now it turned out there was a young lady plinking away at a very beautiful and high-polished piano to my left. Again I had to stop, go to her, convince her to take her seat, which she did under protest.

Again I began to speak, but now a student was talking.

Evidently it was of those classes which cooperates in making certain that no instruction is allowed to occur, students taking it in turn to create distractions. Some of the students, particularly the guitar player, were very good at what they did, too.