Too Hard!

multitaskWhy is this stuff so hard? I just finished another paper for school, and I think what I wrote is crap. I probably will get a fairly decent grade, but I just don’t get why doing this stuff has become so hard to do. Wasn’t it easier when I started?

I have a fairly complicated day job where I have to keep track of many, minute details. If you ask me where a file is located our office, I can point you in the right direction (and we have hundreds of files to keep track of). If you ask me the status of a file, I could probably tell you without even looking at the file. If not, I could tell you within seconds of picking it up. I remember file numbers. I refer to most of them by their 5-digit matter number. I keep track of complicated docketing instructions. I have spent most of the year training a new docketing person. I answer questions all day long and can pull up all sorts of details and rules off the top of my head without even trying hard.

As far as schoolwork goes, I’m hopeless with the details lately. The courses I am taking are 7.5 weeks long per class. They are fast, and they are intense. We research details and case law over the course of each class. By the time we reach the seventh week, we are summarizing everything we’ve learned and researched into one final portfolio project. When I stop and look back at cases I pulled and papers I wrote during the first two weeks, I can’t recall doing them! I usually waste time having to re-read what I did or what I found. Today I looked at an assignment with case analysis that I did in the second week of class, and I don’t remember making those arguments or writing those words. It’s as if someone else did them.

I think my problem is that my head can only hold so much information, and as soon as the school information is used and posted, I forget it. It’s only needed for 7.5 weeks and then I don’t need it again. The work information has been part of me since 1997. I started working in the Intellectual Property law area in 1997 and did it for 4 years at one law firm. I left there and went to work at a start-up company where I loosely kept track of their patents for 9 years (I did many other things besides the patent tracking). I’ve been in my current job for 5 years, working in an IP law department at a different law firm. When you do something for so long, I guess it sticks with you.

I also have all the details in my head from my book-writing efforts. My characters have been with me for over 5 months. I’ve taken them through 10 months of their fictional lives thus far. Those details, facts and characters are very important to me, and I’m always plotting what they are up to. They reside in the back of my mind, and I spend a lot of time considering what they are saying and what they are doing next. I think they are more important to me than the schooling is right now.

I only have four more classes to go after this class ends – a torts class, a corporate law class, an advanced legal writing class and a capstone course to summarize the entire program. I will see it through, but it doesn’t mean as much to me as it did when I started. I have other things that are more important to me now, and procrastination has become my best friend. I put off assignments until the end of the week and then spend Friday evening and most of Saturday in Hell while I attempt to grind it all out. I will be glad to see the end. I can’t lie to you there.

My poor, tired mind will breathe a huge sigh of relief to be done. It’s been great, and it’s been very good for me personally and professionally. I just didn’t know it was going to be so hard to finish up!

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My Newest Obsession (Besides Squirrels)

DSCN0788No, not the squirrel and not photography. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve loved squirrels for quite some time now. This is just my buddy eating her peanut snack yesterday while I stood out on the front porch, trying to catch a glimpse of the Blue Angels from my house. Unfortunately, all I could manage was one really far away shot as they looped around to make another pass over the airport. They don’t fly directly over my house apparently.

DSCN0796No, my newest obsession has become writing. After attending my first writers’ group meeting, I have been working on my novel. I have a pretty good idea for my book, and I’ve been just running with it. I was worried about where I was going though and what I would do when I ran out of steam. I have read suggestions about creating an outline. Outlines don’t work all that well for me; they never help me figure out what to write next. When forced to create an outline for school projects, I’d usually write the piece first and then create an outline after the fact. This morning I read an article that suggested I write the ending of the book first. What a great idea!

DSCN0800I sat down today and wrote most of the LAST chapter of my book. I was almost in tears as I wrote it – except I was smiling on the inside too much. It was such a relief to finally have it mapped out. It suddenly became so clear to me where I wanted to take the storyline. NOW I know where I am going, and I can continue writing the beginning and middle parts, knowing the destination that I have in mind. I can tweak things as I go along, but I’m happy with what I’ve decided.

DSCN0803I still have a children’s book starring the squirrels in mind, too. I wrote that one a couple of years back and never finished it. It’s just waiting for me to pick it back up again. Soon, my little squirrelly friends.

Writer’s Group – First Meeting

That was interesting. It was also fun. I do have to admit that I felt like a bit of a fraud. I was in over my head. It was a group of approximately 10 people (if you count me, I believe there were 7 women and 3 men present). They were all older people. I was nervous, but I had it under control. The worst part was when I had to talk about myself (of course). I expected that, though.

They all knew who they were (as writers). Not all are published, but they had all written more than I have. One lady in particular was fairly successful – she’s written and published enough books to have purchased a second home in Florida on the waterfront where she spends half of her year.

I joined as a member, but I do feel a little out of my depth, and it wasn’t just the nerves taking over. I couldn’t really identify what it is that I write (or want to write) – it’s too much of an abstract for me yet. I will return for future meetings, and I really wanted to volunteer for something or contribute in a bigger way, but I don’t have enough experience yet. My hope is that I can learn from these nice people and maybe soak something up through osmosis.

surroundThe next meeting is what they call a critique meeting – there is no actual meeting; they just review each other’s writing samples. Unless I can write a lot more between now and then, I’m not sure I’ll go to that one, but we shall see. I’ve connected with some of them online, and I’ve signed up for various suggested newsletters, blogs and information.

In terms of my writing, I keep wondering if I should just write, or if I need to learn how to do it better first. There’s so much information out there on how to craft this and that, but most of it just serves to make me doubt myself more. Perhaps I should just write and then worry about making it perfect later on when I edit. I really want to do this. I just didn’t realize it was so hard.

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