“Unlike perspiration, inspiration is unpredictable; it is dependent on the complex brain and not the relatively simple body.”
I have a habit of starting and not finishing pieces of writing. This is not to say I do less work; if you added all my starts, it would probably equal the average person’s completes, but my computer desktop and email inbox are filled with beginnings, some promising, others less so, that are unlikely to be finished.
These brief opening lines and paragraphs are initially exciting to me. In my inbox at the moment there is an email, greatly inspired by Woody Allen’s ridiculous plots, with the subject line “Story?” and it reads:
In 1904, Morris Walters, a clarinet player for a Klezmer band in Portland, Maine, who was quite well known in his area of expertise and area of residence, had a revelation. This “realization,” as he called it in his self-published memoir, was, to the stranger’s mind, entirely irrelevant to Morris’s livelihood or demeanor, but to him—someone fully immersed and conscious of his own mind—it was the epitome of the life he was “chosen” (also from his memoir) to lead.
His life was excellent before—ideal even, to him; his low expectations and passivity made him the most extreme example of an easygoing person—and he was thoroughly content.
Every night he made a list of things to do the next day, and in the morning would edit them. Many schedules looked something like this:
7:00- Wake up
8:00- Get out of bed
It ends there. After reading this now for the first time since January, I realized to my surprise that the piece was mildly entertaining, not as crappy as some others. Also, in looking over my other snippets, I discovered that all my fictional stories have a character named Morris, who in my mind resembles SmallerMan mixed with Ned Vizzini.
Scrolling through my inbox I can read the first few words of other emails, some dating back to pre-home school years, many with subject lines “story?” but, interestingly, based on topics perhaps more severe. Back then—it seems like a while now—many stories were about angst, crime, and failed musicians, while today’s pieces include happy mohels (Jewish circumcisers), parsley and the Marshall Islands. Did you know one of their government’s biggest concerns is literally disappearing?
Despite the challenge these emails present in forming a finished piece, together the writing is readable—at least to my biased self—and complicated, in both the positive and negative sense, though the wacko topics suggest I may be losing my mind.
Why can’t these snippets and thoughts cohere? It seems to me that at a certain point, I’ll have enough pieces of writing to form something complete (my dad hopes that this blog will become a book if we just keep writing) or maybe one of these beginnings will be catchy enough, exciting enough, to keep me interested long enough for me to finish it.
Why is motivation so overwhelmingly intense, yet so random and short lived? To paraphrase William Faulkner, inspiration at 10 PM is useless if you’re going to sleep, and no, Schooless, that inspiration won’t last till morning. Unlike perspiration, inspiration is unpredictable; it is dependent on the complex brain and not the relatively simple body.
I’ve concluded that attention span is a matter of nature vs. nurture. We all are born with varying attention spans, but during life, partially during education, the attention span of all students is whittled down to a mere 43 minutes; the length of time, one class, that dictates our daily lives.
To me this is a classic fault of traditional education. Forty-three minutes is, in a way, a logical period of time for a class, especially with younger students, but when repeated throughout the day, for over half the educational career of a student, it becomes repetitive, too much of a routine.
It’s not necessarily a bad routine. It’s just not a flexible one.
I try to not see homeschooling as defying school, but as a personalized renovation of it. Other homeschoolers say “unschooling” and criticize traditional education for not resembling “real life.” However hard it may be, I make a conscious effort to take pride in my own choices, and try not to be pressured by the choices of others. I see value in both ways of thinking, unschooling and homeschooling. I try to keep my experience as a home schooler fluid and open-ended, aiding my self motivation and heightening my curiosity. I take pride in the personal system I have created, where I maximize my work output with minimal stress and struggle, and consider this system the best of many out there for me for the time being. Since society has been molded for traditional school, I am very much aware of how the opinions of my peers influence but do not control my experiences. My system is not flawless, of course, and in school or not I am working on making it better.
Morris may someday emerge from my inbox as a character worthy of a story, but until I can sustain motivation and interest, he remains in my email, having adventures of all sorts by himself, with no one to watch.
My electronic pile of writing is part of a bigger project, a project where I both complete concrete tasks, and evolve and exercise my work habits. My writing evolves into better writing, the plots become more interesting, the characters become fully formed, and eventually Morris somehow loses his love for parsley, much to my dismay.
Can’t say more right now. Read the story, when it’s written.
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