Today, I had a reality check. I'm currently taking an intense language course--1 year's worth of language in 8 weeks--to finish up my PhD coursework. I'm the only person in the class (of 3) with extensive background within the same language family. In fact, this is my 3rd Slavic language--Russian, Polish, and now Macedonian... And, no, it's not Greek. It's Slavic. I promise.
And the class--of course!--is moving quite quickly.
But, this weekend, I didn't study. In fact, I did very little work for class at all (and I'm hoping that my instructor doesn't link to this blog from my other one to see me admitting this). After a trip to the farmers' market and a little gardening, I spent virtually all of Saturday working on writing the correspondence between my 2 main characters, and trying to imagine what it would have been like for my male lead when he was 14. Sunday, I got up late, cleaned a little, did the bare minimum of my homework, and then we had people over for a BBQ potluck.
So, how did that go for me, you wonder? Or do you even need to ask? How many words were there today that I couldn't remember from just last week? How many ways did I mispronounce the numbers we learned on Friday? And yet I could still guess what the verb is for "sell" and "sing" based on the other languages in the family. But that doesn't mean I know what I'm doing. That means I'm a halfway competent linguist with a good aptitude toward guessing.
After feeling rather embarrassed this morning by my lack of preparation, I've decided to kick it into a higher gear. Despite the fact that I've spent the last two hours reading my blogs and finding a few new interesting ones, I'm getting ready to go to work. You may think I'm procrastinating by blogging first (and maybe that's true), but I felt compelled to write about this.
As Charity Bradford has been comparing her writing process to cake baking in her recent blog posts, I would like to compare my language class to my writing. When I finished the first draft of book 1 (ahem... Russian), I started book 2 without hardly blinking (Polish). And then book 3. Admittedly, my momentum dried up about halfway through #3, and I had to pause and "rewrite". I put rewrite in quotes because what I did constituted hardly more than copy-editing. So I "rewrote" #1-2 before making my way back to book 3 and "finishing" (Macedonian).
And then I got cocky. People started asking me if I would want to get it published. "Sure!" Who wouldn't want to do just that? I hadn't even spent a year on it, so why shouldn't I expect a nice advance and instant fame a la Stephenie Meyer? HAHA!
A number of humbling experiences have brought me back to reality, and I've gladly pulled my head out of... er... the clouds. I have good friends who are graciously critiquing my work, telling me which areas I need to work on more, or where I'm just missing the bigger picture.
Is this sounding like a good teacher yet? There's only so much that a person can do on their own. Of course, there are those few people in the world who sit down and 48 hours later they have a publishable novel, or they sit down with a textbook and are fluent in Chinese the next week. I am NOT one of those people. I need to talk things through. I need a guiding hand. Eventually, I can get to the point where I can be self-sufficient and continue learning on my own, but that takes time. And I'm not there yet.
So, before I let my head inflate to unmanageable proportions, I'm off to study my vocabulary, my verb endings, and my numbers. And I'll probably post at least one exercise on my other blog... after I go back and revise some of the old ones :)