Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 26, 2010


As a teacher, I spend a certain amount of time standing in front of a room and making sure discussions stay on track. But in class the other day, I let the tangents fly. We got into the Harry Potter and the Twilight books, which aren’t on the curriculum. Opinions billowed and flowed more easily than usual through much of the room, though I noticed the people near the window kept quiet and sometimes slightly rolled their eyes. I smiled at them. Some of what we said was a little silly. None of it was terribly backed up. But much of the conversation was fun.

When I write, I need to stay on some kind of track, too. But the times I let matters shift beyond the syllabus or outline can be times I not only enjoy myself more, but when I trip over something new. It’s good to check the clock sometimes. And it’s good to also look away.



  1. Your class the other day sounded like fun.
    I like the way digressions can add to a story, even when you don’t end up using some or a lot of the new material you come up with. I’m on page 147/154 in my revision — my goal was to finish this round in March — and now that it looks like I’ll make it to “the end” tonight or tomorrow, I’m thinking of adding a few light moments into the story. And I had a lot of fun on my commute this morning thinking of light moments, like, “What about a scene at the county fair?”, because the story takes place in summer, and who doesn’t love a county fair? So I’m looking forward to just writing a few scenes for fun over the next week, and seeing where they take me, and whether they’ll end up in the MS after all.

  2. It sounds like a fun class!
    You’re so right about allowing both meandering through a story and a path for it as well. Hmmph. I think I’ve been looking away too much–I could use a good outline right about now.

  3. Jeni, your plan sounds wonderful!
    And talk about digressions — I didn’t mean to go on and on and on with unsolicited advice in your blog comments…

  4. Here’s hoping your meandering leads to an outline sort of shape. (I know this feeling far too well). Good luck, Lorraine!

  5. I’ve been in that position before as I listened to a discussion where the teacher picked up on my feelings and gave me a smile to connect. It makes those moments almost perfect (despite the discussion maybe being less-than-perfect). I’d love to be in your class.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement, Tracy. As a teacher, you’re always hoping to connect to… well, somebody. I guess it’s much like writing: mostly you move along doing your best, but what matters or doesn’t to others stay mostly a mystery. So I appreciate your smile.

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