Written on June 16, 2011. I saved this post for when this book goes live so the whole thing would be real to you. These are my thoughts typed at 2 am on the last night of the last deadline of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds. Now, I'm working on Collaborative Writing in the Cloud and am rereading because I'm reliving the same thing.
I'm sitting here about to watch today turn into tomorrow for the fifth day this week as the final manuscript for the Flat Classroom Book is combined in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
|Photo snapped after weeks of
no sleep as I prepared to
overnight Flattening Classrooms,
Engaging Minds to Pearson.
I'm too tired to reflect right now. I've always romanticized authors. Alone in some cabin nestled amidst the Rocky Mountains all alone with a typewriter working away at some book that's going to change the world and inspire the millions. With a dog sitting on his feet and a fire crackling in the fireplace, he swigs a perpetually full cup of eternally warm coffee as the words flow. Everything comes so fast it is ready for the publisher and he's starting the next book in his mind before this one is printed.
That is about the only thing in this picture that is accurate. Alone.
I'm too tired to really explain it. That probably explains a lot.
The best explanation is from Jeremiah:
Some people tire of writing. For those of us who love to write, that would be kind of like getting tired of breathing. We have to get those words out. When they flow we know and we're afraid to stop.
We don't sleep. We don't eat. We don't do anything but sit and write and proofread and fix and write and crash the computer and when we can't take it any more we crash for a moment just to pop wide awake two hours later knowing we have to start over.
The great movies of history and obscure tv shows have kept me company. Gone with the Wind, about 30 episodes of Numb3rs (it doesn't distract me, I've seen them all twice anyway), the Christian classic Faith Like Potatoes, and Chariots of Fire (three times at least once a day.)
I like Chariots of Fire because each runner is driven. So driven that all they focus on is that one thing. Their families get mad at them. They are misunderstood. People tell them to stop. Lots of people don't even like them, but they go anyway.
There are some quotes that really speak to me. This fire I have in my bones. I won't presume to call it a gift, really, more of a calling. A purpose:
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
— Eric Liddell Chariots of Fire
Gosh, sometimes I wish I was really noble. But then, when I realize that if I follow God's calling on my life; His purpose, that I am noble. You are too. He made me to write. I've been doing it since Mom gave me my first journal when I was 8. Why have I always written? I don't know. It was rarely fiction, though. It was observations on life, poetry, non fiction. Wrangling words to unleash some new fine shade of meaning like an artist trying to make a new color no one had ever seen before. Somehow when I write I feel His pleasure.
It is a struggle. Wanting to do your best is not the same as being the best. But it is kind of like grades – you should do your best and if you are first then glory be – if you're not, say oh me and do better next time. But you have to realize that once you've given all you've got that is enough. It has to be.
When I've given all I can give then I'll know I've lived all I could live. I pray when I die that I'll not have one more word left to drip from my calloused fingers but that every word God called me to write will have been poured out of my tired body.
Harold M. Abrahams: I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But WILL I?
This is the one that breaks my heart. Abrahams and Liddell are such a contrast in characters! Such different people! Abrahams runs to win (and because he has a chip on his shoulder) and Liddell runs because he feels called. If you've read my blog you know that I was very much shaped by my middle school years.
Thoughts in the Night
For a while I actually believed I was worthless and no one would ever like me. That insecurity comes back to haunt me.
When I'm sitting with all of you at the edublogger cafe at ISTE and I see one of you and feel like you are actually happy to see me, it feels surreal sometimes. I felt the same thing at Georgia Tech. Every once in a while I think some guy in the corner is going to speak up and tell everyone to let me know that it was all a big joke and that no one really liked me anyway.
I had way too many people who used me in middle and high school. They'd use me to help them with their grades or to do something and once it was over, they'd cast me aside and I'd realize that I was used yet again.
That is why I'm so distrustful of people sometimes. I like real people who care about other real people. The kind who look you in the eye. I get so many emails now. People wanting to guest blog. People pretending like they read my blog when I know it is just a form letter – pr firms sending me their press release like they are some long lost friend. People who just want to use me for this blog or Twitter or whatever.
That's why my “old friends” have such an advantage. The “big time” presenters who were nice to me when I wasn't cool and the cat was something I fed every morning before I went to school. Those are the people I trust.
Some “famous” edtech gurus wouldn't talk to me until I had 10,000 people reading this blog. Sure, I'm cordial, but you're not going to see me sitting cosy because that would be using them and that stinks.
People like Alfred Thompson, David Warlick, and Stephen Downes, Miguel Guhlin, Wes Fryer, Cheryl Oakes, Sharon Peters who like newbies and are kind, these are people I appreciate and have my loyalty. But I also make a lot of new friends like Anne Mirstchin, Angela Maiers, Andrew Ko, Anne Ostholthoff, Kirby Salerno, Pooky Hesmonhaulgh, Stephen Anderson, and Jerry Blumengarten who are just kind, helpful, hard working people. (And so many more, I'm not naming – please don't be upset if I left you out, it was a matter of time and top of mind.)
Then there are some people who love newbies but are reverse snobs and if you get a certain number of followers they drop you. That hurts. They think you think you're too big for your britches, and quite honestly, I know I went through a phase where I was too big for my britches: literally and figuratively. But my friends loved me anyway and knew that I'd come back to center and that I'd realize that in the grand scheme of things I'm no big deal. The big deal is if I can use the blessings of your friendships and following to help others and bless the world. That would be a big deal. Unforgiveness for the inevitable screw up hurts but I have to forgive anyway. Their bitterness will only hurt them.
Then there are those who are your friend till you screw up. Unfortunately, we all screw up. Or, I should say fortunately, because then you find out who your true friends are.
Numb and Pondering Something Dumb
Well now, I'm numb. I'm exhausted. I don't know what this book or I will become but I do know that it will go to print. Once I sat at my computer looking at all the files wondering what would happen if I just selected all the files and pressed delete and moved on with my life. In many ways we are afraid to put ourselves out there.
We know that we will have misspelled some words and said something not quite right for that one person who doesn't publish anything and has made a career of semantic debate with little meaning.
I'm numb. Uncomfortably numb. In many ways, I hope this book will make people uncomfortable and let them be no longer numb to the great wide world out there.
Now the veil has been drawn back of what authoring is really about. A tiring, lonely, messy, exhausting business. And yet, it is the calling of my life and I will write rigorously until my fingers freeze in rigor. It is what I was made to do. I love it. Thank you to all of you who have made it possible by following this blog and telling others.
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