Monday, December 10, 2007

Yay, Motivation!

By Emma G.
(8th grader, 2007 silver keys winner for short story)

I loved Dan’s last piece and it made me start thinking about my own encounters with procrastination. When it comes to academic areas--homework, tests, getting forms signed--I’m on top of it, I get things done. I guess you could call me a motivated person where tangible goals or rewards are concerned. I don’t consider procrastinating an option when I have something to work towards--a grade, for example. So even though I have always loved creative writing (outside of school), it was never an area where I was motivated--because I never had a tangible goal.

Once I discovered Scholastic's writing contest, I became motivated--I had a goal to set for myself.

I didn't even care about winning the little "silver key" to pin on my collar. I actually was totally confident I would lose. I just knew that there was a publicized deadline, and that others would be disappointed if the story was not finished by mid-January. In fact, still, the greatest satisfaction comes from printing my story for the final time, reading it over, in awe that these words, this completed story is mine. I am an author… well sort of.

I have always associated satisfaction with grades and words of praise. Looking at a to-do list I would always leave me-stuff: reading, scrap booking, and, of course, writing, to the end, rationalizing this with “what am I going to get for doing stuff for myself?” Well, the scholastic contest gave me an answer. For the first time I sat down at a computer and just typed, immersing myself in my stories, working for weeks on end. And, when January arrived in flurries of snow and days locked in my study with my stories and a cup of tea, I finally finished my piece, titling my last version “Emma’s FINISHED version of story”. It was edited, had an end, and I had never known that print could be so beautiful.

I want to become a writer when I grow up… so I guess it doesn’t make sense that writing was often not a main concern. Lately it has become a priority though, as not finishing is no longer an option. I have even taken to writing “Work on story” in my homework planner, just to remind myself that I have a goal in mind, and that goal will not be fulfilled by always leaving writing to the those five minutes between math homework and studying for science.

Everything I have done with Rebecca, especially workshops, have taught me something that was reinforced about a week ago. My mom went to a wake for a woman who worked in her office, the switchboard operator. “It was interesting,” she mused. “They had a photo montage and there were lots of pictures of her and her family, her and her friends, but no pictures of her behind the desk, at the switchboard. I guess in the end all that work you put into your job, that’s not always what even matters most.”
I know studies, homework, tests, etc. are essential but sometimes even more important are family game night, a phone conversation with your best friend, or just sitting at the computer and writing a story. If I grow up to be a writer I’m not going to be writing stories about my math homework… I’ll write stories about those special everyday life experiences that often plunge towards the bottom of my to-do list.


Lily said...

Emma--that is the coolest response to a cool post that i have ever read. LOL. And i totally know what science studying you are fitting inbetween your writing pieces. :). I agree with you about the scholastic writing contest having been my motivation to keep writing. And you are right...when i really consider it, it is not the recognition i want, but having sent something in. tangibility.

PT Witte from Second Life said...

Too late, my dear.

You wrote: "I want to become a writer when I grow up…"

I can see that you are already a writer. And you already know the hard work that goes into it.

I encourage you to stay on this writing journey. It will take you to unimaginable places!
Peace to you,
PT Witte

Rebecca Segall said...

Emma, When I invited Jaida Jones to write for us, she read your post, turned to me and said, "How old is the girl who wrote this? Only 13!?"

Sue Wolff said...

For Emma:
Emma, I am an educator who wants to encourage you. Like PT and others, I agree that you ARE a writer - Already! Enjoy writing casually in your teen years. Get out and immerse youself in the world as much as possible, writing like others take snapshots. Start a blog (with a pseudonym- protect yourself- stay safe). I will subscribe. You remind me why I care about contests and projects and young people finding their gifts.