It’s September 2020. There are a lot of… Things happening in the world, and as a result, school looks different for a lot of students. Some are completing all of their education virtually for the first time, while others are doing a “hybrid” of online and in-person classes. Even for those who are learning face-to-face have to make accommodations for classmates who aren’t able to do the same.
It’s a very different world. Being in school was already stressful enough, and now we’ve got to deal with this too? I don’t blame you if you’re nervous. And for those who had a challenging adjustment from in-person to online classes last spring, you’re probably wondering how on earth you’re going to manage another semester like this.
I have good news though: It is possible to be a successful student in cyberspace. I’m no expert, but I did attend an online school from when I was six years old until I graduated high school at eighteen, and I think I turned out okay (though my parents may beg to differ). I picked up on a few tricks along the way, and in light of this new and very unique school year starting up, I thought I’d share some of them.
I wrote this entire blog post and then realized I needed to go back and write an introduction and… I can’t think of anything. I guess I’d start by saying, congrats to everyone for making it this far in the year! 2020 hasn’t been kind to most of us, but I’m proud of you for pushing on. That’s no small accomplishment!
Speaking of accomplishments, I finally got back into my blogging routine this month. I wrote about:
You may be asking yourself, what happened to Maggie? She wrote one (1) thing about the apocalypse and then dropped off the face of the earth, what gives?
Life. Life is what gives.
It should come as no surprise that the last few months have been full of… happenings that required me to make some temporary adjustments to my life. One of those adjustments was going on an “unplanned indefinite hiatus,” as a band I liked once put it. The quick explanation is that combining work, school, senioritis, and a magnified lack of motivation due to the happenings made things pretty challenging!
But things are different now! I’m graduated (!) and unemployed (?!) which means two obstacles are out of the way for the time being. One of the first things I wanted to do was fall back into my blogging routine, and fall into it I shall.
And what better way to do so than to give a major life update? I promise it won’t all be boring stuff, because I read a lot of books these past few months, played some new video games, and even wrote some words if you can believe it. So onward!
With the amount of writing that I’ve been doing over the past year, I probably would’ve murdered a whole forest with the amount of paper I would have used, and that would be a shame. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and so my projects live on in Scrivener files and Evernote notes, and I can continue looking out my bedroom window at trees.
I don’t say that to sound all proud or anything. Yeah, I did write a lot this year, but if we’re being honest, a lot of that writing was experimental, nothing that actually went anywhere. A lot of it was also writing for this blog, so I’ll leave you to judge the quality of that (don’t tell me, I’d like to live in my ignorance on this one). Oh, and there was a lot of academic writing too, which… well, again, I guess it’s more for my professor to decide whether it was good or not.
All this to say, looking back over the past year, I think my writing and I have had a pretty great 2019! I can see the ways that I’ve grown as a writer, honing my voice and experimenting with new genres. I’ve expanded my influences too by discovering new favorite books, shows, and other stories in a lot of different mediums. In light of it being the end of the year, I wanted to look back through what I’ve done as a writer this year, and look ahead to what 2020 might have in store for me!
If you see a scattered pile of computer paper and hear muffled noises coming from underneath it, I promise it’s not haunted. It’s just one of us senior writing students, buried underneath our overwhelming major projects.
Truth be told, my senior seminar project is actually going pretty well. I’m on track in terms of my word count, and it seems like the story is moving along at a nice pace. I covered what my major project is about in my last Writer’s Life post, but here’s a quick recap: I’m writing an “alternate history” novel set in 1968. It features two young women (a college student and a journalist) as they investigate several U.S. soldiers who have mysteriously disappeared in their home country.
As of this writing, I’m at 26,783 words just over halfway to my word count goal 50,000. I’m also a little more than halfway to my deadline of November 30 (remember, I started mid-October). In other words, things are right on track and as long as nothing wild happens (knock on wood), I should reach my goal no problem.
Big-picture-wise, it looks like things have been smooth sailing, but this project has been more complicated than that. I’ve fallen behind a few times, though I always manage to recover within a few days. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of great help – I have a writing program that keeps me organize, fellow writer who encourage me, and music that keeps me motivated.
Happy October! It’s supposed to be autumn here but we had two days that were 90 degrees Fahrenheit (about 32 Celsius) which is definitely not normal for central Pennsylvania. Please give me colder weather and apple cider (which is the SUPERIOR fall beverage). I want to wear my sweatshirt.
School started this month (more on that in a minute) and it was a bit of a struggle to get into the swing of things this year. Because of that, I wrote a grand total of one blog post this month. But it’s a good one! It’s about books: Making the Most of Required Reading
On a related note: I’ve decided to revisit how and when I post things on my blog, and you can find all the details here: Blogkeeping: New Schedule!
And finally, you can check out my 1 Second Everyday Compilation for September!
Most people don’t like required reading. Not even English majors. There’s nothing that kills my motivation more than someone handing me a paperback and then telling me I will be graded on my ability to read, comprehend, and analyze the words inside. I love reading. I wish I could do it more often than I do. It’s just that I have the kind of personality where the instant someone tells me something’s required, even if I will probably enjoy that something, I’m determined to dread it.
Actually, I’m not all that sorry, because in sprite of my bad attitude, I have enjoyed a lot of my required reading. At the very least, I’ve only hated one or two books (and generally with good reason, so I don’t feel all that bad). Since school recently started for a lot of us Americans, I thought I’d take some time to talk about the books that make me love being an English major.
I enjoy an academic challenge. If I hate an assignment, it’s usually not because it’s too hard, but because it’s boring or feels meaningless.
The one type of assignment I just can’t bring myself to like, however, are group projects.
If you’ve never had to survive a group project, I envy you. The name is pretty self-explanatory: it’s an assignment that involves collaborating with other students in order to achieve a (usually shared) grade.
On paper, it’s a great idea. After all, knowing how to collaborate with others is a good skill to have – whether or not it’s as important as people say is something I still debate, but that’s besides the point. Knowing how to work with others and bring people with different skill sets together can allow for more productivity in a project. At least, that’s how it should be.
The problem that I’ve encountered is that in my experience, group projects have been more frustrating than educational. I always come away from a group assignment feeling like the final result would have been better if I had done it myself. Part of this is certainly a character flaw of mine, but I think it goes beyond that.
On the other hand, I’ve had many experiences with collaborative projects that have gone very well. I can think back to some group assignments in college that I enjoyed and learned from, as well as from activities outside of an academic setting, like video games and writing. Based on that, I don’t think the problem is so much with group assignments themselves – as I said, they do have their benefits – but rather with how they’re presented.
So, what makes a group project enjoyable and beneficial? (Or, if not enjoyable, at least not terribly frustrating.)
Happy May! This is arguably the best month of the year (not that I’m biased or anything… it is my birthday month after all), but April was also a great month! I’m excited to share just a little bit about what I did this month, but first, in case you missed anything I wrote about…