Ranting…

Preteen is doing College for Kids in Cedar Rapids this week. So rather than put him on a bus at 7:30 in the morning, I’ve decided to let him sleep in an extra half hour so I can drive him to Coe College myself and work there during the 3 hours and 20 minutes that he’s in class rather than at home (it’s amazing how much more I can accomplish when I’m away from home, away from the telephone, and away from my e-mail). And since my husband works in Cedar Rapids, this is also a good opportunity to have lunch with him a couple times during this two-week period, too.

Well, despite the fact that I was sitting in the library with HEADPHONES on…one of the College for Kids instructors started making conversation with me today (she did this last Friday, too). She said, “I’ve seen you in here the last three days, typing away. Aren’t your fingers about to fall off?” (Truth be told, I’ve spent a lot more time staring at my monitor than I’ve spent typing, but that’s beside the point…)

So I explained that I was a writer…and she told me her sister or sister-in-law was a writer, too. But she’d only published one book because it was SO expensive to get a book published. (She was really surprised that I’d published several books.) So I explained that I didn’t pay to publish my books…that publishers PAID ME. She interrupted me and said, “Well, (so-and-so) lives in Oregon and that’s the way they do things there.”

Oh, really? You can’t get a book published in Oregon unless you self-publish???

I couldn’t help but take offense to her comparison between me and her self-published sister/sister-in-law (maybe she took offense to my comment that I don’t pay to publish my work; publishers pay me?). It’s just like when my mother would go on a trip and buy some self-published children’s book — usually very poorly written — and give it to one of my kids for Christmas because I’m an author, too. And yes, I know that not all self-published books are awful…sometimes there are legitimate reasons to self-publish…and people who self-publish have to work very hard to sell their books…but I’ve worked very hard to get where I am, too. And every time I hear about another friend of a friend who wrote a book in five days and self-published it (so the big bad publisher wouldn’t get all the money), I feel like my own accomplishments are somehow lessened.

But this isn’t just a rant on self-published vs. traditionally published authors…while I’m in rant mode, I’d also like to rant about this particular teacher. You see, Preteen is actually IN one of her classes…and I’m still waiting for her to start teaching! For the last three days, each of her classes has spent the entire period in the library researching mythological beings…which in and of itself isn’t so bad…but they’re in a LIBRARY, where presumably there are books and things, right? Well, the kids just sit at the computer and research their mythological being online the whole hour! The Internet seems to be their only source of information (has she taught them how to tell whether a website is a reliable source of information or not??? Not according to Preteen…). And what is she doing while her students are “researching?” I’ll give you a hint…she’s NOT helping them. I’ve heard students come up to her and ask for help, and she just blows them off. Instead, she spends her time reading…checking her e-mail…and gossiping/complaining about her students. I was pretty shocked by some of the things I overheard her saying to another teacher, to the College for Kids staff, and to a librarian…I don’t THINK she was talking about my child, but she was talking about some people’s children, and I doubt those parents would be any happier about what she was saying than I was…(NOTE TO TEACHERS…if you’re going to gossip and/or complain about your students in public, be aware that it’s possible THEIR PARENTS CAN HEAR YOU…)

Tomorrow is “parents day,” so she won’t be teaching then, either. The kids will take turns telling the parents what they’ve learned about their mythological being. I don’t think they’re even writing papers…I think they’re just reporting on what they’ve learned (I heard her tell a student, “If you don’t do a good job on this, you’re the one who’s going to look bad, not me.”). I don’t know what they’re doing Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday they’re watching a movie. So again…not a whole lot of teaching.

I don’t think she realizes “the lady with the laptop” actually has a child in one of her classes. I hope she’ll feel at least a little bit embarrassed when I walk in with Preteen tomorrow for parents day and she realizes I probably heard everything she said these past three days (even with my headphones on).

8 thoughts on “Ranting…

  1. So I explained that I was a writer…and she told me her sister or sister-in-law was a writer, too. But she’d only published one book because it was SO expensive to get a book published. (She was really surprised that I’d published quite a few.) So I explained that I didn’t pay to publish my books…that I believe in having publishers PAY ME. She interrupted me and said, “Well, lives in Oregon and that’s the way they do things there.”

    LOL! and also, *sigh*

  2. “Well, (so-and-so) lives in Oregon and that’s the way they do things there.”

    Too funny! And sad at the same time!

    At my high school reunion, a classmate asked me why I didn’t just self-publish like her friend, because her friend said that all the big publishers were crooked and it wasn’t possible to get in with them, so I should just self-publish.

    I said I preferred to give it the old college try, but she just shook her head.

    I don’t try to explain anymore.

  3. Re: No wonder!

    You’re published in magazines, aren’t you? And you are SO close to publishing a book!!!! It’s going to happen for you very soon! (And it’s going to be a known publisher, too!)

  4. Re: It’s getting harder to explain

    LOL about the “that’s why I get paid to do the show!”

    And I wouldn’t know where to begin to put out my own CD. The third class my son is taking right now is, coincidentally, writing music! They’re using a program called Sibelius, and the instructor said something along the lines of “it’s like word processing for music. And you don’t have to be a musician to use it. Lots of people use word processing programs, but very few of them write books on them.” My son and I smiled at each other.

    Absolutely…self-publishing is great for a specific target audience. There are times it makes sense. But very few “professional writers” self-publish. That’s the difference.

  5. Re: It’s getting harder to explain

    And of course, in music, you can both sell music at concerts–your audience in one place–and get paid for the actual performing at same, as well. The economics are really different.

    I get tired of both having to explain why I don’t think others should self publish their books, and of explaining to booksellers and the like that no, my book isn’t self-published, thanks very much.

    The problem is, even if you write the most brilliant self-published book ever–how is anyone going to find it, if you don’t have a very niche market, given all the truly badly written self-published stuff it has to sit beside?

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