Because I'm angry, damnit. Take one scoop of jet lag, add one giant steaming pile of incompetence, and sprinkle liberally with a lack of decent food, and you get me right now.
2:00 is approximately midnight where I live, just so you have a point of reference. I still have to wake up on East Coast time.
Today started off good. My seminar involved some pretty decent nuggets of information. I've been around adult education in some form for about 30 years, so nothing is really brand new. I've taught, presented, and attended many times. I'm here for the bits and pieces I can glean from presentations.
This is put on by a contractor who is supposed to be polished and professional. The seminar is taught by two people who spell each other off. While the handout materials leave something to be desired, the morning presenter did a good job.
When we came back from lunch, the other presenter took over, and it went something like this:
She was supposed to teach us how an Excel spreadsheet can let us catalog all the data we gathered into a searchable product.
We all kind of knew this, but again, there are supposed to be nuggets here somewhere.
This time, there were no nuggets. She spent two hours debating with the voices in her own head about whether to use a comma in numbers that go over a thousand. The committee in her head eventually decided it really doesn't matter and we should do whatever makes us happy. She didn't say anything about consistency.
Then she spent another 90 minutes debating with herself about whether it's best to use the money display or the accounting display for debits and credits. The main difference being the placement of the dollar sign against the left edge of the cell, or tight against the numbers. The committee in her head decided this didn't really matter either, and we should make ourselves happy. She again didn't feel the need to address consistency. It could be pretty important to any formulas we use.
Apparently, there was still a sub-committee at work, because she spent the remainder of the day showing us seven different ways to change from accounting style to money style, and detailing what the various versions of Excel would, and would not, allow. This last part could only be accomplished by explaining how Lotus 123 used to work.
I'm probably the only one who's angry and awake right now. Most of the rest of the class committed suicide somewhere around 3:00 yesterday afternoon.
Honestly, if I wanted an Excel class, I could have gotten a better one in Boise for a lot less money. In fact, I could have gotten a better one by using a dowsing rod and guessing. By the way, the course materials say nothing about this being an Excel class.
I want my nuggets, damnit!
A shuffling sound came from under the bed. “What are you doing up?”
“Bed monster? What are you doing here?”
“Trying to give you a nugget or two so you'll turn out the light and put your iPad away.”
“Great! What have you got?”
“The left side of your brain got screwed over today, so let's give it time to heal. I want to appeal to the right side of your brain.”
“You mean where all the fiction comes from?”
“You knew that. You're just asking for the sake of your readers.”
“You got me. How can today help with my writing?”
“First, did anything spark your imagination today?”
“We all had to introduce ourselves, and talk about our careers. Standard seminar stuff. One lady said she used to be a mom. I'm probably the only person who picked up on it, but nobody says that unless there is a tragic tale involved. Even the mothers of dead children still identify as a mother in the present tense. I wonder if her children were taken away by Child Protective Services or something.”
“Okay, make a note in one of your living documents. That's one thing out of your head, and it might allow a bit of sleep. What else?”
The name of the course, the materials, and the presentation weren't relative to what we got.”
“What does that do for your writing career?”
“Book covers, titles, and blurbs make promises. Authors have to deliver on those promises.”
“That's a good one. Put a robot on the cover, there had better be a robot in the book. What else?”
“I think what pissed me off the most was the endless sidetracks that had nothing to do with the course itself. I mean, she talked about Lotus 123 for crying out loud.”
“Wow, and they call me a scary monster. Put that into a lesson for authors.”
“Don't use Lotus???”
“No. Look under the bed. What do you see?”
“Okay, standard hotel setup. Mattress on a pedestal, etc. So what?”
“So how do I fit under here then?”
“I, um, you've got me. How do you fit under there?”
“You didn't even think about it until I asked did you?”
“That's because you didn't need to know. I'm here, talking to you, and that's all you need to know. You don't need to know how it all works.”
“Stop with Lotus. You're going to make yourself dumber by even thinking about it.”
“Wasn't there something about being able to enjoy breakfast without knowing how sausage is made?”
“Eh, close enough for the wee hours of the morning. So even though you didn't get much for your paycheck job, your writing career can still benefit.”
“Yeah, but it's all bad example stuff.”
“What's wrong with that? Observing a bad example can still make you better. There are nuggets here after all, you just needed to look in a different place.”
“So how did this lady get so far out in the weeds?”
“I'm going to tell you, but I'm going to try addressing the right side of your brain. She failed to plan. She needed to know what her students should learn every hour, and to make sure she delivered the hourly message. Now make that into an author point.”
“Make sure all the acts are hitting the right beats?”
“You asking me, or telling me?”
“That's a fair answer, but you can break it all the way down into chapters if you like. Ask what readers are supposed to get out of each chapter. Make sure the chapter delivers. If it doesn't, fix it or delete it. Don't wind up including a Lotus 123 chapter.”
“Hey, that was pretty clever.”
“I have my moments.”
“It's nearly time to get up now. You couldn't have shown up sooner?”
“Those layovers in Denver are a bitch, sorry. I knew tonight was a bust all along. I'll bet you sleep tomorrow night.”
“Yeah, or in class tomorrow.”
“Something tells me that won't be a tragedy.”