It’s 2:00 Am. Why can’t I sleep?

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?”

“Not really.”

“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.”

“So Lotus–“

“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?”

“Telling you.”

“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.”


Filed under Writing

46 responses to “It’s 2:00 Am. Why can’t I sleep?

  1. Ah I can so relate! I feel our time is so precious that it can indeed make us angry if we feel someone has wasted our time, I find it so annoying if I attend a conference and it doesn’t deliver what was promised. I organise conferences and events sometimes at work, and if ever there are complaints on the feedback forms afterwards, they are either to do with the catering, or that the presenter of a particular workshop didn’t deliver what was expected, or what they had said in the blurb. I try hard to make sure that the presenters are clear on the theme/purpose of the event, and what is expected from their presentation, but still they sometimes just ignore that and do something completely different!

    As you say, we just need to learn from it for ourselves – deliver on what you say you’re going to deliver on, and don’t disappoint by not living up to expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nyambura

    I hope today goes well for you, Craig.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scary bed monsters can follow you around from place to place? I KNEW it!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope the seminars go better today. I remember taking a CE class on social media once only to have the presenter spend half of it talking about the old days of real estate and how things were done. Didn’t need that. I already KNEW about the old days…I lived them! When she finally got around to the topic, she knew less than I did. Not quite as bad as Lotus 123, but almost.

    On the plus side, you had a nice chat with the Monster under the bed and kept your readers entertained. Pretty cool of that monster to show up when you needed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sound like me in almost every office meeting I’ve attended. Most of it is stuff I already know or doesn’t really concern me. Guess not every nugget is useful. Yeah, I’m thinking of a specific use of the word ‘nugget’ in regards to that presentation you described.

    What about a society where people are incapable of focusing on one thing for too long? The ruling class is fine and keeps the lower classes drugged so they won’t rebel. They can only focus on simple tasks or believe they have a disease that is controlled by collars that do some kind of low level mind control to get work done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That has occurred to me. Take one part common core education, add in almost limitless attention deficit drugs, jack up the price of a college education and what do you get?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funny that you mention Common Core. With my wife temping in a school, we’re getting a good look at the testing. Closer than we would only as a parent at least. Apparently, a bunch of the math is about getting close or something. 2+2=5 according to one student that my wife spoke to.

        Scary how our fiction might be better than our reality in this way.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s almost our jobs to bring this stuff out in our fiction. It might be only a conspiracy theory, but there’s been a lot of good fiction based around such things.


      • Yeah. Conspiracy theory or not, it is weird when the ruling class is pushing something that is obviously flawed. It’s either power or money, which are some classic villain motivators.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I hope today goes better for you. But I enjoyed your chat with the Bed Monster. What a great way to rid yourself of stressors. The mom is intriguing. There’s definitely a story there, and probably a sad one.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ugh. I hate wasted time. So sorry for your frustration.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s sort of how I felt about my writer’s conference. There were little nuggets in there, but most of what was talked about could better be found on the internet for free. That conference wasn’t cheap and it was out of pocket I thought I woul have lots of blog material from it, but every time I listen to one of the session CDs, it’s just not there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sleep through the boring parts – have the person next to you jab you in the ribs if things get interesting! I’ve been to so many conferences like that – hated when I got virtually nothing out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry your seminar wasn’t all you had hoped. You really have to question who decides who the experts are. Hope tomorrow is better.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I hate it when I pay good money and then have others waste it. I would rather waste it on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ali Isaac

    I’m sure writing this post helped to get your anger out of your system. Hope you slept after.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hugs. Sorry for the boring presentations, but it looks like the thing under the bed helped you to keep your humor. That’s a plus. Hopefully, you’re sleeping right now–unless you’re in class.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Poor Craig. I’m sorry you couldn’t sleep. But it sounds like when you lie in bed awake, at least your under-bed-monsters try to help you out. Mine just try to eat me. I love your new blog changes, by the way. I noticed them the other day when I was reading at work and couldn’t comment. (Shhh.) ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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