The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Monday, March 22, 2010

No, wait, altruism is the wrong word. I don't know what the right word is. Altruism would be writing to make the world more beautiful or nicer or whatever. I don't do that. I don't know what you call it when you write for the sake of the writing itself.

Ironically, the only time I might possibly be called altruistic about writing is in the mercenary side, when I'm writing for cash. Those are the pieces that will go into classrooms and some poor book-hating kid will be forced to read them against his will. I think about that kid when I'm doing w-f-h. The sucky force-fed school stuff is probably all he's ever going to know about reading. So I try to get something in there that will be painless, if not actively sparking enough interest to get the kid caught up and not hating reading for the length of the story. I work hard to do that, beyond and above what the specs require. But I get paid for it, and I'm only doing it for the money in the first place. So it's not altruistic.

Unless you can count altruism in terms of hourly rate, because I spend more time on stuff than I should, thus bringing my hourly pay down. Same with Vermont. Except that's not about getting anybody to like reading something, it's about the work again--just somebody else's work, not mine.

When I was tutoring kids in reading--the first and second graders--they'd be hunched over the book, laboring to sound out a word and figure out how to put all the words together so that the sentence, the thought made sense. And once in a while, a kid would hit a word or phrase that had payoff for him--could be anything, an onomatopoeia or a dead-on emotion or a surprise--and there would be this pleasurable pause. Instead of toiling on blahblahblah, the kid would stop reading for a sec and--just for that very brief moment--appreciate what had just been said, and that he "got" it and that it had transcended sounding out boring crap for an hour. That's what I'm shooting for.

But I get paid.

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