Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaNoWriMo #5(?) : Milestone Achieved!

Ok, I set a goal for myself of having something to distribute to strangers by Wednesday. Today I asked my daughter to approach her teacher and ask whether she'd be interested in seeing the early version of my work. She said absolutely she would, and with permission she would share it with her class.  I also took the opportunity to email my other daughter's fourth grade teacher, who also said that she'd happily read it.

So my first draft, sitting at just over 3800 words, is now sitting in both those inboxes. How will two actual teachers of this stuff take it? I honestly have no idea, and I'm quite curious. They could hate it. But I've since learned that this would not be the end of the world, and the feedback is crucial to the project. I know the audience I'm aiming at, and they know that audience better than I, so I can't be afraid of what they've got to tell me.

The only thing I fear would be anything coming back on my kids. I asked my oldest daughter whether it would be embarrassing for her to have my book in progress read by all her friends. She said, and I'm quoting, "No it wouldn't be embarrassing at all why would you even think that it would be. I think it would be awesome."

What other encouragement does a father need?

Before the night's out I'm going to send copies to a couple of other teachers from the past who showed an interest in our Shakespeare work. The younger the class the more unlikely that they'll be able to share the material, but I can still get the teacher's input.


JM said...

"How will two actual teachers of this stuff take it?"

--They 'actually' teach Shakespeare to these students?

Duane Morin said...

Nope! So maybe "of this stuff" was inaccurate. I take them as reasonably experienced in *how* to teach material to their respective age audiences (fourth grade and sixth grade). So I'm less interested in their opinion of my Shakespeare skills and more in whether I am writing something that a 9 yr old should be able to understand.

Plus, they can actually put the material in front of an age appropriate audience for a level of feedback that I can't get with just my kids. My kids, and even their friends, would just tell me it's good don't change it (even if they don't understand who Gertrude is). But with an anonymous buffer zone I think I'll get more useful information out of them.

The fourth grade teacher admittedly has no Shakespeare experience, so I'll take what I can get from her input. The sixth grade teacher, I'm told, does a significant amount of time on Shakespeare with her classes, so she's no doubt more familiar with the material and can provide more detailed feedback.

The fourth grade teacher has promised to get a copy back to me, with her comments. The sixth grade teacher said that she wants to have her whole class read it, which I approved whole-heartedly. Not sure if and when that will happen, given the way she phrased it, but fingers crossed.

JM said...

If she does a *significant* amount of time on Shakespeare, the sixth grade teacher must have heard of Charles and Mary Lamb and Marchette Chute, among others, who have written famous story lines from Shakespeare for students. Some stiff competition you may have there.

Duane Morin said...

I'm unfamiliar with Chute. And I don't know about you, but I find the Lamb stuff terribly overrated. It's incredibly dated, for one, and it borders on novelization of the (highly truncated) plays. That's not what I'm going for. My window is "Before you see the play", and the goal is to tear down the "it's too hard I won't understand it" barrier before seeing the play. I don't think Lamb covers that very well. You know how much of a fan I am of The Tempest, and I wouldn't even give Lamb's version to my kids.

I jokingly thought of my approach today as, "Hamlet is like an Ogre. Which is like an Onion. Because it has layers." If it's up to me I would have my reader go through the play several times, first for story, then for performance structure, then for dialogue, then for detail, etc... Maybe not those specific layers, but hopefully you get the idea. Too many books will tell a kid "Here's a modern translation of the entire play, ok, ready? Act 1, Scene 1, you've got 50 pages to read, go." I'd rather spend 5 pages summarizing the story, trying to keep it interesting, and then spend 5 pages talking about the characters, 5 pages talking about the setting.... Bite sized pieces, more easily ingested.

By the way, the teacher in question did mention downloading I believe she called the "reader's theatre" script? I'm not sure what that is but I'm guessing it's a straight modern translation. So we talked a bit about the difference between those (which are really only good for classroom settings), and mine, which is really geared at the individual.

JM said...

All of this lead up over the past week begs the question: So when will people who know a little more about Shakespeare than the average neophyte get a look at what you've come up with?

You can imagine my interest might be peaked, being a teacher/specialist in Shakespeare attached to three educational organizations;someone who actually teaches Shakespeare, with a focus on what happens in the plays as related to story and performance, to students within and all around the age group you're targeting.

Duane Morin said...

Dont take this the wrong way, J, but I'm afraid too early in the game and you'd crush my spirit for the whole project. I'm intimidated by your knowledge of our shared subject compared to mine. I'd like to crawl before I run.

This blog is a constant learning experience for me, and i am surrounded by people that know more than I do. Rather than dwell on that, however, I have to equally remind myself that I too know a lot more than many people do. So, at least to start, I'm going to focus on those people. If I show my work to you or Cass or Catkins and you hate it, what would I do next? Quite possibly chuck it, while wondering in the back of my brain whether my intended audience would have liked it. So instead I'll first show my intended audience. At least that way if they don't like it I won't have to wonder.