William Michael Goins

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01
Dec

10/2015 Freshman Papers

Freshman papers due and I have hundreds to grade so I won’t be writing until get them done. English is a difficult subject to teach for a number of reasons. First, most students in freshman classes are literally all over the place. Some had good high school English teachers, some not so good, some come form good schools, others from those just getting by. Others come from either the military or from the regular world where they have, for the most part, learned the minimum wage world can be a difficult place to live. Also some sadness – I caught one of my freshmen cheating on a paper. She pulled it off the Internet with minimal intro and conclusion added and when confronted about it claimed she had written it in high school – a double whammy as a previously written paper is not okay to submit in a college class. It turned out that she had submitted it in high school and received a good grade on it, however, she took it off the Internet then and it wasn’t her’s. She thought it was okay to sue and it was her paper since she had used it once. Scary, but not all that uncommon. Each year brings more and more students who are essentially unprepared for college level writing and many don’t even know the fundamentals of grammar. Makes my job difficult as freshman English is meant to prepare a student for all the following classes required writing needs and I only have 16 weeks in which to do it. While it gladdens my heart to see most go from D papers to A/B papers, I still, after all this time, hate that I can’t save them all. Some simply won’t let me and though I know the failure of those few is not my fault, I still hate it anyway.

Update: It’s that time in the semester where my students writing generally improves dramatically, making the grading much faster than earlier in the academic year. I am now finished and all papers are graded, so it’s back  to the people anxiously standing around my desk that only I can see.

 December 1st, 2015  
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01
Dec

9/2015 Back to the Manuscript

Working on book two of the trilogy and have 100 plus pages done as well as a pretty good working outline. Also have a lot of additional scenes roughed out that are not as yet incorporated, so overall book two is about half done to the completion of a reasonably clean first draft. Out of necessity, I am doing a little work on book three too, as all three books fold into each other to make the trilogy work. A reader should be able to read any of the three first and then read the others.

Most days the writing is fun but occasionally it is more mechanical arrangement than creative process and while I like that too, the creativity part is obviously my favorite. A good writer has to be able to do both and do them well, among about a thousand other things. Back to the manuscript.

 December 1st, 2015  
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01
Dec

9/2015 Labor Day

Been a really long week, so I am more than a little glad for the extra day off that Labor Day provides. The new semesters means first academic papers from freshman classes, and I also have editing needed on a manuscript for my agent.

The student paper grading went well – for me, not so well for the students. Freshman composition class papers generally suck the first time around, partly, I’m sure, because of the attempt to do the absolute minimum necessary as was done in high school and a lack of understanding that they are not now in thirteenth grade. Bad mistake, and most make it, though not all recover from it. An always too large portion of the papers were truly awful and ended up as F papers (I actually gave F/D’s to most since they are the first college level papers attempted by these guys). A few were legitimate A’s, a few B’s, and a couple were C’s.

Most issues were caused by a distinct inability to follow directions regarding the format, length, topic, or whatever, as well as a general lack of ability to write in any sort of cohesive manner or understand the fundamentals of grammar. That said, lots (and I mean LOTS) of markup on these papers will be discussion next week and that will lead to much improved papers the next time around. Always does. Unfortunately, many have been allowed to write really crappy papers in high school by teachers who didn’t care and/or bother to prepare them for college, so it takes the full 16 week semester to get some improved to where they are solid writers. Those who have trouble distinguishing the difference between college and high school will likely not make it through the class, and so it goes. Not everyone really should be in college. Those who will let me, will write and write well in fourteen more weeks, if they make the effort. The others will struggle with college writing assignments for the duration of the time they remaining college.

Once the grading was done, I was able to work on to the manuscript I’m completing and get it and several synopses finished for my agent. As of a few minutes ago, it’s in her hands (electronically speaking). On to completing book two of the trilogy.

 December 1st, 2015  
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01
Dec

8/2015 Reworking the Syllabus

It’s a Thursday, which means no classes today. It also usually means I write. A lot. But today I’m working on reworking a syllabus for some of my classes. Seems there was a book edition change I was somehow unaware of and the syllabus readings either don’t match page-wise or the reading itself is no longer in the book and I have to find another that fits what I am doing at that point in the class. Arrrrrrrrg! – and I don’t mean that in a cute pirate way.

That said (actually, screamed), it does appear the classes themselves are good, meaning, everyone for whatever odd reason, is actually on time. These are freshman classes and no one is ever one time, yet, these guys are and most of them are there ten whole minutes before the class starts. After teaching so long it scares me more than just a little, to tell the truth.

Oh, and I finally found time to be do some writing on BOOK TWO of my trilogy. It’s the sequel to the first book and continues the trilogy. Trivia answer – slaves in Texas were free for three (3) years before word finally got here. Three years! Absolutely unfathomable.

 December 1st, 2015  
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01
Dec

8/2015 Texas

8/2015

Quick post about writing about Texas. If you’ve never visited, you should. Texas is an anomaly is so many ways and is so different across the state you will like it whether you think you will or not. The South (meaning, The Old South) is east of us, from Louisiana to Florida and the Southwest (meaning New Mexico, Arizona, etc.) is to the west of us. That means Texas is different, and that is the God’s truth. For example, if one drives from Houston to El Paso, a trip of 22 hours, one is in El Paso in almost exactly 11 hours. Big state with its own personality.

 December 1st, 2015  
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01
Dec

8/2015 The Blog Begins.

8/2015

This is day one of what will become a blog – well, sort of a blog. I write long fiction and teach so the blogging here won’t be a regular thing as I have a number of serious writing projects underway at this time. However, there are times when I’m not writing and my paper grading will allow updates, and I will endeavor to add here as often as I can.

I plan to include commentary about the writing process and writing information here that might make a very difficult process easier for others trying to write, whether it might be talking about dialogue, what makes setting, planning a novel, pantsing your way through a novel vs. doing a solid outlining, or any of the thousands of things a writer must learn in order to write well. And how and what we do is different for all of us – trust me, I know.

So if there should appear anything you find interesting or which helps your own writing in any way, please do comment. I really want to hear from you, good or bad. Really.

Those of us who feel compelled to write spend a lot of our time sitting alone at desks moving in and out of make believe worlds, and we all sometimes forget writing is a community and writers need to communicate with each other. It’s what makes us better writers and it keeps us sane. Mostly.

From Chuck Wendig, a most irreverent writer of really odd and well-written fiction:
the secret to writing

 December 1st, 2015  
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23
Aug

william michael goins

colored Mikey sketchcropped3

Hi! I’m a fiction writer and English professor in the Texas hill country near San Antonio and much of what I write about is set inTexas, including my historical saga trilogy, RAIN, LOOKING FOR SHOES, and LEGACY. I’m also working on a multitude of projects, including a middle grade historical series, a number of stand-alone books, and a possible play. My novel, THE SISTERS OF IMMACULATE SILENCE as well as the first in the trilogy, RAIN, are with my agent at this time.

This area around San Antonio is an unbelievably beautiful place to live and write, and our bed and breakfast (www.bella-green.com) is a perfect place for anyone needing a writing retreat and help with the development of writing projects. Come and write or come for help at whatever level you need.

I share this amazing place and ten acres with fantastic fifty-mile plus views with my equally amazing wife, Karen, also a teacher, and our rescue dog, Sadie. I teach English at one of San Antonio’s universities and write primarily historical fiction.

 August 23rd, 2015  
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