Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


Weighing and Balancing

I’m busy trying to select a high school for my ten-year-old and believe me, that is not a typo. German kids start secondary school at the ripe old age of ten. Not only that, they are streamed at ten according to their academic results into the three different types of high school: Gymnasium for those who’ll go on to university, Realschule and Hauptschule for those who won’t. So a Maths test L did last week will help to decide whether she goes to university or not.

Unable to do anything about the bizarre system, I am breaking the mould by not sending my kid to the nearest school as a matter of course. We are looking at a range of schools, state and private, in the Heidelberg area. For me, it’s a huge decision: she’s my first child and the first person in our whole family to be heading for high school in the German system. The decision we make has to be a good one: she’ll be there for eight long years, and it should be a school that suits our other two. We want a school that has a good mix of Germans and foreigners, and where there is emphasis on languages. Nothing too homogenous.

The first of our six school visits took place last night. We went to the local high school – a vast place with more than 1000 pupils that educates kids from the Burg and all the surrounding villages. It’s the monopoly gymnasium. There are no other options nearby. We were impressed by what they had to offer, but I fear it’s going to be too homogenous for us. Plus it keeps us in the Burg for ever.

Tomorrow’s visit is to a private school. Private schools have a weird  reputation in Germany – they are seen as places where rich people send their thick or difficult children in order to drag them through Abitur. They are also considered elitist and someone said to me in all seriousness, ‘Are you sure you want your child to have an elitist school on their CV?’

So we are weighing and balancing, taking some things we see and hear to heart, ignoring other things.

I’m in the same process with my novel. Right now, I’m weighing the plot, what works and what doesn’t and throwing out the latter. I have a whole file called ‘extra stuff’ full of back-story that I’ve chucked out. Now and again, I find a use for a sentence or two and I thread them back in.

The next iteration will be on the language level. One of the readers from my writers’ forum pointed out that my characters nod and shrug a lot. She’s right, of course. I’ll be working through it line by line, strengthening the verbs, improving the body language, working on stimulus and response. The plot might be colourful and vibrant, but the language needs to be too.

So that’s where I am, dear readers, weighing and balancing. Trying to make good decisions that will stand my family and my novel in good stead. Trusting my instincts. Moving forward.


Editing and Sleep

It being very amusing to edit when Germans in English write. They are liking the big, large, giant lists. Especially the noun pile-up (e.g. “organization structure process chain transformation” etc) and also the parentheses (brackets, for e.g.). A great favourite the passive sentence is, which on and on winds up and down the hills and roundabout, until the poor editor wondering what the point is. The making of verbs into nouns a most excellent pasttime is, including e.g. strategization, optimization, nominization, etc. Also, abounding is the use of jargon (words, excessive over-use, trend) which the whole thing equally complicates. Leveraging the jargon for e.g., the editor’s confusion surely deepens. The writing of the idea, the putting down of it on paper in long sentences that minus the active verbs are makes the editor thinking of going to sleep an optimal strategy is.

Maximizing the sleep time the editor (e.g. me, Charlotte etc) a very good idea discovers, not all night staying awake after tending to the sick children who puking are and having the very high temperatures. Thinking of December, in retrospect, looking back, etc, the extreme ongoing sickness of the children with the flu, the puking, the concussion and the many other small things that the editor no longer remembering is, is making of a very exhausting exercise. Also, having forgotten the editor wonders how her own friends look. Having seen them briefly at a party (celebration etc) last night, but then having the very quick getaway with sick children to make.

Especially, optimizing the sleep strategy very strategic is being the week of birthdays and three parties, also with the baking of cakes, the planning of party games, the wrapping of gifts and the monitorization of small, excited, happy, little children, etc. Very forward-thinking is also getting sufficient sleep so as to encourage the enjoyment of the editor’s own birthday for which the family on Saturday many adequate presents did purchase. Also the sleep acquisition potentially aid the editor to acquisition the energy herself a cake to bake, the making of the bed of the guest of honour (e.g editor’s brother, etc), the telephonization of Miele finally to arrive and fixing the broken tumble-dryer and the achieving of sundry, other, multiple tasks piling up on the editor’s mental list of not-done things to be doing.

Especially, the making of a mug of hot, warm, soothing milk with the addition of sweet, pleasing honey the editor to sleep will optimize, maximize and elucidate.

Good night.