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  • Writer's pictureunkillbilly

Teacher's Pest

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

I'm feelin' like John Daniel Edward Torrance, if I'm allowed to make a comparison. I mean, nothing supernatural is going on. I'm just in that phase of a project where it's a lot of work and not much creativity. It's mostly learning new rules for new software on new platforms, and of course, I can't just load a bunch of platforms from some central distribution hub. I have to be semi-conversant in each area in order to advance the publishing of my book. Instead of dealing with agents and editors, I'm dealing with functionality and options. I'm finding the going difficult, but it's all NABWAD, baby, all working as designed.

I am trying to be strategic with my efforts. I'm doing all this now so A) in the future, the process will be familiar and straightforward, and 2) spending the time now on the learning curve means I can clear the decks when it's time to go all creative for NaNo 2020. Right now, I'm in the maddening process of reading instructions on how to do things that do not actually correspond to what is happening on the screens I'm moving through. Lots of "when you see this, just do this"—and I don't see 'this'. The screen is missing an element that appears so clearly in the instruction manuals.

I know, I know, pass the cheese.

I did say "pass" the cheese…

Creativity does not process simultaneously with everything else I do. Creativity is in its own envelope, its own environment, both internal and external. I have to "go" to creativity. And when I'm in learning mode? My thoughts are so ragged and uncomfortable. It's true—I'm a terrible student. I'm too contentious. When I'm ready to learn, I want to learn. If I'm forced into it, it's a whole other ballgame.

If the materials are not up to snuff, I go all self-righteous and pick apart the process. Yeah, like I'm some kind of perfectionist. Hahaha. I'm a major 'good-enough-for-government-work' kind of guy.

Unless…it has to do with learning/work. I think it's perfectly rational and normal to want to get from A to Z along the path of least resistance, along the shortest distance. Any interruption, say, I have to spend four hours figuring out what Kindle Create has done to my manuscript…that's a detour. That's a bump that consumes precious time and energy. Right? Wouldn't you say it's a reasonable objective—the 'course' is conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible?

And less you think I'm just being bitchy, I've got cred when it comes to training. I had 886 hours of training to be a military technical training instructor, and then taught computer operations for two years. For another two years I trained worker empowerment and self-directed work teams at the circuit manufacturer in Tucson. I swear I'm a charter user of PowerPoint, delivering explanations and instructions to groups ranging from C-Suite to line workers. I can strut some stuff when it comes to conducting a class, and managing and administering training development and delivery. I'm, like, a Six Sigma Blackbelt when it comes to training.

So, I know what makes good training and what makes lousy training.

And while I find it hard to argue against YouTube as Teacher…it's not a direct comparison between changing the innertube on your bicycle tire to loading a fully formatted manuscript into Kindle Create. What the YouTube videos fail to recognize is that most computer systems are NOT WYSIWYG. A person's control Settings can influence what appears on each screen, master data for materials, things like security parameters will also drive changes in the Graphical User Interface (GUI). So, the 'talent' for all those YouTube videos can glibly demonstrate a particular transaction with icons or buttons not available to someone without the right levels of security, for example. The YouTube teachers are not usually officially accredited individuals—they're 'superusers' that understand a slice of the process. They don't comprehend all the 'if-then's' in the underlying code or configuration. They're not governed by an organization that demands the most comprehensive understanding of the process/system.

So…it's time for some Buffalo Bill. Brute force! I have to overcome my aversion to deadlines and get the work done, whatever is necessary, to be finished by October 15th. I'm not sure what the consequence of not meeting the deadline is, but we're talking about Amazon, the nine-thousand-pound gorilla in the room, I figure I better not trifle with the big boys.

I can see smoke starting to come from my ears. I can see my eyeballs popping right out of my head. I can imagine a small mushroom cloud erupting from my desktop, which is inadvisable—my lease has an addendum prohibiting thermonuclear reactions in my apartment. They're pretty strict about that.

All right, where's that grindstone? I'm ready to give it the full nose action.

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