Friday, October 23, 2015

How to stay busy during a mental break

I know the value of AIC (ass in chair) as an author, but I know the value of taking a mental break and getting my literary world in order. But that raises a question: What did I do during that time?

My days were filled with various tasks, but three stand out. First, I worked on revisions on my baseball novel. Second, I sent a single query letter on another novel out to a single literary agent. I guess I could label that as an exclusive submission, although that would be fudging the truth. Third, I brushed up on my German, which I did next to nothing with since high school.

I like learning languages, but like many other of my preferences I left this one on the back burner. Being involved in a career does that. I have more free time now, so I turn my attention back to one of my neglected loves. I figured German would be a good starting point because I had a one-year course when I was in high school. (I also took one year of Latin, but that is a dead language that should be studied only if you want to learn foundations of certain languages or enter the priesthood.) I am indebted to the hard work of Herr Norman Tonn during those German classes.

My first problem was finding something I could afford. Rosetta Stone lessons aren't cheap. Another source, Babbel, is much less expensive, but I favor free things. I did a Google search and got a list of websites that don't cost a penny. I started on one, but it had software issues that caused breaks in the teaching program. I looked for another source, and I struck paydirt.

I am learning on Memrise, which is based on London. It has a good method because it breaks down sentences into small bits, and by learning small bits I can learn longer sentences. I completed the basic course, and surged into Intermediate German. I am about a third of the way through this course, and I am hitting some complex new issues. I am doing well, at least by my standards. I couldn't walk into Berlin and strike up a conversation, but I could order at a restaurant and make small talk at times. To be honest, I might not advance past the "ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch" stage. (That sentence means "I speak a little German.") I am not looking for a job as an interpreter at the U.N. after all.

A small side note: German lessons helped some while watching Bridge of Spies, which is set in large part in West and East Berlin. Okay, there's one point in my favor.

I continue my lessons, both in German and literary things. I don't like to stand still. It keeps life interesting, and I need to build on my interests. That is my simple solution to a complex life.

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