Elizabeth: The boredom made me do it

Periodically, I get bored.

It’s not that I run out of things to do; quite the opposite is true.  But, in the midst of mind-numbingly long to-do lists, with meetings to attend, projects to deliver, and a thousand and one other things to do, I occasionally think “I am soooo bored.”

When I was a kid, a few weeks into summer vacation, boredom would invariably kick in.  Fortunately I had the local library down the street, where I could escape into stories, and the school a little further away, where I could make pseudo stained-glass from balsa wood and tissue paper or a rudimentary camera from cardboard and tinfoil.  There was the neighbor who taught me to crochet (knitting was beyond even her teaching abilities) and my brother who taught me how to make musket balls.  And then, of course, there were always swim lessons at the high-school pool.

Back then, there were plenty of random, engaging things to keep the boredom at bay and, just when even they started to get just the tiniest bit boring, school would be back in session and the cycle would start all over again.

The adult boredom cycle (ABC) is a little different and slightly more expensive.

The first time ABC hit I had a full-time job (with travel) and a full-time toddler (without sleep).  Since balsa wood crafts were out, I did the next best thing:  I went back to school, taking night classes to get an MBA.  As a cure for boredom, I wouldn’t recommend it, though I did learn a couple of things that have stuck with me through the years.  As a plus, the MBA does look nice on the resume.

A few short years later, ABC hit again.  I tried rug-hooking and photography classes, before settling on a Writing Children’s Literature program.  It was from one of those ads from the back of a magazine touting “you too can become a children’s book author!”  Ironically, it was a really good course.  I worked one-on-one with the instructor on monthly assignments for about a year and a half, learning all the basic writing things you would expect.  At the end of the program, along with the attractive “Certificate of Completion”, I had several finished pieces that were buffed, polished, and ready for submission.  Though none of them successfully made it to publication, my favorite piece, Little Rabbit Gets Lost became a mainstay bedtime story at home.  Plus, the basics I learned through that program were put to good use when I started teaching creative writing to recently divorced women going through the trying-to-fill-every-waking-hour phase.

The clarion call of, “I’m bored,” always seems to send me off to school of one sort or another.   It’s led me from Oxford, where I studied Victorian Literature and later Detective Fiction, to Alabama, where I had fun in Space Camp.  Even the McDaniel Romance Writing program was the result of that restless bored feeling.

I thought I’d managed to head off an recent attack of boredom by moving into a new job at work, but apparently work-related learning just doesn’t do the trick.  I need to be off learning something just for the fun of it if I want to banish the boredom.

Thus I now find myself on my way to acquiring professional editing certification.  To be honest, I was kind of leaning toward learning how to be a private detective but, contrary to popular fiction, it’s a complicated process.  Fortunately, my alma mater offers a range of professional certificate programs (online!), so I had no trouble finding something of interest.

I’m not talking the course in order to become a copy editor, but rather just for the fun of learning.  Although I’ll have to admit, the recent hours I spent studying dependent clauses, explicating sentences, and identifying complete predicates stretched the concept of fun into something unrecognizable.  But, the program literature drew me in by saying the classes were for “those with a passion for fine-tuning the written word” and that the program would culminate “in the art of substantive editing to refine an author’s style.

Well, who wouldn’t want that?

Although the first course in the program sequence could best be described as “torturous”, it was an eye-opening experience.  If I never hear the word “explicate” again it will be too soon, but the class has already made me more careful in my writing.  I was, however, slightly appalled to find out just how many things I thought were grammatically correct but that really aren’t.    Apparently, the Chicago Manual of Style is now my new best friend.

I learned some random things like the fact that “ham and eggs” is a singular noun and that you’re supposed to use the “Literary Present Tense” when describing what happens in a book/story.  Fascinating, right?

This latest attempt at curing boredom also reminded me just how much I dislike studying for (and taking) final exams and how annoying it is when said exams use imprecise language and then take off points when you aren’t able to divine the exam-writer’s intentions.  Fortunately, exams are over and I have a bit of a break to relax and enjoy the holidays before classes start up again.

I just hope I don’t start feeling bored again before then.

So, do you ever find yourself feeling busy but bored?  If so, what cures have you found?

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