Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There's Still So Much to Learn...

I just got back from my French class, and it has been a very, very, very long day (she says as she lounges on the couch in her pajamas, with barely enough energy to type - partially because of the 13+ hour day she's had and partially because she still hasn't eaten any dinner, or, for that matter, any food since 12:30).

I'm beginning to get really frustrated with learning French. I can read it fine, identify words (most of the time), even pronounce it fine (once I'm told how to)... but when I listen to someone else and try to translate to the page? Forget it. I learned that because of the quiz we had today. I didn't do all that well.

Maybe it was partially because when I looked at the 20 point quiz, I had flashbacks to my years of Spanish, of getting half-points and quarter-points taken off for misspellings and missing accents. Or, maybe it's because I haven't been studying the language as much as I should be. I know that I should spend at least 50 minutes 5 times a week to really get to know a language, and I am doing nowhere near that. I don't have the time (who does??) if I'm going to get anything else done after work, like, you know, writing, socializing, all that stuff.

Back to the quiz. I didn't really do that badly, with a 15 out of 20. I'll take an 80%.

Then again, we all graded ourselves. And those grades don't even count, because we don't get grades in the class. We are paying customers, after all. But, we do need to do some sort of evaluation, to know where we stand, to know how much we still need to learn. And I still need to learn so much more - and I'm not just talking about the language itself.

I'm surprised at how this class is affecting my perceptions about my novel. It's not affecting what I think about Anne (which I thought it would), because, as a child, she knows French better than she knows English. She has to re-learn it later in life, but it comes easily to her, unlike it does for me.

The class keeps reminding me that I still don't know enough about French culture either. That I still need to learn more about the riots of 2005, of the way people address and speak to one another, of the way people dress and eat, and... the list goes on. And that's just contemporary Paris.

I can't forget the culture of the French Revolution. There's still so much to learn about those ten years...

Granted, I know more than I've been giving myself credit for. During grad school, I learned more about France and the revolution of 1789 than I thought I could possibly ever learn in a year. But, it begs the question: when will I feel like I have enough information?

In ways, I doubt I ever will, but I can't let that stop (or block) me from working on the novel. I can still make the novel what I want it to be. So, I'll keep writing, and researching, until I think I've gotten it where I want it to be... wherever or whenever that is.

I don't know if I'm making any sense, so I think it's time to stop and get some dinner.

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