Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Why I hate my writing class

The writing class is sticking in my craw.

The exercise that annoyed the hell out of me was "list 25 things about the classroom." I did as I was told (I'm good that way), but what the instructor, "Jon," really wanted was rich description (my writing weakness). I felt set up. Those who came up with pretty analogies were lauded, but the poor slobs like me who wrote, "25 desks, 26 computers, fluorescent lights, strange non-square room shape, loud a/c exchange" just got an, "ok, moving along" attitude. I'll show you attitude. I have no desire to work on the exercises for class. I dread the homework. I can barely force myself to read the inscrutable syllabus. I suck at this going to school thing.

I have just enough energy to keep the blog going--add homework, side projects, working at work (dammit), a social life...and what to you have? A very flustered Jamy. I may have to give up some of my tv time. Ah, golden, precious tv time, what would I do without you? But why give up tv time when, as evidenced by my 1:30 am bedtime last night, I can give up sleep time instead?

Last night, tv on in the background, cat sleeping next to me, I sent Jon three selections from the RealLife(tm) Dating Guidelines (I took out the "grateful for" at the end):
  1. "Arranging the first date": because it's a mess.
  2. "Certainty": because it was an audience favorite.
  3. "The first date": because it's recent.

(Now I'm thinking I should have sent him "Torture" because it links up nicely with "Certainty." And I used to think I couldn't come up with good titles!)

It only took me four weeks to figure out that I don't need to write new things for class. I can use things from the blog and the class can work for me! That's why I get to put all those letters after my name. Because I am a fucking genius.

So, even though I hate the class, wasn't I flattered when Jon wrote to me this morning:

I enjoyed them all and find the deep musings/reflections offer me (as a reader) the most payoff. I'm reminded of essayists like Annie Dillard --folks who share thoughts. Keep in mind that if you decide to shape something into an advice-like structure, you need to tend to the shift from reflecting to supporting (which requires a more purposeful tone.)

My reaction: who the hell is Annie Dillard? I'll fess up, I sort of know, because Jon mentions her and several other "creative nonfiction" writers in every class, but I find the sound of his voice so annoying I tune most of it out. If you know what he means by "tending to the shift from reflecting to supporting" I'd appreciate if you'd fill me in.

Jon gave me specific comments on each piece, which were mostly helpful. He couldn't follow "the first date" very well because I inserted characters with no introduction (e.g. vip-ex). Of course, in the blog, I provide a handy-dandy hyperlink to my first mention of vip-ex and he's a running character with whom regular readers are familiar. But it made me think that perhaps each entry should be more "stand-alone." It is probably asking too much for the readers to get a handle on all the details of my love life since even my best friends get confused. Not to mention my mother. (Famous quote, "I'm losing track of all these boyfriends." Famous reaction, "Why? Is it so wrong?" Famous thought, 'Does she think I'm promiscuous? What did I do to merit this disapproval?' Famous clarification, "I'm just...impressed." Ok, Mom, I'll accept that.) Providing a few more details in each post would allow a new reader to get oriented more quickly. I don't think it would wreck the through-line for regular readers. You all can just skim over the stuff you already know, right?

Maybe I was just being sulky, petulant or obstinate when I thought, "Why I am taking this stupid class? Writing takes a central place in my daily life. How much more practice do I need?" Plenty, probably. Plus, I'd decided the teacher hated me--since I hated him, it must be mutual. I don't hate him so much now that he said nice things about my writing, but he sure is annoying: whiney voice, terrible power points, pressure-filled not-very-useful in-class-exercises, poor discussion leading skills, penchant for burnt orange shirts paired with olive-toned slacks. I'll try to hate him less and maybe I'll get more from the experience. The little book we are reading is quite good and I recommend it.

Who will reap the rewards of my once weekly, three hour session in an ugly basement room with no right angles? Why, you, dear reader! You will witness the amazing (amazing, I tell you!) improvement in my writing skills! No more passive voice! No more "there is" constructions! No more awkward syntax! No more overuse of slang in an attempt to be conversational! No more wacky sentences structures used as a crutch for actual storytelling! You'll see strong verbs! Shimmering images! All showing! No telling! And much, much more!

It could happen.

Grateful for: my stupid writing class.

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