taking the turn to negative town

My students and I are blogging in our English 225 class. The assignment for tomorrow asks us to post an entry describing our feelings about writing in general, about drafting the final long paper (a position paper on an issue of personal significance or a manifesto—a great writing exercise despite recent events), about writing online, or about any old thing they wish. Right now, I’d rather write about my feelings for salt (love it!) or people who drive slowly in the left lane (hate ‘em), but I’ll try to tackle the writing thing.

The other day, I had a conversation with one of my colleagues about the romanticizing of writing that occurs in upper-level writing classes. I’m probably as guilty of this practice as the next person—I think a lot of people who enter a PhD program in Composition and Rhetoric believe they have something important to say, that they need to write to live fully, that they possess a special passion for writing, that they write to understand themselves and their world, blah, blah blah. I’d be lying if I said I never felt (or, perhaps more truthfully, wanted to feel) those things. However, there are other, less beautiful reasons I write. And, sadly, on this day, the ugly reasons are overshadowing the romantic ones.

Case in point: If I had to pinpoint my feelings about writing at this moment, I’d identify “obligation” as the strongest. If I don’t finish my stupid dissertation, then I don’t get my PhD. And if I don’t get my PhD, I can’t teach. And, since I’m not fit to do anything else at this point, write I must. Oy.

My colleague? He told me he writes because he’s good at it. That’s it. He chose his career because he’s a good writer. By that logic, I should be putting something in alphabetical order right now (or some other organizational task). Too bad I can’t get my PhD in California Closets and ordering Crayola crayons by color.

Shoulda posted about salt.

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