Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Slow Wri-ter.

I wrote something truly terrible today. So astoundingly bad, that I had to write about it. Because I have a thing, with words. I have a little superficial stylistic, aesthetic respect for them and their placement and sound and interaction and oh yes, meaning. I want each sentence to be a tiny whirring machine that stirs. However, this is not always possible, or necessary.

I have a student who always stays after class to catch up. She has talked to me at length about how her lecture professor goes too fast with the powerpoint slides, and she is unable to keep up. I let her see my slides and we talk about the material. The other day, I noticed that her handwriting was insanely neat. She is probably 40 and looks like she may have another job, and a child, or two, or something. I watched her painstakingly copy the information from my slides into her notebook. Each letter was perfectly spaced from the next and unbelievably rounded. Her penmanship showed the kind of meticulous detail that is abandoned shortly after you learn to write in script, on thinly lined paper, with a pen. Its the kind of conscientiousness that is just not conducive to well, writing. I wondered if this was actually her problem. But then I wondered about the connection between speed of comprehension and speed of handwriting. Is there one? I dont know, but I wondered.

Which brings me to today. I was writing an exam myself. Because I am still at the hypocrisy inducing stage of graduate school where I teach, enforce rules on others, tell them how to improve, wonder what is holding them back, think like a professor, play dress up and then turn around and screw up royally in my own classes wearing sneakers with holes in them. Its almost ridiculous and certainly humbling. I began writing my exam very neatly today, although I was very nervous, so little, uncharacteristic flourishes emerged from my freshly shaky hand. I was not writing particularly physically slow. but. I. kept. stopping. to go back and read what I had written. I did not only want to convey uninspired lists of information about these astounding creatures. I wanted to convey how much I respect and understand the concepts and words that encircle them. This, incidentally, was not possible. I left out one whole question because I ran out of time. Twenty points, gone. And I had planned on using the word gestalt in my essay somewhere, but that never happened either.

And I must admit on this blog I go back incessantly and edit and re-edit and re-re-edit. It would be too embarrassing for you to know how often I actually do that. Because its also narcissism in this case, but thats kind of a good word too.

a link to another post about my word love, the sentence in the soil.