Friday, April 06, 2012

Writing

Nope, it wasn't all in my head. I hate writing.

There is just something about having to sit in front of a blinking cursor and type out words that are supposed to work together to create cohesive and engaging ideas. And with each sentence, having to pause and ask yourself, is this where the comma goes? And recite rules like, restrictive clauses are pieces of information that are essential while nonrestrictive clauses are not. And even still, I know I get things wrong. So each sentence is painful. And that's assuming that there's a productive point to all the sentences as a whole.

I think it's the editing minor that ruined me. I became an editing minor because I wanted to feel more confident in my writing. I was a solid 92% writer because I usually had decent ideas but mediocre writing skills. Many a professor told me that I needed to work on comma splices. This was usually conveyed in great red-ink frustration. But no one ever taught me what a comma splice is or how to fix it. For all the writing you do in the English major, no one really teaches you anything about doing it well. I was an average writer, and I wasn't getting any better. So, I took some editing classes. (Do not get me started on how silly it is that I had to go outside of the English major to learn about basic writing skills.)

And I learned about comma splices. (Cue frantic reading of this post to make sure I haven't included any. If you see one, do not tell me.) I learned how to use a semicolon, a colon, and an em dash. I also learned (and quickly forgot) lots of information like the difference between "less" and "fewer," and the rules for spelling out numbers.

Now, while I feel a teensy bit more confident in my comma use, I'm aware of a billion rules that I was blissfully unaware of pre-editing minor. Before the editing minor, I would stress about where to put a comma. (Or maybe I didn't stress about it because I apparently used them liberally in place of periods.) But now, not only do I stress about where commas go (should one go after this introductory clause? Is it six words that should precede the comma, or is it optional if meaning is still clear? Does a comma always go before a present participle? What's a present participle again?), I also stress about hyphens, and dependent clauses, and parallel structure, and "difference between," versus "difference among." It's like I know just enough to know that I don't really know what I'm doing.

And that is why writing my thesis was 40 percent blank staring, 35 percent anxious pacing, 10 percent refining Pandora stations, 5 percent tracking down books in the library, 5 percent trying to recover lost changes in Word, 4.5 percent actual typing, and .5 percent standing over the printer waiting for my beast of a document to print.

And as I sat in front of a blinking curser at work this week, it all came rushing back to me. The pressure of each sentence. The rules. The tension in my shoulders. And it is confirmed. I hate writing.

And it's really too bad that the thing I hate is a means of expressing the hatred.

4 comments:

Elisa said...

I love your writing.

Lindsey Reynolds said...

I just wanted to say that I have noticed a difference in your writing post English majoring and edit minoring.

Unlike my blog, where I merely word vomit what I'm thinking at the time and skim over before hitting publish, I can tell that you enjoy a well crafted sentence, and your readers appreciate it too.

So maybe you hate writing, but you're good at it. I don't know if that is any consolation.

I'm now stressing about every comma I put in this comment.

Josephine said...

Writing well is really hard. Also, I second Elisa. I like what you write.

Kristin Lowe said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to turn this into a compliment Kristin post! I was just in a complaining mood. But you guys are kind!