May 30, 2010

It’s not as easy as it looks

“It’s a lot easier to laugh it all off, than to cry about it.” –Anonymous

“Altho' a tear may be ever so near, that's the time you must keep on trying, smile- what's the use of crying,” –Charlie Chaplin, “Smile”

To a lot of people writing comes easy for them, and for it to be perfect maybe not right away but with little work. Most of the people I know are like that, but I’m not. An essay that I worked on for weeks might read like a night-before essay by someone else, and it’s hard to hear that from a room full of people with perfect or nearly perfect essays. Trying to establish an idea in accordance with my opinion and to make sure that it reflects my emotions without sounding overly sappy is a long daunting task, which most be performed constantly, as every two weeks or so essays are due for my College Writing class.

Most of my classmates would rather tackle a 3-page essay on the development of the language in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s A Hundred Year of Solitude, than something purely scientific or theoretical. Personally, I would much rather write an 18-point resolution on ending world hunger. It’s not that resolution writing is that much easier, but there are a lot fewer factors to consider when writing it. Most of them are very broad. Your country’s point of view and economic feisability are the two most important, with in those parameters you can suggest just about anything. I know some one who might just suggest something like, shooting down the moon with a Cold War technology weapon or taking over cyberspace with hard to decrypt codes and massive amounts of software. The only difference is that you have to verbally back it up with good arguments, but that’s the easy part.

My fear of writing didn’t come up from my inability to write, because I can, if you can call regurgitating in a piece of paper every piece of relevant information the teacher said, writing. It actually originated in Mrs. Hurtado’s 10th Grade Spanish Class. Basically you have the freedom to think for yourself, and I love the idea. My problem is that I can’t put it on paper. If a teacher doesn’t tell me exactly what they want from my essays, I’m at a lost. It definitely got worse with Dr. Sirias’ Freshman College Composition class, where the subjects are so broad they virtually give you no boundaries.

As time passed, I thought I was getting better, writing the way they wanted with all the detailed examples and gimmicks, but that didn’t seem to work, as I still was lacking something. Then I decided to just be me on paper, that was another epic fail. I just seemed to be missing every hit, until my fear went from seemingly silly to ridiculously irrational.

Now every time I have to write an essay and I close my eyes, I can see it, the L arms with pointy elbows that look so sharp they might cut you at the mere sight. Geeky B converging glasses with a Power of 7.5 Diopters to make sure that the most minimal mistake doesn’t pass by. They make you huddle under the dominant presence of a being thirty times smarter than you. The alphabet monster is out to get me. It projects its menacing blood-red shadow upon my eyes as they slowly get totally blood-shot. I’m filled with panic as I imagine my mother’s disappointment when report cards come home. I hear a voice telling me I just don’t have what it takes to make it. Words come at like perfectly written size 12 Times New Roman text, in the darkest shade of black hole black. He sucks your soul to its inky depths waiting for your brain to be a useless pile of mush.

All in all writing it’s the most terrifying part of academic life I can think of, and the alphabet monster represents that in my brain. But I decided that I wasn’t going to be defeated by a blank word document, or the looming shadow of my keyboard.

As I stare at my fingers trying to come up with new arguments to support my main idea, all I can think about is Dr. Sirias’ advice: leave it alone to marinate, if you can think about it right away go on and take a walk, revising is the key to improving your writing. Maybe just maybe I’ve gained trust not only in my abilities but in the advice other people gave me, unfortunately it took some time. But seeing a loving piece of work mercilessly destroyed definitely drove the point home.

Now I know I can’t just regurgitate ideas onto paper and hope that they came out right, I have to steer them in the right direction. Even thou some of my work might be complete trash there are ones that can be polished into beautiful pieces of art, after long hours of revising and editing.

Writing is more like a perfectly flawless dance routine than a painting. With paint even thou you might not think it’s much or even like it at all, some one will go up to it and say “Wow, that’s beautiful art,” even if it is your parents. For example, a lot of people don’t consider modern art, art at all, but there is a beauty behind a perfectly painted single color wash-canvas, even if it lies merely in contrasting texture. But with dance it takes hours of practice, pain and sweat to be able to show the audience a perfectly polished and flawless piece of artwork, completely formulated with the human body. And only if you can see the emotion in their eyes then you can call yourself an artist.

Good advice I’ve learned comes from the strangest places and oddly enough so does the inspiration for trying to improve. A couple of classmates telling me; you really need to improve your grammar –ASAP– and your last two essays have been not the best, but you can do a lot better, is apparently all I needed. This only made me want to go home a little bit faster so I could start my next essay.

As I wrote this essay, I closed my eyes for a couple of second and I saw the alphabet monster, but this time I wasn’t scared. In my mind, I took a deep breath, as it started laughing, because it thought I was going to run away like in all my other bad thoughts. Instead I looked right at those huge glass-magnified eyes, and said “Bite me.”

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