Thursday, May 13

Today I got comments back from the director of my writing program on the long article I've been working on for the last two months. He said that it needs a complete overhaul, and that while the language is lucid and logical, it lacks color and a backbone. It's also under-reported.

I can understand all the criticisms: Yes, it does lack a backbone. It also lacks color. I didn't pour my soul into this piece of work. I was hoping to slide by on the amount of reporting I've done, but that's not going to work. I'm trying not to take it personally, but when says that the faults of this story are things I have problems with in general, then it's hard not to. Of course he has good intentions, but, but... I want to defend myself.

We've had some much work to do this in program that I feel like all the fun and color has been squeezed out of me. Other people might not be like this; they might be cracking jokes while in line for the hangman's noose, but not me. I want to tell the director that I'm going to kick ass. That he's only seen part of what I can do. I have a strong super-ego, you might say, and I tend to check myself before I let color, humor, and so on in. Is this too much? Will people get it? I usually answer no.

I'm learning that often people don't, though. I've been putting silly titles on some of my articles lately, and they been accepted. Anyway, I know I've got more in me than I've been able to use in the work this year, and that when I'm more comfortable, I can let more of myself out. The director seemed dismissive when I said something along these lines with regard to humor--he said funny people are funny all the time. While that may be true in general, that's not true for me. A lot of the time I'm overly serious, but I can crack the shit up too. People thought both of my essays for the directors' class--really they were short stories--were funny. I had people rolling last week when I teased one of our teachers. He had us write a bunch theses, or guiding statements, for essays for practice. A lot of them were catchy but vague or empty; he'd say, "This is an opening line, not a thesis." In class later he brought up an essay he wrote, something about comparing Viagra and handguns. This sounded odd, so I asked him what it was about. He said something about how people should be given handguns instead of Viagra. It was an intriguing idea, but I still wasn't sure what his story was about, so I said, "Provacative. But it sounds more like an opening line than a thesis." That brought the house down.

I feel like I'm oozing ego right now, but I, the ego, am trying to recoup some ground after the beating I took from the director earlier today.

Part of me wants to say, "I'll show you how good I am. Maybe not now, but eventually you'll see how great I am. I'm going to be the best science writer out there!" But then a nitpicky, nerdy cousin butts in to point out how there's many ways of being good. And a wise uncle steps forward to ask whether being one of the best science writers will make me happy. Is that what this is really about? Being the best? What is it about?

Writing is an act of ego, I've heard someone say. Yes, but so is life. I'm still trying to figure this out, and to figure out how to cease needing to figure things out.


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