Monday, June 26, 2006

A BS Beginning

Ah, a new day, a new blog. To mark my first day back to school, a day in which I begin a new chapter of my life, I decided to follow through on my threats to begin a new blog. I thought quite a bit about what to call my new blog - how to signal the beginning of this new phase for me and how to capture what I believed would be the theme of this blog. Unfortunately, "Bitching and Moaning of the Underpaid and Overworked" was already taken, as was "101 Inappropriate Things to Teach a High School Student." So I considered the fact that I'm going back to school, and considered that I'm going into teaching as a profession, and got to thinking about education. And I realized that if we're honest, life is really an ongoing process of education for all of us, no matter what our career is or where we are in our life's journey. Hopefully, we're always learning and growing, as well as teaching and sharing our experiences with others. Many of the concepts I'll be learning and dealing with in my classes (both as student and as teacher) are probably useful things to keep in mind in our daily lives anyway - things like, "Everyone learns at a different pace and in a different way, so be respectful;" "What you see when you look at a student is only the tip of the iceberg, and what they see when they look at you is the same;" and, of course, the all-important, "Stop drawing on Jenny's face - she'll be embarrassed enough when she wakes up and sees that she drooled all over her shirt."

As for the style of this blog, I've decided to put a little more effort into my writing, though no guarantees on how that'll work out. In considering this first post, I went through a variety of topics from the day, drafting bits of the post I could write about whatever the given idea was, tossing out the crappy ideas, realizing all I had were crappy ideas, then bringing back the crap to try to edit it into something resembling non-crap. And I thought to myself, in consolation, "Well, you can't force good writing." Then I thought, "I'm going to be an English teacher, for crying out loud; all I *do* is force good writing!" Of course, it's different forcing your students to write than forcing yourself to write. But is it fair of me to expect them to be able to magically produce some excellent written work at a moment's notice if I can't expect the same from myself? "Damn right," I tell myself. But that doesn't last, and I decide that I'm being unfair, which is all well and good (for a teacher to be unfair), but I should probably limit my unfairness to only a few crucial areas, and I don't want to waste it on this one. So I decided that the only way to fix this was to put myself on the spot and force some good writing.

Back in high school, when essays were fairly common in many of our classes (English, History, Spanish, sometimes Prob/Stat or lab-based science classes), my friends and I used to joke that we had a "BS tap" on the back of our hands. When we got an essay, we would just turn the handle, and out would flow complete bullshit about Chaucer or the Protestant Reformation or Borges or whatever else we happened to be studying (read: sleeping through) at the time. So as I sat to write this entry, I reached for my BS tap. "It's gone!" I cried in dismay. I began to panic, until I remembered that the BS tap was not actually real, but rather an imaginary handle we'd imagined in our hand which we imagined to represent our ability to make up useless crap about books we hadn't read. Then I got distracted trying to imagine how I would ever wear gloves if I had a real tap implanted in my hand, but I soon corralled my brain back to the topic at hand (no pun intended). What was the topic at hand? Oh, right, forcing myself to write by using the BS tap. Well, clearly I get distracted easily, so I'll have to reign in that impulse if I want to get any writing done. Or will I?

Soon I realized that some of the best written works probably started as nothing more than mental distractions. You know Jane Austen was just trying to be a good English lady and get some nice embroidery done, but couldn't manage to stop daydreaming about that hottie down the road who's just a bit too proud - but who is she to criticize, because after all, in judging his pride, she's being awfully prejudiced - and what it might be like if they could meet and fall in love after a stormy courtship. Poof - a masterpiece is born. Anyone who's read Faulkner knows that his writing not only comes from his own mental distractions, but also that it actively encourages mental distraction in the reader (and sometimes complete insanity, but that's only if you actually try to make sense of it). And if distraction could be visually represented by words on paper, anything by e.e. cummings would qualify as the definition of it. So perhaps being distracted (ooh, something shiny!) is not the worst thing for a writer.

That all being said, I considered many good topics about which I could probably word-vomit at length, but I decided instead to show you the warped mental process that led up to this post. From now on, every time you read a post, judge not only on how well written it is, but on how cleverly (or not) I've disguised the use of the BS tap. Also, every time you, dear reader, have to write something and you're feeling not quite up to the challenge, reach for your own BS tap and let the bullshit flow. (Just remember what I said earlier: it's an imaginary tap, not a real one. Unless you're a total freak, in which case, I'm really curious - how do you wear gloves?)


Mazurka said...
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Mazurka said...

Well done. I'm looking forward to your new blog, and I hope you continue to have time to update it. In fact, I hope you have time to update it and not even have use the BS tap. I, myself, have made use of the same tap, but it's been a while. I didn't take many classes that required writing after freshman year :P.

P.S. First Post!

Lady M said...

Ha, go English teacher! Make that writing happen! Glad to see your new online home.