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What’s Wrong with my Writing?

July 3, 2010

First a little background:

As some who follow this blog should know, I am attending college at San José City College. I’m doing pretty good (for the moment) at Algebra, which I was least confident. So naturally, the subject I was most confident in, English 1A, is the one I’m getting less than an “A” in.

Now anything less than an “A” I will not tolerate! I’m a perfectionist like that. But the point is that clearly, despite my huge amount of informal experience writing academic essays, I am severely lacking the skills of writing essays.

Or am I?

No– in reality, I am not. I can write amazing essays off the top of my head, which following a bit of revising and proofreading (mostly revising, mind you) will get me an easy “A”.

So, you ask, why would I turn in an Essay which, although I knew was good, was one such that I already knew in advance that I would be graded harshly on?

Well, let’s just see it was an experiment.

An experiment to see how far I would get in the world if I did everything raw. After all, almost everything that I write, brilliant though my writing might be, is extremely raw by its very nature.

Raw and subjective– that’s what my writing is.

So I guess in that way my teacher served as a model for the world. The conclusion was quite interesting: If I were to put my all into everything I am creatively, but present that creativity in its raw form, I would quite literally equate to “average” in my overall worth to the world. A genius whose merits are mostly cancelled out by his seemingly delirious idealism and mystically far-fetched perspectives. A waste of talent who nevertheless contributes to society to a modest degree. That’s what I would be.

So it goes to show that without proper control, all the creativity in the world would be wasted on me.

But then again, this wasn’t about my potential and how to use it.

This little experiment was about principle.

You see, I knew that my writing was too raw for people to appreciate, but I didn’t know how raw. So I decided to write the best essay I possibly could about the topic I gave, without compromising myself to please other people. The truth, and nothing but the truth.

And so the C- that I got on that essay (despite it saying right on the evaluation sheet, “very good writing”– talk about mixed messages!) helped  me to learn a very important lesson, which although I already knew deep down, I needed someone else to confirm it for me, because otherwise I would be too stubborn to accept it:

What I learned: that when it comes to Essay writing, it’s not about what you think– it’s never about what you think. It’s about what they (the reader(s) think. That’s all that really matters– is what the readers think about an essay.

After all, that is what essays are about– right? It’s about communication. What’s the point of writing an essay, and having someone read it, if they are unable to appreciate the words? If your readers can’t understand or appreciate what they are reading, what’s the point of them reading it at all?

Yeah in some ways it’s bullshit– you’re the salesman, and you are trying to pitch an “idea” (your thesis) to them. You’re going to have to candy up the words and use language that is appealing and makes the essay sound, feel, and flow good. But then again, that’s ultimately how all communication (in the real world, as supposed to my own idealistic one) works, isn’t it?

The real problem with all of my writing (well, it really wasn’t a problem considering) is that I wasn’t writing for people to read– I was writing a literal journal– a record of my thoughts, essentially thinking out loud. That’s really nice and all, but isn’t it time to take it to the next step, and start focusing on getting everyone else to understand and appreciating my writing, instead of a few people struggling to decipher it and the rest of the world moving on? I have acquired a wealth of knowledge through this little journey of mine– isn’t it time that I start spreading it around using words that people can actually understand?

There’s nothing wrong with my writing, as it turns out.

What’s wrong is the way that I present it! Time to put more effort into PR, I guess 😛

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