My writing instructor is an evil genius. And no, I’m not just saying that because I want a good grade. Please, I’m offended… Just kidding! I would totally be sucking up if I were being graded, but I’m not, so I’m… not. That being said, I kind of wish there were grades, oh yesssss, I just love grades…. This is no big shocker considering I voluntarily chose to spend a lot of my life in school. 12 years? “Not enough!” 16 years? “Just getting warmed up!” 19 years? “Isn’t there a post-law school program I’m qualified for? No? I guess I’m done then. Shit.” and “Now what?”.
School was safe, I knew how to do school and, of course, I didn’t have to figure out where I stood (read: determine my worth as a human being by looking outside myself for validation), because I got grades.*
Anyway, despite all that, in this case the whole non-grade thing is good, because if we were being graded, I’m guessing it would be on our writing assignments and, well, I haven’t done any of them. Zero. Which brings us back to my evil genius writing instructor, because, due to her insidious manipulation, cloaked in a veneer of understanding and helpfulness, I believe I am on the verge of (gasp) Doing A Writing Assignment….
Here’s how it went down today:
Kim sighed as she prepared to leave the safety of her car and venture into her own personal pit of shame, otherwise known as Writing Class. She took inventory: Cute notebook? Check. Cute folder-thingie for storing other people’s writing assignments and hand-outs? Check. Cute reading glasses? Check. Pens, wallet, phone? Check, check and check. 64 ounces of Diet Coke? Duh. Lipstick? Fuck. She fished her hot pink lipstick out of her hot pink “writing class bag”, flipped down the visor, peered in the mirror and carefully applied it. She flashed a fake smile at herself, then, satisfied that, at the very least, her lips were prepared for class, she got out of the car.
She was hoping to slink into class, unnoticed, and settle herself into her usual corner of the overstuffed leather sofa, as far away from the instructor as possible in that tiny parlor room. Plus she needed to be near the table — not to write, mind you, to park her Diet Coke. Mostly she wanted to buy some time before she had to reveal that, once again, she hadn’t done her writing assignment and had nothing to submit for critique by the group.
No such luck.
As she walked into the quaint Victorian home that housed the Lighthouse Writers Workshop she saw that the instructor was already seated in the meeting parlor. Worse than that, none of the other students had arrived yet. They were alone. Kim sighed and plopped heavily on the sofa.
“So, I guess I should just go ahead and tell you that I didn’t do my assignment and I don’t have anything ready for submission.” She said as fast as possible, then sunk back into the safety of the sofa. “I don’t know what is wrong with me… I think about what I want to write and then just can’t make it happen.”
The evil genius instructor just smiled at her with feigned sympathy. “I know it’s hard, every writer struggles, I’ve certainly had times when I felt completely blocked. What about your blog? Are you still doing that?”
“Well, yeah….” Kim pulled her sweater tightly around her. “I’m having fun with the blogging, but beyond that? Forget it. I’m stuck.”
Evil genius instructor smiled brightly, “but I love your blog! It’s very funny. You really have a very unique voice. That is writing, why are you discounting that?”
“I don’t know, it’s not serious…” Kim whined. “It’s not fiction and I’m not using anything that we are learning in class.”
“You’re coming to class, you’re participating, you are…absorbing the lessons, so don’t beat yourself up. Just being here is so helpful.”
“Yeah.” Kim sounded unconvinced. She looked down at her notebook and realized that she had been busy doodling while they had been talking. As usual, she was drawing those vase/faces in profile thingies in order to stimulate her right brain….or left brain….she could never remember. Whatever side of her brain that could tell the difference between a vase and two faces in profile and was supposed to be contributing to her brilliant writing career.
“Feeling bad about this class isn’t going to help.” Evil genius instructor advised. “Why don’t we ask the others to read your blog and then make comments on it….would that be helpful? Then you would feel like you had contributed something to the class and get some feedback.”
And there it was. She had unveiled her crafty plan. Oh, yes, this instructor was good. She had read some of Kim’s blog posts (who hasn’t, really?). She knew that the posts covered intensely personal topics. She had to know that Kim would rather die than be “critiqued” on her blog. It would be like critiquing someone’s personal journal — nobody does that!** In order to avoid that wretchedness, Kim would have no choice but to do a writing assignment so she would have something to submit for critique.
Pure. Evil. Genius.
None of this was clear to Kim at the time. At first she was relieved that the instructor had offered her a way out of actually finishing a writing assignment. Over the course of the next two hours of class, though, it slowly dawned on her that the instructor was serious — she had given the class the link to Kim’s blog so that they could critique it for next week. These people were going to be reading her inner-most thoughts and critiquing her on how she conveyed them. Not cool.
She was becoming very uncomfortable, and not just because she had finished her Diet Coke and needed a bathroom, stat.
But would she be uncomfortable enough with the idea of being critiqued on her blog that she would, in fact, write something for class?
Turns out, the answer to that burning question is YES. And this is it…
Score one for the evil genius!
** did anyone “critique” anne frank’s diary? ummm, funny you should ask, check this out.
*** oh alright, my instructor is not an evil genius, she is a very nice writerly-person who is genuinely committed to helping people with their writing. i’m sure she didn’t have an evil plan to manipulate me into writing. i was just trying to make it interesting. and i’m totally not quoting her (or me) exactly….it’s FICTION people!