getting-to-know-yous: yearly exerpt

2 09 2010

every semester, i start by having my students write me portraits of themselves as writers. this is an in-class, no warning, 20-minute freewrite with no planning time built in, and no organization or proofreading required. i want to see where they’re at before revision, and i want to start to get a sense of who they are. every semester, some reveal themselves as aspiring novelists, in long, winding sentences, and others barely squeeze out a paragraph that basically says “i hate to write” in several different phrasings/at several different levels of resentment. instead of choosing among them gems to share, i’m going to share just this one writer’s portrait, because it made me laugh as i read it in my office just now, and laughter should be shared whenever possible. this is from R. you’ll like him too (even if he can’t remember who wrote the novel):

As pessimistic as it sounds, my favorite form of writing is when I can complain about the subject. A perfect example is the writing assignments that went with The Grapes of Wrath by George Orwell. If you have not read the book then it will be my pleasure to summarize the three hundred plus page book into a few short sentences. Tom Joad kills someone, then goes to jail. Tom gets out of jail, goes to see his family, and then they all go on the road. While they are on the road, a bunch of family/friends die, they get jobs and then lose them because they live miserable lives, and they are called Oakies. At the close of the novel, Rose of Sharon delivers a stillborn child (don’t not worry, the father was not there, he ran away halfway through [sarcasm]), and then breast feeds a full grown starving man, that they met in a barn, while running from a flood. An absolutely miserable story that I will endlessly and happily write diatribes on. Even though I have never hated a book as much as I hate The Grapes of Wrath it has given me something to write about for a solid year. I wrote about it on several free essays, quote essay’s, or any other essay’s that the prompt would merit the novel. I wrote about it on my AP exam and I am now even writing about it in college. Even though I despise this book with passion, I remember a decent amount about it. Apparently when you feel that passionate about something (positively or negatively) it sticks. This should tell you something about me. I am sure that on multiple occasions you will hear me complain about something, whether it relate to your class or not, but the entertaining part about it is I have fun doing it. Usually I complain for comedy purposes. Sometimes I will just do it to help me deal with the stress. I think that should let you know a little about me. However, if that’s not enough, just wait for my essay’s, if it asks for an opinion, I will not be shy.

there are a few who have really blown me away with the things they love, too, and i hope to get a chance to share some of that as well, but, for now, here’s your first glimpse of the incoming (born as i was starting my oh-so-memorable freshman year of college) class.

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