I began A.P. English Literature with high expectations- by the end of the course I would: understand every line of every play in the first read; write like Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, James Joyce and Jack Kerouac somehow created a 92-chromosome child destined for literary fame; develop style; learn how to spell develop correctly the first time.
I should have had more realistic expectations. Tom Reynolds cannot focus solely on one student of 80, yet even that sole focus would not transform me as I had hoped. However, I have learned over the first three months to make bold and forceful claims about a text, let nuance and qualification be (temporarily) damned. I also quickly began to emulate his unique speaking style: he strings together word phrases instead of mere words. Though I already had experimented with cutting away unnecessary linking verbs, I hadn’t considered the tempo of my sentences until forced to write a 3000 word essay with none. Periodic and Loose sentences must alternate. I ought to tell more jokes in my writing. The word foibles is, in fact, a word.
Some lingering habits from middle school and earlier in high school must be unlearned. They come not as the fault of my teachers, but in my failure to practice writing outside of class. For example, writers ought to give their concluding paragraph intrinsic value by actually stating something meaningful; good writers choose to not repeat the thesis- why waste words? why waste time? I also had lapsed into “thesaurusing,” or picking from a thesaurus the most exotic word instead of the most precise word. Immature and uncreative writers employ this tactic usually when aiming to impress their teachers. Separately, on several occasions during important in-class essays, I had nothing to say. With the clock always running down and the weight of my future seemingly hanging on every “B” grade, I have to write at least something. In a combination of this unpreparedness and some momentary panic, the I-have-nothing-to-say-but-I-am-very-angry-about-it style appeared, each time receiving a justifiably low grade. Worst yet: I was, above all, in a word, boring.
I value writing and the refining of it. Improve my reasoning skills without improving my communication skills and I become Hegel without a pen, I become Luther without a hammer. There is no skill more cross-disciplinary than writing; humanity long ago chose it as the common means of communication. So, our words have influence. Where clearly articulated, the ideas of others have altered my worldview to an unrecognizable degree. May my words have such impact; if I must improve my vocabulary, if I must improve my oral speaking, if I must conjure from the deepest bowls of this antimotivated, senioritis stricken self some desire to express ideas formally, so be it.
Hopefully I have been clear: I desire to express ideas. This expression has previously come in Tumblr, song-writing and passive-aggressive rants on social media. A WordPress account seems safe, a professional and durable medium where my ideas can remain.
I particularly appreciate and desire to emulate Ryan Holiday’s blog. He strikes an irregular balance between professionalism and personal tone (although perhaps professionalism already ought to include such tone, and most writers cannot escape the journalistic impulse to drown readers in factoids). Particularly I enjoy the concept that I can still read his blog posts from 2008. Perhaps I, in the year 2022, want to reflect with accuracy on my 2015 self. Often we construct inaccurate narratives about our past – a written record might help.
Where predictions for English class this year fall short, a personal ambition to communicate must rise, must motivate me to grow anyways, and must ground my expectations.