Camille Reyes

Deconstructing in a Breakdown

In Writing on December 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm

I realized tonight that I am technically not a great writer. This would not chafe much were I a chemist, but since I have fancied myself a writer since my first head swelling feedback on a 7th grade creative writing assignment, wherein a anthropomorphized refrigerator wreaks havoc on an unsuspecting household, this is a let down. (Diagram that sentence, nerds!)

I’ve been unwittingly making excuses for my faults. “Oh, professors tell me I write in a more French, lyrical way. I don’t need your American sense of order <spit>.” Until today, I did not connect other feedback, including my need to “summarize the literature more, critique less,” or “get closer to the texts” with my actual deficiency. No, the cartoon coyote in my brain dropped the TNT tonight while working on a research proposal—a dangerous space for me since without the original research, I have few props with which to embellish my own exciting ideas. No, I have to review the literature that came before–a vital step, but one that requires, much to my horror, topic sentences and transitions.

I shant transition here; you see I wonder if my shortcomings are similar to the brilliant mathematicians who struggle to calculate the tip at dinner. There are such Einsteins, yes? I’m not saying I am Margaret Atwood, or even J.K. Rowling. Hubris is not my issue; it’s crankiness. I used to know this stuff because, much like sentence diagramming, I had to number the parts of a paragraph within the context of an essay. Like James Brown, I used to break it down. THEN, I brought back the fridge funk. I had game.

Maybe I should give myself a grammar and structure camp over the summer. Get back to my roots. Oh, but that sounds tedious, like picking up the socks strewn about my apartment right now, only much worse. I don’t have this lazy tendency elsewhere. (By the way, I added that last transition after I finished the post. Doh.) Whenever I get the notion to take up tennis again, a biannual event since age eight, I start with the mechanics of my swing. I now hear the voice of my last instructor (my first being my dear dad): “Swing UP Mount Hood, UP Mount Hood, UP Mount Hood.” My swing secured, I then pay attention to my footwork, trying hard not to overrun the ball (good God, that is a metaphor for my life!). Finally, I get to my favorite part: crushing the ball. THWACK! That felt good.

Now if only I could muster the same patience and dedication to fixing my writing issues. At least I can finally be honest with myself about my GRE writing scores. Turns out, I wasn’t misunderstood. No Van Gough here. For now, I will crack open another Red Bull, and ponder it no more. In the immortal words of Margaret Mitchell and Scarlett O’Hara, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” Today, and until about 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, I must finish this paper with a stylish thwump.

Portland, Oregon skyline and the swinging Mt. Hood


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