Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Writing

This may not be a huge surprise to you, my dear 20 readers, but I had a really rough winter quarter. I took Critical Approach to Literature, which is an incredibly writing intensive course. It's also required for my major.

I used to think I was such hot stuff when it came to writing. I took a college placement test in high school to qualify for Running Start (a program that allows high school students to take college classes) and tested way above the requirements for reading and writing. Every paper I've ever written was most likely written the day before the deadline, and I always earned high marks. I've had two professors submit my papers for awards (which I didn't win, btw).  Last quarter, my Victorian lit professor had me submit a paper to be published on a website.

When I started full time schooling again, after a hiatus of 8 years in which I worked full time, I struggled a little bit. It wasn't until this quarter, though, that I realized that I feel as if working for so long has dumbed me down. Sure, I used to be able to name the 7 million tax rates in Vancouver, WA. I could tell you how to work Quickbooks and Excel. I could run reports like nobody's business. But it was (and still is, at least one day a week) a job, and really no learning was to be had.

One of my last Crit App to Lit class sessions was a peer review of a draft introduction to our final papers. I already had an idea that my group members were far and above me in language and writing skills, but then one of them told me my writing was lucid. Don't know what that means? Per the online dictionary:

Lucid: easily understood; completely intelligible or comprehensible

Now, it may be because I'm sensitive, but I instantly took that as "simple". I know it has a much bigger meaning than that, but I can't get around "simple". I don't sprinkle my essays with big words because, frankly, I don't use them. But hearing "lucid" as a description floored me. I feel as if I'm making the biggest mistake majoring in English.

And that's not the only example of my writing ability. Lately, I've been mixing up "then" and "than". The other day, I wrote "your" when I meant to say "you're", and I wanted to bang my head into the desk. I found an "it's" in my final paper, where it should have been "its". I can't remember if it's commas that go before quotation marks, or semi-colons. In citations, I keep putting book titles in quotation marks even though I KNOW they need to be italicized.

How the hell am I supposed to make it in editorial work if I'm making those mistakes? How am I supposed to cut it in grad school when my writing is "lucid"?

I'm attempting to work on my writing skills outside of homework. I'm meaning to write here more now that I have more time, and by write I mean write about something other than food and silly blog challenges. Because I have to fix this, and I have to fix it fast.

1 comment:

Caity said...

If writing is your passion, I'm sure that you will be able to work on it. Just practice. Write more things. Write about things you love and write in your spare time. If it's what you love and it's what you're meant to do, I'm sure it will happen. <3