Bill's Blither

Location: Cheshire, Connecticut, United States

devilishly handsome, screamingly funny, overly modest

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Me-a Novelist?

As an English Master's candidate with a concentration in creative writing, I have been invited to write a novel instead of a Master's thesis. Perfect, right? It's the reason I went to grad school in the first place: to hone and practice my creaky, web-covered writing skills.

Anent this (I love that word, it solves so many crossword puzzles) I saw in the Spring schedule a course called Modern Composition Techniques. Perfect again- should be just what I need. So I called the professor to make sure I had the right take on what the course would be like, and naturally she didn't call me back. I have since discovered that the not-calling-back part is a deeply imbedded part of her behavior pattern. (She denies this, of course). I really have come to like (and respect) this woman, but I've never been able to get her to return a call or e-mail.

So I walk into my first class like a lamb to slaughter and discover that this course is not about learning composition techniques, but rather about learning how to teach composition techniques. Worse yet, nearly everyone in the class was a school teacher and most were teaching- wait for it- composition techniques. On the plus side, almost all the students in the class are women (it is an education class, after all) and to a person (PC I am) are ineffably attractive (including the prof). This is an overweening factor (for me) so I've decided to gut it out and fantasize away when I get bored. So far, this has worked. By the way, the only other guy in the class is attractive too, I guess, but my fantasies don't tend in that direction.

The reading has been in the main excruciatingly boring. One guy spent 4 years disecting sentences to see if paragraphs by good writers had topic sentences (they don't, apparently). 4 women and the professor found this fascinating. "An Ontological Basis for a Modern Theory of the Composing Process" and "A Discourse-Centered Rhetoric of the Paragragh" are two of the other titles we were assigned. Could academe be more a satire of itself? Strolling through this Oz without color must have an upside, if I could only find a good witch to lead me down the road (or even just show me one yellow brick!).

Surprisingly, I've managed to choke down my sense of the ludicrosity of the subject minutia and am enjoying the course. We do write a lot and that's what I want out of my courses, and I'm developing a (scholarly) crush on the prof, which I tend to do with all really intelligent women. I'll keep all who are enthralled by all these events apprised.


Monday, February 19, 2007

What a Feeling !

As some of you know, I stopped blogging a few months ago because recovering from my (second) knee replacement didn't allow me to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes or my knee would painfully "freeze" up. About a month and a half ago, however, I decided to start blogging again, and discovered to my dismay that I had to change my system from beta something to some other technojibberish. Naturally it's taken me all this time to dare to do this.

When I asked some of my blog friends (a term which I used advisedly for the reasons upcoming) for help I received shrieks of derisive laughter followed by sarcastic commentary re my technophobia. None of this was helpful for the purpose of getting me started again. I need either new friends or considerably more knowledge about this contraption I'm operating here. Note that I didn't use the term "new-fangled". The equipment's been here awhile, it's me who's not fangled enough.

Before advertising idiots screwed up the responses on my last blog, there were some interesting comments that I should address. First, to the lady who accused me of retreating before her confrontation concerning my remarks about undergraduates lowering the educational standard in graduate-level courses, I have two thoughts. One, I never retreat- I was probably getting ready to attack from the rear (of which she and I both have ample). Second, I took her remarks seriously enough to consult my "round table" group and other grad students and found that my negative opinions re undergrad academic motivation and maturity (I'd underline that last word if I knew how to underline) was fully shared. I can't completely convey the reasons for this to an undergrad because you have to be a grad student to have the maturity to understand them. I've always been good at circular reasoning- it's very convenient for winning arguments where logic doesn't have a prayer.

The other comment, concerning my abilities vis-a-vis James Joyce, moves me to point out two obvious differences in our talents. One , I'm not Irish and two, you can actually understand what I've written (occasionally). On the other hand similarities abound. For instance both of us had our hands whacked by misguided teachers at age 7. We could be twins.

Nice to be back, see you.... later.