The funny disease.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Aspirations of the Bargain Table

At school I had this English Professor that absolutely hated my writing. He would have hated that sentence. He would have hated this sentence. It was in his class, for the first time ever; I’d gotten a D on a paper. (Not the first time I’d gotten a D ever, just the first time in English. Though, the only time I’d ever gotten D’s and F’s was that month I spent in temporary housing when we first moved to Germany. It's unfair to count them because I started school late, and I spent most of that month on a couch bed because I contracted every air-born Germany-germ possible.) Luckily, it was a pre-grade. After a spastic apoplectic fit, I pulled myself together and went to his office to talk to him. I had to know what was wrong with my essay, and wanted advice on fixing it for the real grade.

I don’t have any recollections of the actual conversation. I only recall that I noticed my teacher was a close-talker. I have an unusually large personal space bubble, even for an American. Crowds bother me. I have to batten my mental hatches every time we go down to the Wal-Mart. This guy managed to be a close-talker with both of us sitting down. I hadn’t even known this was possible. He wheeled his rickety task chair over to the stationary wooden chair I was sitting in. (Now before you get cynical on me and think that may be he was offering me a good grade in return for taking private lessons from him for subjects that weren’t part of the curriculum, I must say that I mentioned his deficiency of spatial respect to a few of my friends who had visited his office. I was assured that he was lacking the social convention that keeps people at a reasonable distance from each other. Or else that he really liked everyone.)

I recall having a polite, calm conversation, despite being highly uncomfortable, and I recall getting absolutely no useful explanation or advice whatsoever. I rewrote my essay and turned it in, and managed a C. I thought I’d worked hard and done a good job. I felt truly insulted and dejected.

Another Professor I had loved my writing. And after my classmates and I received our grades an essay and commiserated on how we had done, I realized that students, who had done well in other Professor’s class, had not done as well in this one. This is when I realized that I was coming into my own with my writing, and that my “own” was weird and by and large unappreciated. But then, what kind of artist would I be, if I felt appreciated?

Over the weekend Sweetface and I went to a bookstore. And there was one of the novels written by the Professor that hated my writing. It was on the bargain table. I was lacking the social convention that keeps people from laughing out loud in public, for no apparent reason. Actually, it was more of a cackle. Then I felt bad, because who the hell am I? I haven’t even finished a novel, let alone published one. I should be so lucky to make it to the bargain table.


Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Doesn;t matte rif you have writtne a novle, the best part is his novel was obviously crap. You should write a scathing review on Amazon while playing the song "How do you like me now".

4/08/2006 3:57 PM

Blogger mummified said...

Laughing was definitely permissable. You seem to be a good writer from what I can see. And the novel - well, if it comes, it comes. If it doesn't, it is not the only worthwhile literary form.
I think blogs are rather good myself....

4/09/2006 3:25 AM

Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

Phos--I don't begrudge my Professor literary success, I'm still kind of mad that he judged my work as being poor and couldn't help me.

Mummified--Thanks for the compliment. Blogging is a worthwhile literary form. The best part is the audience participation.

4/09/2006 11:49 AM

Blogger Tea and Books, etc said...

Sarah, I think it's unfortunate that so many people in leadership positions, from teaching to others, seem to believe that criticism is meant solely to be destructive. Or allow their personal views to color everything.

There are many authors who are lauded by critics and others whom I find barely tolerable. That doesn't mean they aren't good writers, just that they're not to my taste. And there are many writers whom I adore but who are, while not reviled, certainly aren't respected.

My point, never let anyone else's opinions keep you from doing what you love doing, which I know you already know. And I sure would have joined you in the cackling had I been there.

4/22/2006 12:13 PM

Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

Thanks, Tea.

4/22/2006 5:31 PM


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