Possibilities

Today, I began reading the book “Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz.” I must admit that it was the title that caught my eye when I was browsing the aisles of a bookstore last week. I checked out the book from the UGLi today with the slight hope that the book would be interesting. (Despite having both math and writing as two active parts of my life, I’ve never personally seen them come together in a nice way.)

When I pulled the book out to read on the bus, I found myself chuckling and thinking, “Wow, these authors are actually really funny.” They managed, seemingly effortlessly, to take concepts that I’d laboriously learned through theorems full of confusing notation and trickery, to write everything out in simple words that served their purposes of not only informing but also entertaining.

This came as a very pleasant surprise to me. The only humor I’ve ever derived from math came from jokes such as this one:

To see math being put into such fun-to-read words was quite a different experience for me. It got me thinking about everything we’ve learned so far in this class and how they’ve helped shape my ideas about writing. Whereas before this I used to think that the two most essential ingredients of writing were inspiration and words, I now think of writing as a dish that never comes out in an identical way simply because the ingredients keep changing (I just realized I’m really hungry).

I guess it all boils down to something we’ve been discussing a lot in class – there is really no one correct or certain way to write. Sometimes, we really do need to have an a-ha moment. Sometimes, we just have to summon up the will to write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes, we just need to allow ourselves more room to experiment like the authors who looked at the probabilistic approach of showing how in a room of thirty-five people, the chance that two people share the same birthday is surprisingly high, and used their ability to weave words and wit together to make a compelling text.

Of course, the catch is that I feel that all these are much easier said than done. With all the writing tools that I’ve collected and I’m continuing to pick up in this course, I’ve found that my biggest challenge is being daring enough to try using most of these tools. It is easy to read about an author’s opinion about different ways to think about the motivations, the act, and the consequences of writing, but to apply the knowledge on a personal level is much more intimidating. I think this is my biggest struggle in brainstorming for my remediation project. Part of me is saying to stop thinking such boring things and to try something really different – but what? I feel as though I’ve grown too attached to my re-purposing assignment to be able to see it in a completely different light. Right now, just finding a direction I’d like to explore seems like half the battle.

Here's to hoping a cartoon can cure a headache and provide writing inspiration.

2 thoughts to “Possibilities”

  1. Crystal, I really appreciate your point about how there is no one correct way to write. I think that the extraordinary amount of pressure that college students constantly place on themselves, can lead them, as writers, to quell foreign ideas that they aren’t as confident in. I also agree with your subsequent point that it is really hard to dare to use new techniques. However, if we remember part of Lamott’s advice in her Shitty First Draft essay, she said that the first “draft” is often her just writing whatever comes to mind. This initial process has no expectations, therefore there is no opportunity to fail.

    I agree that initially it will be extremely intimidating, daunting even, but just imagine the exhilaration that you will feel once it is done, and with any luck successful. Imagine how good it would feel, if say you attempted a humorous piece, and your friend laughed uncontrollably. Those occurrences evoke emotions unparalleled in life, because you not only succeeded not only in achieving the end goal of making them laugh, but you also succeeded in persevering past your previous reservations. Cheers, as we both try and take the plunge into the unknown, and good luck!

  2. Crystal, I really liked that you are reading a book for fun that corresponds to your interests. I wish that I had time to do this too, but unfortunatley, I have WAY too much on my plate, and I keep getting behind on assignments &ct.

    I really liked the part when you said, “Of course, the catch is that I feel that all these are much easier said than done. With all the writing tools that I’ve collected and I’m continuing to pick up in this course, I’ve found that my biggest challenge is being daring enough to try using most of these tools.” I totally agree. I hope that in the future writing classes that I take at UM and on study abroad that I am able to take a risk and do these things, because, 100% of the time, they end up being better and way more interesting than if on had just stuck with the boring argumentative essay. Good work.
    Jen

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