What Is This, Physics Class?

You walk in to Physics class and you sit down to take an exam.  The test is passed out and, what a shock, you draw a blank.  It seems as if all that you can remember is what the problems actually look like and not how to do them.  You know that you’ve spent many hours studying and that something should look familiar eventually, but while you flip through the pages of the test, you begin to panic.  The panic makes things worse, and then all you want to do is leave the room for a water break but you don’t have any time to waste, and the list of struggles goes on from there.

Writing this memoir is a lot like taking a physics test.  Remembering all of the facets of the given test material is synonymous to trying to remember all of the different facets of my last 20 years of life.   It is tedious, thought provoking, and emotionally exhausting.  A lot of the time I spend “working” on the piece, itself, is filled with extended time lapses of blank stares and Facetime calls to my family members and friends.  Usually I call them with the intent of getting my memory jogged about something from my childhood, but typically the extent of the conversation ends up being not at all productive to the purpose of my essay.  It’s been a nice chance to catch up with people, though.

There are other times, however, when I am working and memories just keep coming to me.  As I unravel one idea, I am reminded of another idea, and then another idea, and another after that and the tangents become effortless.  At these times of writing, everything seems perfect.  I have found that forcing yourself to write is stressful, but rather allowing yourself to simply have a conversation with the piece of paper can be more therapeutic.  This is when writing becomes fun.

Because I have spent so much time outputting memories for this project, I have found myself spending very little time worrying about how I am portraying these memories on paper.  I need to rework every paragraph and every story in terms of structure.  I know what parts of my life pertain to what parts of the White Alma Mater that I am incorporating into the essay, but I have yet to imbed these lines in an appropriate way.  Once I achieve this, the essay will finally have flow.  I hope to be able to use the lines from the White Team Alma Mater as a literary devise in my writing so my readers can understand more about the song in context to something.  The song makes complete sense when it is sung at camp because it was made at and for camp.  But when you take this song out of context, it seems cliche.  Thus, I plan to add my own context to the song in hopes that my audience will fall in love with the lyrics as much as my fellow authors and I have.

Just as I have disregarded structural devises in my first draft, I have spent equally as little time working on diction.  My goal is to first get all of my thoughts out of me.  After I do that, I can identify what memories I want to keep in my story and what memories I want to trash.  After I do that, I can focus on the structural elements of my essay and then later, I can scale down to give my diction the attention that it needs.

This isn’t the way I would typically work through an essay but I find this system particularly appropriate to use as I tackle this type of media and writing style for the first time.

Caroline Petersen

Caroline is a contributing writer to the Sweetland Minor in Writing Blog. She is an architect in training and spends a lot of her time sipping on cappuccinos and discussing elements of malfunctioning building features. She is a city girl who spent her elementary summers in the middle of Iowa at her aunt and uncles farm. She is a woman of many (unusual) facets that are traditionally fairly useless.

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