Indian Camp

A piece of writing that I’d like to emulate is a short story called “Indian Camp,” By Ernest Hemingway. Not only is Hemingway brilliant– his work is intellectually and artistically engaging because she uses short sentences while still effectively describing a scene. He sets the scene seamlessly, without a forced descriptive section. The tone of the piece is dark and foggy, but surprisingly not eerie, and lacks an expected “Poe” quality.

The Story goes like this: A doctor is called to help an Indian woman, who has been in painful labor, deliver a baby. The doctor was forced to perform a C-section, and the doctor’s son witnessed this entire ordeal as he came along to help his father. In the midst of this traumatic story, the woman’s husband commit suicide by slitting his own throat. And throughout, Hemingway uses no striking diction to get across the chaos of the situation, but for some reason, you understand the situation, and are content with the “to-the-point” story-telling.

The twist in this story is that the pain, and gore did not come from the woman in pain and distress, but rather the husband, who goes silently. This is the first time that Nick, the doctor’s son is exposed to both birth and suicide—a strong juxtaposition. And, I’d hate to say that this is a classic “rite of passage” story, because it’s not: it’s much more. This is not just a riveting story of initiation; this is a social commentary. The Indian woman has faced sexism and racism, but in the face of her suffering, her husband cannot endure. She has been the stronger subject, and her husband has been the “weak.” Hemingway seems to believe that men who commit suicide are weak (another sexist ideology). In this piece the woman is the hero. And though you feel sadness for her husband’s helplessness, you can’t help but to feel like she was the partner who endured more lifelong pain, as well as temporary, but no less excruciating, labor pain. And, now she is a widow.

In addition, we see subtle changes in the way Hemingway discusses Nick Adams. In the beginning, Nick is close to his father, and at the end he sits further away from him, on the opposite side of the boat. It seems Nick has matured, somehow.

However, the most interesting part of the story is not, for me, the rhetoric. But, it’s that both Hemingway and his father committed suicide. Perhaps my rhetorical analysis of this story is clouded by the circumstantial irony. But, then I wondered, does it really matter?

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How Writing leads to Thinking…

As I read “How Writing Leads to Thinking,” I already notice Hunt’s thoughts playing out before my eyes. In particular, I see a transition in her writing when she moves from the “first rule,” to the “Second rule;” she becomes more comfortable with random thought, and run-on sentences (indicative of more “free” thought.). The topic she’s speaking about is evident in this piece in particular (I wonder if this was intentional.) As she writes the piece, her own thoughts become developed—a certain reverse brainstorming that might be more productive than thinking then writing, respectively.

That’s the way I look at the Writing Minor—an endless re-purposing of a project that seems drawn out and counter-intuitive but adversely, it’s a way to “develop some distance from it,” and a way to develop our own thoughts again, and again. Since writing is so much about this revision process, or as Hunt would say: “the weeding, thinning, mulching, and watering,” it’s important that we can continuously break off our work from ourselves, and douse it with self-criticism, and constructive criticism from others. For example, much of what I write I find to be an extension of my personality, and I often read it over, and over, and over again in the hopes of looking deeper into it. But more often than not, I only re-live the emotions that were available to write it, rather than feel detached, and ready for “good” revision.

This piece inspires me to avoid “the anxiety caused by the unconscious realization that what you write is you and has to be held out for others to see,” throughout this course. It inspires me to take my stream of consciousness, in its most primitive form, and let it run free, and even let it rise to the occasion of scrutiny from myself as well as my revisionary audience. I want to let my writing do the thinking for me, and let my ideas come a millisecond after my words drown the page. After reading this piece, I realized that my immediate thoughts are sometimes shadowed by what I think will make for a good sentence, riddled with backspaces and clever word choice. But, what I should do is abandon the audience for a moment, and write my first draft without uncertainty.

I hope that as I learn to write, not just “polish” my writing, I can write freely with the hope of thinking, and think freely without the fear of revision.

ePortfolio Post

There were two questions that I immediately cringed away from in the ePortfolio Prompt, and they happen to be the two most blatant, and straightforward: “How do you want to present yourself as a writer?” And, “Who is your ideal audience?”

I struggle with these questions because I struggle with the most basic building blocks of writing. Oddly enough, the syntax and lyricism of rhetoric comes easily. For me, words just flow onto paper, but, I like having a structured prompt. So, how do I want to present myself as a writer? Probably similar to the way I want to present myself as a person–introspective and intelligent with a quirky twist of passion, and a tendency to have an endless stream of consciousness (Now that I’m reading that sentence it sounds like a character review for a cheesy best-seller, but I digress.)

My ideal audience is the one that I already have–my peers at U of M who seem to be smart, witty, and understanding. They get my 21st century lingo, our generation’s 21st century shortcomings, and the general plight of a college student. They are a cohort unmatched by the likes of any other; they make the perfect canvas for the splattering of my fresh ideas.

The Minor in Writing has created a body of students with so much texture, that I can’t imagine a more perfect audience. Perhaps it’s too perfect. Perhaps I’ll get too comfortable. But, I’d hope that they remind me to push myself, and to find my voice as a writer. And, I’ll try to do the same for them.