When I received the email congratulating me as one of the newest members to the Sweetland Minor in Writing program, I was ecstatic. I called my mom right away to tell her the good news. After dreaming with her about my future (hopefully something that will include writing the blog and social media posts for a Christian non-profit), I hung up. Cue instant dread. What if I just think I’m a good writer but I’m actually not? What if the professor reads my first assignment and says there has been a mistake and that my skills are not up to par? All thoughts not outside the realm of ridiculousness in that moment.
After making it through my first two classes without being dismissed, I can now say that my fears have (mostly) been calmed. In her essay, “How Writing Leads to Thinking,” Lynn Hunt says, “One is not born a writer, but rather becomes one,” and that “Writing requires and unending effort at something resembling authenticity.” I hope the Minor in Writing will be one of the greater steps in my life that cultivates my “good writer” becoming.
This brings me to some of my goals for the Minor in Writing. Lamott says, “You have to believe that clarity is coming, not all at once, and certainly not before you write, but eventually, if you work at it hard enough, it will come.” I can think of multiple times during my career as a student that I have attempted to force myself to conjure up brilliant thoughts. I think it has only worked once. The other times, I only succeeded in making myself more frustrated with the assignments. In the minor, I don’t want to submit assignments that I am unsatisfied with. I don’t want to force my brain to come up with thoughts I think are worthy of leaving it. I believe that I am well equipped to and will produce good writing if I put in good effort.
Another goal: write more. I love the Quick Fire challenges in class! (For those of you not in the Monday/Wednesday section of the cohort, Shelley gives us little writing challenges every class called Quick Fire challenges, inspired by Top Chef.) At first, I felt apprehensive about the idea. Would we be harshly graded on them? Would I be judged if I my mind suddenly went blank and I couldn’t come up with anything? But after the first couple classes and reading Lamott’s essay, I feel better. I have found truth in this quote: “You think something you did not know you could/would think and it leads you to another almost unbidden.” The more I write, the more I become comfortable with writing and the more I have begun to trust my brain.
Also, I love words. Here’s some new ones I learned thanks to this reading:
Solipsistic [adj.]: the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist
Ignominy [n.]: public shame or disgrace