When I sat down to take a stab at drafting an introduction, I felt a little bit terrified, or underprepared, rather. It felt like nothing more informed than a narrowed or focused free-write. That’s okay, though. Shelley said that the introduction can and is supposed to be, as Lamott says, “a shitty first draft.” While I was conducting this free write—I mean—introduction, I began formulating several questions about my capstone project: How do I articulate my purpose? How can I introduce myself to my audience, if they don’t know me? How can I effectively explain how personal this work is for me—that it’s entangled into my every day life and every minute thoughts. But these doubts aren’t really doubts—that is much too harsh of a word. They’re gaps in my knowledge, or better yet, my research. I say better yet because a lapse in my research takes the onus off of my person and on to my actions or behavior leading up to this project. It’s not that I’m inherently unknowledgeable I’m just not quite well-read enough to begin. I didn’t know these holes were there, and to be quite honest I might not have never known without doing this exercise. I may as well sat down to do my introduction after spring break and been SOL; I would have panicked. But now that these gaps are visible, I can conduct the research that will serve as the caulk for these cracks.
Before I started my research (at all) I thought I couldn’t pull off a project so personal to me, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to pioneer the laypeople’s sociology movement. But after having done my research (I’m still not done) I see that I’m not alone. There are plenty of people who have organized their most personal thoughts into writing that is as humorous as it is insightful; as playful as it is sociopolitical. Take Caitlin Moran’s book for example. She states, “Feminism is too important to be discussed only by academics.” Right there—that line—that is strikingly similar to my unarticulated mission statement. And it takes me close to conveying my purpose. Writers like Caitlin Moran nudge me closer and closer to being able to write a satisfying introduction. Thus, I must research more work that has the same effect on me as hers does.
That said, I still “need to know” how these people have written their introductions or author’s n
otes. In other words, how did they convey their personality (who they are) so that people could fully grasp the humor in their work? Which means I need to study more comical pieces. So for instance maybe taking a glance at David Sedaris’s openings. Or glancing at comedy writers pieces at the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker or BuzzFeed. I need to get a better grip on my tone—and how I can express it in a way that is aligned with my purpose. Does that make sense? Basically, my tone is my brand, and my brand has an affinity with my purpose. Therefore my purpose and my tone are not mutually exclusive so finding a work that is confident in their brand/tone will inform the other aspects of my rhetorical situation. And I’ll definitely be able to read some funny articles in time for my March 10th submission!
Cue the entrance of Joan Didion, my patronus. She’s not the Tina Fey I might need, but she has such a strong style—such a strong tone—that allows her to have become a strong brand. People want to buy her brand; people want to consumer her products (aka read her books). I can’t quite mimic the conventions of her tone. But I can be inspired by where it has taken her as a writer—she is so unapologetically herself.