On Writing Well


I’ve spent much of the day grading papers, reading student prose until, exhausted, I fell asleep around  noon and remained sleeping for four solid hours.  I returned to reading soon after waking, and have only in the past 30 minutes or so put the papers away, completely depleted by the process.  Trying to get through too many essays in one day inevitably leaves me irritated and overwhelmed.

In the meantime, I’m not at all pleased with the quality of writing I’m producing here.  My sentences seem to limp along with little energy, as I stumble from one lame idea to the next.  I don’t feel able to accomplish what I ask my students to achieve–a vigorous prose style that maintains reader interest and compels audiences to return for more.  Some student work amazes me.  And it seems I should be able, at the very least, to accomplish what I ask these kids to.  So far I’ve failed.

Clearly, succeeding as a writer, rather than simply making it as one who teaches the skill to another, requires an ability  that, as of yet, I seem to lack.  Surely an exotic location, such as Thailand, doesn’t suddenly in and of  itself make one a more effective writer.  I must succeed here, if I’m to succeed in that setting.  Yes, the richness of the experience may lend itself to better prose at the beginning.  However, newness will eventually  be replaced by  routine.  Good writing requires one to make even the mundane more meaningful and engaging.

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