Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The well-oiled dynamo

Dear Student,
Let's face it: your writing is not perfect. Your love affair with adjectives and adverbs sometimes results in sentences weighed down by excess baggage, and your lighter flights of fancy can be a bit rococo. Paragraphs grow like Barthelme's balloon, expanding to fill the room and bulge well out into the hallway, leaving me gasping for air in the corner.

And yet: I'd rather read your papers than most others. Here's why:

1. You take risks. Those flights of fancy? Always original, always meaningful, always interesting, even when they're outrageous. Especially when they're outrageous.

2. You love words. Your extensive vocabulary grows not from a desire to impress readers with your erudition but from sheer delight in the wonders of language.

3. You live literature. No mere water-strider skating over the surface, you plunge in and inhabit the text, developing gills if necessary to keep breathing in the depths.

4. You respond to advice. Rough passage? I make a broad suggestion and you run with it until your prose hums like a dynamo. So what if it sputters now and again? It runs with energy and rhythm and precision and power, and it makes me want to keep reading.

So keep writing. And while you're at it, if you can infect your classmates with some of these characteristics, you will make your English professors very very happy.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Your love affair with adjectives and adverbs sometimes results in sentences weighed down by excess baggage, and your lighter flights of fancy can be a bit rococo.

I love this sentence : )