Monday, September 22, 2014

Amateur Perfectionist Lessons

In the grand scheme of things, it's pretty easy to bang out a blog post. Nothing in particular to talk about? No problem! I believe this will be my 1,058th post about nothing in particular. It's a topic dear to my heart.

Much more difficult is writing about something - any actual, you know, thing - and, moreover, writing carefully about it. Putting together a first draft. Getting feedback. Revising. Fine-tuning. Revising some more.

At this point in my development as a writer, the revision process feels like this:

Damn it! I just remembered I clean forgot to ask my professor what his take is on double-spacing after a period.

Meanwhile, we had some drama in my other class, at a different institution, neither of which for these purposes I think I'll name in any searchable fashion. An email went out to all the students Friday. My professor, stating it had nothing to do with any of us in the class, was resigning as instructor of record. More details would be given at the next class meeting, if not sooner.

This was rather abrupt.

Being about one degree (if that) removed from high school students, we were excitedly abuzz about this development as the classroom filled today. What happened? Did our professor get fired? Leave in a (Chevy) Huff? How did we feel about the instructional style, anyway? Was there a lack of clear direction? Were the lectures productive?

You would think the presence of an unfamiliar, older person near the back of the room would shut us up. But perhaps lulled into security by having already accepted my middle-aged person into their midst, my fellow students gossiped away.

Eventually the stranger moved to the front of the room and distributed business cards, revealing himself to be the chair of our missing professor's department. "I see you've already heard the news," he said, with a certain sense of irony (irony not being an unfamiliar concept, I wouldn't think, to anyone in his particular field).

I don't know that we were particularly chastened, though we probably should have been. The department head asked if any of us had any notion of our professor's imminent departure, and asked to be forwarded a copy of the email suddenly announcing it. We meekly accepted the assignment of a new professor, under the assumption that what we were getting was at least as good and possibly better than what we'd had. But I have a pang for the departed professor, whom I'd liked. Class started a few days earlier here than it did in my writing class (my writing/Shakespeare professor having been summoned to jury duty), so this was my first face-to-face encounter with the return to academia. It matters to me. It's special! I hope all is well.

But if not, I hope my professor leaves well enough alone and doesn't try to hammer anything out.

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