on writing

The Great Big Shoes

Creative essaying, creative nonfiction, personal-writing-in-response-to-whatever, meditative prose. Many notating terms for the genre hover in the academic universe, undefined, unchosen, simply there…where the genre, of course, sits as uncomfortably as a smallish woman in her eighth month of pregnancy sits. Not many of the scholars know what to do with emotions, and once we enter personal.nonfiction.meditative.whatever territory, emotions lunge at the first sign of a pen and paper. (I’m reading “Me and My Shadow” at the moment, in which Tompkins discusses how she’s been conditioned to believe that responding emotionally to an epistemological discussion is wrong… My thoughts are guided.)

But I guess this blog post won’t be long as usual because already I foresee that I will inevitably step into the Great Big Shoes of Hypocrisy. To be human is to hypocrite. (As Calvin says, we’ll verb it. Why is there no verb for the act of being a hypocrite? I bet you another language was wise enough in the ways of breathing to make a word for hypocriting. )

Denoting the Great Big Shoes. The genre, termed whatever, wearies me. Reading and writing it. Why? I have two proposals:

1). There’s so much personal in the world. I’ll never write my whole life out, translate experience to communicated meaning. And I’ll certainly never read it all… I sit here, perusing this PDF that my professor so kindly printed off for us, and think, There are walls of this stuff, and I’m so immensely curious. So…nosy. I want to read it all, but it’s sort of like thinking of all the trees in Bowling Green during the worst leaf-pour of autumn. So many leaves. My tiredness alerts me to the hour, this second, and also to an intrinsic laziness in myself that I forget about sometimes. I’d write more, love better, care more some days were it not for the Great Big Potentials out there: so much so much so much… It’s best, on Mondays, not to dwell long on all the workdays of your life combined. (Who knows if you’ll survive the drive home, anyways? Matthew 6, people.)

2.) It mostly wearies me because the genre seems built upon the principles of A. nit-picking and B. complaining. Glancing through the blogosphere, I run head-on into series upon series of offenses stacked up in beautifully worded prose, but still as frustrating as reading middle school Facebook statuses getting mad about things they can’t change, or worse, petty things like rude Walmart cashiers. (Um, if you worked at Walmart for your third job to make ends meet and still didn’t get enough hours at any one job to merit insurance, you’d be grumpy too.) The world isn’t right the way it is, certainly… I’m too privileged to see all that is wrong with it, but in like to dwelling upon All the Potentials combined, I get overwhelmed by all the wrongs. Many writers are fantastic at expressing what happened to them and the possible significance of those events with Eula Biss’s level, elegant gaze. But some personalities are too attack-y for me.

I’d like to understand that better about myself sometimes, this getting overwhelmed thing. Which also, noticeably, has no verb: the end of the action of getting overwhelmed. I can overwhelm you with my thick unpunctuated prose and excess parentheticals (active verb), but to be overwhelmed… There’s no verb for that. English is gappy. But getting back to the start of this paragraph, to see to the root of myself may be asking too much. But I’d like to figure it out someday. Not now. I need to finish reading….

See how I so beautifully filled the Great Big Shoes. Hypocriting’s what we–I–do best.

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