by Danger Mouse
Told to write an essay in class, I could think of nothing. So I wrote this meta-essay.
|The Baroness of Grey Matter
I took my title from a The Three Stooges skit. I thought it was hilarious when they used it to pass themselves off as nobility. In this use, however it is not so funny as it describes my state while trying to write an essay that I cannot revise a hundred times before submitting. The title is all I brought with me; the rest of the words must be discovered as I go. Without an outline or notes, it will be like describing an invisible man. I cannot know what is there until I bump into it. I am left feeling around, looking to form something without a clear view of what it is. In all cases, writing an essay is like looking for an invisible man; it takes words on a page like snow on the ground to lead the way.
On any writing project, I begin with a mind as blank as the sheet of paper before me. It is not until I begin to fill it that my mind begins to supply the ideas I need. Without time for revisions, my essay will likely resemble a Three Stooges comedy, with many good intentions and little sense. The writing will be hard. The words will not flow easily onto that page. I will wish for my computer so that I can run a spell check. I will freeze. The neurons that should be rushing back and forth in the language centers of my brain will all detour to my emotional center giving up the search. I’ll never find my essay; like an invisible man on a clear night, it has slipped away.
With time I could find that invisible man that is language in my mind. I could feel it out by free writing, which is like checking every inch of a room with arms spread. If there is an invisible man there, I will touch him. I could then fix what I’ve found thereby producing more ideas. I could read it aloud, the equivalent of sticking that invisible man with a pin. The words like the man can then be located by sound.
Stripped of the usual means by which I produce a coherent essay, I must stumble forward blindly from word to word tripping on verbs, bumping at clauses and hoping it all makes sense, until I reach a point where I can finish. This is the hardest part of composing a classroom essay, its conclusion.
How do I finish what I couldn’t see at the beginning and lost track of in the middle? Not well I’m sure, but perhaps like The Three Stooges with a little flair. Battered but whole I will make my point, then fire my essay from a cannon and be chased from the scene by an invisible man.