I’m comfortable with writing reviews for The Index, leading Naked and writing album or show reviews. I just wrote my first piece for Kalamazoo Local Music on the Fretboard Festival contestants. It felt completely natural.
Yet writing for this class has been much more strenuous than writing research papers or history essays this quarter.
Maybe it’s the over justification effect: getting a grade, an extrinsic value, removes the intrinsic value I place on writing. Writing is an conversation, just organized and it runs one-way. It keeps my brain together; I carry a journal wherever I go.
Regardless, it is all part of a larger theme of feeling uncomfortable.
For one, I never reviewed a book before. Art exhibit? I mean, those reviews for The Index may have had a “but” statement, though a lot of it was summary, description, and more of a look of how an exhibit came to be.
So what was my process when it came to reviewing something I lack sufficient knowledge and/or experience to feel comfortable and confident?
I took a lot of notes, then I threw them on my computer screen.
I did exactly what Amy Waldman’s described when she visited our campus. I dumped everything, and then I clumped quotes, themes, observations, and inferences together in order to make sense of out chaos. I filled in gaps, deleted some phrases, and tied in other clumps, and, somehow, a rough, rough draft appeared before me.
The live performance piece flowed right out of me. The first film review was not so bad--after we received feedback and I knew what to look for.
But after a bit of struggling after reviewing a journalists’ work, an art exhibit, and a book, I realized one of my problems is that I find my “but” statement too late. And it’s not a big deal to take it and place it at the top, but by then I usually ran out of my time or caffeine to sufficiently edit the other bits so my thesis would ring throughout my piece.
From jotting notes in a dark movie theater to joining a tour with elderly folks, this class has been uncomfortable. And I mean that in the best possible of ways. Challenge by choice: you have to immerse yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to grow.
I learned that opinions are expensive, and they must be bought thriftily and concisely with words. These are the days I’m cashing my checks.