Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

A dispatch from the library

I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to post a blog from Leavey Library, here at school. I’ve posted from my office once or twice, but never from here. I come to the library fairly often before class–I like to arrive on campus early by at least an hour. Stop by the Writing 140 program office to pick up my mail, and then swing over here. Usually I read some magazines before class, or finish any last-minute preparation. I was going to read Wired today.

This is my last visit to the library. After I leave and go to class, I’ll probably never return. No reason to, really. No more classes.

In half an hour I’ll begin my final class at USC. Nothing to teach, of course; today is the day for the impromptu essay and students’ evaluations, and there’s nothing left to teach anyway.

It’s hard to teach writing, because often the most important aspect of strong writing is confidence, which you really can’t teach, anyway. Sure, talent is important, and craft, and work, and all the other stuff, but ultimately there’s that moment when you need to believe you’ve got something to say, and that singular self-belief is pretty much impossible to teach. Really, it shouldn’t be taught, anyway; that moment, that realization, has to come from within. It’s often less about inspiration than realization, and frequently, that realization is of the self.

Part of me correlates this idea with faith, which is why, I think, I favor more Eastern/esoteric spiritualities–they teach that true enlightenment comes from within. They don’t look to some barely famous rabbi for their salvation, nor place their entire faith and lives upon a myth. True faith, I think, is the kind of dirty that comes with real work–I think of Joseph Fiennes’ fingers in Shakespeare in Love. It’s certainly not easy.

Anyway, I’m off to say goodbye to my students, one last time. So far as they’re concerned, that’s all they wrote.


  1. Teaching writing is a difficult thing. I remember working in Regis’ Writing Center as an undergrad and just being amazed by the entire process. For some students, I was basically just a reader–another set of ears/eyes indicating what worked and what didn’t. For other students, though, I was their lifeline to a new culture–to fitting in and being able to communicate clearly. Their writing was full of errors, but I’ve got to say, I admired those clients most–and learned the most from them. I think it was because they had ideas and things to say, but had no tools to do that. It made me appreciate my own voice and strive to find it even more.

    I’m a little sad that I’m going to be teaching math and science next year. I suppose I’ll be teaching them another way of communicating, though. Still, I think I might volunteer to advise the yearbook or newspaper staff just to keep myself inspired.

  2. Oh dear god. Enough about Shakespere in Love. You only like it because there’s a guy named Will in it. You like the east? Watch memoirs of Geisha or read the book.

    If you have the time you could plant a time capsal and put a copy of your book or a writen confession in it. Just think of how your will pleasantly surprise or scar for life future students, depending on what you put in the capsule of course.

  3. @Alma: I worked in a writing center, too, when I was an undegrad. Good stuff.

    @Gotham: There are myriad reasons I love “Shakespeare,” and myriad besides I dislike Golden. Not sure about the time capsule, though–doesn’t this blog sort of accomplish much the same thing?

  4. This blog dosn’t accomplish the same thing because people can read it every day. Think of this way. Imagine you have picture of your great grandfather. You see it every day and it’s special to you but not as special had you dug it up from the ground with a leter explaining what’s in the photograph. No matter what it is, it instanlty becomes tresure when you bury it. Oil is poisonus million year old plant matter. It’s worth soething because it was buried. Mummies are really just a means of turning people into beef jerkey but because they were buried people want to find them and dig them up. even dogs have the instic to bury things to make them valuable. and where is your girl freinds vibrator? BURIED under her cloathes. Bury something so that when it’s dug up it will be valued as treasure. Burying liturature is the best kind of treasure to find.

    I just finsihed testing. I better stop now. I should lay down actually.

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