Why is writing so hard? I find it easy, too easy, to talk. Sit me in a room with my professor and I could easily talk about my paper, about what I've looked at and what I want to say.
so why, when confronted with a blank piece of paper, do I find that same task nearly impossible? I have a term paper due in a week. How much have I written? About 15 tries at a first sentence.
I have read articles, books, blogs. It is not that I have nothing to say. I just have no ability to say it.
I think it's because academic writing is a straight-jacket. It's pantyhose and heels. It is meant to create an impression. It's not my real voice. It's not my style. It is all form.
I want to write about the idea of illness as a manifestation of divine will. I want to talk about this couple in California that let their 9 year old die of a burst appendix, because god would cure him if he wanted to. I want to write about Michael Mompellion, in Year of Wonder, telling people the plague was a gift. I want to write about Father Paneloux, in The Plague, telling people that the plague was god's judgment, that they deserved it. Whether god punishes or refines, the idea is two sides of the same coin. People want to matter. They want to be significant. If god has singled them out for punishment, or for testing, or for anything, it means they are somebody. If god has a hand in their illness, well at least they were noticed, they mattered. If god is punishing them, they could do something to improve, to end the punishment. If god is refining them or testing them, it is possible they could pass the test. There is something, some thing, that a person could do to get better. If god made you sick, god could make you well. If god made you sick, then it was for a REASON. And that is better than the terrifying alternative, that you got sick for no reason. That is was random. We want order and reason, even if the reason makes no real sense.
But this is just talking, and a paper has to have order, structure, citations and sources. I can't just say what I want. I have to prove it, in a careful, measured sort of way.
I will be happy when I am done.