Sunday, May 05, 2013

why is writing so hard

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.


Robin Norris said...

You can make order out of chaos. I have FAITH in your ability to do that. You've already stated your thesis in this very piece. You just need to distill it down for an opening paragraph. Look at it. Pull the bullets out. Then, rewrite it as a more typical opening foray into a research paper.

Also, there is nothing that says that a research paper needs to seem dry, academic, or formulative. So long as there is a clear skeleton you are trying to clothe, you can dress it in tweed or in tie dye.

While we're at it, I'm sure you'll have lots to say about certain scientists, faith healers, witch dodgers and the apparently random power of mind/faith over illness in some chases. And, to feed into the whole deserving/testing belief crud, it might not hurt to mention the broad spectrum of cases like Hugo Chavez cancer, or how Adolph Hitler walk away from car crashes and bomb explosions, versus all sorts of saintly or near-saintly people who die every day of curable ailments (think of mild infections that take people in th wrong circumstance).

Again, throw the faithful a small bone. There have been documented cases of odds out remissions and cures. But mostly, "God"gave us rational minds to discern science and medicine. "He helps those who help themselves."

changejunkie said...

actually, I have a lovely research study on how positive views of god aid in healing; negative views slow the healing process. It actually doesn't matter if you believe a placebo, meditate, pray, have faith in god, faith in your doctor... all positive belief systems aid in recovery.