Thursday, April 3, 2014

Exclusive Inside Look of Emilyn's Writing Binder

I thought about apologizing for my virtual absence of the entirety of March.

Moving on.

I have this English professor (I have yet to find a character or actor to which he bears a likeness to, physically or otherwise. I did find one for my psychology professor, but more on that another day.) who seems to enjoy doing two things during class. 1) Monotone (this teacher calls for the non-existent verb form of the word) incredibly boring lectures filled with "I want all you students to guess what word I'm thinking of" questions, and 2) spew out delightful phrases of genius. It's a little difficult to fish out said genius from the slow ocean of monotonity (also a non-existent form of the word) with which he fills the room, which is why each one is penned so happily into my writing binder with stars and arrows. And with that, I figured I'd dedicate this blog post to his delightful genius fishes.

Ha. Genius fishes. I'm totally making that a thing. "Ooh! Did you hear that genius fish? What a whopper!" "Watch out guys, I feel a genius fish a-wrigglin'." Oh yeah. This is a thing.

"As you mature and become more professional, things don't get more complicated they become less complicated." 
I like this one. When you become better at something it's less about you doing harder things than it is about the same things becoming easier to do. For example, the multiplication table was just as hard for you in first grade as factoring polynomials was for you in high school, but because you only have the multiplication to compare to, factoring seems much easier. Sigh. I love factoring. I could Algebra forever.

"When children start doing what they don't want to do." 
This phrase is an unfinished sentence in my binder, but finishing it with different things almost interests me more. I almost didn't put it in because I wanted to keep it to myself. But I guess since it's about doing things you don't want to do...

What does happen when children start doing things they don't want to do? They mature? They succeed? They truly live? Or is it a bad thing? They stop shooting for their dreams? They lose their sense of themselves? They become boring adults? Did you notice that this paragraph is made up entirely of questions? Because it is. <----irony.

"The story doesn't say that, it creates that." 
(Note: This one has to do with writing and may not apply to all readers. I thought about apologizing for that as well.)

As simple and as helpful as the phrase "show not tell" is, it's not entirely true. A writer doesn't want to come in and tell the reader, "Emilyn is angry because there are dirty dishes in the sink," but he also doesn't want to say, "Emilyn's eyebrows tilt from a high point on the outside of her face, and slide all the way down to her nose as she stares at the dishes in the sink. Her hands produce sweat, and her nose sucks air in and out and in and out. She can't breath in through her mouth due to her clenched teeth." Instead, just let the anger happen. "Emilyn comes into her apartment. Dishes in the sink. And the dishes she washed yesterday are probably still lined up on the dishwasher racks. She walks into her room. Someone else had better do them." It's not a perfect example so you can just get over that right now, but hopefully you see the difference.

(WARNING: These excerpts are not affiliated with Emilyn's life in any way, and any similarities to it are completely coincidental. Also, this entire warning could be a lie.)

Let's more...  Ooh.

"You know, I loved the world when it was just pencils. It was a neat place."
This professor is always struggling with technology. The classroom computer, his files, his flashdrive, Youtube videos, "tweeter", and anything else more complicated than his piece of chalk with which he gratefully uses often. He also gets the chalk all over his suit jacket, but he obviously prefers it to the stress Microsoft word gives him.

But this phrase reminded me of something else I heard recently at SUU's Tedx night. One of the speakers said, "My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son will fly an airplane. His son will fly a rocket. But his son, his son will ride a camel." I don't recall the exact point he made. Something about being careful to not repeat history, or maybe it was about the end of the world being near. And I almost want to say, in light of my professor's phrase, that a pencil will always be more reliable than a computer, but I don't really want to go that far. Computers are pretty darn effective. But it is true that there is something about a pencil that a computer just doesn't have. Maybe that's because I grew up with computers so a pencil world seems "so totally vintage" to me. I don't really know. Maybe it's just a personal problem. Or maybe it was the way he said the last part. I want to live in that neat pencil place.

So the moral of the story is that instead of getting angry at your dirty dishes you should send them on a camel to your great great grandson because dish-doing will be less complicated in the future.