My freshman year of college I was part of a university which required everyone to take writing seminars – mainly to make sure chump engineers had enough writing skills not to be embarrassing in adulthood. Since I was a badass juvenile journalist I assumed this would be two slam dunks A’s on my transcript.
Of all of the writing classes to choose from, I went straight for the jugular – “Fantastic Shakespeare!” Notice the use of punctuation, it HAD to be fantastic. On my first day of class an angry short German man instructed us to buy the complete works of Shakespeare. Now, it’s not often you hear someone bragging about reading every single comedic play Shakespeare ever wrote. That is because it’s the kind of thing that a) makes you a pretentious wind bag and b) means you have subjected yourself to reading 16 plays about men cross dressing.
This was the gist of all 16 stories:
· Boy dresses up as a woman and meets his dream girl.
· Boy’s real identity is revealed and dream girl embraces him with open arms. (She was obviously reading a lot of Dan Savage).
Now imagine that you have to write 16 papers about those two bullet points. It’s like being forced to watch 24 hours straight of romantic comedies. The mindless repetition of plots eats away at your soul.
To add insult to injury, the Angry German believed that my writing skills were akin to that of a wild animal. He tried to tame me (like a shrew) through forcing me to read everything another girl in my class turned in. I hated her. I hated her writing style. I hated the German and eventually I hated Shakespeare.
I decided that since my Shakespeare class made me consider drinking arsenic and cross dressing viable future plans that writing in general was not for me.
Now lest you think that all freshman writing seminars suck I give you an alternative example. Picture a class titled “Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Pulsars and All That.” On average a class about black holes would lead one to contemplate suicide. But no! This class involved sitting in a drum circle talking about the stars and not having to write a goddamn thing. Everyone got an “A”, everyone made out with someone from class, everyone left feeling like the world was full of wonder. I know quite a few people from that writing seminar and they have all gone on to live successful productive lives. I submit it’s because their dreams were not thwarted by fantastic fucking Shakespeare.
* In a cruel twist of fate, I ended up working for an aerospace company after college,
surrounded by black hole nerds.