The novelty of being a new student is wearing off, although before each class I still wonder, “What am I doing here?”
I am more at ease in the class, and even though I am not an English major, I am starting to realize that I bring a valid perspective to play in the class.
Being an artist, I have an intimate knowledge of creativity and the creative process. Last night in class, I was talking about something in terms of spinning my plot, and stated “But that’s just being creative, and I suspect it applies to writing just as well”. The teacher smiled.
I know some subjects as part of my life. The professor and a student in his 40’s were discussing researching the Vietnam War and looking at the old films as a source. I said “I remember actually seeing those films when it was happening. I was up for the draft during the Vietnam Era”. I think they realized that as much as they could talk about the Vietnam War and research it, I had knowledge of the time that they could never gain. Mine was knowledge of participation and watching it unfold without foresight of what was to come.
A lot of the students have English knowledge but lack non-English subject-matter knowledge or interests. While a lot of them are still debating what topic to choose, I have picked my topic and identified my sources.
The most interesting thing in the class was when the teacher asked me the name of one of the artists I had mentioned in describing my term topic. He asked the class who had heard of the artist Tintoretto. Not a hand was raised. He then asked who had heard of Pollock. All the students raised their hands. His point was that when you are immersed in a subject, you risk assuming that all of your readers have the same knowledge. That was really useful in helping me to structure the paper. What I realized was that although everyone knows who Pollock was, few understand at more than a superficial level what his art was about. I am writing about a period in his art unknown to most except those intensely interested in Pollock, because the figurative works run counter to the commonly promoted abstract paintings.
As the professor said, you have three types of readers:
Those who have no knowledge of the subject, who you can provide an introduction to the topic
Those whose opinion is totally different from you, to whom you can present an alternate view
Those who have similar insight, to whom you can provide even greater insight
So, I have a different problem to most of the class. I know my subject intimately. Not only must I learn how to write about it, but also write about it in a manner accessible to those unfamiliar with the topic.
What I wanted to gain from studying writing was clarity of thinking. I feel that I might be on the right path.