Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back to School

I can remember when "back to school" time meant getting a new Trapper Keeper and blinding white Keds that my mom wouldn't let me wear until the very first day of class to reduce the chance of unsightly scuffs.

What do I get for back to school this year? A root canal. Yep - apparently the moaning molar is not just moaning, it's laying on the ground kicking and screaming like a spoiled child who dropped its scoop of buttered pecan ice cream on the ground.

On the flip side (and I'm desperately trying to find a silver lining here): my new dentist is seriously cool. The office is like being in a tastefully-decorated space station - very high tech with lots of warm colors. There are big TVs in every room playing the news and, when the time is right, your teeth! I got to see my teeth on the screen and he kindly pointed out the nasty-looking crater that is my problem tooth. It was nice to see for myself (although the fillings stand out so brightly on the x-rays and I felt a little ashamed about not having better oral health). It's also not giving me serious pain right now, so it doesn't seem like it will be an extraordinarily tough root canal - strictly routine, but no fun at all. I have 2 sessions - the first is Sept. 25th unless there's an earlier cancellation and I can squeeze in.

But he is very confident and seems very good at his work - I like all his assistants (especially the one who will be helping with my root canal) and the prices are - well let's face it - astronomical, but not inordinately so. Also, we have very good dental coverage and it will be paid for. Blech.

I have a totally different observation about writing. I've been working on trying to get these article revisions done and reading a lot more. Have you ever noticed that your writing gets better the more criticism you read (even if you read a poorly written article)? It strikes me that writing - and I mean the act of writing prose; making your argument - is largely mimesis. Not that I copy the arguments, of course, (paging Dr. Plagiarism!) but that I find myself varying my sentence structure more, etc. In the end, I write better when I read other writing. We all have our favorite sentence/paragraph/basic argument structures - the ones we fall back on without knowing it. And we all admire or dislike others' academic prose styles - I, for example, greatly admire Matilda Bruckner's style. But I find that the more I read, the more the basic structures of others influence mine. As a result, my own prose becomes (I think) more interesting. When I'm coming back to writing after a period of time off or if I take a break of a week or more in between research (reading around in the criticism) and writing, I find that my own brand of Medieval Woman prose reigns supreme. Not that it's bad, but it's just not as exciting for someone to read the same prose structures over and over. Though most of the time all of this takes place on a subconscious level, I've become more aware of it over the past few days. I'm really digging my revisions (and not just because they're almost done) but because I'm enjoying reading back over my writing.

On a final, equally unrelated note: Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was killed by a stingray on Monday! This is terrifying and sad, not because I was a huge fan or anything (in fact, I thought the show was a tad annoying - though it's awful when someone is killed), but because it seems so freakish. We swam with a stingray when we were in St. Croix this June - we didn't get very close and he was pretty tame with all the snorklers flitting about over the years, but it's a little bracing! Apparently they also were filming it, which is really bad (of course they didn't know he was going to get stung!) - it reminds me of that documentary "Grizzly Man".



At 2:45 PM, Blogger Hilaire said...

I know what you mean about the question of writing and mimesis, MW. Or at least - since I haven't yet identified which critics my writing emulates - I've lately become aware that I'm reading people's styles and admiring certain touches. And thinking about how to use similar techniques to better my own writing.

I'm sorry to hear about your root canal - ugh! Scary. But your dentist's office sure sounds swank. It'll make a difference, I'm sure.


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