Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Writing in Seminary

I went to Catholic schools, and for all their flaws, one skill that was drilled into us was expository writing. We dallied with creative writing as well, but Sister Mary Malachi and Sister Leonard Marie (the two who had the greatest energy around this) were both fiends for clarity and logic and appropriateness in our writing.

This has served me well professionally, and now serves me well in seminary, although sometimes I suspect my profs find me a bit too...well, too whatever, but they universally compliment me, saying things like "clear and engaging." It feeds my ego, and sends me down imagination-roads of publishing. PH, who was formerly married to a professional writer, shudders whenever I mumble things like that.

The food that built my writing muscles was vast quantities of reading. I find myself referencing a wide variety of authors in my writing (Albert Camus on travel for my paper on Qatar, for example), and model my style on others when I've been warned that some professors favor one style over another (Hemingway over Faulkner, say, for a professor who hates run-on sentences).

I'm saddened by the lack of engagement among some of my fellow students on the art of writing. They are busy churning out the dozens of pages we are required to produce. There seems little grace, in any sense of the word, in what they produce.

Sad, because crafting an elegantly crisp phrase, or unwinding a looping sentence that places you in time and space like a gavotte, is such sheer pleasure.

I may be stubborn, but I refuse to relinquish that pleasure even in the brief pieces I will write.

3 comments:

towanda said...

Oh, I am SO with you on that.

Eliz F said...

Mibi, I also LOVE writing, and this has also served me well in seminary. AND, I relate to what you are saying about PH shuddering due to your interest in his first wife's profession...my husband's first wife was a musician, so when we met eleven years ago, he told me my lack of musical ability was one of my most attractive qualities. So I think it makes him nervous that I loved our CM class last fall and OFFICIATED at an Evensong at my field ed site in March... I will never have a gorgeous voice like you, but I am starting to enjoy singing and chanting and want to practice and improve and chant some services, which (I think) freaks him out a little... ;-)

mibi52 said...

E- I suspect that the Augustinian comment that when we sing we pray twice is one of the reasons I love to sing - I need all the conversation with God I can get. Now that you're starting to relax into your singing, I bet you're getting what that's all about. Of course, last night in (home church) choir practice, when we were slogging through Bach, Byrd, Britten and Busto (a concert of B's coming up - I kid you not), it was not the most edifying moment!