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David Foster Wallace

A Supposedly Fun Thing

I'm taking a creative writing class. There. It's out. Everybody knows. Here's my problem with it--I hate the term creative writing. There's something about it that's almost patronizing in its childishness, and so I reject it on that ground, but also on the grounds that the term evokes an image of a slightly overweight, grey hair don't care middle-aged lady who writes fan fiction in her spare time. That sort of bothers me also. It's not the image I'd ideally like to project. This is why I shudder every time I have to say Creative Writing class. I'd much rather say, I'm taking a writing class, but for some reason I can't, I feel compelled to say the whole thing, usually in one mumbled breath, but I say it all nonetheless. I can't not say it all. Which makes me wonder why I feel the need to do some self-induced public shaming, but that's a psychoanalysis for a different day.

I'm actually really enjoying the class so far, mostly because I like writing*, but also because I like the teacher. He's a real live author and someone who goes to Super Bowl events hosted by GQ where Lil' Wayne will be performing, so that's exactly two thumbs up in this girl's book. I also like the way he speaks. Unfortunately, part of the allure is that he speaks very quietly, so I'm forced to spend most of our three hour class leaning extremely far forward over my desk with my right ear towards him if I want to hear anything he says, which, in all honesty, I really do. I guess the more logical thing would be to just ask him to speak louder, but then his whole hushed author tone thing would be ruined so! I'm forced to be awkward about it.

This class also requires reading--surprise, surprise. Add it to the pile. Luckily I enjoy delving into a book or two, now and then. Some of you may have noticed. We just read an essay by David Foster Wallace and I now know I will forever by writing to a standard set by him--he's considered by most to be the voice of his generation** and he's really funny in the sort of satirical funny that I find magical. A magnificent story teller. A little like John Kennedy Toole but non-fiction. Sadly, as it appears most of my favorite authors are wont to do, he committed suicide a few years ago.

This is perplexing to me--most suicides are, to everyone, but particularly why so many of the writers I love decided the world would be better off without them. Or whatever their reasoning might have been. Why this literature? Why these writers? Perhaps because the texts they wrote were deeply satirical and wildly ironic, and viciously, savagely intelligent. A horrific combination, as I'm sure you can imagine. Too much knowledge, the brain power to consider too many possibilities, would be a terrible burden. My GQ professor told us that David Foster Wallace was always sweating, he was an intensely nervous man, because he was always thinking so much. This sort of makes sense, because generally I like tightly-woven, complicated books that are clever and funny and wickedly smart and make use of the few words in the English language I don't already know.

I have no problem admitting that I could not write like that, I don't have a mind like that. I think probably I am able to put myself on paper better than a lot of people, but I'd rather not be a genius. I'd like to be able to spend my thirties peacefully somewhere in suburbia with a lot of kids and a dog, not distressed about humanity. I don't think I'll struggle to much with it. I'll probably be the grey-hair don't care lady, writing my fan fiction. Just kidding that made me shudder a little. I'll be making millions selling stories about how reproducing yourself exactly in children is the best but also the worst. Ask my Dad.

xoxo, Lauren

*I wanted to take this class because I thought I should see if I actually had any real skill or ability or if I just have pulling the wool over everyone's eyes since I first picked up a pen. So far, the jury's still out. I have to present on Wednesday. Already I've been ethically tempted to just keep recycling old posts from here, but since part of why I took this was to stretch myself into writing new things, I'm not sure if that's a good call. **I'm not really sure how generations work. Is it just the people who were born in your year, or the people born in a decade, or what? I tried to google it and got some conflicting information. Jury's still out on this one too.