They Made Me Hate It (Well, More Like Love/Hate It)

High school is where my self-expression and creativity went to die, but it’s also the place where my creativity flourished. It bloomed through comedy, for example, making classical liberalism funny by exaggerating its core beliefs (*cue a dozen fingerless factory workers). It thrived through art, like when I drew and painted a to-scale diagram of my internal organs on a t-shirt for anatomy class. Even my voice got an upgrade, as I read a story out loud for bio class using different voices. However, while excelling in other subjects, my train of self-expression came to a grinding halt when I entered English class. Sounds stupid, right? I agree. I’m no writer, but I am a creative person. I create characters & stories in my head, but I never felt the need to put them on paper; I figured in high-school I might get the opportunity to do so. Nope, not even a lone journal.

English has become my least favorite class for a number of reasons, but I think I can relate to most students when I say this: reading and interpreting literature sucks. You know what I’m talking about. You read The Scarlet Letter or something else over 80 years old, then are asked to write an in-depth analysis of its meaning, all while using at least three different characters or symbols in three body paragraphs as evidence to support your claim. First off, no one likes The Scarlet Letter, it was boring and Chillingworth was an asshole. Second, if I was from some alternate-world where the book was actually good, forcing me to analyze it would have ruined my opinion of the book anyway. By dissecting a book, especially in school, you lose interest in it since the book becomes the essay. Now when I think back, the book is no longer ‘Badass female heroine with her questionably demonic child’ but rather ‘The closely-knit, backwards society because of religion, culture, etc.’

But, that doesn’t mean looking things up for a better understanding is a bad thing; in fact, the knowledge gained could make the book ten times better. For example, at the end of Fahrenheit 451 the main character spits some verses about the tree of knowledge. Being the religious person I am, I googled it thinking they were Bible verses. Turns out they were. To see religion in a sci-fi novel blew my mind, I didn’t think it was possible. I immediately felt this warm feeling, not like a my-innards-are-on-fire warm but more like an I-saw-otters-cuddling warm. To understand, and even feel connected to, a book is one of the greatest feelings in the world, even if it’s only from one symbol or phrase. Of course, that feeling gets trampled on when you have to go write about it.

Academic writing is bullshit. The teacher says, “You don’t have to follow the rules of traditional writing, just get your point effectively across.” What that really means is, “Perfect grammar (something I will never accomplish ever in my life), high level words and an opinion similar to mine in exactly five paragraphs.” There are no emotional opinions in academic writing, and the paper you end up writing sounds like a little freshie trying to impress their teacher. “Overall, due to the fluctuating circumstances and the plethora of variables, I surmise--” Stop. Just stop. Don’t enter the black hole of pretentious bull-shitary and business meetings.

There’s absolutely no character in such writing, and to me that makes it so much harder to get my point across. How can I say something smells without a half-assed attempt at a poop joke? It’s this sort of restriction that has made me the writer I am today. When I write now, (because I shamefully admit to the usage of Engfish), I try to manipulate our language rhythmically and visually, in a way that effectively gets my point across, even if it’s no longer grammatically correct. If I’m writing about, say, getting lost in Target, my Abuela doesn’t just say, “Oh my goodness, where is Deanna?” She shrieks, “ADIOSMIODONDEESTADEANNA-ISSHEALRIGHTWHYISEVERYBODYLOOKINGATMETHATWAY?!!?!”

In a horror piece the girl doesn’t just “creep quietly down the corridor, turning the corner and-SPLAT!” The girl, “creeps quietly down the corridor and-

S

    P

        L

            A

                T

                    !”


I write how I speak, whether that means a soft-spoken eloquent dialogue or an ALL-CAPS EXTRAVAGANZA RUNNING AROUND THE PAGE. If abnormal typography or out of place grammar is what’s needed to make myself clear to the reader, then by George that’s what I’ll slap down on the paper.

Unfortunately neither my teacher nor my peers got to see my new style because we were in constant preparation for the all-mighty AP test. If you were in an AP class you WERE taking the AP test, otherwise you just gave yourself unnecessary brain-trauma. The AP test was your final exam, it was the test that would determine your future, the test that would determine whether you learned anything at all in high school. Grammar had to be on point, you had to be able to read a two-page passage in two minutes, you had to spend 5 minutes on brainstorming youhadtomemorizesymbolsandallusionsinorderto-enrichyourwritingyouhad to… had to… AAAAHHHHHH! I CAN’T! THIS IS TOO MUCH! WHY DO I HAVE TO WASTE MY GODDAMN TIME LEARNING HOW TO READ THINGS THAT I WILL NEVER READ EVER AGAIN AND WRITE IN A WAY THAT LOOKS LIKE A THESAURUS HAD A CHILD WITH WOODROW WILSON! Ah-em… in summary, the AP test is the reason why English class has become the bane of my existence in this world.

The final reason for my all-powerful hatred for writing is actually a pretty shallow one. I was constantly surrounded by people who were better writers than me. Their essays sounded like Petrarchan sonnets whereas my rinky-dink pile of garbage was no better than a song by Yoko Ono. They used high-level vocab words and had the perfect funnel opening and wrap-up closing. Their interpretations could’ve only been conceived in another astral plane, but it still made sense to the teacher because they got their point effectively across. I used medium-level words, had decent, semi-rushed openings and closings, and my interpretations were those of a 9-year-old. I always compared my writing to others, coming to the conclusion that my writing was no good: I didn’t write like them. But the beautiful thing about writing is that that’s okay; I don’t have to write like my friends. Ok, maybe that’s not true when it comes to assignments requiring Engfish, but once you’re out in the real world, it’s just you and a piece of paper.

Write. Be serious. Be light-hearted. Write a joke. Write a lament. Write whatever it is you feel like writing in whatever way you choose to do so. After high school, you no longer have to be an essay-writing robot. As of now, you can be you. So start writing those poop-jokes.






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