Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Following Our Professional Dreams?

When I was about 16 years old, I came home from high school and told my mother that I had decided I would major in English when I got to college, that I would then move on to get my MFA in poetry/creative writing and that I would teach creative writing at the college level.  I knew what I was going to be when I grew up.

As a teenager, though, being a creative writing professor, or a writing professor in general, embodied one very cool professor I had freshman year of college. David Trinidad was a cool guy who wrote cool poetry and wore cool scarves and got to talk about poetry every day.  He was my hero - someone who had made a living off of poetry, when my blue-collar uncle had said to me years before, "Poetry?  Please.  Poets don't make any money. You can't be a poet."  The writing professor was a being to aspire to.

I am a writing professor now.  Primarily, I don't teach creative writing but rather composition.  Had you ever told me years ago, when I was drowning in Expository Writing at Rutgers, that I would be a composition expert, I may have told you that you were actually insane.  If I could have looked into a crystal ball and seen myself presenting on hybrid composition teaching at conferences, publishing articles in publications focusing on college composition, I may have checked to see if there was a large and quite tell-tale bump on your head, denoting an obvious concussion.  But here I am. And I love it.

I have found that it is all writing that moves me, not just poetry.  I have discovered the beauty of a well-written argument, of the student who has never felt successful at writing but does after completing my class, of the discussions involving the rhetoric we present in our classes.  I have transformed myself into not just a poet, but a composition expert, a hybrid expert, someone who actually researches and cites and works hard to teach my students how to present themselves in the real world.  Who knew?

This bridge between the creative writer and the composition writer is one that I have recently delved into in an article published in the CCCC Forum, Fall Issue 17.1.  In the article titled, "My Terminal Degree is Better than Yours:  A Brief Examination of the Creative Writer as Contingent Faculty," I explore the dichotomy between comp and creative.  Feel free to read it for more on the NCTE site.  

What do you think?  Can we be both?