Well, that was an intense semester.
Aside from my written and spoken language requirements, I’ve had a literature module each for French and Spanish, and they have been fantastic. Especially the Spanish one. The Spanish Newspaper Column By Writers was perfect for a blogger, as the assessed coursework was not an essay but rather two of our own newspaper columns, our handling of which was supposed to be indicative of our understanding of the column as a literary genre; being a blogger helped me to compose these assignments, and composing the assignments was useful for my blogging, too. Not just the assignments, in fact, but the course in general: I learned a great deal from the module, not only in terms of Spanish literature but much more generally as well.
Aside from the academic output of the courses I’ve taken so far this year, the greatest life lesson I have taken away from them both has been the same. In my French class on the treatment of Paris in French literature, one of the main themes was the discovery of one’s own identity through the observation of others and the act of writing about them. In my Spanish class on the newspaper column, we studied the work of a multitude of authors, some of whom had been writing the same column for well over a decade: comparing the voices of different authors* and even comparing the development in one author’s work revealed a similarly vital link between the identity of the author and the text he or she produces.
*I can’t help but mention, having made such a point of it over the past thirteen weeks of the course, that the voice of the author and the voice of the narrator in these columns is often vastly different, the narrator often being in a sense a character constructed by the author at great creative length. Nevertheless, a certain overlap is inevitable and even the narrative character the author chooses to speak through can still be revealing of certain aspects of the author’s self as well.
I think the main thing I’ve taken away from these courses is the importance of writing not just as a creative process but as a quest for identity. Both of the courses I’ve taken this semester were designed to highlight this, but I think it could be applied to a great deal more writers than the thirteen we covered in the classroom. Every writer goes through evolution and development over the course of his career, doesn’t he? I believe this is because the very act of writing (and I’m sure the same is true of any creative process) has a special role in personal development, which is in turn reflected in later writing. We write about life, inevitably, because life is all we know to write about. We write because we need to process what life has handed to us, we need to make it our own somehow. And the more we write, the better we understand this life we’ve been given; and the better we understand, the more we grow, evolve away from whom we were when we first wrote; and the more we grow and change, the more there is to write and to learn.
There is nothing for writing to do but to evolve. When you put down your pen you are always a slightly different person from whom you were when you lifted it, and the next time you put pen to paper you will have something slightly different to communicate from last time. It doesn’t even matter what the text is: a novel, a newspaper column, a screenplay or a blog post, we always come away a little changed, sometimes even a little surprised, by what we’ve written. That’s why I hope you’ll be seeing some more of me over the next few weeks (although I’m sure the tumbleweed will resume its reign over this space once term begins again). When I’m not writing regularly here, I find myself treading water, my identity seems to freeze or even backpedal, and it’s only when I find (or, let’s be honest, make) the time to post that I begin to really get back in touch with myself again. And by ‘myself’, I suppose I mean the narrative me that surfaces when I post, which is quite removed from the ‘myself’ that my friends chat with over coffee, of an afternoon. Either way, I hope to be more active over the Christmas holidays (which I will once again be spending in Ohio), in between making up for lost time with my love, reading for next semester’s courses* and eating excessive quantities of pie.
*In case you’re interested, next semester will see me tackling such promising modules as French Contemporary Crime Writing and The Novel Of The Spanish Transition (i.e. the return to democracy after the death of Franco). I was originally assigned to the course on Sartre, which was my second choice for French, but a spot opened up on my first choice and I snapped it up on the same day that all of my books were delivered for the Sartre course >_>
So, to those of you reading this from the library or some other dark and dingy corner of pre-exam doom: good luck, stay strong and remember it’ll all be over soon! To everyone else: happy holidays and thank your lucky stars that you’re in the ‘everyone else’ category here :P
Best wishes to all my readers and I hope you’ll be seeing ‘me’ soon!