I’m looking for purpose. Always. This is my life. Small purpose(s) and big, life-decision-making purpose.
It’s the middle ground tonight. Not why I teach, but why I teach what I teach (after the jump). A trainer last week told me I must be a good teacher because I’m so reflective. I think maybe I’m just crazy and masochistic and ineffective.
The guy in the booth across from me has drawings strewn about him. They are propped on the rolling crate he’s set next to his table. He gets up every now and then. Fills his cup with water. Sits back down and stares at his current drawing and makes one mark. Contemplates. Then makes another.
He has the look of someone who spends a lot of time thinking, considering, reflecting. He probably cares deeply about what he draws, deep as the lines surrounding his eyes. There is a reason, a purpose, a care for detail and exactitude. Every line is filled with questions of how. Every question of how resonates with the big question of why. That is the goal. I am not yet halfway there.
I teach writing because how you write matters. This is a bit self-evident, but it is subtler in execution and explication. It matters that I went back and added that comma after “self-evident” and the “it is” to make it a dependent clause. How do I make that importance evident for students, though?
The sticking point for tonight, the thing I need to remember, is an example provided by sports journalism. On a podcast two summers ago, Bethlehem Shoals talked about starting The Classical and answered some inevitable questions comparing that site to Bill Simmons’ Grantland. My big takeaway was a comment he made about believing you can say something important and well in 800 to 1,200 words. Grantland regularly runs posts upwards of 3,000 words. I’m not here to say which is better. I’m here to say the distinction, and making the conscious choice to fall on one side of that distinction, is important. It says something about what you believe about writing, about your content and your audience, and about life.
It matters whether or not I provide hyperlinks here, even if no one’s going to click through to “read more.” I’m too tired to fall on the provides-hyperlinks side of that distinction, and that too is important.