Ok. I’m tired. That’s not why I’m writing. I was reading tonight, as usual, after coming home from class, and after I shut the book up for the night, I had a thought hit me, as it often does, in the bathroom.
I turned in my third weekly reading response paper today for my class on Margaret Atwood. I got the second one back in class. And it’s not the comments on the paper that made me think, but rather, the discussion during classtime, that I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
I have a confession to make. I don’t know how to read. That is, I’m not sure about what I am supposed to be doing with the knowledge I am consuming. I don’t know how to process these words, what they imply, or how I am supposed to be critical of them. And yet, here I am in graduate school, and I have to write responses every week for one class, talk critically about the writing of my peers in others, and dissect forms, rhymes, lines, and stanzas, too. I feel like I’m pretending to know what these poems and stories mean, how they fit into broad themes, but honestly, I don’t always pick up on the symbolism or the metaphors, the irony or whatever other rhetoric is at work. And worse, if I cannot identify these things in the pieces of literature I am reading and trying to absorb and learn something from, how can I hope to have the same things be affective in my own writing?
Is anyone else pretending? Or am I the only one? Some people tell me I’m intelligent enough for this kind of work. I rarely believe it. And never completely.
I guess I’ll need to learn to read, perhaps then, it will all come together. Perhaps my professors can help. I suppose that’s what they’re there for, after all. I’ll just need to gather the guts to go and ask them.