Eat your pie medicine

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.


One thought on “Eat your pie medicine

  1. Jess says:

    You’re not alone! I’m only an undergraduate, but I do know what you mean. I read all sorts of stuff as a history and soc major, and sometimes I totally don’t get what I’m supposed to out of the reading until someone tells me. In college they expect you to be able to figure these things out, so when you can’t it’s weird. But I think this is pretty normal, at least among my peers. Perhaps most people don’t actually know. (Yes, I just stumbled onto your blog by clicking “next blog”)

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