I Got the Frosh Comp Blues

Roxy Hammond

Roxy Hammond

Creativity is defined as originality and expressiveness, imaginative; that’s something your writing should be, right?

Wrong. Well, according to a plethora of English professors.

Throughout my high school years, I found myself getting along with my English teachers. We had the same personalities, and found each other agreeable. However, I have found myself on the opposite end of the spectrum with college professors.

It all started last semester with my composition class. For some insight into my history, I took 10 credits of English in high school. I’ve won awards for my writing. I received good grades on my writing assignments. So I entered this stupid Composition 101 class thinking that I would be able to pull off an A, easily. Apparently, my teacher had other thoughts. After getting D’s on my first few minor assignments, I began to get flustered. What the hell am I doing wrong here? I would have been able to figure that out on my own, if her writing on the sides of my paper hadn’t been similar to that of a drunken sailor being stabbed in the back.

Then came judgment day – my first big paper. It was on gender roles, and we had to write about how they affected our lives. Well, I guess that being a feminine woman didn’t affect my life enough for the teacher, since she gave me a C. Once again, I would have known why I got this crappy grade, if I could have read the comments she wrote down. She happily declared in class the day she handed them back “If you came to your editing session with me, you got at least a C!” Oh goody. Good to know I’m being reduced to a C and am suppose to be happy about it.

That was the paper that I had e-mailed to her to edit before I handed it in. She changed what she wanted changed, made her words red, and sent it back to me. What I received in my email account was not my writing. No, it was her writing. She changed my ideas; she changed my wording … she changed my paper. Wait a minute, why did I even bother writing this in the first place? I can understand word placement, spelling and grammar, but my entire paper?!

Being the rebel that I am, I decided to change what I thought could use some change, and handed it in like that. So did I deserve that C? Some of you are probably saying “Yes, you dumb-ass. You didn’t follow her editing.” But I am a writer with pride, damn it. What’s the use of being graded on something that I didn’t write? I decided to risk getting a poor grade in order to keep my originality.

That brings me to my point: should students have to conform to exactly what the English professor wants in order to get an A? How is that possibly benefiting us at all? If you have absolutely no writing skills, then all you will acquire are someone else’s. If you happen to have the ability to write, then you are losing your own sense of self, your originality, because someone else wants it done THEIR WAY. I can understand giving students suggestions, and showing them good writing, but the way these teachers are doing it is making you conform to their writing style.

Apparently what my English professor was telling me is that all my previous English teachers, and all the people that had given me praise and awards, were wrong. No, Roxy, you don’t excel in writing. Your life has been nothing but a DIRTY LIE! She was the only one that had any idea how writing should be, therefore, I should write like she wanted me to write.

On my last paper with her, I went in to one of the half hour “editing sessions” in her office, where she cut my paper apart. Not with her words, but with scissors and tape. She cut parts out she didn’t like, she arranged them the way she wanted them to be; basically just demolished the poor thing. All the while, I was sitting there thinking to myself, “When did I get demoted back to kindergarten?” I put my paper in the order that she wanted, and I got a B. Sick, sad world.

Maybe I have a problem with authority. Wait, yes, I know I do.

I also have a problem with people trying to tell me how to write. Hell, I just have a problem with criticism in general. I can take some, but when it impedes on who I am as a person, and how I express myself, then it really begins to piss me off. Did anyone tell Picasso how to paint? No. Did anyone tell Ernest Hemingway how to write? No. So then why is it that college professors have to tell me how to write? If we all write the same, there will be no more talent, nor will there be anything worth reading.

So teachers, for the sake of humanity, let us keep our writing style.