Friday, February 23, 2007

It's Not About Writing

When I consider the purpose of completing a doctoral program, and I am considering this a lot as of late, other than the slight possibility the degree will lead to teaching, I am starting to question the intellectual purpose of the pursuit. Yes, I am committing blasphemy by stating what might only be true for my situation: I learn more reading on my own than sitting in a classroom.

My classmates assert they learn from the discussions — something I think should be the case. Unfortunately, I find myself looking at texts I have already pursued independently. My "discussions" with one text are other texts. Experts versus experts, not students making odd guesses and asking questions leading discussions astray.

I've been told, "The students aren't as engaged as you, but you need to deal with that." If they aren't engaged, why are they in a doctoral program? Of course the answer is simple: to get degrees and teach. But how well will they teach if they are lousy students? This is an interesting paradox. And the lack of engagement by other students leads me to question my own engagement.

What will I do with this degree if I do not teach? I have no idea. Maybe I'll teach part-time and pursue an MFA in creative writing. That's where I belong, when I think about it. I'm a creative writer, not a researcher or theorist. I like to write and to teach writing. I don't care about strangely political "theories" on how and why we write. I care about what words sound best in a sentence.

"A doctorate isn't about writing, it's about the philosophy of writing. It is a Ph.D, philosophy is what makes it a doctorate."

A philosophy of writing. Mine is simple: writing should communicate. I am practical. I want to learn to write better so I can teach my students to write better. Learning how Western Marxism proves that our writing only empowers the current hegemony is way beyond what I want to discuss.

I want to know if rhyming is out of fashion with readers. Is there a reason "great" writing today has to be unpopular or appeal only to an elite little group of Marxists? I want to know how we can reach the most readers, not how we can impress each other in academia.

For me, it is about the writing. Silly me.