You know when you were in school and your teacher gave you a homework assignment? You did it, right? You grabbed your encyclopedia and started with doing some research. You went to the card catalog at the library and found some additional info. Maybe you even looked through some old newspaper articles to support what you found? Some kids found this sort of structure comforting. Others, the outcasts, found it restrictive.
Back when I was in Junior College, I remember getting a writing assignment from my English teacher. Actually, he gave us a choice of topics to explore. Well … I didn’t like any of them. So, I proposed my own and he reluctantly accepted it. Turns out, I was really interested in learning about existentialism. So, I read everything I could get my hands on .. in a short period of time. And, I wrote something I was really proud to present. Guess what? He gave me a C minus. And, he accused me of plagiarism. Actually, he had every right to make that accusation. Up until then I showed little interest in the class or his assignments. Everything he taught seemed to be boring to me. But, I wasn’t going to accept his bias assessment of my lazy ways. So, I offered my bi-weekly paycheck (I was working full time and going to school part time) if ..he found any plagiarism in my essay. The semester ended. And, a week later I received a manila envelope in the mail. My English teacher returned my essay and changed the grade to an A minus. More importantly, he wrote a note across the top of the cover page: “In this case, the student taught the teacher. Good job.”
So, why do I avoid Stan’s prompts. Do they remind me of my years in high school or college? Do I simply reject any assignment on the basis of finding something interesting to write about something that’s not interesting to me? Did I always reject assignments? Well, I tried to do that in my math classes but an essay about Plato’s Metaphysical Theory of Forms just didn’t cut it.
By the way, I also tried this rejection theory in my gym class. I once baked a cake in the form of a soccer ball in order to bypass a 2-mile run. That didn’t work either.
Maybe I’m just a rebel without a cause? Maybe I like to mix up the batter? Maybe I like to go where no one else goes? Or, I can’t remember where to find the prompt in my long list of unread emails? As of this writing I have 2,564 of them to go through.
I actually like the fact that I’m not the only one who goes their own way each week with an essay that has nothing to do with a prompt. I like that our group are … to a degree … rebellious. After all, we all come to this group from our own unique set of experiences. I really like that we are not judged by our education, awards or occupations. We’re simply a group of retirees who like to write about .. whatever is on our minds. It’s so refreshing …
But, keep the prompts coming, Stan. One day you just might hit paydirt.