The water treatment plant is a twenty-four hour facility. As such, the employees are required to work shift work to ensure that the operations are always working smoothly. The typical sift schedule for workers are twelve hour shifts: two days, followed by two nights, followed by five days off. Once a month, workers are required to work an extra day on their rotation. This type of administrative method of control ensures that workers do not become overly fatigued and are not making a difficult transition from night-shift to day-shift.
This here is an excerpt from my horrible, crappy, waste-of-time, make-work assignment on occupational hazards that I just handed in. I hate it. Everything about it. It was a waste of my time, I learned nothing, and it killed me to write it! When I read this assignment, I cringe. The writing is so basic, unimaginative, and overly laced with colloquial statements. It took me 2 days to piece together a 1500 word paper on this topic because I couldn’t even finish a sentence without losing my train of thought or cringing at the horrific crap that was spewing forth into my keyboard.
When I want to, I can create beautiful, satisfying essays, letters, and blog posts in a matter of minutes or hours. Many of the comments I received on my Freshly Pressed post were about my exceptional use of prose and language to express my emotions; they are a testament to my strong writing skill. I know I am a good writer… when I want to be. Being a good writer is more than just having skill, however. If that’s all it was, I could have created the most moving and eloquent paper on the “Woes and Wishes of Workers at The Water Treatment Plant” in mere hours, and I would have enjoyed it. I believe, rather, that being a good writer has almost everything to do with having a connection to your writing; being invested in it, mentally, emotionally, or in any way that provides a therapeutic release.
Before I started medical school, I got an English degree (and a few others… but that’s another post). In that time, I wrote more than my fair share of essays. The nice thing about those essays, though, was that the topics were broad enough to allow for your own creativity and thought: You could pretty much write about anything, as long as it was vaguely reminiscent of the assigned topic and it involved the assigned reading(s). One essay I wrote sticks out well in my mind and I often go back to re-read it every once in a while. The professor who assigned the essay even submitted it to the English Department for consideration of the Top Prize in Canadian Literature Award (I came in second). The essay was about Richard Parker. If you don’t know who Richard Parker is, I highly suggest you find out about him… and most importantly, read the book about him!
In short, Richard Parker is a Bengal Tiger. And, he’s one of the main characters (antagonist? protagonist? you decide) in the book The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This book is about story telling. Specifically, it is about how we use stories to convey our thoughts, ideas, and emotions in a way to ensure that other people will (hopefully) gain an appropriate appreciation for them. The boy in the story, Pi, tells two stories and asks the reader to decide which one they like better; which one they want to believe. You might be surprised at your reaction when you hear the stories and make your own decision. It is a good read. I promise. (and just in case you need a little more enticement):
I bring up my essay about Richard Parker in this post because, although it was a class assignment, I consider it one of my bese pieces of serious writing. In my opinion, and what I argue in my paper, is that Richard Parker represents something inside of Pi that he is afraid of. Something that he doesn’t want to like, and that he can’t accept as himself. I believe we all have something like that inside of us. I know I do. That’s why I started this blog. And, as I mentioned in a previous post, it seems as though the part of me that I hide and I’m afraid to share with people is actually one of the most interesting aspects about me. It makes me the person I am and it is the reason I am at this point in my life today. Writing as essay about Richard Parker, therefore, was more than a class assignment; It became a way for me to write about humanity. Specifically, a characteristic of humanity that isn’t ever talked about openly and that I recognized within myself.