A bunch of us went to our writing program’s thesis readings event last week. It was an ambivalent experience for me. I’m now torn between the idea of students using the nonfiction/memoir genre as therapy as being a bad thing versus the idea that “people should be able to write what they want.” I held the former opinion going into the reading, and I was predictably shocked and turned off by the students who did clearly chose to use the genre as therapy. But then my friend made a strong case for the latter idea. It’s their writing. Why should they have to conform to my ideas of what good writing is? If I don’t like it, then I don’t have to read it.
The rebuttal I eventually came up with, after I was already in bed that night, is two-fold:
- At that moment in time I actually didn’t have the choice whether or not to read/listen to it. Polite protocol dictated that I sit there and not leave mid-reading.
- Classes cost $2600 per semester. That’s $217 per class. Therapy with a licensed professional isn’t nearly that much.
Maybe I’m being an asshole about this, but, I swear, nobody expected to hear the things we heard. It was a very jovial evening. This was a celebration for those folks graduating from the program. Why would you read what you read? Don’t you have anything else you could’ve read? Or did somebody say that you were being courageous for reading that piece? Ugh, I can’t even. I CAN’T EVEN.