The class as a whole failed at the first draft of the third essay, and as I reread Coles, I see why. When I first got the assignment, I thought, “Oh well this question is about Coles, so I ought to at least skim it.” And so I read the first few pages, focusing mainly on the phrase “human actuality” on which the question focuses (and after talking to a few of my classmates, I know that they did the same thing). Now, Coles defines human actuality as “rendering and representing what has been witnessed, heard, overheard or sensed,” (212) and then goes into a description of what Agee thinks about the subject. To our class this meant, “Write like Agee does when he’s describing the individuals in each home. Pick a specific moment with another person, and capture them wholly.” It did not mean, “Tie in the representation of this one person with an overarching theme.” And so we failed. But that’s okay, because that’s what first drafts are for.
And on Tuesday, when I have a block of time where I can stretch my writer’s legs, I plan on going in and tying in that moment of human actuality with a greater theme: Homosexuality on campus. I’ll talk about an average gay student, and his feelings of repression, and how other professors and students handle their own sexual orientations– ranging from those who reassure you at every step that they’re straight, people who shout out that they’re gay, and the quiet individuals who worry about society’s feelings toward them. And then I’ll tie it into my view on how tolerant the culture on campus really is. Throughout all of this, I’ll be dealing with the idea of human actuality– but this time on a wide scale. I will be aware of my self in every decision that I make about order, inclusion and exclusion. What an interesting way to write.
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You put the difficulty with the first drafts in a much better way than I did in conference. Nice going.