Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Thoughts About Essays...Well, Sort Of

Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray has a good post entitled Best American Essays 2006--I Don't Think So. Believe it or not, I try to read essay collections of this type from time to time.

Her post made me wonder, once again, about essays for kids. Do people write such things? Has someone published a children's essay collection? Wouldn't it be so much easier for children to learn how to write essays if they read them?

If you read Colleen's post, you'll notice she mentions a writer named Sam Pickering. I've actually met Sam Pickering. I have a Sam Pickering story. I'm guessing that everyone who has met Sam Pickering has a Sam Pickering story.

Sam Pickering was my professor for the one graduate level college course I have under my belt. He is responsible for my obsession with avoiding the verb to be at the beginning of sentences, particularly at the beginning of sentences that begin paragraphs. And most assuredly at the beginning of sentences that begin a piece of writing.

That's not my Sam Pickering story, though.

A few months after I finished my class (which I aced, by the way--which means I've aced one hundred percent of my graduate courses), I ran into Professor Pickering at a conference for student writers. He came up to me to say hello and admitted it had taken him a moment to place me.

"I asked myself," he said, "'Is that a woman of whom I've had carnal knowledge?'"

Now, I don't get that kind of response from men very often. I was quite delighted.

Susan Campbell, a columnist for The Hartford Courant, was also at this conference. We are cordial because we live in the same town and have sons of the same age. So I told her about Professor Pickering's...comment.

Okay, maybe I was bragging.

Anyway, Susan is from Arkansas, and she said, "Oh, that's a very southern thing to say. The correct response would have been 'If that were so, I would have killed myself directly.'"

I ended up eating lunch with Susan and Professor Pickering. For the first time in my life I felt as if I were at the best table in the cafeteria.

No comments: