Thursday, May 11, 2006

Answering the critics

Sometimes it takes weeks to get back to reading your comments. I can read the 50 fun/nice/playful ones and then hit the sourpuss and it really harshes my mellow. Because there are still ratfinks out there who wish I'd dry up and blow away.

And I ain't gonna. So stick that in your bong and puff away.

Was I a "liability," as one commenter put it, because I was blogging about the goings-on on campus? And were they justified in zarching me out of a teaching job because some rich fat cat and his daughter Ashley didn't like the mirror I was holding up?

I was writing anonymously, not using real names or real identities or real locations. Call me Jimmy Frey if you want to, but I thought I was "fictionalizing" enough of the details to keep me out of trouble. Nobody was ever "lured" into telling me anything. I wasn't seeking material. It came to me uninvited. I also had no idea anybody was reading it.

Many of the stories I've written have been about students and others who passed through my classroom (and life) so many years ago that it would be almost impossible for them to recognize themselves. One reason I make up the funny names is that I can't remember the real ones. (To wit: The other day I ran into the former prof I called "Hot Pockets" and for the life of me, dang, it took me about three hours to remember his last name. )

And the bit about writing other people's stories being unethical. Are you kidding me? The bookstore shelves would be nearly empty if writers didn't use other people's lives and foibles and adventures and sexual indiscretions and odd conversational snatches in their own material. And the way I look at it, all of my stories are about me. They are my observations of the world around me, including what the people in it say or do when I'm in the room.

Whatever writing class taught you that it's unethical to write "other people's stories," forget it. That's crazy talk. Just don't write other people's printed stories word for word. That's called plagiarism. Or chick lit. Take your pick.

If anything, I wish I'd written MORE before I was dooced and lost the cloak of anonymity. Memory fades like a cheap t-shirt. I'm racing to get down now things that I will forget by August.

That's it for today. Keep reading. Keep leaving comments. I'm killing out the extra mean ones because they upset my mom. That's the only reason. I can dish it out and I can take it. But she can't.

And by the way, I just reread the Scary Mary Sunshine entry, which I posted last fall. And I still think that girl and her hideous yellow Juicy Couture towel dresses are ridiculous. She's graduating and no doubt settling into a cushy, high-paying job her father arranged for her. Sic transit gloria mundi.


Blogger Jess said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Angel, librarian and educator said...

You keep on writing and telling the stories. There is another reason to tell the stories, to remember. And for the rest of us to, well, read, be entertained, at times find a little of ourselves. I taught college for a while, and I can certainly relate to a lot of what you write about.

What does that person mean writing is not about life and experiences? Observation of life is one of the things that can make good writers. I think one of my teachers said that somewhere. Anyhow, you keep on going, for yourself, and for the rest of us.

Best, and keep on blogging.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling a black colleague "Dr. Wideass" was really classy! I can't imagine why those "ratfinks" wouldn't rehire you to teach students about ethics and communication.

Of course, some of the sourpusses who read your blog might find the claim "I also had no idea anybody was reading it" to be rather disingenuous. But your remark "And the way I look at it, all of my stories are about me" is one of the most honest (and telling) things you've said.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I started reading blogs because someone sent me a link to yours after your problems last year. Thanks to you I've found a whole community of academic blogs.

12:28 PM  
Blogger zac said...

I don’t really have a problem with your blog or the material of the posts as I find most of your stories of past students quite entertaining, however, I'm not so sure I'd feel the same if I were the subject as I believe many of the posts are embellished for entertainment purposes. It’s kind of like the movie that’s “based on a true story”, how much is really factual and how much is fluff no one really knows. I've been reading your blog for well over a year, back when all the original posts were still available, which begs the question, if you didn't see anything wrong with what you had posted, why remove some of the original, more descriptive posts? Particularly the ones involving other faculty... yeah some you reposted, but there was much that you didn't. Say all you want that you think everything was above board, but if it were, why wouldn't all the original content (that which initiated your firing) still be there for all to read?

12:49 AM  

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