flying back from dee cee tonight, i had a great conversation with my new friend carrie. she graduated recently with a degree in environmental studies and a sociology minor. i was blabbering on about my book and my discipline, when she raised an important question:
"sociology professors seem to lead such interesting lives and they have wonderfully quirky personalities. but they write the most booooring stuff. how can such interesting people write such boring stuff?"
here are my top 5 responses:
1. ahh, you have read my work.
2. you're obviously mistaken. we lead booooring lives and the only quirks in our personalities are boring old narcissism and neuroses.
3. ummm, it just seems boring. we are really writing as clearly as possible, but our thinking is so advanced that words cannot possibly express our brilliant ideas. [this, of course, would be tough to say with a straight face].
4. hmmm. maybe good writing is beaten out of us in grad school until our prose becomes impenetrable.
5. hmmm. maybe the questions are boring and the bad writing is just a smokescreen.
i still dunno how to answer her, but i guarantee that the question will haunt me. what would you have said?
*unrelated note: wow, public sentiment is currently running pretty strongly against the president and his party. senator norm coleman was up in first class on my plane, but nobody paid any attention to him. i've flown northwest to/from dee cee with walter mondale, martin sabo, paul molitor, and other politicians and luminaries. they've always drawn a small crowd of smiling but taciturn minnesotans. norm was sporting his 100-watt smile tonight, but nobody wanted to shake hands or bask in his celebrity. it got so awkward that carrie thought somebody should give him a hug. i wasn't gonna volunteer.