I spent two days last week in the pleasant company of my old friend Oliver and his fiance Sophie. Sophie is a vet student; in mere weeks she will be a bona fide veterinarian.
I, on the other hand, am not a veterinarian.
The reason for this is as follows: when it came time to apply for university, I found that the application process to enter the “veterinarian track” involved the composition of an essay along the lines of “why I want to be a veterinarian.”
I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what I would write.
Partly I believe this to be a result of have little interest in animals or veterinary science.
But also, even if I was interested in being a veterinarian, I can’t imagine how, at 18, I would have possessed enough self-confidence to state, emphatically, “why I want to be a veterinarian,” in a manner that would be at all believable to anyone.
All of which leads me to this brief essay, formulated at 3:00 a.m. this morning while in bed, not sleeping, wondering if Oliver was okay. It is my admission essay to enter training as an expositor. I have confidence, though no evidence, that such training is available: I imagine it to be located at an educational mid-point between creative writing and journalism.
I like to write. The process of writing gives me great pleasure and helps keep me sane. Sometimes I write well; mostly I write voluminously, which is sometimes good and sometimes funny.
My problem, though, and my chief reason for seeking training: I feel like the words I write, especially those involved in the description of people, places and things, are too blunt an instrument. My writing lacks nuance.
While I can sometimes insert a “stunning” or a “compelling” or a “vile” or a “crappy” into the mix, much of my descriptive writing falls back on the twin crutches of “wonderful” and “horrible.”
“The sushi was wonderful, but the atmosphere was horrible.” There’s a compelling sentence for you.
I know that language is far more powerful and subtle a tool, and I’d like to become proficient at using it that way.
I know enough to know that. That seems like a good starting point.
Now, are their actually schools of expository writing?