So ever since I started taking writing classes (not counting that one in high school), I’ve found that I’m less and less willing to write standard essays. Has anyone else found that sort of thing happening? I’ll get a research assignment for a literature class or an honors class or the odd philosophy class, and I’ll just find it impossible to think of a way to make it fun for myself. Once I’m writing an essay I can get into it, but it takes a while to break from writing from an artistic perspective. I know it might sound a bit pretentious, but I’ve been finding even the idea of a standard essay kind of boring, and it’s gotten to the point where I’m looking for ways around it.
The best way I’ve found so far is in my honors class, where we don’t necessarily have a set format for our papers, but we’re expected to do a final research paper on art during the Third Reich. I approached my professor, asking to write a research paper by way of writing a poem on a subject, instead of your normal fifteen page conglomeration of sources and thesis, and she was surprisingly open to it. I plan on writing about the battle of Monte Cassino, which took place in Italy just outside of Rome, and resulted in the needless destruction of an ancient Benedictine abbey. I’ve got a few first hand sources and reports from soldiers and officers on both sides of the conflict, and I plan to find the dialogues that chronicle the Allied decision to bomb the abbey. I’ve never undertaken this sort of writing before, and it certainly is daunting, but I’m hoping that writing a poem that requires extensive research will expand my writing abilities. Plus I don’t have to write a standard research paper anymore.
I’m not sure yet what the project will hold exactly, but I feel good about the decision to write a poem instead of a research paper, and I’d encourage anyone else to try it, if they’re in the right kind of class.