You may or may not have run into this problem before, but I promise that sooner or later you will. Sometimes — even with the pressure of a deadline and an assumed collection of stimuli, even with an open afternoon and an eager mind, and even with a load of caffeine in your system — you just don't have anything interesting to say. It happens. Now, having been in this position regularly in my life (high school plus college), usually I would be satisfied with submitting something subpar and settle for a "B." Heck, even while writing for the Beacon I have sent in columns that were essentially nebulous thoughts around a subject that I thought was interesting, but that I didn't really have much to add or a particularly effective way of letting you know why it was interesting. I am pretty sure most well read people could write
My week was in fact incredibly boring. I spent most of it sick from attending The Shins concert in Louisville. You might think that this would provide the opportunity to write about The Shins, or about the nature of live shows and how they can change how you listen to certain songs, or (as I have subtly hinted at above... you're welcome) make quirky comments like "How come no one ever includes the article in the name of a band unless it's the subject of the sentence? I feel as though I should have heard 'I am attending an A Perfect Circle show' in 2005 but I was robbed." However, I just couldn't imagine anyone being interested in reading "I saw a good concert, man that James Mercer can sing, why didn't he just name his new band 'the James Mercer Band' which is a sweet name instead of holding on to the name The Shins because they sound way different, anyway I went and had a blast WOOO." (I do think that you will be interested to hear about their opening act, Deep Sea Diver, lead by brand new The Shins guitarist Jessica Dobson)
Of course, I could have picked at a few of the things that have been stuck in my mind.
Like how every newspaper writer today separates their sentences into separate paragraphs.
I happen to find it annoying; because it artificially creates the sense that every sentence is making a final, weighty point.
Good writers know that sometimes, you should probably have some, like, "information" before your point so that it doesn't sound like artificial intelligence.
I would like to say how much beer snobs annoy me. Why can't we admit that there is a strict hierarchy of beer: Really good to good depending upon preference (20 per cent) acceptable (60 per cent) and stuff you don't drink once you are of legal age, plus that weird $2.50 per six pack beer they sell at Walgreen's, plus the many, many overrated local breweries (20 per cent). Please stop pretending beer tasting is an art. You might as well become a whiteout nerd or an expert on the color and composition of road surface markings.
Let me put it in these terms, which I am going to call Bearringer's Law of Beer Tasting: unless you make your living by brewing or serving beer, or if you are a certified beer judge, you do not have a sophisticated opinion of beer. Its corollary is this: if you think otherwise, you're just stupid.
People in the age of the information superhighway don't just want to have a hobby or fetish (coffee, fabric blends, volleyball shoes, homeopathic gerbil medicine... anything) that they like; they want to know what THE BEST is and own it (or at least have a cost effective approximation of it), talk about it, and be an authority on it. The problem is this: how many people are in a position to judge what THE BEST actually means? Relative to the earth's population, not very many. Interest, ability, the impressionable nature of our psyche, and basic opportunity serve to limit the number of people who have valid, unique opinions of a given subject, much in the same way these limits the number of people who are good at any particular task. Why can't we just admit that? Take writing. If you want to know good writers, don't ask me; its pretty clear I have no idea what the heck I am doing.
— Greg Bearringer is a graduate student in Medieval Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.