Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Your early dealings with the paragraph were neutral.  You could take it or leave it.  The paragraph surely had no claim on you.  Then came that time in middle school where the paragraph was presented to you the way your contemporaries who were children of your mother’s friends were presented to you—nice, or perhaps even interesting.  Trouble was, the paragraph was presented to you as requiring a topic sentence.  You cannot recall how many hours you spent, going through paragraphs with the notion of searching out topic sentences.  As if this were not bad enough, you had to write paragraphs, then identify your topic sentence; yet another reason why middle school was so insufferably awful to the point where you for the longest time thereafter, did not want anything to do with paragraphs.  How fortunate for you that the sting of middle school and topic sentences wore off.  How fortunate that paragraphs seemed to trail after you like puppies, sniffing at your pant leg, wanting to jump up into your lap.  Sometimes, when you try to imagine what your life would be like were you not so devoted to paragraphs, you can feel your heart rate increase, your breath come with more effort.  Your relationship with paragraphs has grown into a long-term relationship. You might, in moments of frivolity, say you were joined at the topic sentence.  Some days running, you produce two, perhaps even three paragraphs that stand on their own, requiring no chiropractic adjustments or drastic revisions.  Such days, like the paragraphs produced during them, are keepers.  Through a process you have come to regard with affection and respect, you are able to use paragraphs as platforms to build larger works.  In such a culture, your dealings are no longer neutral, neither yours with it or its with you.  You have met in some no-person’s land, recognized the potential for friendship, experienced the give-and-take of a relationship headed for the long ride.

No comments: