So, what do I read?
I am not a very interesting person. I usually read manuals for Role Playing Games (RPGs). I read RPG manuals because I enjoy collaborative storytelling and, as a game designer, I enjoy taking in systems and mechanics used to tell stories.
I always understood writing to be about expression. When I write, I write to understand my own feelings on a subject. I don’t really have any specific thoughts that I associate with writing because the purpose of writing is to learn about my specif.ic thoughts.
For me, a paper or essay is “successful” when I have gained a deeper understanding of a subject in question. If I had to define myself as a writer I would say I am more of a self analyst, and if I had to choose a few terms to define what writing is to me I would choose : “analysis”, “comprehension”, “learning”, “expression”, and “precision”.
While I cannot describe what a collective might learn from the Commencement address, I understood Billy Collins to view writing as an anarchic process. There are as many processes and methods as there are people who write. As for whether this text is “successful”, I cannot say. By my definitions this text is not successful as by my own definition, writing is about revealing something to, and of, the writer, and the summation of the text could be read as “[You] need to figure this out on your own”.
So, when I say “anarchic”, what do I mean? Well, I don’t mean to say it’s all over the place. I’m a strong believer in Death of the Author. Long story short, the nature of free will precludes everyone reading the same thing from a piece, and I think Collins is sideshadowing this throughout the entire speech. I don’t mean to say he wandered or swayed through the subject – I mean he intentionally designed the piece to feel like he was phoning it in to highlight the idea that there is no advice he can give that will be of assistance to someone lost on the road (not unlike the writer of this short piece).
Of course, paradoxically, even though the text fails to meet my standard for “successful writing”, it does meet 3 of the 5 criteria I put down as definitive terms. However, I don’t feel the need to revise my list because, as my definition might indicate, what counts as “successful” is highly subjective and up to any reader at the moment of reading.
I know I have not said much of interest other than a basic re-summation of Roland Barthes and, perhaps that means I have not been successful as a reader, but this feels like what needs to be written here. I’ve never been very good at this kind of thing, anyway.