I’ve always loved to write. I can remember being a young 5th-grade girl and writing stories about my girlfriends and our favorite celebrity crushes for us to pass around and read at recess. My habit, the need to write, was cultivated early.
Several years later when I was a sophomore in college, I had an extremely austere professor who mandated that his class write a paper each week. If you missed a paper, you'd fail. If you turned a paper in late, you'd fail. It came as no surprise that many of my classmates dropped the course during the no-penalty drop/add period. After Dr. Sarma (yep, I'm name dropping), laid down his rules, it seemed like a no-brainer. Seriously, who would be stupid enough to want to stay in the course?
This girl here. And here's why:
For one, I thought, “A paper each week? I can take it! I’ve been writing since I was a ten-year-old - this will be a walk in the park!” Secondly, I thought about the fact that Dr. Sarma was my advisor. I knew that if I wanted to drop his class, I’d have to get him to sign the drop/add slip. And I wasn’t up for that awkward conversation. Thankfully, I had just the right mix of arrogance and cowardice to keep myself in the class, because I learned quite a bit that semester. In fact, I learned a lesson that has stuck with me to this day.
When Dr. Sarma handed back grades for our first papers, I was excited. I had studied the material and made good use of my nifty thesaurus. He might as well just hand me the A, I thought. And then I got the paper back. It was a C. I was shocked. Immediately, I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Sarma. Something was awry. Me? With a C in writing? How?
When I finally spoke with Dr. Sarma, he prefaced the conversation by telling me how excellent of a writer I was. His statement only confused me more. That’s when he broke the news to me.
“Angela, you lace your writing with too much fluff. Eliminate the fluff. You don’t need it. You write well without it.” He went on to tell me that it didn’t matter if it took me the length of a sentence or a paragraph to get there, I just needed to get to the point. There was no need to wrap it in lace. His advice has helped me ever since.
Sometimes I think about the concept of “fluff” when it comes to love and marriage. Especially when it comes to writing about the two. I can write a million and one cutesy, fluffy posts about marriage. But I won’t. There’s enough of that out there. In fact, I feel like society is inundated with images, messages, and fluff about them both that give people entirely false perceptions about what they are.
So here’s a question: How do YOU perceive and define them?
Make sure to read part two next week!
Angela Souza is a freelancer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She works together with her husband Omari and manages this blog. She is also working on her first publication, a collection of prose and poetry to be released in 2017, entitled Twenty-Something.
For inquiries, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.