Not-so-humble brag

So, ChicagoNow is challenging their bloggers to write a post within an hour of their daiy blogapalooza prompt. Now, I’m not a ChicagoNow blogger, and I didn’t see this prompt until this morning, but I’m always looking for inspiration, so here is the topic plus a link to one of my favorite ChicagoNow bloggers answering the prompt.

“Without trying to be humble, write about something you’re really good at.”

The first things that came to mind – after all, this blog is meant to be written within the hour of receiving the prompt – are all related.

First: I am good at academic writing. While I’ve always dreamed of writing fiction and publishing the next great American novel, the creativity it demands is really not my forte. I can’t even think of a plot, and until Ander died there was not even any conflict or heartbreak in my life to provide fodder. But the research, critical thinking, persuasion of academic papers – now THAT I am good at. Unfortunately, outside of academia, there isn’t much of a market for an analysis of the evolution of gender roles in Native American literature (my Master’s thesis) or how the novels of Ian Rankin are informed by Jekyll & Hyde (undergraduate thesis), or a religious reimagining of Toni Morrison’s Beloved (my favorite grad school paper) or issues of colonialism in Disney’s “The Lion King” (my favorite undergrad paper). I suppose I could have become a technical writer of sorts, but doesn’t that sound awfully boring? I prefer to channel my persuasive writing talents into arguing with people on Facebook and ghostwriting academic blog posts for someone who shall not be named. Thanks for the Masters degree in English, Georgetown! (No really: I loved that program).

Second, I am good at proofreading and editing. This is validated professionally; I used to work at the Writing Center at GU and have worked on many dissertations. I was also a high school English teacher for six years, which requires a speed and fluency of grammatical correction to get through all those dang term papers. Please note that I rarely proof my own work. I’m not sure why this is, but you’ll find typos in my blog posts. You won’t, however, find them in my wife’s published papers, all of which I have proofed. I am good at catching little things (misplaced modifiers, improperly used commas, etc.) but also at seeing the big picture and making sweeping organizational changes. Again, I nearly always work on academic papers, which can be stultifying when it’s a topic about which I care not even remotely. But I’m still good at catching those little errors.

Finally, I am a good public speaker. I was going to say a good teacher, which I was, but I’m also still a good facilitator, moderator and presenter, so I think it’s more comprehensive to say “public speaker.” I love speaking in public, ever since I was a child and asked to do the readings in church in front of the entire congregation. I’m sure it helped that I was always a confident, fluent reader. I speak with expression. I read aloud to K almost every night from whatever book we’re in the middle of, and I do accents and character voices. I did this as a teacher, too, and it helped to show my students how much I loved the text. I can speak well off the cuff; I write extensive speaker notes in preparation, but I never use them when I’m actually teaching or presenting. I make eye contact; I work the room. I LOVE being the one commanding a room, and that’s probably due in some part to narcissism, but the prompt did tell me not to be humble, so there you go.

The prompt also said to write about something, not somethings, so as Mary Tyler Mom said, “Do me a solid and help me feel less like a narcissistic jerk about posting this by telling me something you are good at in the comments.”

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