My colleague said we had to assign writing because writing brings students to an act of intellectual discovery unavailable otherwise. I said yes, of course.
I realized then that I never considered writing an act of intellectual discovery but a show of virtuosity. I never allowed myself the kind of risk I allow the students because I thought the objective was to be brilliant, yet also very conventional, so as to abe acceptable and pass.
I was always more daring writing about things Portuguese than things Spanish, and about prose rather than poetry, because officially I was in Spanish and in poetry and there, I thought it was most important to be very careful. I always thought writing was only an act of intellectual discovery for those who could afford for it to be.
That is why I like all my political writing, and writing on policy matters, and bureaucratic writing, even: I allow myself to think as I work, and to write in my own voice. If I am writing about Spanish language literature or poetry, I am only crafting something intended to be generally acceptable and therefore, to pass or to sell.
This perception is very important.