Plethora. Noun. “A large or excessive amount of (something).”
For four years I have wanted to use that word in a paper, and for four years I couldn’t find a way to work it in. I would forget to substitute it in for “multitude” or “many” or “a great deal” (unless I was trying to reach a word count, then I would sacrifice “plethora” for a chance at reaching my goal). Why was I so obsessed with such a weird word?
Plethora was my writing teacher’s favorite word, and I was determined to fit it into one of my eighth-grade papers because not only was it her favorite word, it also sounded incredibly pretentious, therefore I just had to use it.
I was exactly as insufferable as I sound.
When that didn’t happen, it became my ninth-grade goal. Again, I was unable to find a way to use it or forgot it in place of a different word. I continued the struggle well into my first two years of high school, and continued to be unable to fit it in any paper whatsoever. There was just no logical way I could make that singular word fit.
Finally, this year, my first at college, I was able to use “plethora” in a paper (God bless Melanie Mock’s Creative Nonfiction class). I was probably more excited for it than any reasonable person should be, but it was something accomplished after a long week of unaccomplishing things. Negative accomplishment. Steadily not accomplishing. Watching my list of things to accomplish grow larger and larger, like some awful swamp-paper monster.
It was rough. The point here is not just my borderline fanatic obsession with the word “plethora”. The point here is my writing teacher’s effect on my writing. She taught me how to read an article that I had to write a paper on in the most efficient way. She taught me how to make and outline and write a rough draft. She gave me a list of banned words (am, is, are, was, were, been, be, being, said, suddenly) and then gave me better words to use. She handed back my essays covered in hot pink gel pen marks and helped me make them better. She taught me the methodical approach to writing that I still follow, even when I’m not thinking about it.
Because of her, research papers are a little less intimidating, less like a hydra and more like a baby dragon (at least you can get rid of a dragon) (or keep it as a pet, whatever floats your boat). Comparisons are easier and contrasting isn’t as painful as it first was. I can write with some semblance of decency, which is really, really nice. I learned how to write a journal article, how to edit a magazine, how to cite a tweet I found online.
I’m insanely grateful for all the things I learned in her classes. Actually no. I’m insanely grateful for the plethora of things I learned.