I’m on a twenty-minute break before my final consulting appointment this Writing Center Friday No. 5. So far, five one-hour appointments and one half-hour appointment. Many of them have been in the early stages of drafting for papers due next week. Twice today I have heard the entry’s title–and not only from students I worked with directly. Much apologizing is trafficked in the Writing Center for some reason or other: I’m sorry I was late. I’m sorry my draft is partial/messy/unfinished/gibberish/hackneyed/confusing/stained with coffee. I’m sorry I didn’t bring my sources. I’m sorry I had a garlic bagel for lunch. I’m sorry my handwriting is illegible. And so on. Maybe this is cause enough for a gigantic vinyl banner at the front door that settles it from the outset: “All apologies accepted.”
I don’t begrudge anyone that felt need to level things up and make explicit one’s own sense of the text (or situation) before sharing it with others. I am prone to it myself (Oh, here’s a crude draft. Forgive me.) It’s just a pattern that has started to stand out after five weeks of longish Fridays in the WC–a pattern I probably could have anticipated had I thought about it long enough, since it turns up in classes and other venues where writing is circulated–a graceful gesture of recovery from the mustard-stain quality of so much in-progress writing.