Essays and Links
CHOOSING A MAJOR:
CREATIVE NON-FICTION (Essays not directly related to education or writing)
My Other Related Sites:
Pedagogy, Philosophy, and Nonsense
Not Just Another Writing Class
Not Only Ways to Write But Reasons to Write
The Ideas Behind the Seminar
Writing isn't about pleasing the teacher or the boss, not even simply pleasing yourself. Neither is writing a matter of meekly submitting to form and order imposed by someone else for unclear reasons, or no real reason. Writing is about exploration, the discovery and creation of order where you thought there was only chaos and confusion. Writing is about questioning and thinking, going beyond what you already know, or think you know. By writing our ideas down we begin an interaction between what's inside and what's on the paper, a conversation between self and self. Compared to the tidy papers most of us were asked to write in school, this process is a challenging, sometimes terrifying experience, but the potential rewards are equally great.
If you take the challenge, you will write more than you ever have before, but if I do my job properly, you won't notice how much you've done until you look back. Most people have tight schedules, but we'll look at ways to get writing done and get the value out of the writing in smaller bits of time. Five to fifteen minutes here and there on a regular basis will generate surprising results. With physical exercise, three sessions of at least 20 minutes each week, with only a day between sessions, is enough to help, while one session of 60 minutes a week can do more harm than good. Writing is much the same way.
This seminar will involve very little telling and much more doing. I won't tell you what to write about, how many papers, how long, what style, what choices to make. While the amount of work you do will add up over time, it will be up to you to set deadlines and goals. Some weeks you'll get a lot done. Other weeks you'll have too many other responsibilities. Everything in the class will be as flexible as possible to help each person get the most long-term benefits possible. If you have to switch between different seminar meetings, change your conference time, miss a bit here and there, we'll adjust.
If you have a fear of writing, or if you'd like to write more but don't think you have the ability, or if you think you really don't have anything to say, this seminar is still for you. After all, you aren't getting a grade. We'll start small. I probably won't even say, "Write a paper." Instead, we'll work with various brainstorming techniques, ways to find ideas and get more comfortable with writing first, worrying later. At first, you may not see the ideas or possibilities. Most people will feel like they're treading water for the first four to six weeks. I'll make suggestions and ask questions, nudge and point, until you find a question or idea that draws you in and insists that you write.
The goal isn't merely to write without technical errors. You can pay someone to edit your writing, but you can't pay someone to tell you how to think. Perhaps you can, but I rather think it's a bad idea. The goal in this seminar is to help you work from scratch to find ideas, to follow them, to build them up, tear them down, and build them up again until they become clear and strong. To do that, you have to learn how to approach the writing your way, write with your style, take control of the process, and how to give up control when necessary.
My own love affair with words has been going on since I could talk, but even I never really appreciated the power writing has to help us think and see until I saw what my students could do when given the chance and time. Most people I know feel like they don't have enough control over their world. Many of them don't even know what choices they'd make if they had the chance. Writing can help you see and understand what the questions and issues are, help you understand the differences between who you are and who you think you are, differences between what you think you want and what you need. It's a tall order, and the road isn't always smooth. I'm not saying I can give you answers, but writing offers ways to help you find the answers yourself.
There's no way to say exactly what we'll do in the seminar because it will be a bit different for each person, but if you want to talk more about the process feel free to get in touch. I'm often difficult to reach by phone, so I suggest trying e-mail. If you don't get an answer, it means that your message or my answer went astray. Please keep trying. You can also find me at Wadi Cafe (west side) many afternoons.
There are sign-up sheets available. Just ask at the counter.
Signing up isn't a binding commitment. It simply
tells me who is interested so I can get in touch. If you
sign up and need to make changes later, I'm willing to adapt
as much as I can.