The Space of Writing

Now this is interesting–to me at least: I just want to write a short blog entry today–nothing serious, and I found myself preferring to write in the blog space rather than in Word and subsequently cutting and pasting into the blog.  The choice has something to do with formality, revision, and spontaneity, and it taken far enough might have something to do with authenticity and personal writing.

In my Life Writing class, we always begin with about ten-fifteen minutes of writing in our personal diaries (I think I’ve said this in a previous posting).  We turn the lights down a bit and listen to music, like Gil Evans, while writing.  It’s a quiet, lovely time, ten students (yes, small class) and me, going into our heads and writing about ourselves and our lives to ourselves, just figuring things out.

I had a lesson plan yesterday that quickly went awry.  The student who was supposed to give us our daily grammar lesson was missing, so we skipped that.  I had planned on having the students who hadn’t yet posted their vulnerability essays upload them into the forum where we read one another’s essays and then move on to our next personal essay–a good one that one of the students suggested (here it is, word for word as she suggested it:

Coming to terms with “reality”. Eventually there comes a times when we realize that wanting to be the next Bill Gates or The president of United States takes a whole lot more than just saying so. How has the shock changed your perception on life as you’ve gotten older? Have there been any situations/life events that may have altered your “reality”? -The Success and/or Failure of relationships (love and/or platonic) & the lessons taken from them.)

Well, three or four students wanted to make a few more changes on their essays before they posted them, and none of us had finished reading all the new ones that had been posted, so some of us started reading and writing back to the newly posted essays while the others kept working on theirs.  Lights still low.  All of us reading on our laptops.  Gil Evans.

I finished reading and responding to two of them & looked up (we’re all in a circle); everyone still reading and writing; period half over.  I mean seriously reading and writing.  I mentioned something about my plan to move to Sha’Myra’s topic.  Everyone liked it, but they were busy reading and writing; they wanted to read what everyone had written, and that’s what we did for the rest of the period–until the time came for our class journal–a place where I usually have them comment on what we did for the day, how the class is going, and where they would like it to go.

We usually have some very interesting discussions about writing and who we are and writing about who we are for some of the class period, but we didn’t yesterday.  it was just into our laptops (even for the one student who RADICALLY prefers to write with a pen and read hard copy), Gil Evans playing.

I guess I’ll just leave this entry here.  But not quite.  Their vulnerability essays are really interesting to read.   I hope they’ll let me post links to them on this blog.  I’m really finding out what students can do when the teacher just basically gives them a space in which they explore with each other (and with me) their writing and who they are–with a little bit of organizing on my part.

These students are mostly juniors and seniors who signed up for this odd course because they like to write (not all of them are English majors).  I have my 7:30 morning English 2000 class with whom I am not terribly satisfied.  This is a required writing class.  I have about 12 out of 22 students who are there every day.  They are thoughtful students who are enjoying the freedom to write.  I have three or four more who get there most of the time.  And the rest, some of the time.  I’m thinking a lot about this class and the possible role of the professor.  And about grades.  And “rigor,” tough-love kind of stuff.  And–I can’t quite put my finger on it–but the relationship between my blaming some of them for being who they are as a way of avoiding blaming me for being who I am and that space between where no one is to blame for occupying the space s/he does in a cultural system into s/he was born.

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