Inter-species Love

Thanks to Rich, Ikea, Sarah, and Mary.

I’ll try to think through several of these issues–and imagine a way of framing writing as natural and writing as academic–I’m thinking of my friend, Mary here.

I’ll say this about writing instruction (and I’m replying to Mary): if the way you are framing writing tasks and responses results in impelled writing, you’re on. If it’s writing as struggle (John Bean–may God forgive him), you’re off.

Like Rich and Jan, I’m so much into writing as pleasure, as a way of materializing who we are and how we relate to those around us. If writing (a ghost for living) is a struggle, I think we’re creating a destructive educational environment. I’m personal here: I have used writing as a way of understanding myself and how I relate to others. I think students like to use writing like this–and find out about who the others are, a knowledge that feeds back into our self-discovery.

So . . . if what you are doing is creating positive experiences for writing, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re not, you’re not. Ask your students and you’ll get a hint.

One Reply to “Inter-species Love”

  1. Yes, I think I create positive experiences, Irv. My students right now (not even in a "writing" course) are experiencing what it's like to revise in a way helps them feel very positive about themselves as thinker/writers. I also make time in class for talking about the writing anxiety that they bring with them into the course. They know they will have support every step of the way, from both me and their peers.

    I would also make a distinction between writing as a way of understanding ourselves and our relationships with others, on the one hand, and writing as a way of exploring / examining / deepening our thinking about issues and texts, on the other. Either way, though, both can be very hard to do! I LOVE to write, but neither the personal writing nor the academic writing I've done has been easy. Does that make it "struggle"? Not sure. But it's been gratifying.

    Here's a parallel: I'm an avid cyclist and do time trials. The training is often downright painful, but I love it. I sometimes like the training more than I like the races. But I feel incredibly gratified when I can match or beat a previous time, or when I can place on the podium. Does it sometimes feel like struggle? Yes. The worst part is that even after some progress, I have bad workouts. Isn't writing sometimes like this too?

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