“To be a writer, you have to be thin-skinned. To be an author, you have to be thick-skinned. That, right there, is the problem.” Theodora Goss
“How I wrote today: slowly, painstakingly, hopelessly, jerky-jerkily w/ equal proportions of commitment to the material, and self-loathing.” Anne Lamott
Three days ago, I celebrated my blog’s one-year anniversary. I started this blog as a final project for a composition theory class, but after finals week was over, I realized that people besides my professor were reading and liking my posts. It’s a really cool experience to realize that the Internet (or at least some part of it) thinks you have something worth saying.
I also passed 200 followers and created my 100th blog post earlier this week! That’s a lot of milestones coming all at the same time, and I want to thank YOU for making it possible. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment; I love hearing from all of you (with the possible exception of the spambots, although they do tell me nice things too sometimes haha).
I think one of the coolest things about blogging is the sense of connection and community it can provide between different people all around that world. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to participate in that community for the past year 🙂 Thanks again for reading!
I encountered the quote above on Facebook earlier tonight, and I started thinking how true it is. I have definitely formed (or at least strengthened) friendships on the basis of a shared love of certain books. I love having friends with whom I can discuss the finer points of Jane Austen, or the joys of reading Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle as a child.
Perhaps this is based on the fact that people tend to make certain judgements about other people on the basis of what they are reading (“Oh, she’s reading a book by John Green, she’s probably really cool, but maybe she’s only reading it because of all the hype about The Fault in Our Stars lately,” “He’s reading a biography about Teddy Roosevelt, he must be really smart,” “The cover of that book looks really trashy, that person seems kind of shallow,” and so on).
But to be honest, if you really love a book, it makes sense that someone else who likes it will share some of the same interests you do. Reading has been such a formative experience for me that when I met someone who has read the same books that I read earlier in my life, I feel like we have a similar foundation. It gives us a shared experience to talk about.
Sometimes a friend recommends a book that you end up loving, and sometimes a book you love recommends a person you end up befriending.
Have you ever made a friend (or strengthened a friendship) because of a book?
I haven’t be able to spend much time in the Blogosphere lately because I’m working on my first freelance job. I’m copy editing a book that was written by an ESL author. My goal is to complete it by the first week of August. Although I definitely have less free time at the moment, it’s kind of cool to be able to talk about “my freelance editing work.”
I’m a relative newbie at this, but many of the skills are the same as providing feedback on a final draft for a classmate. I’m mainly looking for grammar errors, misspellings, missing words, and the like.
Do you have a favorite sentence-level editing tip? I’d love to hear it! I’ve always found reading out loud to be helpful, especially if I’m editing something I’ve written. I’ve also heard that starting at the end and working forward a sentence at a time can be helpful, because you can’t get distracted thinking about the logical flow of the sentences or overall meaning of the paragraph.
Also, make sure your spell check is on. That’s probably my top editing tip of all time. It seems really obvious, but if your spell check is switched off or non-operational for whatever reason, you can miss really simple mistakes.
One of my best friends has started blogging again! I can definitely identify with the experience she describes here, and I imagine many other writers and “creative” people can as well. Check it out!
Do you ever get the feeling like you have had an original idea? You have that “EUREKA!!!” kinda moment, and you begin to feel super confident that you are about to have a breakthrough idea that will change the world as everyone knows it; there will finally be flying cars, flying pigs, and cupcakes in milkshake form like in Wall-E, when suddenly- it happens. Your brilliant idea has just been derailed by the shocking discovery that someone has already thought of that brilliant idea first.
You feel defeated, and disappointed in yourself for not thinking of it sooner than that person had. That person had the initiative to act upon that idea long before you had ever even thought of it, and is now making trillions upon bajillions of dollars. Now what?
I too just had this brilliant “EUREKA!!!” moment for a story that I was already envisioning coming to life. The…
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Within the past week, I received a bachelor’s degree in English, moved to a new apartment, and started a full time job at a publishing company. Even though I’m technically not a writing tutor any longer, I intend to keep this blog. I still have all the skills that I developed during my time as a tutor, and I want to stay involved with writing and the community I found through WordPress.
If you’re reading this right now, thank you! You’re one of the people who have helped to make blogging such a worthwhile experience for me. I’ve really enjoyed swapping writing tips and stories with people like you. You posts have made me laugh and helped me learn.
I’m excited to see where this part of the road takes me. Dear reader, (to channel Jane Eyre) I hope you’ll come along for the ride! Transitions in life (and in writing) can seem difficult and frightening sometimes, but they also are great opportunities: they let you see where you’ve been and where you’re going. When everything comes together, they can be pretty incredible.
“There is no doubt that whatever amusement we may find in reading a purely modern novel, we have rarely any artistic pleasure in re-reading it. And this is perhaps the best rough test of what is literature and what is not. If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all.” Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying”
Today I want to talk about Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Imagine taking a writing workshop with an author who has published several well-know books but is still relatable, with a self-deprecating sense of humor. This author will walk you through the insanity that is the writing life. That’s what reading this book is like.
This book gets its title from a story Lamott tells about her brother when they were children. Her brother had waited until the last minute to write a long report on birds, and the task seemed overwhelming. Her father gave this advice: “Just take it bird by bird.”
That story exemplifies Lamott’s approach to writing. Throughout the book, she encourages her readers to write the terrible first drafts that they must write in order to find the stories they have to tell, taking it in small chunks and later editing out the parts that don’t ring true.
Lamott offers a lot of practical advice and encouragement, along with plenty of anecdotes from her own life. Her honesty is refreshing as well. Although at times she may come across as a bit neurotic, I wish she were my writing teacher.
This book is chock-full of quotable thoughts about writing. If you’ve never read anything by Lamott, this book is a good place to start!
Why do so many colleges have writing centers in the first place? I’ve been doing some reading on this, and it turns out that writing centers have been around since at least the 1930s. (In case you’re wondering where I’m getting my facts from, I’m referencing an essay by Stephen North entitled “The Idea of a Writing Center.” It’s in this book.) In spite of the fact that the idea of a writing center has existed for a while, sometimes people are still unclear about the purpose of these centers. Writing centers deal with issues of grammar and punctuation, of course, but they also deal with issues of clarity and organization, issues that even gifted writers may not always pick up on their own.
If you’ve been thinking that writing centers are only for people who can’t write, you’ve been missing one of the most important principles of the writer center: it’s for everyone. We don’t make distinctions between people who “can’t write” and people who “can write.” Everyone can write! There are differences between writers’ levels of ability, but at a writing center, we’re not there to make a judgment about someone’s writing. We’re not there to grade it. That’s the professor’s job. We’re there to help the writer to improve. Even experienced writers can benefit from sessions at the writing center. I know several writing tutors who schedule sessions for themselves with other tutors because they know that the process is helpful. I’m currently working on a long paper for one of my senior seminars, and I brought it in to the writing center because I wanted feedback from someone else.
I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my classes, it’s that there are no “right answers” when it comes to writing. There are only papers that communicate with varying degrees of effectiveness. You may have a good paper, but you could always have a better one. And that is the reason writing centers exist: to help each writer reach his or her fullest potential, to write the best paper possible in the amount of time available.
Stephen North says that “in a writing center, the object is to make sure that writers, and not necessarily their texts, are what get changed by instruction.” Writing centers give writers the tools to be better writers. This means that in a particular session, the tutor probably will not have time to address all the typos and awkward sentences and punctuation errors within a paper. The tutor may not even be able to address all the higher order concerns such as the organization, introduction and conclusion. However, if the tutor is able to help the writer learn, say, the principles behind strong thesis statements, or ways to create good transitions, then the session has been successful. As a result of the session, the writer will have a better paper than if he or she had never come into the writing center, and the writer will have another tool in his or her “composition toolbox.”