DISCUSSION A: Interview yourself—or, better yet, have someone interview you—using the same or similar questions Professor Rawlins used to interview his student on pp. 69-72 of The Writer’s Way. Write a 75 to 150-word process describing the interview. Identify at least three ideas for essays which came from your interview. What surprised you about this process?
THE WRITERS WAY PAGE 69-72: Letter writing. Most of us write well when we text, email, and write let-terms, because we’re writing as ourselves to a real audience we feel we can talk to. Write about the events of the day if that’s all you feel up to; if you want to ask more of yourself, write, “I’ve been mulling over this thing for this essay I’m writing for a class. It’s about…,”and block out the essay for your reader. Discovery drafts. A discovery draft is a first draft that’s purely exploratory; you just keep saying things and see where they lead you. You ask nothing, but you hope that by the time you’re done, you will have discovered in your writing a sense of what you’re going to do. It’s sort of like a football team doing calisthenics before a game—just loosening up. No one really cares to watch. It’s not for the benefit of the audience/crowd anyway; it’s for the benefit of the players, who wouldn’t be ready to play without warming up first. Writers often call this kind of loosening up “free writing. ”In its most extreme form, you write for a predetermined period of time and keep writing sentences no matter what happens. If you have nothing to say, write,“ I have nothing to say “over and over until you find something else to say. Write song lyrics, gibberish, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, “or whatever, but keep writing.10.Abstracts.Abstracts can be intimidating, but they can also be liberating if you have been mulling the essay over, your head is full of what you want to say, and you just try to dash the abstract off, like a cartoon before the detailed drawing. In Chapter 7 I’ll talk more about how to write abstracts.11.Don’t outline, or if you do, do so freely and without regard to formal structure. Outlining isn’t an un-essay because it’s an organizing discipline, not a prewriting tool. It’s rigid, mechanical, and structured—the opposite of everything we want at this stage. It closes you down instead of opening you up. Map or write an abstract instead. WRITER’S workshop Finding Essays in Your Life Professor Rawlins once asked his class for a volunteer who “had nothing to say, “someone whose life had been “nothing special. “He and the vol-under (Sally) talked for twenty minutes and then looked back over their conversation for possible essay topics. Here’s their conversation, with the ideas for essays in parentheses’: Tell me about yourself. What do you do? S: I’m a student. I work in a restaurant, and I enjoy sports’: What kind of sports do you: I used to compete in track, but now it’s for my own enjoyment.(Compare being athletic in formal competition with being athletic just for fun, arguing that athletics outside of organized competition is healthier, more fun, less stressful.) I run, play basketball, do cross-country skiing, downhill. I play a little bit of volleyball, swim, play softball. I’ve only just started cross-country skiing. I really like it because of the solitude; there’s more physical exercise. Downhill I like because of the speed and getting accuracy down.(Write to downhillers, arguing that cross-country skiing is less crowded, cheaper, better for your body, and better for your spirit.) JR: What did you do in tracks: Shot put and half mile. I had a lot of strength from weight lifting JR: Did you ever take any flak for doing something that was as “unfeminine” as putting the shot? S: Sure. We were considered jocks. There was a lot of stereotyping….(Write to large, strong girls, sharing your experience pursuing a “manly “sport and encouraging them not to be intimidated; or defend the thesis: Even after the women’s movement, female athletes still face prejudice.) I was used as a guinea pig for a program. Since I was a good athlete, they wanted to see how strong they could really make me. But I ended up getting injured. They didn’t provide the equipment needed—belts and stuff like that. I strained my back. From trying to squat too much. (Write to beginning women weight trainers, offering training tips and cautioning them about the dangers.) JR: Tell me about your past. What was your childhood like? S:We grew up fairly poor. My mom divorced when I was seven, so it was just the girls in the house: my two sisters, Mom, and me. JR: What was it like when your parents divorced? S: I was happy about it. I was scared to death of my father. He hit us a lot. The way I look on it now, that was the only way he had to communicate. That’s the way he was raised. I was scared to death of him and anyone who was ever going to raise a hand to me. It caused many problems with our relationship. To the point where I didn’t know him—though he doesn’t live very far from my hometown. (Write to children of divorce, sharing your feelings and the insights you’ve gained from the experience; or write to children physically abused by their parents, sharing your experiences and your feelings; or defend the thesis: Sometimes divorce is good for the children of the marriage.) JR: How did your father’s treatment of you affect yours: It made it hard to be affectionate with people—I’m beginning to out-grow that. Also I felt like I was a bad person, but that’s also because he would tell me bad things about myself. I wanted to be a lawyer all my life, but he always told manrope, you’ll never be good at that, you’ll never be good at that. “And he told me that so many times, I tell myself that. He wanted a boy. (Write about what it’s like growing up with parents who tell you you’re bound to fail; or write about what it’s like being a girl in a family where a parent wanted a boy.) JR: Did you always live in the same place when you were growing up? S: No, in high school we moved and I had to change schools. My mom thought I was a little too radical and the neighborhood was a bad influence on me. JR: Do you agree? S: No. There was definitely a better grade of education in the new place, but the new high school was in a richer neighborhood and was really into cocaine. The girls were all daddy’s little girls, they got everything they wanted, they didn’t have to work for anything; the guys all thought they were cowboys, which I thought was funny, since they probably never had been near a horse. (Write as satire laughing at the foolishness of parents who move to upper-middle-class neighborhoods in the mistaken belief that they’re escaping the problems of poverty or the city; or defend the thesis: “Better neighborhoods “aren’t always better.) JR: Were you doing drugs? S: I drank a lot, but never when I was playing any sport, because it would screw me up. (Defend the thesis: We should fight drug abuse by helping kids find something they love so much they won’t risk losing it.) JR: How did you ever survive long enough to make it to college? S: I had the influence of my mother, which was very positive, very striving. She works in a field where very few women do, general contracting, multimillion-dollar buildings. She doesn’t have a college degree, so she doesn’t have a title, but she travels all over the country, part engineer work, part administration; she heads a marketing team….She’s a super-intelligent lady, and the kind of person who, when something isn’t supposed to be possible, can get it done. (Write about your mother and your relationship with her, showing the ways she helped you survive your youth.)JR: It sounds like your mom was a very good influence. S: Almost too much so. I’m in awe. And I have a stepfather who’s a doctor and very successful, who’s also very intelligent. (Write about the pluses and minuses of having a stepparent; or write about the pluses and minuses of having parents who are superheroes.) JR: What are your plans? S: I intend to go overseas and teach. That’s what I’d like. Teach English for a while. (Write to English majors, defending the thesis: You should consider teaching English overseas for a year or two.) That’s seventeen essays in twenty minutes from what Sally was convinced was a “nothing” life. Of course, Sally’s life turned out to be anything but ordinary, but the funny thing is that the same thing happens with every life, including yours, when you start looking at it this way. Now It’s Your Turn. With a classmate, do Sally-type interviews of each other. Have her interview you for fifteen minutes; then you interview her. Together, find as many essay seeds in each interview as you can. Try to find personal essays, informative essays, and arguments. Make sure that none of the seeds is a topic (a noun or a noun phrase). EXERCISES1. For two days, record (in a notebook or journal) all the striking prompts you encounter: fragments of conversation overheard in the grocery store, startling ads on TV, unusual moments in class. Take two and recast themes ideas for essays, a sentence to a short paragraph each.2. Make a list of things that have made you mad recently. Take one and explore its possibilities as an essay, not only as a personal essay but as other forms with other purposes. What kind of inquiry does it lead to for research? What’s a possible thesis for an argument paper?3. On pp. 46–47 is a list of five ways to find essay ideas. Find an essay in your life by way of each item in the list. For example, for the first item, pick some place you’ve been and describe it to someone in a couple ofsentences.4. Find an essay, in The Writer’s Way or elsewhere, that sparks a thoughtful response in you. Turn that response into an essay.5. Find an essay, in The Writer’s Way or elsewhere, that has a technical feature (lots of dialogue, a flashback, use of second person, etc.) that you like but have never tried. Using the essay as a model, write a short essay mimicking that feature. At the bottom of the page, identify the feature you’re mimicking: for example, “I’m mimicking the use of dialogue. “My stun-dents love to mimic Megan Sprawl’s essay “The Dos and Don’ts….”on p. 342 in “A Collection of Good Writing.”6. Identify an idea for an essay. Then do the following things with it: a. Make a map from it. b. Brainstorm it with a classmate for ten minutes. c. Write a real letter to a real friend of yours in which you say some-thing like, “I’ve been thinking about this essay I’m writing for my comp class. It’s about….”Then tell your reader the essay, keeping him interested.
End of the Writers WAY
MUST BE 100 Words. On Discussion A as well as 100 words on Discussion B.
· Think of a new product you recently purchased or used, or an ad for a new product.
· Share with the class this new product idea; in addition to describing this new item indicate whether this new product is either additions to existing product lines or improvements or revisions of existing products.
· Do you believe your new product will be among the few new product ideas that are truly successful?
· Why or why not?
MUST BE 100 WORDS