“Whether we think of ourselves as researchers, composition theorists, creative writers, linguists, rhetoricians, or historians, many of us not only teach writing but also participate in various writing practices. We all do language. That is our greatest strength, and it is what makes what we do so much bigger than how we draw the disciplinary boundaries around both our field and ourselves. As doers of the word who teach others to do what we do, we have obligation to do it bigger and to reach every place and everyone we can reach.” ~Gwendolyn Pough, “It’s Bigger than Comp/Rhet: Contested and Undisciplined”
The unfortunate theft of my ipod and GPS last month has become a good thing. At the time, discovering that some mofo had went into my truck and riffled through my console in order to get my GPS, its cord, and my ipod made me feel vulnerable. I was definitely in a new place. Replacing those items – though costly – has introduced me to several discussions about writing that are helping me expand my vision of what I can do in this new position at my new university.
I splurged on the replacement ipod, purchasing a slightly used one that holds my entire itunes library. The additional space allows me to create all types of playlists and download numerous podcasts. My workouts are better for it. While huffing off the calories, I now listen to Brene Brown, NPR’s “Fresh Air” and a British NeoSoul podcast.
My outlook is also better for it.
The inspiration I felt when I heard Junot Diaz make the statement that appears as the first epigraph reminds me of the way writing used to be for me.. I wrote short essays because I was so excited about the way I was learning to understand my spirituality that I wanted to share it. Ideally, I thought I was leaving some kind of memory to my students and family. Marketing the book or becoming some kind of spiritual guru was never a goal for me. I just wanted to share my story in written form. If I had the courage, I could have easily shared those same stories in a different form.. That’s another discussion though.
The memoir form for me is a place a discovery. I’ll never forget the impact of the essay I wrote for my Creative Nonfiction class when I was getting my M.A. I had been reading about cognitive functions in composition at the time and the term “Cognitive Dissonance” resonated with me because it described that process of seeing things happen with your eyes, but not processing those events for what they were. I used that term as the title for an essay I wrote about watching the effects of my aunt’s battle with MS but not really seeing that she was dying. I struggled with that piece and went to my workshop proud of my ability to articulate that event. When my classmates told me how palpable my pain was and my instructor left the classroom crying because my writing made me think of the sister she had just lost, I came to see the power in telling my own story. I didn’t relish in making my readers cry or laying bear the pain of my loss. For me, that class taught me that writing enabled me to make sense of and name the things in my life. It taught me that what I’d gone through could produce greater understanding. I never felt more like a writer than I did then. After that class, I pushed myself to take the few essays I had started writing on the insights I was gaining and turn it into a collection. I simply wanted people to see what I had come to see, to learn or unlearn without feeling like I was selling something. I have yet to feel like my writing holds the same purpose.
My work, as Pough says in the second epigraph, is bigger than comp/rhet. I can give more to my students, my community, and myself when I think of all the ways I know to write. I'm on really rich soil..
It's a good thing.
~I have spoken~