This course is starting us off with reflection as a basic, entry-level tool for producing work for any situation. Reflective writing allows us to consciously evaluate strategies to improve our weaknesses and repeat our successes.
By knowing our audience and purpose, stating our intentions, we can write the piece for the audience we envision. We can only review and revise effectively if we know what our intentions are. The writer who can reflect, assess and review their own work is an independent learner, one who isn't dependent on peer reviewers or teachers when they finish their writing class.
In reading Sandra Giles' 'Reflective Writing and The Revision Process' I particularly enjoyed her personal story of painting the interior of her home. The lesson I got from it was that in nearly every other form of work, we do evaluate our intentions, study our work and continually take mental notes how to do it better 'next time'. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is resistant to this process in writing, the course is taking a lot of pains to teach us this lesson.
As a reader I wasn't aware of the amount of research it takes to write an interesting essay or story. The question of who, what, when, where, why and how is usually present in any piece that I read. Up to now I had been ignorant of how the story came together.
In Writing Project #1 we were asked to provide a story. In Writing Project #2 we conducted interviews and described the physical space. I was surprised how much information is needed to place your reader 'inside' the piece so you can tell your story.
When I looked at the Writing Project assignment itself, I thought "I can't do it!". Then as the writing assignments progressed, I could see that, broken into stages, the project is much more manageable. The most challenging part was how to present the information in a progressive way. The reader is taken through a series of steps to the conclusion you suggest.
With the conclusion of two major writing projects, the most critical part of the writing process has been applying my own interpretation. I tend to 'report', to fill the piece with information with no claim or generalization. That's a mistake unless it's a newspaper article, a scientific article or an academic paper.
If today I was invited to teach someone about writing, I would suggest being more observant. In the progression of the course, we've been guided through exercises in observation more than anything else. Observation involves more than observing externalities. It requires investigation into your own motives and responses. Drawing conclusions based on the information shouldn't be avoided, it should be embraced.
Reflection and reflective writing are processes that are new to me. I can now appreciate that the reflective process is as much a part of writing as the writing itself. My major challenge in future will be to be to get as much as I can into the project before editing. I'm almost phobic about the finished product and tend to fine-tune every sentence at the expense of clarity and purpose.
Proofreading is important. Many times the document you are producing is the first, perhaps your only contact with the reader. Their only frame of reference is what they see in front of them. When they've read your piece, they will decide if you've made your point. Revision and checking for errors will make the piece understandable. Subconsciously or not, they've also made a few judgments about your competence.
If the piece has many errors, the reader may decide that you didn't care enough to proofread. They could also suspect that if your writing isn't well done, you don't know what you're talking about.
Formatting is used to apply a standard look and feel to documents and provides the reader with an effortless experience. Good formatting feels 'invisible' and the reader can focus on content.
If the proofing and formatting is not targeted for its audience, misundersandings could result. For example, documents with information on building a school. A school board will want documents in economic terms an in a certain document format. Financial institutions may need some of the same information in another form like spreadsheets. An official giving a presentation on the subject may use a slideshow.
As a writer, I feel that doing my very best to provide the easiest reading experience shows my concern for the subject and respect for the reader.
I was surprised by some of my classmates' posts on the subject of revision. Several of them had a positive attitude, but that was because they are already writers and have learned the value of 're-vision'. One of them even said he tends to revise too much and runs the risk of losing the purpose of his piece. My response was very different, I was very resistant to the idea of revision.
My problem so far in this course has been perfectionism. When I post my rough draft, I want it pretty near perfect. This makes for some nice peer reviews, but more than a little stress. The stress actually makes me work harder. Hm...perhaps it would be best to make up my mind.
Now I see that revision can be an enjoyable part of the process of writing. Indeed, you can revisit the same piece and rewrite it for different purposes and audiences. The piece itself isn't 'cast in stone' and only usable for one purpose. If it is a good idea it can be improved, used again in a different way or be a source of inspiration for yet more pieces.
The Yellow Rose of Texas-Carla Sanchez
Lisa Miller: I'm interviewing Carla Sanchez, oil painter and teacher at the Llano Art Guild and Gallery in Llano, Texas. She gives a class once a week on Thursdays. Signups are usually staggered; at any one time the students will be at different levels of painting. She starts them from absolute beginner to a finished painting, learning essential techniques along the way.
I read your website bio and it said that early on you were discouraged from pursuing art as a career. How come?
At first I was discouraged but I come from a family of artists. My grandfather was a fairly famous local artist in the Hamptons and my mom went to Art Students League in New York City. When I told her I wanted to go to art school and make a portfolio, she laughed and told me I didn't have any talent and not to bother. So I said, "OK, well, I guess I'll do something else" and went into the sciences instead. I kept working on art on my own and shoved everything under the bed. I thought, well, out of sheer persistence I'm going to get somewhere.
In a way it worked out because I was a fuller person when I went back to it. I was just a kid. It was always my dream to be like my grandfather, he died a month before I was born and I always felt that my life was supposed to continue his. At an early age, just as his art was coming into its peak, he died suddenly of a heart attack.
When you finally got back to painting, how much did your former frustration affect the intensity with which you went back to it?
I took a drawing class with my friend and we were going to sit in the back and just be terrible at it. It was drawing and tapping into your innate ability-I thought it was just a drawing class. I started crying and thought everybody's going to see I don't have any talent. I found out I did have talent and it just opened these floodgates; it kind of gave me permission. I never get tired of it, when I started getting into it I was painting 8 to 10 hours a day, I couldn't get enough.
Like a guitarist with bleeding fingers...
Yes, I was painting on everything I could find, boards, cardboard, anything I could find. To this day I go to workshops, like with David Leffel. We paint 9-5, everybody's exhausted. I take a half hour break and go drawing or extracurricular painting until 10:30 at night. They say "You're crazy!" but I GET to do this now.
What would you say to a student who thinks it's too late to start art?
You do art for a lot of reasons. Most people just do it for relaxation and to express themselves. It gives them pleasure. If you wanted to do it as a career...it might be too late but...I have one student who's 91 and she says, "I'm not ever going to be much better than this." But you know, you never know what's going to be your 'great piece'. So I don't think it's ever too late to do art but maybe at 91 it's getting late to become world famous.
When did you come to Llano and how did you go about joining the artistic community?
My sister invited me to come here to live 3 years ago. Everywhere I've lived I've joined the local art groups because I think it's important to be involved in the community. I think they thought I was a little weird when I said "I'm going to teach art classes" and they said "You are?" and I said "Yeah, I do it everywhere". "Well, we don't do that yet" so I said, "Well, you can." So I did.
You've taken art classes with some great artists. Did you take their methods, adapt any of their methods? I noticed everybody's at a different level, sort of a one-room schoolhouse approach.
I've taken mostly from one artist, David Lafell. I don't really believe in workshop-hopping, I think you end up with several peoples' ideas and palettes and you end up spinning your wheels. A lot of what I teach are his ideas, but I teach them in a different way, to be able to teach groups of people on all different levels.
I found that if I put everybody through a series of photos, each one has some techniques I want to teach them. They go from simple to more complex all the way to the end. It doesn't get easier because every time you get better, the next one gets harder. They always feel like they're struggling but by the time they finish, they pretty much have the tools they need to make their own paintings. Then they can go off and do their own thing from there.
Does teaching ever cut into your painting time?
Yes, but I love to teach. I really didn't want to at first, but I got coerced into it. I did one-on-one and didn't like it, then started doing classes, which I love. When I first started I had my own business, a horseback riding business, I homeschooled my kids and I had a family and I was painting. So I would get up and feed the horses, get my kids started on their schoolwork, paint, feed them lunch, do errands, paint for 2 hours, go to the barn and do the lessons, come home at 8 and make dinner, everybody was done by 9 and I'd paint 'til 2 in the morning and then get up and do it again. Because I wanted it. So, people who say they can't find time, I don't buy it.
How did moving to Texas affect your art, or did it?
It did. At first I was not happy. I don't like the Texas landscape, I'm not a cactus person. It's kind of dry and dreary and it doesn't inspire me, but I do like working in the earthtones. Here everybody likes things earth-tony and rusty and that's kind of what I do. I started doing Texas still-lifes and found it satisfying. I could do what I like and the colors that I like in a totally different scheme that people here like.
Your style is lush and classical, somewhat Renaissance, and celebrates color and water. I can see how Texas would be frustrating to a degree. But when it rains here, oh my gosh, everything explodes.
Yes, it's feast or famine. It's so much color you lose your mind, or dry and brown with oppressive heat.
Were you surprised by the number of artists here?
I was surprised by the many different types of artists here. Llano has a great depth and breadth of artistry for such a small town. Community galleries are pretty much at the same level in most places. The purpose of community galleries is to bring art to the community. That's what I like about this group, they have a lot of community outreach. I'm looking forward to having more and larger events to bring more people, especially kids. Then the kids bring the parents, that's where it all starts.
Thank you so much for the interview and being a part of the gallery's influence on the community.
The Llano Fine Arts Guild and Gallery is an artist-run gallery. The active members work one day a month and classes and activities are scheduled throughout the month. Every Thursday morning 10-12:30 our member and fine artist Carla Sanchez conducts oil painting classes. Each artist purchases materials prior to the class; Easel, canvas paints, brushes, glass palette, paint thinner, etc.. Students sign up for a block of 6 classes at which they'll paint one or up to four paintings. Like a one-room schoolhouse, each artist is at a different stage, from beginning backgrounds to finished product. The teacher supervises each stage, makes sure the student learns different techniques in each painting.
The gallery is two storefronts connected by a back hallway, with a kitchen area in the middle so there are ample walls that are suitable for display. Various cases throughout the gallery hold smaller and 3D artworks. The space is also multi-use and can be rearranged for shopping, classes, featured artists and parties.
In the right side 'working gallery' for classes, 6 or more 6ft. folding tables w/sheets of heavy clear plastic accommodate one or two students at each table.
The Thursday oil painting classes manage to be a combination of serious and fun. Each artist is at a different stage in their work, from a beginning painting to a nearly finished one. Some students are brand new and a couple have been painting with Carla for a couple of years. Most of the painters come not only to learn painting and go home with a finished product, but use the classes for meditation and calmness. There an occasional quiet call for help as Carla circles the room, makes suggestions and provides encouragement.
Sometimes there's a little burst of conversation;
"It's time I gave it up, I feel like I'm fingerpainting at this point."
"No, you've really jumped ahead, you've cleaned out this corner beautifully."
"Oh, no, what have I done?"
"You're doing good, but always work your way out from the middle"
Most of the time it's so quiet you can hear the air conditioning switch on and off.
When it's time to go, there's a general cleaning up of one's own mess and some visiting time to catch up with friends. There's a faint smell of an 'odorless' mineral spirits called Gamsol used for thinning paint and cleaning up.
Dry, red, smooth, beaten-earth floor. Area shown has no evidence of food preparation or storage, perhaps a dedicated sleeping area.
Sturdy walls appear to have a structure of two layers of scaffolding made of thin trees or very thick vines, chinked with red earth or clay and strengthened in each interstice with a sturdy rectangular-shaped white rock. Walls strengthened with large beams across the bottoms and tops. No windows shown here but can be inferred from light sources behind and to the right of photographer.
Roof constructed with rafters of 5" wide or larger thin tree trunks about 3' apart, covered with a tight lattice of vines, and then perhaps thatched (can't see from inside). Ample openings between walls and roof and at the apex of the gable for ventilation. Very whetherproof, as neither walls, floor or furniture show any sign of water damage. Posts jutting out from tops of wall to hang bags and gear.
Thin pallet bed in the corner about 6'x6' about 4" off the floor, lightly covered with thin fabrics for sheets/blankets. Clothes draped over a clothesline hanging from two walls appears to be storage, no closets or chests visible..
Area has a clean, dry, healthy, natural look and feel.
Fuel is a coffeeshop that sells coffee, tea, lunch and snacks and is a community hub for local groups, gatherings, live music, and non-denominational worship services. People come in to meet, work on their computers with the free wifi, study, eat lunch, practice music or attend concerts by local music groups. It is run as a non-profit by a committee as an outreach to the community. The spoken language is English, occasionally Spanish, as Llano has a small Mexican-American population.
Originally built in the mid-1800s, it sits in the middle of a historic row of buildings just off the town square. At the entrance, built 6 feet up from the street is a concrete sidewalk with iron railings, accessable by stairs. The walls have never been painted and show the raw rock and mortar of the original construction, inside and out. On the street side are two huge plate glass windows and 2 large windowed doors, each of which is topped by semi-circular, 4-piece transom window. In the past before air conditioning the transoms opened for ventilation and to release heat buildup at the top of the building. Floors are original thick wood planks held down by visible screws.
There's a semi-circular 25 ft. long raised stage against one long wall with a good, always-in-tune piano and sound equipment. On the opposite wall are the sound booth and coffee bar, kitchen, storage and office. 12-foot drop ceilings conceal retrofitted AC and electricity. A long beam down center is supported by central posts. There are 3 sofas for lounging, tables and chairs all around for meeting and working, long wood bar along left wall with stools and lots of bookshelves with books to read, board games, and kids' toys. Lining the walls are posters and artwork, as well as decorative signs for local businesses who help support Fuel with donations. Upstairs has large empty space, currently unoccupied.
Every time you come, there's a different group depending on the day, some customers who come in for coffee, knitting, after-school teenagers hanging out. Local business people, Llano residents, students, employees and jurors from the courthouse across the street often come here on their lunches and breaks. There's always a strong aroma of coffee, as it's a coffeeshop and the staff keeps buckets of coffee grounds for local gardeners.
So many people come here from all walks of life, from lawyers and judges to local teens to store owners and employees as well as homeless people who come in for a coffee or to cool off or warm up. There's no one who would be automatically excluded from Fuel, unless of course they were being rowdy, in which case they'd get a firm talking to by some of the other guests. The baristas are locals and if anyone comes in appearing to be in need, they are knowlegeable about local services and can usually get people help if it's necessary.
A map with our chores and interests and the distances we cover in our routine driving. Texas is big, y'all.
I live in a small community of about 500 people, as we say "during fishing season". Tow, TX is located on Lake Buchanan in the chain of the Highland Lakes area in Llano County, right in the middle of Texas. The core population is about 350 full-time residents, but some homes and cottages are used as vacation homes and rental cottages.
Texas is big. Unless you live in an urban area, much of the reality of life is tied to its size. Driving time has a big influence on lifestyle, in fact many Texans don't judge distance by miles, they mentally convert distance to driving time. Except in the urban areas, Texas has no public transport worth mentioning, so having at least one working vehicle at all times is crucial. Many people have a primary vehicle and a backup of some kind, for hauling stuff and as a backup 'just in case'.
The nearest small towns to me are at least 20 minutes away. That means stores, restaurants, schools, entertainment, auto repair, clubs, etc. aren't just 'down the street'. I feel lucky that we have a convenience store with gas pumps in our little community. From my location in the middle of Texas our largest cities; Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas are anywhere from 1:45 to 4 hours driving time away.
This has the effect, at least for me, of being potentially isolating and at the same time promoting emotional self-reliance. You have to make a concerted effort to connect with people outside the obligations of work and school. These physical realities of place have a significant effect on our perception of the space we inhabit. Since I come from another state, Florida, I've been able to observe here in Texas how physical place has an effect on your conception of your place in the world.
My physical place in a small community has affected me deeply, in a positive way. If I had to describe my personality, it would be that of an Extroverted Introvert. I can and do like to socialize, then I don't. Alone, I can indulge in reading, working on and producing art and music, taking online classes, internet activities in relative isolation. Then, when I want to socialize, there are opportunities in the nearer small towns and in the closest large city of Austin.
My husband's and my band works in the neighboring towns, providing a little added income and a lot of friendship and community. When I started painting a couple of years ago, I yearned to hang out with artistic people so I joined the Llano Art Guild and Gallery in Llano, TX. They are welcoming and inclusive. I've formed many close friendships there and have participated in meetings, events, taught and taken classes and have a venue for my work.
I was surprised that composition takes several steps and can benefit by leaving the project alone for a time. For some reason, I had envisioned writers just plugging away without a break until the project was finished. Michener came to mind, but I had forgotten about his rigorous editing and revising processes.
For this project, very little was frustrating, as this was a story I had thought about and wanted to tell. To get some more peer review, I asked my Facebook friends to read my project and offer suggestions. Two of my friends who are writers responded and I believe their suggestions helped.
If I were to try to teach someone about writing, I would encourage them to keep a journal or diary of some sort and write in it every day. It helps to define what you have done and how you felt about it. If you haven't done any other writing at all, at least you've accomplished that.
Reflection and reflective writing somehow gets closer to the real reason you are attempting to write. Be it to inform, entertain or instruct, you're forced to dive deep and think about not only the process, but your own motivation.
I have no prior experience in the writing process and so have no preconceived ideas about what drafting is. Only having written short entries to accompany photoblog posts, my own drafting style has been adequate but may not be useful for future, more detailed writing.
Normally I write separate sentences filling out main ideas, then when I feel I've covered most of the bases, rearrange the ideas in paragraphs. To fill out details and explanations, I research and add ideas to the paragraphs.
Reading for pleasure is very different from the rest of my reading, which is done online. For pleasure I am currently enjoying writers like George Eliot, Henry Adams, Thomas Hardy, Frederick Douglass, but I most often write 'clean', the way I enjoy reading online. I would like to learn to write more fully and descriptively. Learning good drafting practices will help.
The posts in the discussion forum has revealed how different people approach writing. I'm beginning to get the idea that drafting styles are a result of different learning and organizational styles. I was hoping to learn that there's just one way, the right way, to draft as well as write, but now that doesn't seem quite so desirable.
One of the things that can generate new practices and rituals is marrying a musician. I didn't have any background in music, but have been a huge music fan my whole life. We've had a couple of bands and have been performing onstage for over a decade together. He's had his own bands off and on for about a half century. When I first started going to gigs it wasn't long until sitting in the audience for 4 hours got old. I needed something to do onstage.
My husband suggested I start 'running sound' and taught me how so now I'm the Sound Guy, which means 'live sound engineer'. In our set up, the guitarists and bassist control their own amplifiers and the drummer rarely needs amplification. All voice mics are connected to the powered mixer. Each channel is adjusted separately so that each person's voice sounds its very best and each voice has the amplification it needs to be balanced with all the others. During Open Mic, we have an additional mic so that voice can be adjusted in realtime without moving the other singers.
Later, I started singing, at first as backup singer, then a few leads. As a consequence of having to learn a skill and finding out I was good at it, I was able to make a place for myself in the local live music community. It's a good feeling, being a valued part of a group of people that produces live performances in public.
Please respond to each of the following questions, writing for no more and no less than 3 minutes in response to each question:
How does your outward appearance (i.e. clothing, makeup, hairstyle, accessories, etc.) reflect your cultural identity?
My outward appearance is that of a 60 year old woman who dresses plainly, all in black. Occasionally I wear earrings, almost never makeup. I think it reflects the fact that I'm very comfortable in my skin and make no excuses or apologies for my appearance. On the rare occasions a conversation veers into the subject of outward appearance, I mention that I buzz and bleach my hair once a month and to 'fix' my hair in the morning I just pat it down with a washcloth. As ready as I am to defend my choices, I never have to.
How do your beliefs and values (i.e. opinions, commitments, memberships, principles, etc.) reflect your cultural identity?
I've always had a strong moral sense, even when my family's ideas of morality were pretty flexible. As far as right and wrong are concerned, I'm black-and-white. My values for myself are rigid, but everybody else gets a lot of slack as long as they don't pretend to have any power over me. To most people I think I appear to be very liberal and understanding. People often confide their deepest secrets to me, knowing I won't hurt them.
How do your dietary and domestic practices (i.e. hygienic routines, meals and mealtimes, food choices, daily chores) reflect your cultural identity?
My dietary choices are based on survival, since I was ill for the first 42 years of my life. I always had severe sinus problems and gastrointestinal problems and emergencies. When I was 43 I started eating a certain way and turned everything around. Now I only eat what I can and it has made life worth living. Sometimes people don't understand and think I can take an antihistamine and eat whatever I want, but usually that's just from a frustrated desire to feed me. Once I realized that, I forgave them for being domineering over food. It also helps that these days the world is a little more understanding of people with food sensitivities.
How does your region or location in the world reflect your cultural identity?
I moved to Texas 12 years ago and finally felt at home here. It's a place that reflects my ideals perfectly. The people here are friendly and very liberal-minded in a lot of ways. That may be from 'the old days' when Texas was so scarcely populated that most everyone was valued. I'm also aware that saying I'm 'from Texas' gives people a pre-conceived idea that I'm independent and hard to push around. I don't mind that at all, it's pretty accurate.
Describe a time when you were judged, excluded, or misunderstood because of one of the cultural traits noted above.
About 20 years ago when I discovered my many food sensitivities, it was widely thought that people were just making it up to appeal for special privileges or to get sympathy. Add that to the dismal future of not being able to eat like the rest of your culture and things got depressing. At times it made me angry. I can go down whole grocery store aisles and there's nothing for me to eat there. Fortunately the best things for me were whole and fresh foods and I've been relatively healthy for a long time. That is, of course, unless I break 'the rules'.
Before beginning this course I thought that writers had to come up with their own original ideas to be considered good. While that may be true in a very few cases, like Jules Verne's or Isaac Asimov's original ideas, most writing is about ideas that have always been a part of the human experience. It's the writer's treatment of the subject that is unique, as they bring the whole of their lives to their writing.
It seems as though my peers use the internet as much as I do to research details about ideas they are developing. I don't have many friends or acquaintances who write, and so haven't had much opportunity to connect with writers, but I'll be taking notes on my classmates' methods of generating ideas.
Writing has been an ambivalent subject for me. I'm a voracious reader and often wished I could write, but I compared my first attempts to the best writers' results and was always disappointed, and so gave up. I did the same thing with art and realize that I was plagued with 'perfectionist syndrome'. Language has always fascinated and intrigued me, though I'm having some problem with it now. It's possible I have a form of anomic aphasia, so I would like to write more often to help with word retrieval and use, both written and spoken.
I would like to write a daily blog, as a personal journal and an exploration of the kind of writing I would like to pursue in the future. Although I'm currently engrossed in Victorian novels, my own style is spare and not terribly interesting. Something close to the middle of those two extremes may be the ideal.
It's said that our lives are the stories we tell ourselves and others, and to me that rings true. At almost all times, if I don't have a tune (with a full backup band) running through my head, I'm telling stories about what I do and/or how I do it, as though I have an audience. Often I use this as a method of working out problems. So far in the first few days of this course I'm finding that writing can be as essential to thinking as thinking is to writing.
Rhetoric is the identification or description of a situation that needs to be addressed, "exigency", and the means to go about addressing the need for a resolution. I thought I had a vague notion of what rhetoric was, but I was misinformed. I believed that rhetoric had distinct overtones of deception, or perhaps being an argument to pressure or force others into a behavior they otherwise would not choose. Modern media usage of the word is usually negative and implies deceitful use of language for nefarious purposes. (Please forgive, I use any excuse to use the word 'nefarious'.)
I use my blog to record interesting experiences in my daily life. I just completed a 365 Project which took 2 years to complete. I'm kind of maxxed out on it right now, but I'm sure to get back to it. It functions mostly as a personal journal with photos. The other use I make of it is to post the entries to Facebook to share with my friends. They get an entertaining short snippet of 'a day in the life' and I don't have to tell the same old stories over and over again. In my entries I'm targeting those friends who choose to read it and my future self. The word choices are simple and friendly and the tone is light and positive. https://thedonandlisashow.blogspot.com/
It's exciting to see that I've already been using rhetoric in blogging, storytelling, writing tutorials and giving my friends technical advice. I always rehearse or edit what I say or write, depending on the situation and the audience. I agree with the WPA Outcomes that it's the most important part of writing or performance.
I have been under the impression that writing is mostly a solitary activity, but that just points out the fact that I never thought deeply about the subject. Collaborative writing is everywhere, from a small newsletter to a major newspaper, paper and e-publications, projects, grants, numerous other applications.
Anticipating a collaborative writing project seems about equally exciting and intimidating. Since I've never done it and am only just learning about it, it's pretty much a mystery. The introduction is quite informative, though, and is reassuring. Thank goodness I know a little about Google Docs, just a little about wikis and am familiar with video conference calls.
Working with other writers would be exciting and rewarding, I think. They can critique your work and let you know if you are writing well enough to optimize the group's outcome.
I think WPA Outcomes is entirely about encouraging and teaching individuals to write better and guiding the teachers who teach them. The result is a world that is more capable of communication which leads to an uplifting of the whole, and that is in itself a collaborative process.
Reflection on a completed piece of writing would allow me to decide if the purpose I started out with has been realized. To take it a step further, consistent practice at reflective writing could result in editing as I write, effectively keeping my writing on track to accomplish the original goal. In fact, employing a ‘cover letter’ style pre-writing exercise might be an idea worth exploring.
Whenever I write, I edit first for typos, unclear sentences and unfulfilled logic, consistent voice and point-of-view and the purpose of the work. That’s as far as my reflection has gone, just the mechanics of it. Reflective writing covers much more and (for me) results in an explosion of ideas. My problem now is; how to capture those ideas and save them for future use?
At this early point in learning how to write, I’m not sure how to develop a pattern of reflection, so my thoughts go immediately to the ‘how and where’. The writer’s website we were required to build may be a convenient place to store reflective writing. When building the few websites I have for friends and non-profits, I like to put an ‘admin’ page that is hidden from navigation to teach the owner or future admin the nuts-and-bolts of each feature of the site. A hidden page on the site would allow easy access to and online backup of my work.
In re-reading the WPA Outcomes Statement, I can’t imagine any of the aspects of composition that are more important than the others. Reflective writing would expose any deficiencies in Rhetorical Knowledge, Critical Thinking, Processes and Conventions. In fact, in reflective writing it would be useful to use the document headings to determine if your work has passed these criteria.
In the past I thought my own learning process was pretty haphazard, but everything I learn seems to inform and reinforce the next project or endeavor. For example, signing up for this course is the result of another course I'm taking.
As a result of the last election, I vowed to learn a lot more about American Government, so I signed up for the Harvardx Introduction to American Government. I was pretty freaked out when I realized we had 4 essays to write. I did my very best and hoped it was good enough. It was. The score was 90 for the first essay and 100 for the second. It gave me some hope that I could learn to write well, something that I realized I'd always wanted to do.
The question was, where does one even start? I have no further education after getting my GED and that was a long, long time ago. I went shopping on edx and found out about their Global Freshman Academy and signed up for English Composition 101. The platform itself is a learning process, one that was frustrating for a few days. Being exposed to 'educator-ese' is a steep learning curve, too.
I have no idea how to write, but re-reading the above, I think in a very short time that I'm learning to think.
Since it's been about 43 years since I've been inside a classroom, so far this course has been surprising in many ways. The preparatory phase has been confusing but achievable with some persistence.
I was surprised by the scope of the outcomes we will become skilled in. Of course I had hoped to develop a complete skill set in Rhetorical Knowledge, Critical Thinking, Processes and Conventions. The additional skills in contemporary and writing across platforms comes as a pleasant surprise.
The only thing I find difficult so far is the advice to be detailed and descriptive. I'm going to find it difficult to flesh out my writing to be expressive enough to be useful. I'm a tidy little creature and try not to use 5 words when one will do.