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.