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Who am I, exactly?

We, as humans, are in a constant state of flux. While some aspects of our personalities may be somewhat permanent (for instance, I can’t resist cracking a joke to alleviate tensions,) we are learning new things every day, and we are more connected to people than we ever have been. I know now that I am a completely different person than I was ten years ago because of changing who I spent the majority of my time with, and exposing myself to new ideas. This tendency to change is also present in our work as writers. As Tony Scott says, “writers are socialized [and] changed through their writing in new environments, and these changes can have deep implications” (49). The conversations that we lead in the classroom will have a tremendous effect on our students writing. We, as instructors, can help students become more aware of their place in the conversation. However, I do not just think of the students’ place in the conversation, I think about the changes in the styles of their writing. For me, there were a few classes that changed the way I wrote forever. I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m sort of, for lack of a better term, informal writer. I tend to use fairly accessible language, and I’m all about my audience thinking that my writing sounds like me. However, when I first started college, my voice was much more stifled. Later in my college career, though, I started to have more lively classes. I wanted to make sure that I sounded like myself because my peers that I respected and enjoyed conversations with would be reading my work. Never underestimate the impact of socialization and environment on the writer. Scott says that the “understanding of writing as a socially involved practice” has “vexed” educators, but I’m not sure that it should. As a future educator, I feel like I need to place more weight on the social process of writing (50). 

Writing is always a social activity!


Writing, as I think everyone has picked up on at this point, means a lot to me. Kevin Roozen says it best “writing also functions as a means of displaying our identities” (51). Creative writing instruction, in particular, has allowed me to really find myself. Everything that I write has a sort of, as one of my friends put it, “morbid hopefulness.” I find myself writing characters that are confused about their place in the world. They aren’t ever where they want to be, and, even if they don’t know where that place is, they’re clawing to find it–all while making wrong moves and social missteps. Writing these characters has helped me work harder in my own life to figure out what I want, but has also allowed me to accept myself as far from perfect. I’m not saying that everyone has to write characters who are exactly like themselves, but it has really enriched my writing and my life to do so. Instructor Pernille Ripp says in her blog  that “Our job as teachers who write is to help students uncover their writing identity.” However, I want to strive to give students writing assignments that will help them discover themselves as writers, but will also help them discover themselves as people. 

      References

Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. University Press of Colorado, 2016.

Ripp, Pernille. “I am Not a Writer- On Developing Student Writing Identity.” Aha Moment, Being a Teacher, Writing. https://pernillesripp.com/2016/02/05/i-am-not-a-writer-on-developing-student-writing-identity/. 15 September 2019.



3 Comments

  • Melinda Grant

    Hi Nikki. I fully embrace your perspectives on writing! I genuinely believe it is an art of expression and that we learn so much about ourselves through the written medium. I, too, hope to be a professor that finds a way to help students make the connection between writing and personality on paper. I tend to be a more formal writer, always trying to avoid contractions, not use slang, etc. and I don’t know why. It is just my “go-to” personality, I suppose. But, I really enjoy reading an authentic work that finds a way to communicate an every-day contextual reference with what the author is trying to share or convey.

    Scott’s comment about the “understanding of writing as a socially involved practice” has “vexed” educators, confuses me as well. A simple example of the contrary is our classroom discussions of Naming What We Know. One the one hand, the threshold concepts seem very foreign to me upon first read. Then, as I begin to personally analyze them and think about how the ideas would apply to my own writing, I often see a distinct correlation. Once the eyes are “opened,” its as though you can’t shut them again. I see this same type of concept of writing being socially involved. The more we discuss readings in class, the more I write about those readings, and the more I research additional sources on those readings, the more I find my style begins to change in regards to my own writing. Also, reading the scripts of peers is another excellent example of how the process is very social. I learn as much from the writing of my peers as I do in assigned readings. Everyone processes and expands upon topics differently which in turn influences the learning process. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Miro Jefferis-Nendick

    Nikki,

    You and I both have found, at least part of ourselves, through writing. And it’s a great way to find ourself, or find out things about yourself. The quote you pulled: “understanding of writing as a socially involved practice” and how you explained has confused educators, I agree it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t take a brain surgeon or rocket scientist to see that the two are correlated. I think it all falls back on that whole isolated, alone, emo writer thing. And while some of us (looking at you haha) like to sequester ourselves away and write, writing totally is and should be social. Even you would agree that we’ve gotten some good work done in groups. It’ll be interesting what kinds of things we’ll be subjected to and discover while we teach.

  • Danny Madore

    Hey Nikki! I can tell through this, and all your posts, that you are very passionate about writing. I think this post is really insightful as to how our specific passions for writing form. I too have had classes that forever changed what kind of writer I am and what I am interested in writing. Those classes changed a part of my identity, and consequently changed what kind of writer I am.

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