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“Looking for the Patterns in Static/ They Start to Make Sense/ the Longer I’m at it” 1

The “aggregate of scholastic demons” in my head have been working overtime. I am taking a break from working on my M.A. thesis to try to silence some of those shrieks.

Liz enters the room: Tell me, have you written anything yet? Tell me this, do you open a book at all?

Description of Liz: Sexy, successful, sweet, persistent; thinks I should be finished with my thesis (oh, I’m just about done with that horror show of horrible horrors). Well?

I have several pages.

As I was saying before I was interrupted, I reread my previous post (“Fear and Loathing in the Writing Process: My Biggest Problem and My Greatest Difficulty”) and it occurred to the demons (or myself, or all of us) that they (or I, or we) were not totally satisfied with what was written. It was the word “pattern” that rubbed them the wrong way and like all the hounds of hades, be it Orthrus, Cerberus, or some other lesser known cur, if one wishes to engage in the inadvisable action of rubbing a multi-mouthed beast, it is best to rub rightly.

So what’s the rub with “pattern”? Well, the voices in my head had this to say: Pattern finding, that’s something you do in high school English classes and outgrow QUICKLY- as an undergraduate. Pattern finding is not the work of a Graduate Student.

– Well then, what may I ask is the work of a graduate student?

It’s not pattern finding!

Just like the conversations I never had with my parents as a child:


Because I said so!

Clearly, either one of us does not know what the work of an English Major is, or, one of us does not know how to explain that work. Since the party of the first party and the party of the second party are both boogieing at the same schizophrenic soiree they’d better keep the noise down or the neighbors are likely to complain.

– Neighbors?

– Forget it, he’s rolling.

I must rectify this static-electric situation for myself, before the karma cops knock down the door and haul me away to some top-secret detention center for dissenters.

Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that I’m playing devil’s advocate. (This could get tricky, because I’m playing at playing devil’s advocate, but the demons are on the con-side of pattern finding not the pro-side. Maybe the demons are playing devil’s advocate to devil’s advocate. {Is one of those an example of Derrida’s absence of the opposite and if so which one? God knows, but simply smirks behind a pair of aviator glasses awaiting his “Breakfast of Champions.”- Oh, God, in Your infinite Witticisms, does différance exist?).

Silence, in and out of parentheses.

If God won’t help me, let’s see what I can do with the devil’s details.

I propose, contrary to what the voices in my head assert, that what we do in English classes is always pattern finding. Furthermore, the more advanced we get, the more sophisticated the patterns are. Sometimes those patterns are so advanced that critics of our field claim there is no pattern. And sometimes those critics are right. Which critics? That’s not entirely clear. Oh, you know which critics I’m talking about. But allow me to clarify I wrote a limerick about it, wanna hear it, here it goes:

If we want people to take us seriously

We should work with Foucault’s History

Excavating the powers

Of Babel text towers

And resist being clever but silly.

I think what I’m saying in verse is that as English Major’s / literary critics/ graduate students/ scholar/professors we should concern ourselves with literature’s place in, and depiction of, its historical setting; as x/x/x/x/x we are specially trained to bring to light the patterns of power embedded in a specific historical context hiding just below the surface of the text. But I can never be sure with all the voices in my head. But that doesn’t have anything to do with patterns. (Case in point.) Eh, hem, it has everything to do with patterns.

One example of a pattern isn’t a pattern at all: it’s an anomaly, an unexplained blip on the radar screen scroll upon which the infinite amount of monkeys hammer away at their script of Hamlet. Two blips is interesting, but not entirely convincing. However, once you can find three or four examples of something, then you can show a pattern of evidence. The work of the x/x/x/x/x is to then analyze the pleasure out of it. I remembering reading for pleasure –– slowly, several years ago, savoring every syllable, there were sad signs: Pota had a pain in the neck. Ah, but a thing of beauty makes a useless explanation, but a pattern and those who can identify them, those we hold in the highest regard!

What is an IQ test, if not a measure of how well one can identify a pattern with less and less evidence? Everything we do is based on patterns! (Except for this post, for this post I have decided to demonstrate what an argument without a pattern would look like). But doesn’t that mean it is a satire and aren’t satires a representation of reality,“a regular and intelligible form or sequence discernible in certain actions or situations?” Oh, damn you, demons and your definitions! Damn you, and your rhetorical assaults on my rhetoric. I thought I reinforced the gate with the help of Godot, but I forgot he never showed.

Yes, it’s a pattern, it’s all patterns! We love patterns and we praise the ability of those who can identify and can create them. We crown them with their laurel wreaths/ kissing their rings and bow to their feet. What is sudoku, a crossword puzzle, an IQ test, if not some measure of person’s ability to decipher patterns? Language, spelling, grammar, essays, poetry, rhyme, motif, alliteration: patterns. Some have gone so far as to site the universe itself as a great pattern: all DNA (infinite base pairs of A,C,G, &T), atoms, (protons , electrons, and neutrons) quarks, (up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom {I’m not kidding that’s what they’re called and I believe they are referred to as flavors [it’s good to know someone else takes his career as seriously as me]}). The universe in its infinite diversity is merely the simple replication of patterns. The boy I was at fourteen tossing and turning in bed, on the sea of not knowing envisioned the the rings of Saturn revolving in elliptic perfection, decided there was a God, death need not be feared, and so drifted softly into his next existential nightmare: who made the watch-maker and does it matter if you tell time with an analog as opposed to a digital bible? 1, 2, 3. [Crunch.] The world may never know.

1 Death Cab for Cutie “Lightness” Transatlanticism Seattle: Barsuk Records, 2003.

The Beginning Blues

When first considering the most difficult part of writing, I immediately thought, “beginning…that is the hardest thing about writing.”  However, as I pondered over writing difficulties for the next few days, I felt as though most people would have the same reaction. The first thing I did was question my own response. Why was that my first reaction? Is that just a cop-out answer? Searching my mind for other areas of frustration during the writing process, I found that beginning my work truly was the most difficult for me. In fact, before I could even start this blog post, I had to get a few outside opinions. Unsurprisingly, everyone said the same thing. “Getting started” is also the most difficult part of writing for my mom, brother, and boyfriend. All I needed was to hear a few others say it to confirm my suspicions. It also helped that I realized I put off starting the post for about a week because I had to make sure that I really did have trouble with beginnings, and back up my opinion with others opinions because I couldn’t start without doing that…you get the idea.  The “beginning blues” as I am now calling it, is a problem I have heard from most other students and writers. However, something about it seemed so trite to me.  I then tried to discover what it really was about “beginning” that is so intimidating to me.

Before I can begin, I find I need a fairly decent time for my ideas to “marinate,” as I like to put it. The problem seems to come right at the end of this stage. Once my ideas have soaked up all the flavorful juices they can while sitting in my brain, I realize that only the middle is ready to be thrown on the grill. For creative writing, I tend to have a fully formed movie trailer in my head, complete with a musical store to accent the drama. Flitting images of scenes and emotions stream through my mind in the perfect order, creating suspense that would leave anyone wanting the full story to see how it turns out. Unfortunately, I usually need to include myself in this category. These images flirt with my fingers over the keys, teasingly allowing me to feel the story, but running by too fast for me to write anything down.  Movie trailers rarely start with the beginning of the movie. They show the most exciting and intriguing parts to get you interested. Yet, the beginning of the movie is, obviously, essential.  Leave it to my brain to subconsciously do the easy part first and leave the difficult part to me. Of course the first thing I would recommend to myself would be to write out of sequence. Write whatever I feel, and get to the beginning at a later time. For creative writing, I find I can do this and it usually helps to get me going. However, when it comes to academic writing, I absolutely cannot write out of order. I feel very different about the two writing styles. That is not to say I believe academic writing takes no creativity. Quite the contrary. However, when it comes to writing a story or writing a research paper, my emotional and psychological response is completely different.

For academic writing, I also need to let my ideas marinate. However, I also need to pound them out for tenderness while they are in the marinating bag. I find that when I write for school, my ideas need to take shape more in my head before I begin. Once I reach the stage in which I am ready to write, that is the hardest part: the literal beginning of a paper. I absolutely cannot write anything before writing my introduction. Even if I outline before writing, I have to write in order. Perhaps this is what makes beginning so difficult; not only is it tough to get those initial ideas out, but I also have the weight of the entire paper hanging on it. I need to write the beginning first, because that is how I write the rest of my paper. I tend to edit as I go, because as soon as I have a pause in my thought process, or don’t know what to say next, I immediately read over what I have. I constantly refer back to the beginning to move forward. The beginning of a paper is such an obstacle for me that I sometimes spend up to an hour agonizing over what could end up being just half a page. Conversely, once the beginning of my paper is complete, I find that the rest comes very easily. I consider this the “grilling” process, and the flame-broiling kick to my system moves the process along very quickly.

Although I seem to have the beginning blues when it comes to writing, somehow I still always get my work done! Perhaps the pressure I put on the beginning creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe I really don’t let my ideas marinate as long as they need to before pounding them and throwing them on the grill. However, if there is no change that can make the beginning process easier for me, I am assured by the simple knowledge that writing is a process I enjoy, with or without the beginning blues. Once my writing is off the grill and on the plate for evaluation, I am usually quite satisfied.

Writing hurts…Yet I keep doing it…

What’s the most difficult thing about writing for me…?

Lack of confidence about my writing, not enough time to devote to writing, constantly questioning my ideas, staying on topic, knowing what my topic is, finding a topic, writing an introduction, writing a conclusion…etc. These are all things that either negatively affect my writing or that I continually struggle with throughout my writing process.  I’m not sure if I can select just one as MOST difficult.

So why do I write if I have so many difficulties with writing? Actually, if it wasn’t for the invention of the typewriter, I’m not sure if writing would have become such a pivotal part of my life. As it is I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I’ve been so frustrated from struggling over writing at times that I’ve suffered in the past from stress induced stomachaches and headaches.  I could spend the rest of this blog venting about my many frustrations, however, I’d rather write about something else. What follows may not be my biggest difficulty with writing, but it is certainly something that I personally have true difficulty with in terms of writing. Simply put, I can’t actually “write.”

Whenever I take notes or handwrite something, my hand cramps up, and because of this my handwriting is completely illegible.  I know why my hand cramps too, but I can’t change it. It’s because I have a death grip on the pen/pencil. I’m not sure why I hold the pen so tightly, it’s like I’m trying to force my thoughts magically from my hands to the pen and on to the paper.  Only it comes out on the paper looking like a kindergartener was scribbling on paper. Okay, maybe it’s not really THAT bad, but it’s pretty close. I’ve been told that I have the penmanship of a doctor. I didn’t take it as a compliment. I wish I was better at handwriting.  I even bought a calligraphy pen and ink set a few years ago determined to learn or even master the art of beautiful scriptwriting.  That didn’t happen.

I know this all may seem silly, but the trouble I have with the physical aspect of handwriting truly plays into the difficulties I have with all aspects of writing. When I’m reading a text and trying to take notes in a notebook, my hand gets tired of writing and I can’t read what I wrote later. When I suddenly have an idea for a paper, I try to jot it quickly down before I forget it but, again, my hand cramps. I’m not sure why I’m always in such a rush when I’m writing. Why do I always fear forgetting? I feel like my thoughts and ideas come before my hand can react. I hold the pen tighter so that I don’t drop it while I hurry to get everything inside my mind out on the paper…and then it happens, without fail, my hand starts hurting.

By now, I’m sure you are probably thinking, well just type everything out. What if I’m not near a computer?    Maybe I’m just being stubborn…maybe I just need to relax my hand…if only it was that easy.  For some reason though, despite the headaches, stomachaches and constant hand cramps I keep writing and I even enjoy writing. Why? How can I possible enjoy something that causes me pain? It’s because writing is a way for me to express myself, voice my opinion, dive deep into a topic, plus more.  In the end, the feeling of self accomplishment and satisfaction I get from writing far outweighs anything else, and a little hand cramp isn’t going to make me stop.

Finding My Voice

For me, voice is the most difficult aspect of writing. I am fairly confident that I can write in a clear and nuanced manner, but I often feel as though my voice is missing from my work. After I have written a piece, I often wonder if the reader could recognize my voice in it. I usually decide that s/he would not hear my spirit in the work at all. I try and I try, but I always come away thinking that my writing lacks that “essential” piece of me.
Finding and than using once’s voice when writing academic papers is especially difficult. Most academics do not have a unique or compelling voice, but I have read work by certain authors that melds rigorous research and academic argument with an evocative and personal voice.

I’ll bet you can edit this blog entry better than I can!

Can anyone think of a current TV show that features a newsroom setting with a tough-talking, hard-nosed, critical editor?  

– Back in the 60s, in “The New Adventures of Superman,” Perry White held Clark Kent to the Daily Planet’s strict deadlines even though Clark often ran off to a phone booth to change into a cape and save Metropolis.

– In the 70s, Lou Grant grumpily molded his crazy staff in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” into serious newscasters at WJM-TV despite serious competition from the “Happy Homemaker” show starring Sue Ann Nivens’ (played by the Betty White).

– In the 90s, David Spade groveled before George Segal’s editor character in “Just Shoot Me” as they went to press with Blush magazine.

Today, unless it’s a rerun on TV Land, I can’t find a “TV editor” to watch and learn from.  Doesn’t anyone want to be an editor anymore?

I’ve worked as an editor and loved to craft other’s words to make them “better.” After negotiating with a writer to revise a piece, I would further cut, slash, delete and tighten their prose to fit a magazine’s need (or more honestly, to fit the space allotted).  As a writing consultant, I enjoy working with students to add needed transitions and analysis, or delete unnecessary summary and ideas that don’t support a claim.

But when it comes to self-editing, I just can’t seem to cut, rewrite, or completely trash my own “gems.”  In other words, it’s harder than leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Some professors refer to this self editing challenge as “killing your babies.” We become attached to our words because we struggle to write them. We think they’re precious and stubbornly hold on to them rather than revising. But, even without TV role models, we can learn to be better editors.

First, find a phone booth (lot’s of luck!), don a cape, and become Super Editor. Then, follow a few tips (that I’ll try to practice myself) to channel your inner editor:

 –          If you become attached to your words, rather than delete them, save a new version.  I sometimes have seven versions before the final essay. Those precious first draft ideas, your “babies,” are not “killed;” they are just left behind at a rest area on the Turnpike during a long trip. You can promise to pick them up later.

–          Take a highlighter and mark any ideas that don’t further your central claim or thesis. A first draft is fine in order to “think things through” on paper, but your inner editor must refine and narrow the ideas. Spare the reader every detour you took to arrive at them. Delete those highlighted ideas despite any pain, agony (or shorter essay) they may cause.

–          Think of your audience. A magazine readership wouldn’t be interested in an article that goes off topic or offers stale ideas. Your classmates and professors must know what your point is, be able to follow your proof of that point, and remain interested in what you have to say.

–          Keep transition in mind.  It’s great to have many ideas to further your central claim, but find a way to connect them. Your reasoning or argument may make sense to you, but would it be clear to someone else?

–          Channel your own critic. Read your essay aloud and hear what doesn’t fit or doesn’t make sense.  That’s where you have to edit, either adding more explanation or deleting ideas that don’t fit the paragraph.

–          Put your document into tracking mode and “play” professor, asking yourself questions about the text and marking run-on sentences.

–          Finally, talk about your piece with a consultant at the Center for Writing Excellence. We often ask leading questions to bring out the editor within you. What are you trying to get across in this paragraph?  How does this idea relate to your central claim? What is the common thread between these two thoughts? Are you bringing up a new point in each paragraph? This isn’t nagging, it’s editing!

Remember, according to Emmy award winning TV shows, editors come in all shapes, sizes and moods. Even though there’s no show starring an editor now, who knows?  Keep a journal of your writing experiences and maybe, one day, you’ll write a pilot about a self-editing college student who wins a Pulitzer Prize….

Fear and Loathing in the Writing Process: My Biggest Problem and My Greatest Difficulty

My biggest problem while writing is not necessarily my greatest difficulty with writing, but my biggest problem is a symptom of my greatest difficulty. By far, the biggest problem I have while writing is Molly, my ninety-five pound American Bulldog Terrier, who tries to sit on my lap while I type. Right now her body is draped over my left leg, and my laptop is resting on her side. My second biggest problem is Leopold, my fifty-five pound boxer-pit mix. When Molly can’t be bothered with me Leopold takes her place. My toes are starting to tingle from a lack of blood. Admittedly, I should be at my desk when typing, not sitting on the couch in the living room, but I spend most of my time on this couch and they don’t behave like this when I read, check my email, waste time on Facebook, watch TV, play guitar, or tinker with electronics. The only other time they do this is when I’m really upset about something. Having been bred to protect their masters for about two thousand years, Bully breeds have an uncanny ability to determine a person’s emotions. By placing themselves on my lap, Molly and Leopold are attempting to protect me from the danger which they sense I fear.

But what am I afraid of and what’s the point of saying it? Will the truth set me free? Shall I only say the word and be healed? Or, is it like that certain wizard who must not be named? It’s taken me a long time to convince myself to say it. I wasn’t sure that I would say it. I thought, maybe I’ll just allude to it, like that book by that guy who never seemed to be happy. But then I thought, that seems like way too much work, as that guy knew, to not say something but to keep saying things, is nearly impossible so here it is. It took me a long time to say, but now I’m going to say it: I’m afraid of failure.

No matter how much I learn about writing being a process, I never stop trying to get it right the first time. The problem is, that except for a few instances of genius in the Earth’s drawn-out history, all but a few lucky souls have ever got it right the first time. Learning writing as a process teaches me that I need not get it right the first time and in all likelihood there is no ultimate, highest, hosannah of “right” when it comes to writing. But I write with an aggregate of scholastic demons looking over my shoulder, critiquing ever character I press on the keyboard: That’s the wrong word, a high school student could write this, that doesn’t make any sense, you’re not saying anything new, so what, so what, so what, SO WHAT?

So what? So what ‘O I do? I stop writing. I read my notes. Then when that fails (and it always does) I return to the book to read the pages I’ve dog-eared, things I’ve underlined, circled, and highlighted. I read before and after those marks, searching for a bigger and better pattern. Something ingenious that’s never been done. I need to find something meaningful to offer as a sacrifice to the evil deities in my head, to silence their ferocious voices, if not to appease their obsession with perfection. Sometimes, if I find a pattern that I know no one has ever written about, the writing is easy–– but not always. The thing about the demons that congregate in your head is that they are omniscient when it comes to your own thoughts. There are ways to confound them, but not without confounding yourself. Confound the congregation; confound the clergy.

Sometimes, even after I’ve found the pattern to write about, the voices remain, although they change slightly. There is a devolution or evolution (I’m not sure which) from a type of sarcastic-self-loathing to a kind of tautological-hermeneutics. You mean there are various things in one novel that are similar to one another? Wow who woulda thunk it? What does the novel mean? It means what it is; trying to explain what the novel is without exactly expressing the novel is a complete and total waste of time. The novel is the experience of reading the novel –– nothing less. You might think that once I think myself into this sort of a predicament, things couldn’t get any worse –– but you’d be wrong. There’s still one more step to fall.

When things get this bad I pull away from the task at hand to see the bigger picture. But the landscape is a vast nothingness. What does it all mean? Nothing. Good. This might seem confusing to some people, but to me if everything means nothing then there is no right answer. If there is no right answer then there is no wrong answer. Therefore, whatever answer I give, as long as it’s convincing, will be indistinguishable from the background of nothingness before which it stands –– one notion, misunderstood, with liberty, and justification for me.

Until  six months ago, I would generally come to the above conclusion while pacing and chain smoking. There’s something about the ephemeral smoke and the carcinogens of cancer sticks that lends itself to this conclusion. In the absence of this bad habit I just try to reassure myself, it’s all meaningless. It’s all been written before. And if the ancient libraries hadn’t burned thousands of years ago I’d be reading a version of this instead of writing it. I realize there are psychologically healthier ways of feeling confident rather than following my pilgrimage of aversion to heart of nihilism, but they are not for me. Some people see the glass half full and some people see the glass half empty; I see a dirty, broken, empty glass with the residue of a putrid liquid clinging to its sides. Blame it on genetics; blame it on God; blame it on me: I don’t care. Blame, blah, blah, blah, blah…

It’s about five days since I started writing. Molly and Leopold are sleeping on the floor. Is it because I have exorcised my demons or because they’re over exercised from our three mile bike ride this morning? It’s hard to tell. I don’t think we ever really rid ourselves of the old fears, not completely. Somehow, they’re always there tied in with the lessons we’ve learned and our desultory triumphs. We always hear the voice of a professor, a teacher, or a would-be-friend who told us we couldn’t write, we would never be able to write, and we might as well give up trying. As for me, I don’t want to get rid of those voices. They may have had their origin in someone else, but they are part of me now. They are my voices and my fears. They are part of who I am, “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, … ‘Till death do us part.” Hang on, and enjoy the write.

Food for thought

Why is butter a verb and not cream cheese?  One can butter a bagel but cannot cream cheese a bagel.  Instead he or she must spread cream cheese on a bagel.  The reason for this is because butter can be used as a phrasal verb ( when used with an object (  What do you think?  When you hear the word butter do you automatically think of its noun form, or do you take the time to reflect on its complexities?

How to Beat Writer’s Block

By: Heather Leibowitz

Have you ever had Writer’s Block?  I know that I have.  It can make a seemingly easy writing assignment seem like an unsurpassable mountain.  Throughout my academic career I’ve developed a few things that help me when I can’t think of what to say next, or when I just can’t get the ideas from my head to the paper.  First things first, work with what you have.  When you sit down to write there are a few tools that you are given before you even begin typing.  You know what your topic is, what your assignment is, what format it has to be in, and how long it should be.  These bits of information can really help you get started.

The first thing you want to do with your outline is title it.  You can start off with a fun, edgy title if you have a good idea for one.  If not, that’s okay.  Just put the topic that you’ll be writing on as your title and go back to it later.  The next thing you want to do is really study what the assignment is asking you for.  Are you supposed to agree or disagree? Pick a position?  Provide facts from given sources?  Provide examples and evidence?  MLA format?  Do you need sources, or just your opinion?

Once you have the answers to these questions and truly understand your assignment, you can move on feeling confident that you know what’s being asked of you.  The next thing you want to do is figure out the headings of your outline.  A good practice is to put at a heading for each part of the question that you’re being asked about.  Sometimes, you will need to put a subheading and that’s okay.  The more information you have, the easier it will be to write your paper.

Once you have your headings decided you can get to work.  If you’ve already done your research, fantastic!  All you have to do now is plug in the information that you have under the appropriate headings.  Note that if you need to follow MLA or APA it might be easier to put the in-text citation next to the appropriate information so you don’t have to look it up again later.  If you haven’t done your research, now’s the time to start.  As you gather information plug it into the outline with the appropriate citation format.

At this point you have a fully fleshed out guideline to what you want to say.  Before you start writing, read through your outline and star the points that you found important or interesting.  As you write your paper, focus on the starred information for a fun, interesting, fully-supported piece of writing.  Once your finished, you’ll know that you beat Writer’s Block and handed in a well-organized, academic, correctly formatted essay.

See Below for a Sample Outline:

Outline Title

  1. Title Number One
    1. Fact one  (in text citation)
    2. Fact two
    3. Fact three
  2. Title Number Two
    1. Subtitle One
      1. i.      Fact one (in text citation)
      2. ii.      Fact two (in text citation)
      3. iii.      Fact three
    2. Subtitle Two
      1. i.      Fact one
      2. ii.      Fact two
      3. iii.      Fact three (in text citation)
  3. Title Number Tree
    1. Fact one
    2. Fact two (in text citation)
    3. Fact three

Take this format and plug in your information!

Could eReaders make reading cool again?

Not to say that music wasn’t awesome before, but the iPod and following generations of MP3 players really changed the way we listen to music. How many CDs could you really have in your car (or home) before it became a nuisance? Portable CD players weren’t all that great, either. First, there were the gigantic headphones that slipped off your head, and then, the less-than-perfect technology caused songs to skip every time you moved a little too quickly or stepped a little too hard. IPods changed all of that. Now, people complain that 16GBs of music is simply too small. You see people listening to music everywhere– on the bus, walking to school, sitting on the beach, going for a run. More than that though, MP3 players have become a sign of status. You have to have the newest, fastest, coolest one and all of the latest designer accessories to go along with it.

Now that Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Sony (among others) have gotten into the eReader game, is it possible that it will be only a matter of time before reading follows the music trend? The arms race seems to have already begun, with Barnes and Noble boasting of the Nook’s  AT&T 3G capabilities and first color touch screen and Apple keeping up their “there’s an app for that” slogan with the iPad. There’s many tutorials, reviews, and comparisons uploaded by YouTubers. Blogs, Twitter accounts, and message boards are crowded with eReader users and people thinking about making the leap. The potential is there for these eReaders to be must-haves, but could this insatiable obsession that Americans have with technology and status make reading cool again? I like to hope so.

As a CWE writing consultant, I know that reading and writing are inextricably linked. We can learn a great deal from the writing of others. I don’t just mean the experiences or the lessons that come from the story itself– though they are valuable, as well– but from the actual craftsmanship, the writing. If you’ve never seen a perfectly described place, felt a feeling put into words, or heard the flow of a great sentence, it becomes much more difficult to attempt these feats yourself. If eReaders can reinstill in our culture a desire to read, especially in youth, then I think we will start to see better writers.

Why is this important? Because good writers can do two things exceptionally well: empathize and think critically. Those two skills aren’t just vital to putting words to paper, but to living and leading in a socially responsible way.

Welcome to Montclair’s Center for Writing Excellence Blog!

This is a group blog site powered by the expert writing consultants at Montclair State University’s Center for Writing Excellence.

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