Category Archives: no matter where they come from

A Writer’s Fiber of Being

Hello. I’ve been doing a little writing consulting, and enjoying it. One of the many requests for perusal that I had was a personal statement for a college application. Fortunately, the statement was well-stated, focused, interesting (not your usual run-of-the-mill personal statements), and clean.

But then I had to help an older woman who has gone back to school after forty years, learn how to read, take notes, and make a sentence outline for a five-paragraph essay. She has found this all very daunting: when she was last in school, she had spiral-bound notebooks, binders, pen and paper, and a typewriter. Now her course is on-line, and she has no computer skills. And she doesn’t understand things like what a thesis statement is, or what primary and secondary sources are, how to research on-line for evidence, or how to write a paragraph. In short, she’s overwhelmed.

This is where I came in: I showed her different ways of reading and comprehending what she’s read, how to take notes, how to find evidence, and how to write a paragraph proving her thesis, point by point. We spent ninety minutes going over this; I didn’t do it for her, but I’d ask her questions geared to figuring out not what I wanted to say, but what she wanted to say.

And it was fun. I suggested things to write in the outline, and together we wrote a focused thesis suitable for a five-paragraph essay. I liked looking at what she had written, and helping her to write the outline. And now, by Monday at 5:59, all her materials for the completion of this course are due. She visited me tonight for tea, and said she had no idea where to start writing a paragraph. So I’ll be giving her a little more tutoring.

And the point of all this is? That I think for a writer/reader, no matter what kind of writing you’re faced with, the working with language is just something we get a kick out of. Which is not to say I’m going to start writing five-paragraph essays in place of my true passion, which is poetry, and lately, short fiction. But words are words, and a joy to work with. Whether it’s working on a poem with seemingly endless revisions, or paying attention to how other writers, in their poems, short fiction, essays, novels, histories, etc., handle language we learn from each other even if we’ve never met and shape our work.

So that’s the fiber of a writer at work. I just love words. And when a publisher  accepts one of my works, I feel good, knowing that someone else (one or many) has been touched by my work.

Thinking of writers, I just heard from a poet, Sharon Doubiago, with whom I worked some years ago at a writing retreat. Her poetry, and areas of concern are very different from mine. But I like her work, and she likes mine. It was a pleasant surprise.

And that’s it..

Shalom.