Reading is my passion. Being transported inside a character’s head or to an unknown locale makes me speechless when an author writes well. In fact, on more than one occasion, I have been known to grieve when the conclusion of a novel arrives. Usually, a replacement novel is one of the only means of rescuing me from the depths of reading despair until the replacement novel’s conclusion. Thus, a cyclical cycle of addiction and sorrow emerges, worth every savored word on the page.
So, it comes as no surprise I enjoy reviewing books, sharing books, gifting books, discussing books, decorating with books, etc. Saturday I received a novel in the mail for the purposes of review for a blogging book tour. Snuggled in bed I picked up this new read and ogled the front and back covers as I always do prior to reading page one. Disappointed to find a spelling error on the back cover, I did not abandon all hope and proceeded to open the book and commence my read.
On page four I found two additional spelling errors and another on page five which was when I made the decision to read no more. This particular author, according to the brief biography, worked as a journalist. So, I think this person in particular should know better. However, I believe anyone who is pursuing a career as an author should definitely revise and edit for the cleanest draft possible for his/her readers. To me, this is an essential part of the author job description.
My English 111 students are on draft three of a Memoir Essay assigned on day one of class; we are now two-thirds of the way through the semester. Revisions will continue until each student is able to walk away with a clean copy in hand. While enrolled in this class, these students are authors and should respect the craft of writing.
In the same manner, when I purchase a cupcake from the store, I expect it to taste sweet. If the baker misplaces salt for sugar in the recipe, I would not expect him/her to reason, “It’s close enough.” While undergoing surgery to eradicate the cancer found in my breast, my surgeon performed three procedures for a successful clear margins outcome. I am grateful she did not determine “close enough” was good enough.
With this being said, authors please revise and utilize an editor (friend, peer, family, Writing Center, writing group) always. Keep hope and grammatically correct writing alive for your readers.
Last year a dear friend introduced me toThe World Needs More Love Letters, and I absolutely fell in love with the purpose of this site as well as the backstory of this site. Since then I have incorporated interaction with MoreLoveLetters.com into my English 111 Syllabus as a means of reinforcing the impact of the written word. So, for today’s Writing Workshop Wednesdays, use this rainy day (if you are in the Midwest) to create and send a letter to a special someone (or two or three . . .) in need of encouragement or praise, but do not sign your name. The point is to use your words in a positive manner for someone else, not for the purpose of being acknowledged. Peruse those in need of letters hereif you cannot think of a recipient on your own. If you know of someone in need of a letter, please post in the comments section below. You truly will be glad you did.
My English 111 classes recently read Alice Walker’s “Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self,” which revolves around an eye injury a young Walker received at the hands of her brother. As a result her eye is a “. . . glob of whitish scar tissue, a hideous cataract . . .” (Kirszner and Mandell 36). The scar in question inevitably results in Walker’s self-loathing until her two-year-old daughter inspects the eye with childish wonder and reveals to Walker, “‘Mommy, there’s a world in your eye'” (40).
So, for the purposes of this Writing Workshop Wednesdays, I want YOU, the writer, to tell YOUR Life in Scars either visually as in the picture or in the below comments section.
Over the years I have tried and adjusted the way I facilitate peer editing in my English classroom. I have attempted having students work in pairs or groups of four and simply exchange papers, but what I have found is that students are reluctant to be honest in their commentary when it is known he/she made the comment. Instead, I see a lot of, “This is good!” comments at the top of pages. I also have noticed they rush through the peer editing process simply to finish and not to learn from one another.
So, one method I have implemented is the Friendly Round Robin Peer Editing. Students sit in a circle with one copy of his/her rough draft in hand. I pass out the Friendly Round Robin Editing worksheet (see below). Initially, students pass their papers once or twice to the right and then complete number one on the worksheet. After a period of time, I ask students to pass again to the right once, etc. until we have completed the entire worksheet. Not only are students practicing various approaches to peer editing anonymously, but they also are given the opportunity to read several other papers in the classroom in order to experience various styles of writing. For, as writers we learn to hone our craft by reading every day.
Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out.
(William Faulkner, interviewed by Lavon Rascoe for The Western Review, Summer 1951)
Is the paper at least 2 typed pages (or as required) in length? If not, comment.
Proper heading? Page numbers with last name? If not, correct.
Read through the entire essay. Does the essay answer the writing prompt? If no, comment. If yes, tell why you think the essay answers the prompt fully.
Read through the entire essay. Now, do you feel the title is creative? Did you want to read the essay after reading the title? Does the title fit the essay? If not, offer suggestions. If yes, tell why you liked it.
Proper capitalization of the title? If not, correct.
Does the introductory paragraph “hook” you? If not, add suggestions. If yes, tell why.
Read through the essay. Circle the thesis statement. If you cannot find one, make a note of this. If you feel the statement needs elevation, make a note of this.
Circle or highlight “very,” any form of “get,” any form of “thing,” and “fun.” Offer elevated word choices to use instead.
Circle or highlight any misspelled words, awkward word choices, and simple word choices. Offer the correct spelling, a word to use instead, and/or an elevated word choice.
Circle or highlight any contraction you find in this essay.
Read through the entire essay. Does the author use smooth transitions? Is there flow between paragraphs and sentences, or is the essay choppy? Comment.
Read the essay aloud. Comment on any portion which was difficult to read and/or understand.
Read the essay backwards beginning with the last word. Comment on any misspelled words, cross out “very,” “get,” any form of “thing,” and “fun,” and praise elevated word choices.
Read through the essay. Does the conclusion signal the end, restate without repetition, and leave the reader with the author’s final thoughts in a memorable manner? Comment.
Read through the entire essay. Does the author exemplify, elaborate, and explain? Comment.
So, I took the plunge this summer and finally deleted my Facebook account after a few years of reluctant use. Originally becoming a member because my BFF refused to e-mail me pictures any longer, I succumbed to the peer pressure. When Instagram became available as a photo sharing site with brief accompanying descriptions (and after my fourteen-year-old neighbor set up my account for me), I now had my opportunity to exit. Yes! I held on as a Facebooker for a while longer because I administered a page for a women’s blog at church. When this blog went belly up, my obligations ceased, and I severed my association with Facebook.
For me personally, this was the right decision. My e-mail is no longer congested with invites to play such-and-such game or with Facebook reminders telling me I am “missing out on so-and-so’s latest post.” I enjoy my lean e-mail inbox now which frees me up for more quality time with my family and friends.
In addition, I no longer have to deal with angry people who do not seem to have a sense of control over what they write to other people behind the security of their keyboard. Has everyone forgotten the saying . . .
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!
On Facebook, I have witnessed people typing some of the most vile words to one another. When did this become okay in our society or rather the norm? To me it seemed as if there are a lot of people out there who are ticking time bombs just looking for any reason to engage in an argument with another person.
Case in point . . . on a religious site no less (am I the only person who expects religious people to be kind?), a person posted a story about a pastor disguising himself as a homeless person before attending church. He then wrote of how the majority of the congregation lacked empathy for him, but rather turned their backs on him. When I then replied to said post with something to the effect of, “The Methodist church in San Francisco feeds X number of homeless people.” The person who shared the original post replied, “Let’s not make this a theological debate.” Okay . . . I posted this information about said church not because I was trying to engage in a debate, but because my family and I had just returned from San Francisco.
Case in point . . . a breast cancer survivor, I dealt with the entire ordeal with lots and lots of humor. This is how I roll. It was either this or tears, and there was not much opportunity for the latter with a three and five-year-old in the house. I needed to reassure them Momma was going to be okay despite the fact she spent a good chunk of 2011 and 2012 in the hospital. Thus, those who know me know I embrace the light-hearted approach to breast cancer. So, when a friend posted a Mammo-Graham snack recipe (an ideal means of explaining prevention to little kiddos) to my wall, I shared it with one of my survival groups. In addition to several “Likes,” one person wrote an essay explaining how insensitive I was and how breast cancer was not a joke. Of course, this wounded me to the core because as a breast cancer survivor, I KNOW it is no laughing matter, but I do think laughter is conducive to healing, at least for me personally. In fact, the hub and I took “the girls” (my ta tas) on a final vacation to Chicago immediately prior to my double mastectomy. We documented their final hurrah by taking their pictures at every location we visited.
More importantly, what I find disturbing is how much Facebook seems to prevent quality, focused time.
Case in point . . . I teach writing to college freshmen. When a bright student turned in a handwritten rough draft, I asked why he did not utilize the computer as a revision tool which heavily expedites the writing process (believe me, I went to school using an electric typewriter for papers, and I had to write a lot of them). He told me if he used the computer he was constantly distracted by Facebook. I still did not understand being that I had to intentionally log in to Facebook if I ever made use of it. He said his Facebook automatically popped up on his screen. I then replied, “Log out of it while you compose your papers.” His response was something to the effect of how trying to remember that many passwords would be too difficult.
Case in point . . . with two young children, we visit a lot of child-friendly locales where I witness a plethora of parents looking down at their cellphones instead of savoring these moments with their children. My girls have recently undergone a growth spurt which has had a bittersweet effect on me. Sweet in that they are healthy, happy young girls, but bittersweet in that I have come to understand especially in this past year how quickly this time with our children passes, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.
Early this past summer, I was in the McDonald’s restroom waiting for my girls when a middle-aged woman came in to mop the floors at the same time a young mother studying her cellphone exited while her young children were trying to gain her attention. The employee and I exchanged pleasantries and then she commented, “I don’t know how to use a cellphone, but it doesn’t matter because I can’t afford one. I see people on them all the time in the play area when their kids are trying to get their attention.”
To me, this was a profound statement on so many levels which instigated my deletion of Facebook. I was never one to scroll through posts while with others, but I was usually the one tinkering with my phone trying to figure out how to post and tag a picture until I eventually would give up out of frustration or due to a locked-up phone.
Not only when considering quality time with children, I have observed how it interferes with physical face time with other adults. A friend told me the only time she hears from another person is through a mass invite via Facebook. Another friend said an RSVP was never answered to her child’s birthday party, but the person in question found the time to constantly post pictures of herself on her Facebook wall. I have been with friends on planned get-togethers, and they will be engrossed in their phones rather than involved in the here and now which makes me wonder, “What is so important that it can’t wait until you are home?” or “Am I really that boring?” I then break into an inner monologue much like John Candy’s in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, “I like me. My hub likes me. My squirts like me.”
Perhaps it’s a generational issue . . . I feel as if I’m an old soul at heart and now chronologically. I like the written word, and ooh and aah over cards found in my mailbox. Several of my friends are not on Facebook and have never even expressed an interest, “I don’t do that sh%t!” as my author friend once eloquently told me.
Whatever the case may be, I think I hear my kiddos stirring, so I am off for now in order to spend some quality time with my girls.
Join me as we discuss books, writing, teaching, and life in general. Do not miss Writing Workshop Wednesdays where we will gather for a weekly prompt and Link Partay or Sunday Thanks where our focus will be on what we are thankful for in the past week.
Know of someone in need of ANONYMOUS encouragement, praise, prayers, congratulations, make a Card Shower Request.
If you are a published author or aspiring author, take some time for my online interview at Ten Questions.
I am looking forward to meeting you and reading your writing.