Why We Write

Why We Write

Originally posted on the University of Houston Writing Center’s blog.


When the rest of the social media team forced me — ahem, tasked me with writing the first blog post, my bones started to feel a little bit like lead, all heavy and cold.

Setting the bar for this blog is a big deal, especially considering the question that Matt posed:

Why do we write?

Okay, honesty hats on, friends, for a second, I was excited; I’m a writer — fiction, poetry, autobiographical pieces, personal blog posts, essays, book reports, argumentative pieces, whatever.  Anything.  Everything.  I love to write, and to share what motivates me is something that I love to do (wow, egocentric much?).

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That was when I remembered that I’m writing for an official institute and we’re going, more specifically, for why we write as students, and the excitement dissipated a little.

Then I asked myself: why is it any different?

Why is there a line drawn between writing for personal enjoyment or expression, and writing as a student?  Who’s to say your motivation has to shift when moving from one activity to the next?  

Don’t hate me for what I’m asking you to do next, but go back to high school English with me.  Briefly, because high school is not a time any of us want to visit again for long.  Do you remember reading George Orwell’s 1984?  Did it scare the crap out of you?  It did me, because Orwell and I ran on the same wavelength — it wasn’t just a fun little scary story he shared around a campfire to spook his buddies; he wrote that novel as a very real and very necessary warning of totalitarianism, of communism, of a too-big government sticking it’s nose too deep in everyone’s business, of the loss of free-will and independence.

Well, good ol’ George also said at some point in his life: “when I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

I first read those words in a dystopian literature course I took at the community college I attended before transferring to UH. I remember being hunched over a little, ink pouring onto the pages of my journal as an extremely diverse group of young adults discussed some really heavy themes from classic dystopian novels, and I remember having a eureka moment. I remember thinking, that’s it.  We write to be heard, to be given a voice, to expose a lie or proclaim a truth.

Except there are still a lot of reasons we write.  To tell a truth and to be heard, however, is probably the most accurate summation I’ve heard, and it’s one that can be applied to both personal and academic writings.

You’re probably thinking, “But this isn’t applicable to my field!  I’m never going to write!”

I’m here to tell you that words and writing will and always will be applicable to your field.  Communication, both oral and written, is and always will be necessary, whether you’re working on a personal narrative, a lab report, an argumentative piece, or any other type of writing.  

In your classes, you will, no doubt, be asked to make a claim and to support it with facts.  When you make that claim in your literary analysis or lab report and support it with facts, you’ll be utilizing many aspects of the writing process, like a thesis statement and grammar and outlines — you will need to know how to communicate clearly and effectively.

We’re here to help you learn and grow more familiar with the writing process.  As stated on the University of Houston Writing Center’s website:

Writing is thinking. It is an indispensable activity for every discipline conducting research within a university setting and an essential component of a university education. Ongoing instruction in writing helps to initiate students into the changing intellectual demands of university life and introduces them to the complexities of their chosen disciplines and professions. Because writing provides the tools to discover and articulate solutions to intellectual problems, improved writing remains a continual goal of university education.

To put it into layman’s terms — writing is essential in your coursework, and it will continue to be essential in your future career.  I know that sounds like world-shattering news, but it can be really exciting if you approach writing with an open mind.  Think about it like this: writing well offers opportunities to think deeper and to discover new ideas, as well as new ways of presenting ideas.  

And what could be better than that?

 

At Least

At Least

It’s the Last Week, and I’m so ready for it to be over. I have pretty much decided that I suck at school, at least these classes that I hate.  It’s difficult to be excited and invested in something that isn’t the least bit interesting.

At least the weather is nice.  Clear blue skies and a taste of cool air, but not so much that my fingertips and toes turn bright red.  I’m sitting in my last Stats class of the semester — well, it’s the last mandatory one.  I’ll be spending most of this week working on the exam reviews and finishing the last two homework sections; I’m trying to get ahead on those so that I can focus on reviews for the final.

I think it’s evil to have a third exam a week before the final exam, and then to make the final cumulative.

But at least the difficult formulas will be the ones at the front of my mental filing cabinet.  And we’re allowed cheat sheets on our exams, as well as access to r studio.

I’m about to be unemployed, for a short period.  Such is the life of working for a university, where summer is a break.

At least I’ll have piano students over summer, as well as a couple of nannying and house sitting gigs.  And maybe I’ll (finally) get my Etsy store going again.  And maybe I’ll hire myself out as a free lance editor — I’m good at that; I love doing that.  Heck, maybe I’ll go write a Craigslist ad for that right now (because, you know, focusing in class is so overrated).

Anyways.  I need to organize my week so none of my assignments get overlooked.  I’ve nearly lost my End-Of-Semester Sticky Note twice in as many hours.

But I can fit my End-Of-Semester to-do list on a sticky note, so that’s something good and exciting.

The List (2017 Edition) –> habits

The List (2017 Edition) –> habits
  • learn French
  • constellations
  • garden –> grow things
    • herbs
    • flowers
    • produce
  • dance –> ballet
  • sew –> how to work the machine
  • beach –> all day
  • museum day
    • fancy dress
  • formal dinner date
  • performance
  • 100 balloons

I feel as if there’s more that I want to do, but I keep reminding myself that I might be unemployed over summer and therefore need to be careful with what I plan.

 

three years

three years

10005860_10152720402347977_105868955_oIt’s my anniversary with WordPress. With SempiternalHeart, and that clean slate I desperately craved when I transitioned from homeschooling to community college.

Three years ago, I was getting ready for graduation. I’d lost my best friends to heart ache and was about to enter what I would later call The Dark Times.  I wasn’t eating enough and I was throwing up too much, mostly from nerves because I hate change and life never seemed to stop, but sometimes because of my nonexistent sense of self-worth and the confidence that so often abandoned me.  I was a mass of angry tears and red cheeks, of gnawed fingertips and gawky limbs.

Sometimes I miss it, the fellowship and close-knit groups that I’d managed to infiltrate.

Sometimes I want to go back, to tell myself what comes next, that it’s going to get better, that Life After wasn’t going to shake me the way I anticipated.

I feel like this should be a celebration, but the alert about what today is only made me reminisce in an unhealthy way, traveling back bit by bit into how the last three years transpired, into everything that happened.

I knew I shouldn’t have had that third cup of coffee.


Summer is creeping up, and I’m awaiting it anxiously.  My face-to-face mini mester fell through, so my sole obligation will be an online geology course and (hopefully) a job.  I haven’t figured out if I’ll be committing a couple of days a week to the UHWC or if I plan on teaching piano, or if there will be some other option, but I’m looking forward to a break.

Petrichor.

Petrichor.

Last weekend was one for the books, and I can’t find the words to describe how perfect it was so here it is, in pictures.

The Curly Haired Wonder and I began the weekend early with Big City Shenanigans at Hermann Park, MFAH, and a mutual first-bar experience.
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Yes, that is my tipsy face.


Saturday was the Bayou City Book Fest (and coffee shop adventures) with the infamous Lindsey Renee of Ever Ink Press.

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IMG_2284Everything smells like dirt today — even though I’m surrounded by pavement, it reminds me of home.  The urge to take off my shoes and sit on a blanket in the grass with a book is unbearable.

First things first: I made an 86 on a stats exam.  Years ago, I would have been crushed seeing anything lower than a 94 on anything.

However this is an increase from the 40 I made on exam 1, so we’ll definitely take that.

Second: my little cousin (who’s almost a foot taller than me) asked me to teach him how to dance for prom over the weekend, and I’m dying from how adorable that is.

To Revisionist History

To Revisionist History

81b49f44c847bc0471c1c675e44781f1I was there too, I thought as I scrolled through Instagram, eyes landing on an image I remember seeing when there was life and laughter, breath and blood involved.

Before it was still.  Before it was a moment, frozen.  Before I was cut out and the frame was narrowed.

And I find it curious that we, as humans, are so torn between wanting to remember and wanting to forget.  Remember the moments that felt good — the drunk on joy and raucous laughter, the nighttime adventures and intimate coffee dates.

But forget the mascara-streaked cheeks and fury in your heart, the snide words whispered behind backs; no, don’t forget that, but forget the person who caused it.  Cut them out, snub them, pretend everything is cotton-candy and sunshine.

Because this is who we are now: Revisionists.  Pretenders.  We wear false fronts, facades, every moment that we filter out what we want to forget from what we remember, like it’s as easy to delete the places two people’s paths crossed as it is to delete the Instagram photos.

Jesus Concepts — rambling thoughts

Jesus Concepts — rambling thoughts

I’ve been wearing a black long sleeve shirt that says “I AM A CHRISTIAN” in bold white letters all weekend — it was a reference to a song that Newsong sang at the Winter Jam concert a couple of Friday nights ago.

It took hours for me to not cross my arms over my chest, blocking the letters.


I feel as though I’ve been given a very watered down version of Christianity, and there’s a Jesus-concept that I’ve been struggling with since I began The Bible Project reading plan but only figured out how to put into words a couple of mornings ago when reading Deuteronomy 12.

Summary: Deuteronomy is a call to covenant faithfulness — Moses’ final speech in which he recaps their journey from Egypt and gives some final instruction (or at least that’s what it is as far as I’ve read).

So, 12:2-3 reads like “destroy completely all the places…where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods.  Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones…”

Thinking contextually, this was a uber rough time period, right?  Conquer-or-die, and this was addressed to the Israelites, God’s chosen people.  They were called to a higher standard of living in hopes that they would a) live up to their end of the covenant with God and b) live as an example to the other nations.

My struggle isn’t with the violence.

My struggle is with the fact that Christians today attempt to justify tolerance of other religions in the name of love and peace, but does tolerance and acceptance of those other beliefs compromise our own?  Light cannot exist with darkness, and we’re called to profess not only truth but THE Truth.