"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Monday, October 21, 2013

Letter #18 + 19 + 20

Dear October,
         Sorry about the relative silence this weekend. As you know, I went to Chicago for a Writing Center conference. It was a blast! Myself and about thirty other consultants sat in on all kinds of sessions and workshops about writing centers. It felt strange to be kind of the odd one out, since Coe’s writing center has about twice the amount staff as most other writing centers, and all of our consultants are undergraduates, which is not the norm. One of the things that the stuck with me the most was something that the Keynote speaker said in an otherwise unremarkable speech. He said that learning was “High risk, high reward.” I don’t know, something just clicked when he said that. For so long, my education has been grade-centered. I would study hard for tests, but for the most part the information wouldn’t stick. This can be a hard mindset to get out of. When your whole world has been centered around getting the grade so you can pass the class so you can get into a good college etc, the wonder that used to be associated with education in elementary school quickly fade into the background. This time, I’m not going to let myself fall into that trap. Learning is too important to lose sight of it because I’m too focused on getting from assignment to assignment. I love the idea that education is “high risk.” It makes it sound like an adventure, like I’m trekking into a jungle and I don’t know what I might find there. And the thing is, that’s true. You have to be willing to brave the unknown, to sacrifice things you’d rather be doing, to dedicate yourself. Because the rewards, while they seem impossibly long term, are also extremely high. I think that is the single most important thing I got out of the conference, and it came from one sentence of a speech that was fraught with poorly written metaphors. Still there were other things I learned, too, which luckily, I wrote down. Here’s a sampling:
“It can be good to remember that books, grammar, and writing are not knowledge in themselves; they are only symbols.”
“When conferencing with a student writer, explore your discomfort, and use it as a jumping off point for connecting with others.”
“Resist clinging to one definition of “a good essay,” because this can change depending on the context.”
The other highlights of the conference were running around downtown Chicago in the middle of the night, eating delicious tiramisu at the keynote luncheon, and playing word games in a fifteen passenger van for much longer than expected because the driver we were following got lost multiple times.
I spent the following two days after the conference catching up on homework and hanging out with friends. Yesterday I went to Sunday dinner in the writing center and had homemade minestrone made by the director, Dr. Bob. Yum. I think I’ll stop this here, before I start waxing poetic about food. I guess I’m hungry?


Several songs for several days:
Empire by Jukebox the Ghost
Shake it Out by Florence + The Machine

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