Image from Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg
Today my roommate, a biology major on the pre-med track, asked me why I write, since it makes me so neurotic and frenzied. I was able to quickly come to the discipline’s defense.
Sharon Crowley’s article “writing and Writing” articulates very logically the struggles that occur during the writing process, and why we do it anyway. She separates writing into two tasks: to find meaning and to find form. One never achieves perfection in writing, yet one continually strives for the “Ideal Text” only to inevitably fail. Crowley associates invention and power with writing, and I think this is a wonderful idea to teach all undergraduates because it gives a dreaded task a positive appeal.
Kenneth Bruffee’s definition of writing as a “social artifact,” from his article “Collaboration and Conversation of Mankind” also represents the task positively. All humans are social creatures by nature, so this implies that writing is also an innate desire within all of us—some just plunge into the mystery of the process more readily than others. I agree that writing needs to become more of a social interaction and a collaborative learning experience. David Bleich’s article “Collaboration and Pedagogy of Disclosure” also advocates for a collaborative learning experience, with a focus on disclosure so that the students feel more like people and less like numbers. I think Bruffee and Bleich would support the Barnard Writing Center, which involves conversation and an open environment devoid of judgment.