Applying for Writing Gigs…Kind of

I’ve been applying for editing jobs online, trying to figure out a way that I can keep my head in the game, and work toward building my resume for my potential job when I finish college. I’ve heard back from two, both saying that I’m hired. One asked for my wage and availability, which I gave them. They said they’d let me know when they had an opening for me.

The other one got back to me, sent me the tutorial that I had to complete, which was simple enough. It was basically going over the philosophy of the company, what it means to be an editor for them and so on. It’s everything I’ve been doing in the writing center any way, plus being able to edit the mistakes the writer makes, which is fine by me.

I have three sample papers I have to edit. I’ll get to do them after the previous one is reviewed. I just finished my first one. They told me I had nine hours to complete it–no problem. I downloaded it. It was a 12 page paper, a Nursing paper, and it was a Literature Review needed to be done in APA formatting. All of these things are my enemies. I hate nursing papers so much! And I somehow managed to get through all my classes to get my Associate’s degree without taking a class that required APA formatting–don’t ask me how I did that–but I did. However, end result, while I can kind of get through it, it’s really not my strong suit.

The paper took me four hours to get through–mostly because I had to keep double checking myself. Hopefully that intensity will literally pay off. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

First Experience of NCPTW2015

It was a long journey to get here. Three planes that are all less than two hours of a ride is nothing short of exhausting. There used to be direct flights from Bellingham to Salt Lake City, but no longer. We flew from Bellingham, to Seattle, to Portland, to Salt Lake City. The last two planes were small and wobbly.

But we made it, boy howdy did we make it.

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The hotel we are staying in is the Little America Hotel, and the conference is just across the street in the Grand America Hotel. We followed some people we thought might also be a part of the conference into a small brick building, with a similarly themed tower of a building behind it.

Everything is marble here, cream and white splintered mauve marble. The ceilings are high, and if I knew about wood I could tell you with great detail the boarders of the hotel on the inside. I could venture a guess and say it’s all maple, simply because I like the alliteration of maple and marble.image

We checked in with some confusion, a miscommunication between the school and the hotel, though I think it’s been sorted. I was fairly exhausted, so I retreated fairly quickly to my room,which was in another building. Utah, as it would turn out, is quit chilly. It feels like winter, but there’s something fresh about it. Whereas I generally find myself with an allergy to the bite of threatening snow, the air seemed clean, and welcoming. This was an entirely different cold than I’ve experienced. I’ve been to Eastern Washington during the winter, I’m aware of what desert cold can be, but this is just simply something different, something pleasant.image

I took a shower before sitting down on the massive room I had all to myself, and falling asleep. I had been up since 4 in the morning, and now it was twelve hours later, and I was running on less than four hours of sleep–never mind the immense stress flying puts on me (it takes a lot of energy to have flight anxiety, and to experience that three separate times as well). It was my boss’s text that woke me and brought me to the hotel across the street, where the reception was being held for the conference.

I had thought that the first hotel was fancy, but this one was posh on posh. There were people in expensive boarder-line ball gowns, freshly pressed tuxes and live piano playing as well. It was beautiful, and I was widely aware of how I smelled, despite my shower, and that I was wearing the clothes I wore the previous day. I was certain I would be kicked out simply for looking offensive in comparison to these done-up biddies.

imageHowever, I relaxed quite a bit when we found those that belonged to the conference. Schools from all over the country had representatives form their writing centers, and all of these students were just as under-prepared as I was. I began to relax. There were wait staff holding silver treys, offering groups of people hors d’oeuvres–little goat cheese and mushroom tartlettes, espresso cups with grilled cheese sandwiches and a swig of tomato soup, and other cute, posh, little nibbles. The chandelier sparkled overhead, and people mingled. I even paid $4.50 for a glass of water. During my journey a student approached me and introduced himself. People do this? I’m more than friendly, of course, but the idea of approaching strangers to engage in conversation with them is terrifying to me (unless I’m on a plane, during which case I’m already terrified and conversation with a stranger helps me). Another student joined. We were all presenting on Saturday, though during different times. We talked for a long time before I needed to excuse myself and just go to bed. It was only 7:30 or so, but I was still suffering from the day.image

I made it to my room. My large, silent, empty room. I realized that this was the first time I’d ever had a hotel room to myself. I didn’t really know what to do with the luxury. So naturally, I put on cartoons and ordered room service.

My boss assures me that not all conferences are this fancy, but this is still something that I feel out of depth with, yet oddly at home. There’s something intriguing about this whole experience. As I got ready this morning, shouldered the laptop bag and crossed the frosty parking lot to the lobby of the hotel where there is a cafe, with intent to write (well, blog and write, but let’s face it, NaNoWriMo might be getting a little bit burned on that back burner there), I thought that I could get used to this. Not the poshness, mind you, but the traveling, the being on a business trip that involves writing.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m pretty certain I’m on the right track for it.

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David Foster Wallace, This Is Water

Last night I took a coworker of mine out from the Writing Center, for a belated celebration of his 21st birthday. It was good. We had four of us in total, and we debated feminism, talked about the BlackLivesMatter, the republican debates, and so on…then we just got silly and I kind of lost track of what we talked about because the gin took hold.

However, this morning I found this email in my inbox that he sent me, and it was a link to this video. I think it’s extremely applicable to this blog, and well worth a listen to, especially if you’re pursuing any of the Liberal Arts.

National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW)–Proposal Submitted

Well I can certainly say that this week has been a jolly pain in my ass. Aside from waking up Tuesday morning with the weirdest bouts of the spins I’ve ever experienced (nothing that I’m aware of would have induced the sensation–I hadn’t had any alcohol to drink for over a week) which lasted for several hours, and having to miss my Northwest Coast Ethnobotany class, it was midterm week. My French Midterm was scheduled for Tuesday, so I made sure that I was there, only to have it postponed to the same day as my other midterm, Thursday.

However, midterms along side of the general business of my four classes and work schedule this week were not the only things screaming for my attention. My co-worker, Katelyn, and I have been working on a proposal for the 2015 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing in Salt Lake City this November. Because our presentation topic has to do with multimodality, it only felt appropriate to make our proposal of a similar nature.

I spent a good long time trying to edit the thing together. It’s not my best work by any means, though it gets the message across. If this proposal is accepted, then…well, you can watch the video and see what we’ll be talking about.

Good thing I set the alarm

I woke up this morning, only remembering that I told myself to get straight out of bed as I was falling asleep. I knew I had things to do, and lots of them.

What were these things?

Well I’m very glad you asked because I haven’t the faintest idea. I think maybe if I get enough people pondering the question for/with me, the Universe will send a reminder, and hopefully not when it’s too late and I’m rushing out the door to class.

I did however get online to check the Writing Center email. I’m on Online-Response duty on the weekends, which means that students send in their writing and I create a Jing screen cast and respond to it. I checked on my iPad last night before I went to bed, relieved that I didn’t see anything in the inbox.

I don’t know, perhaps I needed to reload the screen or something, because when I logged on this morning, there were five – five – 5 – emails waiting! I couldn’t believe it!

Last weekend I had one email. The weekend before – none. This weekend I’ve had 11 total. It’s great, since I get paid for it, but man, it kinda takes up my weekend a little bit!

To cut myself some slack, only two of them were sent at a reasonable hour last night. One of them was a “thank you” to a previous response, and the other was sent at 6pm or so, so I made sure I responded to her essay. The rest of them were all sent after midnight, and that their own fault on that one. When I tell people about the online responding, I make sure I let them know that we’re real people that are also students responding to these things, and so there’s a chance we won’t respond after bed time. Granted, everyone’s bed time varies, and I seem to be an anomaly since I like to go to bed before 10, and not after midnight, but either way, I think it’s appropriate to say that if they want their essay responded to before the morning, they should send it before 10 pm.

The ones that were sent in after midnight, I’ll respond to when I’m on shift in the Writing Center. I’m in there all day today, and come in half an hour after they open. I’m sure that they’ll only be one response in, if any, at that point.

I really do enjoy being in the Writing Center. I enjoy that I read so many essays, i enjoy experiencing so many different thoughts and writing styles. I had questioned how much it would influence my college transfer, but after talking to the very lovely lady from Durham, she said they have no required classes that I need to take, but want to know that I’ve been exposed to English classes, since that’s what I plan for my degree. I am not only gaining exposure, but I’m learning how to improve my own writing along side helping others to contemplate their’s.

The beautiful thing – and the difficult thing to remember at times  – is that we, in the Writing Center, are just readers. We are not there to teach, we are there to respond as a reader. We put ourselves in the shoes of not knowing anything about the sources that quotes are being pulled from, or knowing anything about the ideas they’re incorporating. So with that, we try and help the writer expand where needed, break up ideas, and organize ideas, so that it’s comprehensible to a random reader.

The reality of it is that we read so many essays from similar curricula that I know all about the pieces students are reading, the ideas behind them, and the core concepts. I could even pull out quotes from them – and have done. I haven’t read any of them.

When I was in English 101 and 102, my teacher, as you long time readers might recall, was very philosophical, and we didn’t touch the text books that the English Department wants us to use. We instead studied essays from Quintin Mellasoux, Jane Bennet, Marcus Gabriel, Slavoy Zizek, and so on. Our lessons were very different, and quite intensive. However, I feel as though I’ve already taken the other classes, just from all the student essays I’ve read – and I’m almost tempted to actually read the original essays of Sven Birkets and Annie Dillard, simply because I do enjoy their ideas.

It’s an interesting, and really wonderful experience. If there is nothing that I did right during my community college years, this is the one thing that is, indisputably, right.

Multimodal Writing

Again, as mentioned before, I have had problems with the concept of multimodal writing. This is another aspect the Writing Center and English departments are encouraging in papers. Since I am such a purist, I have been really struggling in supporting this idea.

Multimodal writing is including other modes of media aside from the written word in a writer’s piece. For example, when last quarter and the quarter before you, dear readers, got to see my frustration with needing to create movies for my essays in English 101 and 102. I still wrote an author’s note, which served as my essay, but had to create a movie to accompany it. Other things that are included are drawings, clip art, inserting music into the file, GIFs, and so on.

The idea is that it makes the content more interactive and thus gives the audience a better understanding of the message or ideas of the paper.

I have been against this since I heard about it. After all, the art of writing is the ability to convey yourself through words articulately. If you don’t attract non-readers, then so be it. Some people enjoy reading, some people don’t. The writer is catering to those that seek the written word for education or entertainment.

I have been seeing the use of multimodal writing in what I consider the worst interpretation of the form: List articles accented by GIFs. These are articles – which I have seen published by multitudes of reputable sites – that have an introduction to the topic, but immediately go into a list, with each bullet point a couple of words, and the explanation of said bullet point is a GIF, and no more. This is lazy writing, and I feel it contributes to the demolition of the art of the written word.

However, my prejudice being voiced, I had a eureka moment. It came while I was considering my French text book, and the drawings in it in which things were labeled. There are columns for extra tid-bits of information, and a website where audio can be played for the pronunciation of words, demonstration of the use of words and idiomatic expressions, and even a little movie broken up into small “episodes” which accompany each chapter.

My French book/courFullSizeRenderse is the epitome of multimodal writing.

I tried to argue with myself that my French course is a language course – of course students need photos – and hearing and seeing how everything is applied only enhances the learning and ensures that the concepts of the language are rooted into the brains.

Now…..what on earth is writing? It’s the communication of ideas and concepts. Using….? Language. Writing is just like a course in another language – trying to communicate something that an audience doesn’t know in attempts to help them understand it better.

With this in mind, I finally understand the application and encouragement of multimodal writing. I haven’t had a session with any students since this lightning strike to the brain, but hopefully I can help it to be applicable and can carry on with this encouragement.

Core Beliefs of the Writing Center

I’ve been struggling a little bit with the writing center and its concepts. Aside from my last interaction with my response which I mentioned in another entry, I have been in disagreement with the fundamental principles it has. However, I’m slowly coming to terms with them.

The core idea of the Writing Center can best be explained by today’s meeting:

Our boss is of course also an English teacher at the college, as is her husband (I even had his class when I was a Running Start student). She, as a result, has access of papers that we, as the Writing Center Staff, can use as practice. She brought to us today a paper in which the voice of the writer was very prominent – the reader knew exactly the gender and style of the person without the writer even mentioning it. The paper was one long string of thought, five pages compiled of just as many paragraphs. We were to read the paper and respond to it as if we were doing an online video response (we use Jing for such things, and thus refer to this task as Making a Jing). My initial reaction, when reading it, was to (politely, and kindly) tear into the style and structure, correct some of the grammatical errors, talk about punctuation, forming paragraphs around single ideas which were explained – and so on.

However, as we got into the paper as a group and discussed it, we realized the value of this person’s voice and how was actually an asset to the paper. When we took a step back and forgot the structures, and looked at it as a reader that just picked up an article in a magazine, we realized it was actually quite a good paper, and the only thing really that could have been altered was the introduction of the references in the paper.

Toward the end of the meeting, each group stated what we would tell the author in a Jing, and then our boss summarized our goal. She reminded us that if we were to take out the style of the paper, a great deal of the meaning would be lost. Not only that, but the idea flow of the writer as they were writing the paper would have halted as well, since they would be so focussed on fitting into the box that it would detract from the message of the paper. Instead of saying no, ___________ can’t be used in an academic paper, we needed to be saying:

“Yes, we want to be able to think with you.”

This is actually a very powerful statement. It means that the reader is along the journey with the writer opposed to judging the writer. Essays, analyses, poems, books, musings, blog entries, songs – they are all the brain displayed on paper. To put structure on it limits the brain. As long as the message is clear to the reader, then no structure need be applied.