Thursday, November 5, 2015

#DigiWriMo / Old School Digital Writing

In my writing program, I had a reading course where I read an ungodly amount of historical fiction and then had to write a reading journal. The reading was overwhelming, but it did teach me so much about discipline and my capacity to work harder and harder.

Then things shifted. It went from hard work, to hard meaningful work and it changed everything. I would write a response to the reading I did each week and sometimes, it would end up being long and complex. I would discuss technique, story, themes, social issues: whatever I could think up. And my mentor, the poet and novelist Cecilia Woloch did an amazing and simple thing. She spoke to me between the lines of my writing. She was very specific about what made sense, called me out on bad writing, and told me when I was saying something important. After a few interactions, something happened. I didn't want to impress my mentor - I wanted (more than anything) to continue the conversations between the lines.

In terms of digital writing, it was merely a word document with my writing and then her read writing comments embedded. A sample below just shows what it looked like. However, it was there that I could pose ideas and even connect ideas together week after week. The conversations were not only focused, but they began to expand outward. My role was not to just read anymore - my job was to read as a mode of responding. The outcome was that I was reading with purpose and intent and I was writing to refine my ideas. It wasn't enough to just respond to the writing and connect it to something someone has said already (like a critic or a book review), I felt like my job was to create new ideas and find new ways to think about the writing. There were a lot of fails. Sometimes, theories or connections that I thought were brilliant were missed or not clear. And sometimes, things that I thought were minor points were things that could be developed into bigger, and better ideas.

 The point in explaining all this, is that this interaction wasn't facilitated by the digital platform. It wasn't inspired by the type of program I used to write. It was based on people communicating. I like different writing platforms and how they interact. I live on Google Documents and work on blogs and writing often. However, it is the connections between people that drive those things to work. It is the inspiration to create and say something that is the vision. Supporting that voice and those ideas is where the digital world facilitates those conversations and shares those ideas.

Now, with the use of Google documents and other methods of writing, the importance of interconnectivity and digital writing is the key to success. Tools that connect people are why we are using them. If they don't work, then we need to find new ones. But we also should take stock in the most important tool we have as writers, the connective elements of our ideas, words, and other people. We are the curriculum, we are the network.

Here is the sample of the interactions. 


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