Sunday, March 24, 2013

I am an old fashioned letter writer

…yet another MOOCthis one about writing, so I'm putting CWL back in harness to post assignments and reflections. The course is English Composition I: Achieving Expertise, from Duke and on Coursera. It may seem like an odd choice for someone who has taught FY comp: since I have already blogged recommending it to my ESL self-paced study group and on Facebook to local GED students (albeit both with qualifications), I should check it out personally ~ and definitely before recommending it further or adding it to my GED and Independent Learning pages on 

The first writing activity, "I am a Writer," is a "brief essay (~300 words) in which you introduce yourself as a writer to your classmates and instructor. How would you describe yourself as a writer? What are some of your most memorable experiences with writing? Please draw on your experiences with writing and refer directly to some of these as you introduce yourself as a writer. After you have written and posted your essay, please read and respond to two or three of your classmates' postings." Mine (also here on the course Forum) follows:

A “letter writer” long before the internet, I penned and snailed hand written letters in another lifetime. I come from generations of inveterate letter writers. That shapes my earliest writing memories. Learning languages, I would start writing letters in the new language as soon as I had a handful of words to rub together. I still am one: same genre, different medium. 

Unlike many early readers at ease with writing, I never dreamed of writing a novel. Nor did I keep a diary. Later, I wrote in journals off and on, mostly to write myself through transitions. Over the years, I wrote bits and pieces, put them out here and there, more conversations on paper than “writing” in any serious sense of the word.

Returning to college late in life, I came to grips with academic writing, managing out of necessity, not joy. The internet, on the other hand, revived `letter` writing with a vengeance, rebuilt it better, faster, stronger. “Letter writing” (no vapid notes) always was my natural medium.  The internet added media, images and links to embed. 

From there I moved to blogging, which did the same and more for journal writing, not abandoning but expanding email. Unlike correspondence pr journals, I published my words. Following and commenting increased written conversations. I lose track of some of those words. No matter. There are always more where those came from.

Despite turning out words daily, being at ease expressing myself in writing and drawing on a lifetime of books and reading, I never thought of myself as that sort of `writer`. Writing is communication and conversations. Every `writer` has preferred genres: letters and now blogs are mine. I can adapt, add to my repertoire if I want, but this is where the words start.

1 comment:

Natasa said...

Hi Vanessa.
When I started learning English, I found myself some pen friends. My English was horrible back then, but I had a lot to say. One of those friendships has lasted into this new, digital era. I loved the moment when a handwritten letter would arrive through my post, yet I adopted email with all my heart. No more trips to the post office. I agree with you that blogging is an extension of letter writing.
It was a great idea to post your essay here, I might do the same.

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