Textual Landscapes

Two years ago, my honors freshman composition class came to a halt while we considered the purpose of Haruki Murakami’s meandering prose in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. As I attempted to get the discussion on track, I realized I had not done enough to invite my students, creatively and critically, into the textual landscape—a crucial step in preparing students to navigate other terrains in academia and beyond.

Percolating and Heightening the Senses

It was a cinch to cut 11 of 18 pages from a 15-year-old essay, the second essay I wrote in graduate school, but challenging to represent the feelings of the 21-year-old girl who quit debate after watching four California condors fly above the Tehachapi Mountains.

Inkling

When I experience writer’s block, I try to write about the experience itself. As the following snippet suggests, writer’s block is not always the inability to find a topic but the inability to translate and expel a feeling: An inkling as intelligible as sanskrit …

Dillard Nailed It

“The line of words is a hammer. You hammer against the walls of your house. You tap the walls, lightly, everywhere. After giving many years’ attention to these things, you know what to listen for. Some of the walls are …

With or Without Lines

Outlines are helpful for people who lack control or have an affinity for predictable forms. True, outlines can be useful for writing under deadlines, but, in my experience, essays that have irregular and unpredictable forms are more captivating–have longer lifelines. …

Alive in America (or Crime of the Century Redux)

Listening to Supertramp aroused my unruly half. Advice: Fight the tyranny of length requirements. What one writer can write in three pages may take another writer five. The three-page paper is often the more difficult paper to write. Compression is a tricky craft. How long does an essay have to …

Drugs of Choice

A wise man once said, “Let me be clear about this: I don’t have a drug problem, I have a police problem.” Music, running, and good essays are my drugs of choice. If you want some real good stuff, read …