Today is the National Day on Writing and I believe this blog post honors that celebration.
I love my job because I spend my days writing and hanging out with other writers (in person or virtually or both). What could be cooler than that? When I was a working writer I loved that too although in a different way. Writing is fun, challenging, and tormenting -- sometimes all at the same time. Words have the power to make people think, feel, and do things -- sometimes against their will. Being able to wield words with that power is exhilarating. However, since I have become a teacher of writing I have found a different sort of exhilaration -- helping someone else recognize and learn to wield that power. I happen to think I have the most important job there is because without literacy then all the rest of education is meaningless. There are many reasons I love my job but I think a quick look at a selection of the past week's events can illustrate that point for me.
My midterm grading backlog was formidable but I managed to get through it thanks to the inspiration I found in my students' reflections on the class to this point. Despite taking a general education required class (note: I think this is an important class but we all know many students don't agree), they are aware that they have learned some important lessons about communication, literacy, and writing and that awareness gave me a buzz every time I encountered it. One student writes: "I will be using what I have learned in my daily life". I should have kept track of all the great comments but didn't think of it until later and this reflection just happened to be the last one that I read.
I took a break from midterm grading to attend the 2010 Watson Conference at the University of Louisville and had a marvelous experience. I enjoyed the fortuitous serendipity of the session where I presented with Heather Blain and Timothy Johnson and we had the opportunity to talk about writing workshop, genre, and agency with our audience after presenting our papers. I loved that opportunity to have a conversation about the convergences of our topics and enjoyed doing so in the other sessions I attended as well. I also loved listening in to the conversation about larger issues during the keynote sessions. Not only to hear the key points brought up by the speaker by the chair and presenter but also the questions, comments, and thoughts of so many notables that have only been names on books and articles but now have faces and personalities too. Taking the step back from my daily teaching routine in order to gain the perspective necessary to see the larger issues of the field is necessary but I was so pleased to be able to do so at the Watson this year as it was an entirely different experience than attending the CCCC's and I really enjoyed it.
Once I had a chance to recover I was able to dive back into my current project -- my dissertation. I am in the throes of wrapping up my analysis and working through my conclusions and that is heady stuff indeed. I am learning a great deal about how a person becomes a writer. Learning how we can foster rhetorical agency and increase writing self-efficacy is important to me personally but also very important to the field. Not only is this important work, but I find it incredibly interesting.
I don't love everything about my job but I do love the major aspects of my life as an academic. I love helping my students become writers. I love talking with peers who love teaching too. I love investigating ways to help us do both those things even better.