Monday, January 28, 2008

Shared Writing (100 words- 2)

During these holidays I have completed (started) at least one productive project. I am co-writing a paper with GP and BD about literature classrooms and poetry (keeping it very broad here). I really enjoy the collaborative writing process, although the enjoyment does come coupled with a fair amount of anxiety, especially if you are writing with two people that you respect as much as I respect GP and BD. The anxiety shouldn't really exist, because I have a huge amount of trust in these two people, but the desire not to disappoint can lead to some fairly substantial periods of writer's block and crappy writing before some decent words finally start to ffflllooowww...

Here is some text that didn't make it (obvious when you read it):

The writing that I am supposedly ‘responsible’ for appears to begin here, but that isn’t really the case. It germinated in informal emails; individual, reflective blogposts; and face-to-face conversations- with both my co-writers… and others. During one of these face-to-face meetings with my co-writers, I was charged with the responsibility of beginning the text that would eventually form this paper. I will admit to feeling over-awed by the task. During the meeting I found myself trying to clamber for a little stretch of comfortable ground- which to me was the ground inhabited by my co-writers, two brilliant researchers whom I wholly respect and wanted to please. As the conversation meandered along, seeking out glimmering possibilities for the paper, I confess that on the tip of my tongue was the plea, ‘just tell me what you want me to write!’

Here I was, little NB, early career teacher, endeavouring to keep up with an Associate Professor and a Senior Lecturer. Often, the tensions in collaborative writing of this nature remain hidden, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

Already, now that I have delivered some text and received some encouraging feedback, I am feeling much more comfortable- excited, actually- about it. It's such a strange process, collaborative writing, even stranger than the process of writing on your own. A direction will germinate in a conversation, and then someone, in this instance myself, will head back to their study and crank out some text, which may bear some resemblance to the initial direction but not much. And then that text, paragraphs that are born of spoken words/shared words/old words/new words/others' words will disappear into someone else's brain for a while and will change, grow and emerge again. And in the meantime there has been more thinking/writing/talking/listening which will colour this new collection of words momentarily, before the process begins again with another writer in their study. The result, at the end, (at least for me), is that you think and write differently than you did before you started. And maybe some readers- who haven't been privy to the head-scratching agony of the writing- will too.

And that's how words enable change.

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