invention as writing

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 11:23:47 -0500

I love Jane's phrase:

"The confessional goes professional"

There's a title just waiting for a text! It seems to me that we have a
net/text here (just waiting to be put on the web!), so maybe that's a
good title for it?

And speaking of net/texts, I would like to agree with Barry that we
should consult Jenkins' work (and others) *as* we proceed (since we've
already started proceeding and the only question is of scope and
direction). But regardless of what Jenkins, et al. have to say, there are
things we have to say and we have means to say them that the presumeably
print-bound Jenkins did not.

We might create a writing process anti-textbook, a living process of
describing processes, a continuing accumulation of writers' stories about
writing, something that can be contributed to by 'professional' writers
(creative, scholarly, technical, whatever) and by amateur writers (which
includes just about everybody who's gotten past the first grade in this

It's the textbooks on the subject that have done the most damage (I
think) to our conception of what 'writing process' entails. They are
inevitably reductive and misleadingly confident.

We need writing process stew!

As several people have pointed out, writing is not a singular act with
some universal set of procedures. It's not just highly idiosyncratic,
it is *essentially* idiosyncratic and uncapturable. What we (as a
profession) have tried to do, with the best available technology, is
describe its common features. But when the technology available is one as
slow and stable as print, every effort is practically in vain.

What we have here is a failure to accumulate.

But out here in webland, our task is mainly to create a structure that
invites accumulation and enables it to gain its own momentum.

Any suggestions about how to proceed with a project like that?

--Eric Crump
project guy