Re: Freewriting

Tue, 23 Jul 1996 19:58:45 -0500

Beth, I don't think that there is anything wrong with being 'naive.' It
can be, and often is for me, a position from which to begin when writing.
Every word and would-be sentence would place at stake what it will have
been to write. Though it might have sounded flip a while ago when I
posted that writing is not free but terribly expensive, I meant it.
Writing for me is every time like the first time. And there is always the
possibility of not being able "to do it." It is more strange than
anything that I have ever done in my life. And perpetually so. There
seems to be no learning curve ... unless of course, I intend only to
repeat what I have said before, and yet even if I do precisely as before,
it is never the same experience for me. There's nothing very unique about
that experience; I've heard other people--some first-year students--say
the same, and yet I feel that I have experienced anew each time I start
out to write.

My post ... it's so difficult to tell ... as we alllllll have at one time
or another known or experienced ... what and how something is being said
... was not meant to substract from the discussion or to find fault with
it, but to raise a question about the value of being intro"spective". and
yet, how difficult it is. Though retrospective protocols will continue to
be given and found as problematic, all protocols are problematic! I do
believe--it's true to my experience--that writing is not especially
"teachable." Hence, I get called a "Vitalist." I think that writing can be
"learned." However, this does not mean necessarily that I am saying the
same things that Bill Coles or Don Murray or still others are saying. I
just go into the classroom or talk to "students" or colleagues or myself
and then they/I just pick up writing ever again. The fun (I don't find it
fun to write, and yet I am compelled to write!) comes later when I and
others play this game that attempts to answer the most mysterious of
questions for me, What is this thing called Writing? HA!

I enjoy reading the *Paris Review* interviews with authors and their
discussions about what they think they do when they write. It's all very
amusing. A great repotoire of rationalization. Which of course we need.

I believe, also because of my experience in giving two prospective
protocols to unFlowering and Hazes, that their approach (prospective
protocol) is just as, if not more so, problematic, which is what I was
attempting to get across in my previous post.

Having said all that, Now let me somewhat contra-dict myself:

I think it takes more than simply calling something 'anti-textbook' to get
the feel of what that might mean and to work and play with some notion of
what 'we' might want to do with that anti-word. (I tend to be very
introspective about, suspicious of, anti-anything because to be against,
but not necessarily along side, something (rule, concept) means being
already determined by it. The damn thing that I am against (contra to)
sets up the conditions for my rebellion against it.

I just want to write. Yes, there is a pun there. Writing, for me, should
be not just an ethical act but a political one. And so, I am confronted
with the problem of not writing in such a way that will be reactionary.
That's what is at stake for me everytime I set out to write. How do I not
recapitulate the very thing that I want to change? Repeat the 'mistakes'
of the past in the classroom!? Instead, how would I improve on my
"teaching"? Let's say that it's something like ... 'teaching writing'!
Which is a political act. Writing this post is a political act, right? And
yet, ever again, if I repeat something, as I previously said .)>= , are the
conditions the same so that there would be mere repetition? What happens
is that thinking about this leads to dizziness.

And so, instead of thinking, except for amusement .)>= , I just write!

Now possibily, what I said about the word anti-textbook can be read as an
"attack" on Eric! Please, I don't think that we need to waste our time and
space now with 125 messages defending Eric, who already knows that I have
the highest respect for his work and thinking. Why else would I ruminate
over it here? And respect for others on this list. If otherwise, I would
not be here. But I want to nudge Eric and others to nudge the idea a
little further. Now, I am not concerned with the problem of reinventing
the wheel because I think that it's inevitable and necessary and valuable
to do so. And yet, as I tried to expose, the wheel is never reinvented in
the negative sense of that word. And then again: If we did not reinvent
the wheel or title of something, we would not be able to write at all!
Just as you and especially Eric have done here. And I myself have done
one ever again!

I know of writing strategies--or tactics--that are not commonly practiced
in classrooms or conferences that might fill the bill of what an
anti-textbook might be. Greg Ulmer, who is one of three people who do have
a book entitled *anti-textbook,* (that is the title of the book, right?) has
talked and practiced some of these hyper-rhetorical tactics of writing.

So now, this is an overly long (but then, is it not always a long way to
the point?) ... an overly long way of asking Eric, What's the difference
(otherwise, yet also the same, repeatable point) between your use of the
term and Ulmer's and others? I would of course hope that you would not
directly answer this question .)>=


On Tue, 23 Jul 1996, Beth W. Baldwin, PhD wrote:

> On Tue, 23 Jul 1996 sophist@UTARLG.UTA.EDU wrote:
> > . . . What F&H were
> > attempting were prospective protocols. They were ... and I suspect still
> > are ... very suspicious of retrospective protocols, which is what most,
> > if not all of you are giving here. Such accounts are just as highly
> > problematic as F&H's approach. (F&H did that research a long time ago;
> > they are somewhere else now.)
> I can't speak for the interests of others on this list, but I would be
> interested in anti-protocol (I think in the same say Eric intends
> "anti-textbook"). In other words, I'm not interested in how to make a
> better mousetrap; if that were the purpose of the project, it would be
> redundant.
> I also have no interest in a project that disparages or fails to recognize
> the work others have done before us/with us.
> > However, I guess that the bottom line is ... Why are you 'interested' in
> > this project concerning freewriting or prewriting or the process
> > (processES)? I'm not sure that I understand Why.
> Perhaps the "why" for me resides in the question "why teach writing."
> It seems to me that these other protocols, prospective as well as
> retrospective still set the "spective" on teaching writing as an end
> in itself. So Eric's question, which he suggests may be another thread
> (can we teach writing), is not that far away from the next tangent
> which is "why" teach writing.
> I think it's possible for us to go in that conversational direction
> without having to reinvent mousetraps or disparage/neglect the work of
> others. Am I naive?
> Beth
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> Beth Baldwin, Ph.D. *
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