By the time students fully grasp the knowledge that is at their fingertips they have usually already graduated. Many undergraduates and graduates alike have not used, or, worse, are completely ignorant of what wealth of resources are available to them. They have a staff of individuals that are waiting to be of service, whether it is their professors, reference librarians, or the writing center these people are there to help ease the sometimes arduous task of creating the superior work professors would like to read.
The one goal all of these entities have in common, and strive for, is to get the writer thinking.
The truth of the matter is our words begin with our thoughts. Our ideas give life to our prose. Interacting with another human being, whether live or through a written text, to generate these ideas in-depth is another evolution in the process of writing.
The Writing Center is a fantastic way to achieve the results students are seeking, because it is a live experience and allows the writer to explain their ideas to someone who will give them honest feedback. One of the more important aspects of this interaction, though, is the aspect of questioning the writer. This questioning allows the author to look at the assumptions they have made and formulate new ideas.
I know within my own experiences, both as a writer and reviewer, asking questions is what I do. I ask the person I am seeking a review from what they see working in my writing and what can be improved. As a reviewer, I write comments that are usually in the form of questions to help the author think through what they have written and see if they can take the work to another level to add depth to the piece. I completely see how this is the most helpful part of talking through your work, asking questions and getting feedback.
Feedback is a touchy subject with me, as I witness the death of conversation. As we zoom along on the "information super-highway" at speeds no humans were really meant to withstand, I see where our entire society is slowly reaching the point of not conversing. With our fancy machines it is easier to whip up a text rather than actually call someone. An email will suffice for the lengthy conversation. I find myself falling into this trap of truly anti-social behavior. Why should I call when I have a million and one things to do? But this line of thinking is dangerous on two levels. For one, it is is self-centered and second, when greater ideas are generated through conversations we miss the opportunity for growth.
The pendulum is swinging toward the point of no return, where we don't talk about the subjects that really matter. There is just something about a good conversation that stirs up the creative forces. Driving the foundation of new horizons of thought, these conversations can change the course of civilizations.Which is one of the reasons I appreciate school so much, it is much harder to escape serious conversation in the university environment and, what's more: I enjoy it.
This is also one of the reasons that the Writing Center, blogs, and writing communities have become even more important, as we fail to sit and analyze with others on serious issues, we need dedicated spaces where we can still do this. I was just thinking the other day how writers used to sit and talk with other writers regarding their ideas and conclusions, receiving much needed feedback from their peers. The blogging community is a great resource forth this.
As writers, we have to have the interaction or we will become stagnant. We have to have the inquiry into our work and help others have the same, as we generate new ideas and pathways to explore. We need to enjoy the questions, working with them and creating the cultural discourse that will swing the pendulum back in the other direction. I just hope this happens before we are past the point of no return. As writers, we can lead the way.