The Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice

The Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice

The Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice

The Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice

Excerpt

This book has its origins, as many academic books do, in conversations over dinner and drinks at conferences, WCenter listserv back-chatter over email, and informal exchanges about the intrigues and curiosities of the everyday in our writing centers and institutions. The five of us represent writing center directors at small, medium, and large colleges and universities, private and public, religiously-affiliated and secular, and we sought opportunities to speak across our different institutional missions, goals, student populations, and resources. Soon we found ourselves looking for common projects that offered some potential for generalizability across writing centers and that actively worked against the meme of the highly contextualized, “localized” writing center. And, though a book with five co-authors seemed initially like the kind of idea that only makes sense late on a Saturday night at a conference hotel bar, we received enough encouragement from one another, and from a certain cigar-smoking, bourbon-breathed editor, to think that maybe we should give it a whirl. Rather than turn to writing individual chapters for an edited collection, we were determined to work through a series of ideas we thought essential to writing center work and to present those ideas in a form that enacted the principles we espouse: a five way collaboration on every aspect of the text.

Across our differences, as the web of friendships that compose the “we” of our book began to flourish, we discovered in each other some common ground that became clear and very dear to each of us. Beyond listening to each other deeply, we each, in listening, still the impulse to do, to fix, to solve. We tend instead to turn away, reflectively, from the urge to resolve one another’s problems or to advise courses of action, to discount the complexity of one another’s stories. Each of us tries to experience our discoveries of everyday problems, absences, gaps, and needs not as moments of crisis that must be resolved quickly, but as opportunities rich with possibility. These occasions pique our curiosity, our sense of wonderment, and our predilection toward creative, intellectual engagement… or mischief.

In some sense, this book is composed of those quotidian moments. As often as not, when we try to talk about the writing of this book, we wind up talking about where we were, what the weather was like, what we ate. To jog each other’s memories, we say, “You remember. Frankie was taking the notes, sitting at the kitchen table in her Clifford the Big Red Dog . . .

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