Writing and the Writer

Writing and the Writer

Writing and the Writer

Writing and the Writer


Exploring the relationship between the writer and what he/she happens to be writing, this text by one of the foremost scholars in the field of literacy and cognition is a unique and original examination of writing--as a craft and as a cognitive activity. The book is concerned with the physical activity of writing, the way the nervous system recruits the muscles to move the pen or manipulate the typewriter. It considers the necessary disciplines of writing, such as knowledge of the conventions of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. In particular, there is a concern with how the skills underlying all these aspects of writing are learned and orchestrated. This second edition includes many new insights from the author's significant experience and from recent research, providing a framework for thinking about the act of writing in both theoretical and practical ways. A completely new chapter on computers and writing is included, as well as more about the role of reading in learning to write, about learning to write at all ages, and about such controversial issues as whether and how genre theory should be taught. Written in nontechnical language, this text will continue to be accessible and stimulating to a wide range of readers concerned with writing, literacy, thinking, and education. Furthermore, it has an educational orientation, therefore proving relevant and useful to anyone who teaches about writing or endeavors to teach writing.


It is time, said my publisher, to bring Writing and the Writer up to date. But the first edition of Writing and the Writer was a journey, a reflexive exploration of writing a book as the book was being written. How can you bring up to date a journey made a dozen years ago? You cannot make a journey twice without obliterating the path you trod the first time, unless you follow a completely different route. And you cannot observe the landscape with the same eyes on a return visit. To reflect upon a book after it is written is not the same as contemplating the writing while it is being done. The vantage points are different.

But I saw my publisher's point of view. The world has changed since the first edition of this book was written, and so have I. While I cannot make the same journey twice, I can review and reflect upon the original journey from a distance, perhaps even from higher ground. In addition, as a friendly reviewer has pointed out, a second edition could add a new element to the writerly topics discussed in the first--the difficulties and opportunities confronting an author in returning to an earlier piece of writing.

Preparing a new edition is not the same as editing. Editing may be a form of revision, but it is revision made before the die is cast--before the letter mailed, the poem published, or the final draft surrendered to the printer. Revision, in the sense in which I must now use the term, is a second look, literally re-vision, an opportunity to recollect, observe and comment upon an enterprise once considered completed.

There are technical problems, of course. If I want to comment on the first edition of this book, the first edition must be present. And if I would like readers to follow my comments, they must have the first edition too. But I

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