Motivations for Writing

Hello everyone. I look forward to getting to know each one of you and am very excited about this seminar. I know that we will learn and grow together in a supportive and collaborative environment.

At the insistence of my older sister, I learned to read and write at a very early age. She always encouraged me to read above my grade level. The first book that set my mind aflame was The Secret Garden. Then it was The Outsiders and Jane Eyre that became treasured favorites. What intrigued me most was the authors themselves. Like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, I wondered what it would be like to call them on the telephone and have conversations. It is exciting that in today’s digital age, you can have contact with writers! You could most certainly conclude that great writers were (and are) celebrities for me.

My interest in putting pen to paper was ushered by my affinity for reading and art. I would warrant that many of us have had the same experience. The printed page, a painting or a sculpture always caused me to wonder what the artist was thinking when he or she started his or her work. How did it evolve? Did the artist end up with that which he or she expected? Writing is akin to cooking a new dish: you have all of the ingredients on your counter, but then you improvise along the way to suit your unique tastes. Writing should never be static. It is an organic process in which ideas move in different directions as research and perspective changes. An essential part of my writing is challenging my own initial assumptions. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. In a similar vein, I believe that thoughts and writing must be examined and cross-examined.

Speaking of examination and cross-examination, I have also written as part of my career as an attorney. This always required me to anticipate my adversary’s arguments in order to be ready to write reply briefs and be subject to rigorous questioning in the courtroom. I enjoyed the latter the most because performance art and public speaking were parts of my earlier education. I have also earned an L.L.M. in intellectual property. This is important to me because it has peaked my awareness about digitally protecting my own work. While I continue to practice, my passion lies in creative writing.

My own writing in the afore-mentioned realm has been driven by the need for self-expression. Instead of writing in a journal as a child and teenager, I always wrote poetry and used symbolism to capture the essences of my experiences. As an adolescent, it is was often difficult for me to lay my feelings bare in literal terms; the blank page was too daunting when I tried to do so. It was also the medium I often chose for performing school assignments. Poetry proved to be a fruitful genre for my writing and self-development.

As an adult, I continue to write poetry; however, I also write to capture experiences and memories in a much more literal manner. This is true whether I choose to express myself in the realms of fiction or non-fiction. My goal is to be a better writer and to capture memory and culture. I grew up in an Italian/Sicilian home. There is much to explore with regards to my nuclear and extended families and the extent to which they did and did not assimilate within their communities. I seek to publish a collection of fictional short stories, based on true events. I would also like to write the “next great [Sicilian-American] novel.” The historical lifeblood of our country is one that is steeped in immigrants’ stories and they are very important to understanding and navigating the world.

The graduate program presents a unique opportunity to sharpen my research and writing skills. One of my interests is historical fiction and I look forward to learning methodologies for writing and researching in this genre. I have found the professors and students to be warm and very open in communicating their thoughts, both in and out of class. I look forward to learning with all of the members of our bright and diverse group.

Writers and their identities

Welcome

Zest

Sicilian lemons are a marvel. They are tangy when you take an unmediated bite; however, if you add salt, lemon, vinegar and olive oil, the tanginess harmonizes. Writers present the world with their own unique flavors that provoke and surprise other writers and readers. Please subscribe below to be notified when I post new updates. Follow me on Twitter @medeathewriter. Thank you and happy writing!

The start of our seminar journey together!

Dear Writing Theory & Practice students,

I am so glad to have gathered with all of you yesterday for the start of our seminar journey together.  As you all remember, our first evening together was really devoted to mapping out the way this course will unfold/proceed.  I am glad to have taken the time to go through each aspect of the course design.  Now we will all have ample time to “settle in” to the rhythms of the course, set our presentation calendar, and open up our discussions about writing, education, literacies in this day and age, and what we know (and don’t know).  I am very optimistic about this smart group and confident that each class meeting will be interesting (based on the individuals in the room and the future contributions from each of you).

Next week we will really spend the majority of our time getting to know each other a little bit.  We will devote some time to introductions and I will jump-start an open conversation about writing (and why you have chosen this as a course of study).  We will also work on setting the Course Calendar together.  In addition, I will share with you some material from the Equity Unbound (#unboundeq) community to prompt you to think about perspective, representation, and the importance of writing our own stories.

So….what to do for next class (9/16)?:

  • Send your URL for your class blog to Dr. Zamora by email (WordPress preferred).  Please be sure to include the link to your actual blog, not the link to your admin access to the site.
  • Send your Twitter account to Dr. Zamora by email.
  • Search our class Reading Roster for articles of relative interest to you.  Choose a couple of preferred dates for your presentation and a couple of articles for your possible discussion lead.  We will work out our presentation schedule by negotiation on the evening of 9/16.
  • Please read these short excerpts: 

Hunt, B. (2013, December 11). “We never use pen & paper.” https://budtheteacher.com/blog/2013/12/11/we-never-use-pen-paper/

Popova, M (2014, December 2). “Lynda Barry’s Illustrated Field Guide to Keeping a Visual Diary and Cultivating a Capacity for Creative Observation.” https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/02/lynda-barry-syllabus-book/.

Over the course of our semester together I hope we can develop a rich “backchannel” discussion on twitter which will extend our on-going class conversation while opening it up to those who might be interested in similar matters regarding writing in a digitized/globalized context.  You can check our hashtag #unboundeq for early Twitter activity, and soon we will work with twitter in class in order to have you acclimate to the tool.

And also, please remember that for each class meeting you should develop the habit of reading through your colleagues’ blog posts as you prep for class.  Just click on the “Student Blogs” tab on this website to discover what your colleagues are thinking.  It shouldn’t take too much time to scroll through reflections there, but it will no doubt enhance our discussions and our overall class engagement.  I hope that some of the insights that you share in your blog posts end up becoming significant “entry points” for our in-person discussions.

Looking forward to this semester with all of you.  See you next week.

Sincerely,

Dr. Zamora

Ps.  Always remember the power of “googling it”.  If you are stuck with basics, just google it.  For example, you can google “How do I set up a free WordPress blog”? Or you can google “How do I set up a Twitter account”? There are many step-by-step guides or tutorials at your fingertips.  Also, remember there are open “office hours” at the Kean University Writing Project office for all MA in Writing Studies grad students, so don’t be shy!