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May 19, 2006



Murray's _Write to Learn_ was the first book I ever taught with--in grad school in the early nineties. I still return lovingly to that book sometimes...


Hey, waitasec! Write to Learn was the first book *I* ever taught with, in grad school, in the early nineties...


WTL was a book I used as a composition assistant in high schools in the 80's! In fact, my copy is a 1984 edition! I agree, Holly, that his students and ours are different, but I do find myself returning to his work whenever I need a common sense approach to teaching writing.


In his May 30th column Murray relates a trip he took with his first year writing class to visit a potter. He writes:

We were invited to visit a potter's studio to see if there were any connections between the writer and the artist at work. He demonstrated his artistic process and we all saw many connections between creating a pot and an essay.

We thanked him and started to leave when he stopped us and asked the class to pick their favorite piece of his work. His studio was lined with plates, bowls, and mugs and it took a long time for the class to agree on the most beautiful example of his work.

I think the class believed what I did, that he would make it a gift. He took it off the shelf, held it high, then purposely dropped it. It broke into a dozen pieces as it hit the floor. We all gasped in horror and then he said, ` ` It's the making that's important.' '

Murray's story strikes me as emblematic of Newkirk's observation quoted above, that for Murray, "In fact, the finished text is something of an illusion; its very orderliness hides the disorderliness of the creation."


Thanks (Deb, Collin, and Joanna) for supporting testimony! There is something so approachable and supportive and inspiring in his voice that I miss from some of the rhet/comp school.

Nick: I got that column from my mother as well. It gave me a good laugh, but I sure do have ambivalent feelings about that "process-is-all" approach. It reminds me of a passage from Bill McKibben's book Enough about a psychologist named Csikszentmihalyi, who studied the state of deep enjoyment he termed "flow." When my writing goes well, I do have a sense of what he means by that, but it is a nice reminder to have the finished pages to look at as well (maybe I'm not as far along my spiritual path?--and somehow I sense not too many of my students are either).

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