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Space: The final frontier

ST:TOS PostcardThis post is not about what Roddenberry meant by “space”, but it tickles my Trekker funnybone to be able to throw Star Trek references in. Here, have a gratuitous picture of some of the TOS cast. I promise it’s relevant. Eventually.

I posted last time that I was planning to reconfigure my home office, to incorporate some of the things that my classmates have or do in their workspaces. Specifically, I wanted a “writing wall” like Laurel has. And I knew I could fit one in, too. I knew exactly where it would go.

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Rhetoric, Process, and Materials – Part 4

Having discussed and played with some concrete materials, we then moved on to a broader view of materials, in the form of Ergonomics and The Writing Space.


It is alarmingly easy to injure yourself, when you sit in one attitude for long periods as you do when writing (especially on a computer). Those who write on laptops are at increased risk, depending on how they position the laptop. I know this from personal, painful, experience, and will never take ergonomics for granted again.

We were given an ergonomics assignment for homework. Take a photo (or have someone take a photo) or make a drawing of yourself in your writing space, and complete the ergonomics checklist we were given. I felt pretty confident in my own space – it’s a proper desk with keyboard tray, etc., after all – but doing this made me aware of some deficiencies. This photo – and the discussion in class – shows that I need a wider keyboard tray so I can have my mouse/trackpad beside my keyboard rather than above/behind. I also need to adjust my chair height, to improve the angle of my wrists. And I could do with a lumbar roll.

The sharp-eyed reader will note the bottle of Writer’s Tears Irish Whiskey atop the desk hutch, along with my Shakespeare and Jane Austen action figures. Who says writing has to be lonely?

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Rhetoric, Process, and Materials – Part 3

We had two sessions on Rhetoric and Process, and then two more full sessions on Materials. I’ve blended the content of both sessions, to maximize logical progression

Our speakers were Betsy Warland, founder of The Writer’s Studio program, and Renée Sarojini Saklikar, a TWS alumna who will be taking over teaching the RPM’s course from Betsy next year.

I expected a discussion of Materials to be about pens, paper, printers, notebooks, computers, software, that kind of thing. And, because I know nothing, that’s exactly what it was not about, except in the most abstract way.

The first thing Betsy did was to start colouring outside the lines, metaphorically speaking.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalImages.comWhen do children concentrate most? When they are at play. And that’s also when they learn best, and make quantum leaps forward in understanding.

With that understood, she asked, what is materials? The answer: materials is everything. (As in, everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time. Including your physical presence and body.) And then we did some exercises with and about materials.

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Rhetoric, Process, and Materials – Part 2

Last time I wrote about Rhetoric, as it relates to writing instruction. This is post about Process, as laid out in the model arising from the Dartmouth Conference of 1956, shown here. This got quite long, because we covered so much.

If you watch Mad Men, you may remember a scene where Roger goes in to Don’s office, to find him lying on his sofa, smoking and staring at the ceiling. (There’s probably a glass of scotch nearby, too.) Roger stares at Don a moment, then says something like, “I have to remind myself that this is what it looks like when you’re working.”


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