Kicking Back in the Writing Center with New First-Year Students

Thursday night, as part of Welcome Week for new first-year students, the Library opened its doors for games, performances, art, and food for a night called “Kick Back in the Stacks.” At the University Writing Center we had a caricature DSCN2300artists, cookies, art projects about writing, and word-related games from “hangman” to “who am I” to “tag-team Scrabble.” As the photos on the page show,   we had a packed house – and definitely a good time.

We also had an open

blog post that a number of people contributed to during the night. We left the post open for people to memories about writing. Below is the question we asked along with some of

the memories people shared. It’s always fascinating to see what moments stick with people as encouraging, inspiring – or sometimes frustrating – their ambitions as writers.

Here is the question and some of the responses:

What’s a memory you have (positive or negative) about writing?

  • I remember when I was in my sophomore year in high school, and I took a creative writing class. I’d been writing stories for a few years, and I was really excited to take an actual class. The teacher was enthusiastic, but I didn’t understand what he meant when he kept telling me “Use more concrete language,”
    Tag-Team Scrabble
    Tag-Team Scrabble

    and I was too shy/embarrassed to ask what he meant. By the end of the class, I figured I must not be any good at creative writing and stopped writing stories. Fortunately, I went back to it several years (and now I know what he meant), but I wish that (a) I’d had the courage to ask him for clarification, and (b) he’d been more helpful with his feedback.

  • When I was a freshman in college, I took a course titled “Writing About Fiction.” Initially, the course had little to do with writing or fiction, and the teacher seemed relatively disinterested in the class. Around halfway through, however, the class was changed, and another professor was brought into the course. He introduced to us the idea of rhetoric and affective writing. I had never thought about writing as a way of creating social effects, and for the rest of my college career I became fascinated by the relationship between writing and the act of constructing and manipulating social realities.
  • I remember learning
    Waiting for the artist

    how to spell the word “STOP” when I was riding in the car with my parents. I told my kindergarten teacher about this new knowledge. Sometime later, when learning lower-case letters, my teacher wrote “stop” on the board and asked me what word this was. I was stumped. I didn’t recognize it because it wasn’t capitalized. When she told me it was the same word I learned before, I felt silly. But it was the beginning of understanding.

  • When I was sixteen, I tried doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with the goal of writing maybe ten thousand words on a story. I ended up surpassing the fifty thousand word goal and wrote a short novel (58,000 words) all within a month! To date, it remains the longest thing I’ve ever written. I have always dreamed of being a novelist, and that experience with NaNo proved to me that I have it in me to tell a long-form story and to draft it all out, even though I knew that I would never publish it. (Trust me, it’s really bad!)
  • The most positive memory I have about writing
    “What book/movie would you take to a desert island?”

    is from when I was five or Six. I woke up one morning and started staring at a metal statue of a church on my grandmother’s mantel. Suddenly a poem popped into my head, my grandmother typed it on her, now very antiquated, MacBook. It’s fourteen to fifteen years later and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments. In case you’re wondering, she still has it saved on that very same MacBook.

  • When I was in second grade I had to write a short story for class about your favorite character. I wrote about Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on an adventure in a haunted house. The next year I had the same teacher because it was a two grade class, and my teacher chose the same assignment. Not thinking that she would remember, or even that I wrote it for her already, I wrote the same story in my journal. When she had read it she came up to me after class, and said that she thought she had heard the story before. I only realized it when I was older that I had given her the same story twice, but until then I just thought she had the same dream as me

We thank these writers for their contributions, and everyone who came to the Writing Center Thursday night (and all the Writing Center staff, present and past, who helped out.) It was a fun way to kick off the year and we hope to see everyone back during the semester so we can help them make their writing as strong as possible and create some positive memories of writing at UofL.

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