October 20, 2015

National Day on Writing

        Today is the National Day on Writing, and according to the National Council of Teachers of English its purpose includes “emphasizing the lifelong process of learning to write and composing for different audiences, purposes, and occasions.”  When I think of writing I naturally think first about writing fiction, then secondarily about poetry, scholarly nonfiction, journalism, and other lengthy, thoroughly-crafted pieces.  One thing that’s cool about the National Day on Writing is the NCTE’s recognition that people write all kinds of things all the time, without really thinking of themselves as writing.  All those Tweets and texts are writing, of course, despite Autocorrect’s best efforts.  In fact, deplorable as some of that content may be, these forms of writing actually make more obvious and explicit what has always been one of the true purposes of writing: communication.  Writing is a social act.  With the exception of the “note to self,” the whole point of writing is to share ideas between people.  Sometimes in reading a pompous article or highbrow novel we may forget that someone put down their ideas for the sole purpose of sharing them with others.
        On this Day of Writing, we’re encouraged to share all the different ways we write, the forms we write in, the different audiences, purposes, and occasions.  So here’s my list of the sorts of writing I might do on an average day.
     - to do lists and shopping lists (usually just for myself, but sometimes used for communication with other members of the family)
     - my fiction work in progress (both the text, and lots of notes on research and ideas)
     - e-mails (some are just short notes coordinating car-pooling, some are requests for information from strangers or companies, others are lengthy correspondence sharing all the news of the day or week with siblings, parents, friends)
     - blog post
     - updates to my web sites (mostly descriptions of new pieces and details of upcoming events)
     - texts with P and T (coordinating pick-up after activities and commenting on the kids’ news)
     - handwritten notes included in orders to be shipped off (plus writing the address on the package!)
     - journal (every evening before bed, just writing down the events of the day and anything that’s particularly on my mind)
        Of course there’s other writing on particular occasions, from grant applications and art and book blurbs, to poems on Christmas gifts, to presentations for school visits.  The important point to keep in mind is that writing is everywhere.  You may think that if you’re not writing a novel you aren’t writing anything, but pay attention to all the writing you actually do in your life.  Now make sure any children in your life see how important writing is to you, and how important it is that we all pay attention to our writing, and do it well!  The National Day on Writing encourages us all “to write, and to enjoy and learn from the writing of others.”

[Picture: David's Inkwell, wood block print by AEGN, 2000 (Commissioned as an illustration for Resistance and Obedience to God: Memoirs of David Ferris, ed. Martha Paxson Grundy, Friends General Conference, 2001.)]

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