Throughout the development of my relationship with written word, reading and writing have always been inseparably linked. Growing up as an avid reader, every adult I encountered told me I would one day be a great writer. For the longest time, I only considered myself a reader and never imagined myself as a writer. That thought process shifted once I learned how to write for myself; nowadays I consider myself both a reader and a writer. Yet despite the importance with which I now regard each action, my relationship with written is noticeably uneven, especially in the level of importance I give to and my emotional responses to either reading or writing. “Reading” is always the first on my list when a questionnaire asks for my hobbies, fondly looked on as a source of learning and growth. While I think of myself as a reader, I still have a much harder time considering myself a writer.
I think this has a lot to do with the idea Deborah Brandt presents in the seventh chapter of her book, Literacy and Learning: that reading is purposed with “being good” while writing is historically “a good.” I notice that in my relationship with written word, reading is consistently a cathartic process while writing is, more often than not, a chore. Only recently am I coming to understand the cathartic usefulness of writing, an understanding that is a direct result of being instructed in the subject.
Brandt notes the importance and benefits of writing instruction; one of her interviewees explains that writing “crystallizes you. It crystallizes your thought” (170). Receiving instruction in writing-specific classes is helping me consider myself as a writer. Brandt also notes the changing effects of writing, specifically in the workplace, and how writing can also be used for the purpose of “being good.” I notice that over the course of the development of my writing career, writing was usually a “good” to be exchanged with my professors for a grade. However, when writing is used as a method to bring moral good to a student rather than to require a good from him or her, writing becomes something I enjoy doing. The only way I can see this happening is if the grade exchange becomes unimportant to the writing process. As a result, I really enjoy the gamified structure of the writing minor program.
I think another reason I have a hard time considering myself a writer has to do with the fact that I don’t feel confident in writing on any subject other than myself. Ann M. Penrose and Cheryl Giesler raise this issue in their article “Reading and Writing without Authority;” they “argue for the role of rhetorical knowledge in the development of authority” (517). I identify with Janet’s struggle to “take authority” and in order to write with authority, I need to understand that “there is authority to spare” (517) in the literary conversations on every topic under the sun. Realizing that my voice is a part of these conversations will allow me to write with confidence and self-asserted authority on topics other than myself.