I found many aspects of Robin Queen to be quite interesting. For instance her writing process is unique. She makes herself write down as many words as possible on a page without stopping. She referred to this as “vomiting all over the page.” She is so committed to this theory that she actually sets up an app in which a baby screams if she goes too long without typing on her computer. This seems to me like a very smart and effective method. It is forcing you to put words on a page. And there is no harm because there is no need to keep anything you don’t like moving forward in the draft process. She also makes it clear that this is not a ritual but instead a step-by-step process, in fact if she developed a “ritual” she would have to change it because it cannot be sustained.
In a chapter in Queen’s book titled, “Why does a linguist care about Mad Men and Modern Family,” she brings up a thought provoking question: what do you know when you know a language? This stuck with me as I was leaving Literatti. It is such a ordinary yet complex question. I would say the main benefit is communication and being able to live and interact in a community of your peers. But what do you know? It is hard to think of a concrete answer to that – I can only think of it acting as a pathway to other opportunities.
When talking about how she is unique with her students here at Michigan, Queen said that she tries to avoid literary essays and instead uses methods of writing that she feels come up more frequently in the real world. This made complete sense to me, as I always questioned throughout high school and some of college – what the hell are we writing all of these literary essays for? I am yet to actually read, or even see a literary essay that neither I nor my classmates wrote. I understand there is some value in literary essays but why can’t middle and high school develop more papers that allow us to write on more interesting topics in more interesting ways?