Hey, Capstone People! My name is Caroline Rafferty, and I couldn’t be more excited about writing posts on the Sweetland Blog again. After looking back at my last post from the Gateway (in December of 2015…yikes) I felt inspired to dust off the cobwebs and get to writing! However, after sitting at my laptop for 20 minutes without writing a single word, I realized that getting back into the swing of things was easier said than done.
When I first heard about Mini Assignment 1, I had no idea what Julie meant by the term “writing communities” and feared that perhaps I had never been part of one. It wasn’t until I started reading Hunter & Ketter’s case study that I discovered that I have been part of different writing communities pretty much since I learned how to form coherent thoughts and put pen to paper.
Most obviously, I do a lot of academic writing and shared Erin Peterson’s sentiment of academic writing as “constraining and formulaic,” excluding the Minor in Writing’s classes, of course. I’ve always fought against the idea that essays must have an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. I felt that this strict structure left little room for creative license and showcasing a writer’s voice–two aspects I believe distinguish great writers from good writers. While I recognize that much of the purpose around academic writing, such as research papers and theses, are to communicate an idea and argue its importance to a field of study, it makes me wonder: why must there be such a distinct (perceived?) difference between academic writing and creative writing?
This question brings me to another writing community I belong to that I feel lets my creative juices flow a bit more freely–and even pays me! For close to two years, I’ve managed the blog of a startup company in Chicago. In addition to writing blog posts, I have the privilege of reading my coworker’s posts and offering some suggestions for how to take their writing to the next level. I remember one of my high school English teacher’s telling me how important the peer editing process is for making oneself a better writer, and this has definitely held true in my professional writing community. Though I still rely on my boss’s input for the pieces I write, he gives me a lot of creative license to write what I want in any form or style I choose. This freedom has made me view my professional writing community in a much more positive light than my academic writing community, which I will say is a bit upsetting. I wish that more academic institutions recognized the importance of creativity in a writer’s process. I’m sure if I had the ability to write what I want in any way I want that my view of academia would transform from one of disappointment to one of inspiration.
While I initially struggled to recognize the writing communities I am part of, I found that reading about Erin Peterson’s communities and the boundaries existing between the two of them helped me distinguish my writing communities. However, I still have lingering questions about why the case study only discusses being part of two communities. Personally, I think that every individual is involved in at least two, but I’m sure many people are involved with many more than that. I would be interested to see if any of you had the same question, and I look forward to reading about everyone else’s writing communities.