Friday, September 27, 2013

Head vs. Heart

Hello, Blog!

This week's edition will talk about emotions coinciding with writing! Yay!

To be clear, I think all writing is emotional in some way to someone, even a boring science journal in which I cannot even begin to understand the diction and verbiage being used. Someone, somewhere, put a thought into action, whether that action was performing the experiment or recording the work. If we invest our time into something, I believe our emotions automatically are invested in it as well.

That being said, I have had some tutees that wrote about things that were very close to them and came across as specifically emotional, especially with the personal narratives that have been coming through the Writing Center lately. I will mention two incidences. The first was an OWL. The student was setting short-term and long-term goals. Her short-term goal had to do with school, but her long term goal dealt with her cystic fibrosis treatments. She was determined to get in her treatment every day. The writing was really emotional and I felt really bad for the girl. However, I did not want to involve my own emotions in the situation, so what I tried to do was to remove myself personally from the ideas in the paper and just focus on what I know: English. That helped me to get through the paper with the clarity of a peer tutor.

The second situation was a face-to-face session. The man had been deployed to Afghanistan and had written a personal narrative in the form of a letter to his wife. The material for the essay had come out of his personal journal from when he was overseas. As I began to read through, I started the feel the heavy emotions associated with war. There was a lot of fear in the paper: fear for one’s safety, fear for one’s possessions, fear for one’s sanity, and fear for one’s life. I could not help but be moved by the harsh experiences he had gone through. I could tell that he was also very emotionally attached to his paper by the way he sighed and explained to me the different aspects of the story that I found to be unclear. In this session, I found the same method of going back to what I know to be helpful. I got involved in the phrasing of sentences rather than the actual meaning and emotions behind those sentences. My strategy helped and the session ended pretty successfully, mainly because the student was a really descriptive writer and he just needed someone else to read his work to him so that he could hear his mistakes and confusing phrases and correct them in his own way.

Thankfully, I have not had any tutees yet who I found to be overly emotional (No crying or any of that business), but I have read many papers thus far that have a large emotional charge. I know that all writing requires some emotion, but I am glad these students were willing to share out of their hearts and lives. I love that a piece of the student can be put into the work. However, as a tutor, I need to find a balance between empathy in my heart and a clear mind for the session.



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