Ernest Hemmingway had a personal policy of sitting down every day to write. He also had a habit of drinking too much, but it didn’t matter how hung over he was, he always sat down to write. He also stopped writing when he knew what he would write next. If he didn’t stop then, he knew he would have a hard time writing the next morning.
Without this habit, I highly doubt that Hem’ would have been the writer that he was, canonized in American Literature.
Students, too, sit down to write (nearly) every day. It’s interesting that this is an oft overlooked aspect of what it means to be a student. It is unsurprising that I write every day as an English major, but for most students, writing is a daily chore out of necessity… at least through High-School.
Not only do students write because they have assignments to get done, but students write because those assignments make them better writers. They write because by posing for a moment as a writer, that skill is strengthened, reinforced, and they grow because of it. This process is described in the book, Pose, Wobble, Flow, by Antero Garcia and my CO301D Prof, the one and only Cindy O’Donnell-Allen.
The basic idea is one that we are all familiar with: that in order to get better at something, you have to try it. We usually call this practicing. And when we practice, usually that involves some sort of uncertainty, or challenge, or wobble, that we must work through. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and that’s the idea. That after assuming a pose, wobbling through it, one might overcome that wobble and assume the “flow.”
An idea that is posed (ha!) in Pose, Wobble, Flow, is the idea that equity in English Education is unachievable without the teacher posing as a writer. Without having gone into the depths of this idea, I find it compelling. This morning as we talked about posing, and specifically the places we wobble, our class came together to talk about the places we wobble. We took note of where we had common wobbles. This solidarity, this community, meant that we had a lot of things in common and could support one another through our wobbles. We were (are) allowed to grow together, as we struggle through our wobbles.
I imagine this is what that equity looks like in the classroom. Mind you, teachers have a whole lot on their plate. However, by assuming the pose as a writer, a teacher joins in solidarity, in community with their students. In that sort of community it allows students to see their teacher in a position where, I imagine, they might wobble.
As we talk in class, many of my fellow students are describing times when we were discouraged by only seeing these, “polished, finished products,”and didn’t see the daily struggle that goes into writing.
Hemingway sat down at his typewriter every day. I imagine that some days he couldn’t get the words out, couldn’t get started, didn’t know where he was going. We all wobble at times. By admitting to that, and engaging in it, we are able to grow and be more successful. In the words of John Steinbeck, “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.“