Thursday, April 19, 2018

Friday Fragments: Writing and Language Edition

Anya Kamenetz has a good piece at NPR about relatively traditional bachelor’s degree programs aimed at working adults.  The line that won me over was David Scobey’s observation about working adult students “self-authoring” new narratives of their own lives.  (He attributed the term to Marcia Baxter Magolda, with whose work I’m unfamiliar.)

In the headlong rush towards short-term vocational training, it’s easy to sacrifice seemingly abstract goals.  But as Scobey notes throughout the interview, the skills that hold up well over time and across industries tend to be the more “abstract” ones.  Pure training grows obsolete quickly. And there are goals beyond money.

The liberal arts are called that because they were originally understood as “the arts of liberty,” or the education required to take part in a self-governing society.  The kind of empowerment Scobey describes shouldn’t be the exclusive province of the wealthy.


Susanna Williams tweeted out that “our galaxy is on the outskirts of a supercluster of universes called Laniakea -- Hawaii’an for “immeasurable heaven.””

“Immeasurable heaven” is a lovely phrase.  Puts things in perspective a bit.


This week Kate McConnell and I finished a manuscript with significant editing help from Kathryn Campbell.  

Co-writing is traumatic enough, with different authorial voices trying to harmonize.  Add an editor with a clear charge to synthesize a single voice, and, well, you learn to let go of pet turns of phrase.

Reader, it was humbling.

The good news is that Kate and Kathryn are smart and sympathetic readers who were able to turn my glorified notes into something.  But I’ll admit I had to go through some Kubler-Ross stages upon reading the first returned draft. (“My favorite line? Gone? Noooooo!!!!!”)

The piece should be in the AAC&U journal Liberal Education later this year.  I’m just grateful that Kate and Kathryn were able to make it look like I knew what I was doing the whole time.


The Girl submitted a brief vignette to Teen Ink, a literary magazine for teenagers, and got word this week that it won an “editor’s choice” award and lots of votes on their site.

Yes, I’m biased, but it was well-deserved.

Not to be outdone, The Boy submitted a piece in a local newspaper writing contest, and placed second overall.  As he told me about it, he actually said this, which I will share with the entire internet as I fairly beam with pride:

“I write a lot like you.  Especially the pauses.”

Yes!  The pauses!  

Some Dads take pride in teaching a son how to fish, or play baseball, or work a grill.  I take pride in noticing that he alternates paragraph lengths like I do.

It’s not quite immeasurable heaven, but it’ll do.