The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE English instructor teaches value of writing personal essays

By Willie Robinson/reporter

All anyone needs to create special gifts for loved ones is a meaningful memory or an old English assignment, NE Campus students learned Feb. 24.Rita Wisdom, English assistant professor, said her purpose in presenting Gift-Box Writing: The Personal Essay was to assist students in turning such memoirs into priceless gifts for loved ones.

“Wrapped up with a bow, that essay can become a treasured, unique gift for family and friends that costs very little but means a tremendous amount to others,” she said.

Wisdom defined memoirs as “autobiographies that focus on a change, discovery or recovery during one’s life from a significant moment.”

Students who had never written a memoir were provided guidelines on how to write an engaging one and what to avoid.

“[A memoir] is a focused moment of tension, something contrary,” Wisdom said.

As an example, Wisdom read Changes, a memoir written by Emma Anderson, one of her former students. The story depicts a train ride gone awry and a moment that changed the narrator’s life. The goal was not to reveal every detail but to leave gaps for readers’ minds to fill in.

Wisdom quoted William Zinsser, author of Writing About Your Life, who encourages writers to “think small … Look for small self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory” while brainstorming.

Wisdom provided ideas for personal essays, such as submitting articles to Under the Clock Tower, a NE Campus literary journal; using Wordle or Tagxedo, online sites that create word cloud art collages; or simply revising the font and paper of the memoir, wrapping it with a bow and presenting it as a gift.

Many students said they found the presentation informative and interesting. Cindy Plowman said she will use the Tagxedo idea to print T-shirts for her next family reunion.

“This was right up my alley, to turn something you would think is boring and no one would appreciate into something very unique,” Plowman said. “I just loved this idea.”

Wisdom told the students to have confidence in what they do.

“Students should know that their writings can be pleasurable, meaningful and unique,” Wisdom said.

The presentation was part of Rhetoric for the Rest of Us, an English department-sponsored workshop series designed to help students think and write more practically. Workshop topics chosen are subjects that students find both academically and personally appealing, Wisdom said.

The final two workshops, Social Bookmarking and Read a Poem like a Pro, are scheduled for March 23 and April 11, respectively, on NE Campus.

 

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