Writing tips

I work as a receptionist at the counseling center of my local community college.  As a result I get the opportunity to develop relationships with a lot of students.  In my mind I refer to them as “regulars.”

Just to clarify, most of the students that come here for assistance are looking for help in academic planning and stuff like that.  The counselors do also do personal counseling, but the bulk of it is academic assistance.

Anyway, several weeks ago a student came in and she desperately needed help with her public speaking class.  At first I told her that a tutor could give her the help that she needed.  Unfortunately the public speaking tutors were swamped and couldn’t help her until after she was supposed to give her first speech.   She then asked if I could help her.  Since I was on the speech team in high school I said that I’d do my best.  After all, I am here to help students succeed.  Since that experience I’ve been the go-to person for when she needs help in her classes.  This morning she asked me if I would be willing to proof read some papers for her.  I was happy to do so and as I was going through there was a list of things that could be helpful for others in writing and I wanted to bring them to light here.  Plus I thought the story was a good one to tell, haha.

1) Read what you’re writing out loud.  Something might look great on paper but when you actually say it out loud it makes absolutely no sense

2) Pay attention to your spelling and grammar!  There’s a pretty big difference between “their” and “they’re.”  And just because your word processing doesn’t underline something in red doesn’t mean you didn’t spell it wrong. You may have simply used the wrong word.

3) Watch out for run-on sentences. They get way to wordy and it can be hard to remember what you’re saying.

4) Ask someone to proofread your paper! There might be things you don’t notice and a fresh pair of eyes can help you.

This is clearly not a comprehensive list, but this is what has been on my mind today in terms of good writing.

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Life experiences

I’ve recently been considering what I’m going to do for my next writing project.  I have a couple of ideas that I’m working on fleshing out that should be pretty interesting if they actually come to fruition.

It’s important to write about what you know and based on what I know I’ve chosen two separate projects.  The first is a four books series about a girl named Paisley Tines.  The second is a series about a woman, BreAnna Anderson, who is an abusive marriage and trying to get out.

We’re introduced to Paisley when she’s in 9th grade through her diary. She’s a complex young woman who is very smart.  She’s interested in boys, clothes, and school. She worries about her body and what it looks like.  She has a bright future but has difficulty in fleshing it out.  As we follow her through her high school experience we get to know her on a very personal level.  It’s my hope that she’ll be able to transcend just one person’s high school experience and be a person who can identify with us all.

In my second project BreAnna Anderson is a woman who is in an abusive marriage.   When we first meet her she’s just trying to get through day by day.  As we move through the story she realizes that she needs to find a way to get out.  She uses a variety of means to get the resources that she needs to get away.  We’ll follow her as she gets away from the abuse to to discover what life after abuse is really like.

In my own opinion, BreAnna’s story is extremely important because she’s going to show us that abuse can happen to anyone.  As I’ve said in previous posts, any kind of abuse has nothing to do with the victim.  She could be wearing or doing anything.  It has everything to do with someone else deciding to victimize you.

Women in Leadership

Yesterday I wrote about the Slut Walk movement and why it’s important to woman across the globe.  If you didn’t guess by reading that particular piece I’m a feminist.  I believe that every single person, regardless of their sex or gender identity, deserves equal rights, responsibilites, and opportunity.  And this particular morning I’m proud to be a feminist of Danish descent. Early this morning the BBC reported that Helle Thorning-Schmidt has been elected to be the Prime Minister of Denmark. She is the first woman to have ever been elected to that position in Denmark.

Despite this exciting news, there are some attitudes surrounding it that are troubling to me.  Indeed, I’m sure that these attitudes are troubling to a lot of feminists. The former Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, congratulated Thorning-Schmidt.  However, he also had this to say. “Tonight I hand over the keys to the prime minister’s office to Helle Thorning-Schmidt. And dear Helle, take good care of them. You’re only borrowing them.”

Dear readers, I have to admit, when I read that comment it was all I could to to keep my snarky comment in my head. Rasmussen’s comment came across to me as extremely sexist.  That perhaps the good people of Denmark were confused when the elected a woman who ran on a platform of raising taxes and increases in public spending.

*side note: can you imagine anyone in the U.S. getting elected on that platform?*

While Thorning-Schmidt didn’t exactly win by a landslide, Rasmussen is saying that 92 of 179 parlimentary seats are “confused” about what’s best for the nation.

You may not identify as a feminist, and that’s okay. What is critical is for people everywhere to understand is that while people have different hormone levels or reproductive organs those differences should not translate into different rights, responsibilites, or opportunities.

Slut Walks

In terms of third-wave feminism in the U.S. this year has been a pretty busy one.  Partially because the rights of women all over the nation are being stipped away (reproductive health, anyone?) but also because of a massive social movement that started earlier this year and has blossomed into an international movement.

I am refering, of course, to the Slut Walk movement.  For those of you who don’t know what it is I’ll give a brief history.

In January of this year (2011) Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti told students at York University that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”  This article appeared on Canada’s CBC news on April 3rd to talk about the birth of this movement.  Several students were extremely bothered by this statement and began to organize what they called a Slut Walk even in Toronto.  The point of the event was to show that women wearing all kinds of clothes could be victimized.  The point is not that women (or men) are wearing provocative clothing.  The point is that there is someone in the vicinity that has decided to victimize that person through a variety of means.  Clothes have nothing to do with it.

Due in part to the fact that we live in a world were news travels very quickly this event turned into a movement. There have been Slut Walk events all over the globe.  Women are not only being victimized in Toronto.  They are being victimized all over the world.

You’re probably asking at this point why I’m talking about the Slut Walk movement.  If this started in April then this is old news, right?  Wrong, because Slut Walk events are still happening all over the world and women are still being victimized.   In the United States 1 in 6 women will be the victim of an attempted or successful rape in their lifetime.  Of that 1 in 6, 44% are under the age of 18. 

I feel that the Slut Walk movement is important to bring visibility to an issue that women have been dealing with for an extremely long time.  It’s important because we need to change the way that our society thinks about sexual assault.  IT IS NOT THE VICTIMS FAULT!

Whether or not you think that the name of the movement lacks credibility is somewhat beside the point.  If you understand the historical context to it I think it makes perfect sense.  If you agree with what they’re trying to do you should do everything that you can to bring that movement forward.  Attend a Slut Walk event if there’s one close to you.  If you can afford it donate to an event.  I urge you to support anybody who is trying to bring an end to gender inequality.

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Motherhood in a larger context

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