by Isabelle Altman
Every semester, the Writing Center gets a load of new consultants, all enthusiastic about writing and helping other students write. Most of us are grad students studying in the Literature department. However, every semester we have a couple of undergraduate interns who step up to the plate. This semester, those interns are Madison Chapman and Sara Lovett.
Madison is a literature major from Sarasota, Florida. In addition to working as a consultant, she’s on the Literature Department Undergraduate Studies Committee. Sara is a senior from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is an International Studies major and a Literature minor, and she plans on eventually becoming a writing professor. I got the chance to ask them about their internship experiences so far, and this is what they told me about working at the Writing Center.
Question: What is your favorite thing about writing?
Madison: When I am at my most focused with writing, my mind enters a completely different mode of attentiveness; my brain is always a step ahead as my fingers fly across the keyboard. My favorite thing about writing is when I can let everything else melt away and concentrate purely on finding the precise words to capture and illustrate exactly what I want my reader to experience.
Sara: I love using words to communicate something new to someone else. I think there’s a misconception that “writers” are introverts who prefer to keep to themselves, but for me, writing is one of the most creative and effective ways to converse with a large group of diverse people at the same time. I also love piecing together ideas in unexpected ways to create a unique (yet convincing) argument.
Q: What have you learned during your time as a consultant so far?
M: At the Writing Center, we ask students to read their writing out loud and it is incredible how this simple method can change how you perceive your own work. Suddenly you hear mistakes you may not have noticed when reading over a draft, and hearing your ideas puts you closer to the position of the reader. As an extension of that activity, verbally talking through something you’re having trouble articulating can be incredibly helpful. So I have learned not to underestimate the value of talking in the writing process.
S: Talking about writing is so important and helpful! I have worked with many students who had fantastic ideas, but they weren’t sure how to fit them all together until we talked about it. Somehow, having a verbal conversation about what you’re trying to say makes everything so much clearer.
Q: What’s a general piece of advice you want to give students?
M: Writing doesn’t have to be scary, and it’s not something you’re either good at or bad at. Everyone is passionate about something and everyone has his or her own individual voice to express, so it is critical to build confidence in your own writing process.
S: Find an aspect of your assignment that you’re passionate about, and use that passion to fuel your writing.
Q: What’s a book you recommend everyone read?
M: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro or The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I’m bad at answering these pick-one questions.
S: This is a hard question! I don’t know if there’s a book that everyone should read. I really do recommend 1984 to everyone though. Madison’s suggestions are also fantastic. (Never Let Me Go is particularly good if you like dystopian societies; The Things They Carried is thought-provoking and deserves at least two reads.)
Q: Describe your internship experience (so far) in one word.
To get to know all the wonderful consultants at the Writing Center, go here. If you yourself are interested in applying for an internship at the Writing Center, contact our director, Dr. Janet Auten, at firstname.lastname@example.org.