Monday, February 28, 2005

The Wind is Out There!

Zippity do zest!
Sprightly flightly joy!
Wind flavor up my nose—
Kite spice grins my soul.

About 18 months ago, I took up stunt kiting. Me! I can’t sing and clap at the same time. My most athletic event is walking, and I often trip myself even doing that. While I can’t articulate all the reasons I’m attracted to kiting, I can say that I took it up as a deliberate move to do something for which success depends upon shutting down my mind. To good flying, analysis is anathema. I took up flying because it relies on intuition, muscle memory, and creativity. Oh, yeah—it’s also great fun!

I’m an over-thinker.

Roberta’s monologue: “Should I submit this blog post — naw, it could be better. Good gad, I’m including a poem. I can’t write poetry. Heck, I don’t even like poetry. Nobody else posts such drivel. They all sound intelligent. I should have forty references and observe something profound. How could I express my thoughts better? Speaking of what could have gone better, what about yesterday’s tutor seminar. What should I have done differently? I bet if I had Xed, Y would have turned out better. Maybe next time I should Z."

Windpixie’s monologue: “Hm, there’s a slight gust! The wind window has shifted! Should I try a double axel or practice my flic flacs? I want to do both! Oooh, look at that — what do they call that move? I’ve never done that before. Dang! I crashed. But cool! Now I can practice my edge launch! Ooops, crashed again. Sokay. I wanted to look at the bay anyway. Whoa, get a load of that sunset. Yipes, is it sunset already? Heehaw, this is fun!"

How do you cultivate kite spice in your writing and teaching?

“Windpixie” Kjesrud


At 5:50 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

I don't really know what stunt kiting is, but it does sound cool! Just watch out for those kite-eating trees, Charlie Brown. Funny you should mention those formulas. I hope everyone won't have a heart attack when I tell you that I often use a "thesis formula" with my first-year comp students who can't get a grip on the idea of a thesis that drives the paper. It looks something like this:

In W, X does Y in order to Z.

*example draft thesis using said formula: In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," Flannery O'Connor challenges the self-righteousness of the "good Christian" (represented by the grandmother) in order to reveal the true path to mercy and salvation (represented by the wicked but vulnerable Misfit).

Shall I be banished from the WC kingdom? Hey, I'm math-impaired, but the thesis formula works for some students, and I'm going to be recalcitrant about giving it up as a teaching method. I've put up my shield and am awaiting the onslaught of criticisms that may come my way. (I drew the Page of Swords tarot card today, by the way, so I'm visualizing myself as the leaping girl in the cobalt robe and boots with my sword raised to the sun, bouncing off rays of light in every direction --- how can I lose?)

At 7:12 AM, Blogger /WCJ/ said...

I don't think formulas are necessarily bad, Tamara. It's more a matter of them being inflexible for a wide variety of writing contexts (e.g., shoehorning something complex into 5-paragraph essay structure). The formula you give is fine for a literary analysis paper, but would it work for other genres? In other words, formulaic approaches are a sort of anti-stunt kiting, kind of like stunt kiting with a video game in the safety of one's computer rather than dangling off of a high cliff (and never having stunt kited myself, the video game doesn't sound so bad!).

Neal Lerner

At 8:12 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

Well-said (well-blogged?), Neal. The formula, or a variant of it, seems to work for at least the basic types of writing we do in English 101 and 102 --- but I have a few other tricks up my sleeve for other genres. It's a little like shadow-dancing, all this planning for writing. Somewhere among all the academic/formulaic approaches (and aren't grading rubrics formulas?) we find something fresh to say in a way that is ready to be considered and evaluated by somebody.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Sherri said...

Roberta! I'm glad you posted this comment. I have been forgetting to be playful. So much to do, so much to do, and yet there's this wind blowing out there--and I'm aware of it, sort of....

I like how you're playing with your subconscious thoughts, too. Post this? No? Others sound better than I do? Others sound more serious? Yipes.

Thanks for reminding me to open up my mind and play today.


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