Reading with Writers
Autumn! While the daylight subsides and leaves a blaze like a phoenix, we have more excuses to curl up in a comfy chair and hold a cup of piping-hot coffee in one hand and a good book in the other. As winter approaches, I’ve noticed that I have started thinking about my holiday reading list. Although I enjoy reading my classes’ assigned texts, my fellow recreational readers must agree that nothing compares to winter and summer reading. However, not everyone is as excited about reading and writing. Since I am relatively new to Writing Center consulting, I had never considered the close connection that reading and writing enjoys. After a few months of holding my own consultations, I am settling in and becoming more improvisational and collaborative with writers. I have learned more about how I view myself and strategize as a tutor, realizing that the Writing Center offers a cooperative environment composed of many ideas about writing and reading.
I have realized that by sharing and exhibiting reading strategies within the Center, I am a better tutor by being an engaged reader. Reading puts me in the role of the writer’s audience, and I give the writer ownership of his or her text while offering a thoughtful interaction with his or her work – which is what every writer wants, right? As a responsive reader, I show that writers can define their own roles as scholars, and I help others find a distinct voice in the academic dialogue. By paying close attention to the way I read a text, I have the opportunity to better serve the writers’ requests and allow them to guide the session. I give writers the power to guide my reading by asking where they want me to focus. Making meaning based on the writers’ requests gives tutors the chance to help them in a resonating way.
Writers come in to the Writing Center for many reasons, but one thing that everyone wants is someone engaging with and investing in their writing. By reading, we as tutors ask questions and help writers find what their text is and what it could be saying to their audience. Although we are working on making “better writers,” writers expect us to enter into a conversation about their work. Focusing on the text does not mean forgetting about the writer; instead, using the session-specific text allows tutors to offer their own techniques and strategies or give examples that can be improvisationally modified for new or different concerns. By inhabiting our roles as readers and tutors, we can exhibit qualities and show possibilities for each writer’s own new readings, giving writers the tools to read their texts from a new and focused point of view.
So, as the semester reaches its most stressful weeks, remember that we’re here to help. We all love to read and discuss our interpretations, and we would love to spend some time with your thoughts and ideas. We even have comfy chairs and hot coffee.