Our “How I Write” series asks writers from the University of Louisville community and beyond to respond to five questions that provide insight into their writing processes and offer advice to other writers. Through this series, we promote the idea that learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and that all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from discussing and collaborating on their work with thoughtful and respectful readers.
Our featured writer this week is Brian Buford. Brian is Assistant Provost for Diversity and Director of the LGBT Center. With nearly 30 years of service to the University of Louisville, Brian has dedicated his career to building a campus community where all students, faculty, and staff feel welcome, safe, and included. Key achievements under his leadership include: opening a staffed LGBT Center in 2007, the first of its kind in Kentucky; earning a five-star rating on the Campus Pride index; launching the Bayard Rustin themed housing community for LGBT students and allies, the first of its kind in the south; opening a satellite LGBT Center on the Health Sciences Center campus; partnering with community leaders on Feast on Equality, a signature fundraising event; and being hailed by LEO Weekly as “the most LGBT friendly public university in the south.”
Currently reading: I’m always looking for good articles and social media to use in my Multicultural Issues class.
1. What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in?
For my own personal growth, I keep a journal and, in fact, have stacks of them hidden away that I wrote years ago. I think I still have the journal I kept when I was 15. It’s sort of sweet to read what my 15-year old self was thinking. For work, I often write to communicate with people about LGBT identity. Sometimes people feel more comfortable interacting with me through email or social media, so I write to answer their questions and to help them move along in their journey.
2. When/where/how do you write?
I have a hectic life, so I carry my journal with me wherever I go. I was writing in it at the dentist’s office the other day because that was my only break.
3. What are your writing necessities—tools, accessories, music, spaces?
On the one hand, I’m old school. I like a hardbound notebook, with no lines, for writing and journaling. But when it comes to reading, I’ve completely embraced the e-book. I love the idea that I can travel light but still have plenty of good reading at my fingertips.
4. What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision?
If I’m writing a sensitive email message to someone who’s coming out or struggling with their identity, I read it over and over to make sure the words convey just the right message. I know from first-hand experience that leaving out one word can change everything. I think my comfort zone is writing conversationally. So I also try to ask myself if this is how I would say it if we were having a chat.
5. What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
If you’re submitting something to be published, or even if you are just sending in a cover letter for a job application, ask the best writer you know to proofread it for you. You’ll be amazed at the little things we all miss. That being said, I’ve been on the run today and I’m sending this in without following my own advice.