rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
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This fall, in preparation for a lab meeting on professional writing, our lab has been reading Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup (in the eleventh addition, at least). The thing I hope to take away from the book is a good checklist/reminder of major steps for revising my academic writing, because I would like to become more self-sufficient in that capacity. It's a valuable resource for revision strategies, covering issues ranging from sentence-level revisions to overall flow. I also liked how a section towards the end covered the issue of plagiarism because I think it lays things out clearly as a matter of establishing and maintaining trust that a person knows how to situate their knowledge and ideas among the work of others. On the other hand, I don't know how accessible the book would be to freshman undergraduates. That depends on their general college preparation, I suppose.

Upon finishing Style, I have started reading Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall. B Rosenberg. I was a little disoriented by the transition from prescriptive writing about writing to prescriptive writing about communication in general. Aside from my own internal confusion, I would say that there's a lot to think over in the book. I agree with the overall concept of compassion-driven interactions with others, but I also think it will be challenging to put the book's ideas into conscious practice. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, especially for those of us who often require extra time / mental processing to reflect on what we want to say and how to say it.

One part that hit a chord: the chapter on identifying and expressing feelings. The chapter opens by saying

"Psychoanalyist Rollo May suggests that 'the mature person becomes able to differentiate feelings into as many nuances, strong and passionate experiences, or delicate and sensitive ones as in the different passages of music in a symphony.' For many of us, however, our feelings are, as May would describe it, 'limited like notes in a bugle call.'"

I read that excerpt and then paused to reflect on it. How often do I take the time to actually suss out how I'm feeling? Like many people, I think I tend to shortcut through this stage, and just declare "anxious" or "tired" or "stressed" or "hangry." But I would agree that identifying how we are feeling is helpful for figuring out what we wish to ask of others. Something to work on, for me.

After I finish Nonviolent Communication, I'll read a book about sailing, at [livejournal.com profile] scrottie's request, as well as the ever-exciting text Insect Diets.
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