Reinventing Oneself

    This is the beginning of a new era--at least for IdeaWarehouse! Here I am in Boston, one of the most concentrated capitals of higher education, and for a long time I have identified myself as an academic, though it took me a long time at the beginning to really feel like I was, and it's the first day of classes either today, yesterday, or a week from today. Yet this is the longest time (since I was 14) that I have ever been without a full-time job. So it's time to re-invent myself (btw, does that require a hyphen or no hyphen?--I wonder what Grammar Girl would say?). I need to OWN my job as a writer and writing consultant. 

    Long before I established WW Writing Services as my own writing consultant company, I was doing free-lance jobs in writing and editing. I edited Dr. Dan Shelley's book for K-12 educators on using computers, way back near the time the WWW was being invented (makes me feel like I am from the stone-age era). Then I helped another professor with a master's thesis, which in fact, needed a complete overhaul. Unfortunately, this person must have thought I was doing it just to be nice or because I wanted to be friends or something, but I never got paid! Somehow we got our wires crossed, and I'm sure I could have done something more to have gotten the money, but it was a touchy situation because we had both started working at this college at about the same time, and I had to continue working with this professor throughout the years, so I sucked it up and decided never to make that mistake again (have someone mistake my hard hours of work for "just being nice" and trying to "be friends," especially when there were never any more overtures of friendship being extended after that.)

    Then I had several other miscellaneous projects--for which I always got paid, but the totals never amounted to anything more than extra clothes money, which I always welcome. When I was living in Slippery Rock and commuting 70 miles to Edinboro, I ended up purchasing my own paper for handuts and syllabi, file folders, and any office supplies I used at home, since I did so much there, rather than at the office. So, since Staples delivers for free to businesses, I decided to become WW Writing Services. Ahh, how I miss my spacious office!  ....Okay, I won't go there! I DO have own room within our condo that IS my office still. It's all mine, even though it moonlights as a guest room when people visit. If I didn't have a ROOM OF MY OWN, I'd go crazy, I think. Here in my "Office"--the official home of WW Writing Services, I crank out my projects:

The 1st 3 projects are the most official WW Writing Services projects, while the others are personal writing projects or academic ones, focused on first-year composition and writing center pedagogy. I plan to keep plenty busy and expect to post on this blog at least once a week (usually between Sunday and Tuesday) from now on.


Near-Plagiarism: Still Plagiarism? or Just Similar?

Yesterday I was showing one of my ENGL 100 classes (Introduction to College Writing) at Framingham State University the web site for The Everyday Writer, my favorite college writing handbook. Published by Bedford/St. Martin's, The Everyday Writer's website offers a lot of helpful tips, even for the student who has not yet purchased the textbook. Since I had initially required it of my students (although later un-required it, since the bookstore could not get them, for some oddball reason), I wanted them to be aware of all the resources that the book's site had to offer. All semester I had been focusing solely on the 20 Most Common Errors whenever we dealt with grammar, not including when I suggested grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and mechanics improvements on their papers. Since it is designated as a Basic Writing course, many of the students had some of these errors in their papers, a lot of which (the errors) had to do with the limitations that aliterate individuals face. I'm defining "aliteracy" according to Kylene Beers' definition: those who know how to read, but choose not to read, either at all, or very much. I believe that aliteracy is very closely connected to the main problems of basic writers. (I wonder, is Basic Writers, as a term in Rhet/Comp, capitalized? or is it just a designation, such as "strong writers," or "expert writers"?).  That's why I focused on those 20 errors. Having given the students a diagnostic test in the beginning of the semester, and then again at the end, with different sentences, I found that students generally improved in identifying these errors, after having explained and focused on them and how to fix them.

Anyway, to my main point, ....I'm clicking along this website, and lo and behold, come across a video of Andrea Lunsford talking about Plagiarism in a Remix Culture. I nearly fell over, because my book --since 2005!--has been called Due Credit: Avoding Plagiarism in a Remix Culture. Also, in the beginning of the video is a student saying "You've got to give credit where credit is due." My jaw dropped to my knees. What the heck? I made a comment that that was pretty much the name of my book! And I thought to myself, when I was talking about my book in a workshop at CCCC, Andrea had said, in response to a question I posed about scholar credibility and open source publishing, that I should consider publishing my book in an open source format, to which I replied that some scholars actually NEED the credibility that a traditional publisher will give them, when they hand over the copyright to their work to a main publisher, despite my beliefs about copyright. Not everyone has the flexibility or pull to request special permission to publish their own work in various formats, especially after a publisher has taken the author on board.

At any rate, I mentioned the similarity to my book title, and the students recognized this surprise for what bothered me and said, after I said "I know Andrea," "Call her up!" Tell her about your title. To this I said that she already knew it. But maybe she doesn't. So, I think I will send her an email. Hence, the title of my post.