Friday, April 21, 2017

Talking Points to Veterans on Writing

Below are talking points I delivered to military veterans of California State University Channel Islands.

Follow directions.

Read, read, and read more. Non-fiction and fiction, short stories, op-eds, magazines (The New Yorker is a must). Charles Dickens, Harper Lee, Edgar Allen Poe (gloomy stories), Gloria Anzaldua, Rodolfo Anaya, George Orwell, Mary Twain, Willa Cather, Richard Wright.
As you read:
• Study how stories are constructed from start to finish. How do paragraphs vary? How are punctuation marks used and manipulated, especially the comma.

• Read books on writing. E.B. White's _Elements of Style_ is a good start. I loved Stephen King’s book on writing titled, _On Writing_. _The Dead Zone_ was also one of the first books I read cover to cover and scared me through the whole process.

• Increase your vocabulary and notice how ideas are conveyed, and even toyed with, by words.

•To start your writing bullet points are fine. Each bullet point can be a page or paragraph of your main idea (thesis, argument). As you move forward, tease out your ideas and then eliminate the bullets.

Writing is hard. Take if from people like Franz Kafka and Emily Dickinson who described it as painful (at least Kafka did) and wrote for themselves and not others. Kafka almost destroyed all his writings at one point. And Dickinson stashed away many of hers, only to be discovered recently--I read this in The New Yorker a few months back. I love her poem _Because I Could Not Stop for Death_. This is a reflection of my saturnine side, hence Poe.

Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes. But at the same time be careful in what you want to communicate by way the written word. Don’t be afraid of what others might think. The hell with those who will be offended, even your friends. So write boldly, honestly, and clearly. Be vulnerable. This is what makes writing interesting.

For term papers, write drafts (more than 2-3, at least).

The outline. When do you create one? Before? As you go? Both?

Follow carefully the directions of professor’s as stated in their instruction sheets. Most spend a chingo of time creating them. It is wonder how many students ignore my instructions and as a result fall short of assignment expectations.
Furthermore, as you move forward in the development of your finished paper,:
*meet the minimum pages of writing. Keep in mind that a minimum page of required writing could and most likely will translate into, at best, a minimum passing score.

*State clearly your thesis/main Idea/theoretical framework/argument of your project. This may/will change as you develop your paper.
*One way to achieve immortality is to leave a body of writing. You never know where it may end up.

Proof read your writing, especially if you’re are a lousy keyboarder as I am. For a good example of this, see above.

In conclusion, avoid starting your writing with hackneyed phrases, especially in regards to the weather.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

No Puente Program in VC: What's Up With That?

Since returning to Ventura County in 2001, I continue to be baffled why the Ventura County Community College District fails (as well as area high school distritcts) to have a Puente Program. It has proven to significantly enhance the transfer of students to four year colleges and university. Cypress College (where I previously worked for 9 years) fought for it when I was there--thanks to the intrepid leadership of Dr. Enriqueta Ramos and MEChA. Today, Cypress College's Puente Program is strong and continues to have outstanding rates of transfer, especially when compared to the overall dismal rate of transfer in the California Community College system.

Even Puente alumni in VC don't champion this cause. What's up with that?