It Matters How We Say It

“I wrote the same, but in different words.”

I don’t know if this is a “true” story, or based on one, but the point about how we use our words, and how our words convey our thoughts and ideas is the truth.

How we convey our ideas, our message, is as important as the ideas themselves.

As writers, we have many choices. For me as a writer, I struggle and I revel in those choices. As a writing teaching, sharing those choices is both a challenge and a joy.

I’m not trying to change my students writing, change what they have to say, but to show them that there are other ways to express their ideas that will be more moving, more transformative for their audience…and for themselves.

How To Improve Your Blog Action Day Posts

This semester, as in many terms past, my students are learning how to blog.

Yes, they each have a blog on a topic of their choice where they can post writing on topics that they choose as well as select assignments from me which they can delete after the semester is over. They are required to have an about page that introduces the writer to the reader as well as the conceit of the blog. They are encouraged to create a gravatar and to have a tagline.

So far, many of the students LOVE blogging! Yes, they are finding they love to write if it’s on a topic of their own choice and where they can express themselves in creative ways. Yay! In fact some of the students have already created a second blog on another topic!

In the coming weeks, students will be creating a group blog related to an issue raised by their book club book. They will use their blog in their presentation to the class about the issue—using the blog to store and organize their presentation. They can use the blog to post videos, interviews, powerpoints, slides, and other information that they want to share with the class. This way, we can all go back to their blog to learn more about their topic—and what they learn is also available as an online resource for others.

As part of their midterm,students wrote draft blog posts for Blog Action Day which takes place next Monday, October 15. Continue reading

Punctuation Matters: Commas Save Lives

Let’s eat Grandpa.

Let’s eat, Grandpa.

Norman Rockwell? Or Norman Bates?

Have a Happy Punctuation Day!

VC Spring 08 writing & other workshops

Here’s a pdf calendar for VC Learning Center Workshops for February and March. Workshops are normally 30-50 minutes in length, are free and are on such topics on note taking, test taking, time management and many other valuable topics.

The Learning Center also offers tutoring in most subjects, plus faculty are always on hand. They prefer for you to schedule an appointment or you can drop-in. Go on Fridays and ask for help from Mike Dixon. He teaches English 1A, 1B, and English 2 and he’s an all around great guy.

If you find any tutors exceptionally helpful, please share with us who they are by commenting below!

Kathleen Lynch’s “Impetus”


You must change your life.
– Rilke

Begin anywhere: sleep

on the other side of the bed tonight.



Tomorrow walk as though your head

is filled with helium & your spine

the string that holds it to the earth.





Fill a gallery with something

you have not yet made.

Name your show I Promise.

Buy a large piece of blue

paper. The shade should be vast

and deep and remind you

of nothing. Roll it carefully

and carry it home on the bus

cradled in your arm.

Try not to pretend

it is your child.





Don’t cry, but if you must

don’t stop. Tears

are only water and salt.

You felt this way once before

when you first moved

from fluid into air.



It is no one’s fault

you are more than halfway there.

Surely you know that and are grateful

to have come so far. Just go.

Just keep going.

Kathleen Lynch, Hinge (2006)

Kathleen Lynch read in Ventura 730pm Tuesday Dec. 11 at the Artists Union Gallery, where “C” street meets the sea (330 S. CA St, near the Crowne Plaza and the Aloha Steakhouse) . Students from two Ventura College writing classes read Tuesday 12/11 as well as Tuesday 12/18.

Readings are held every Tuesday, and often have a feature. These events are free and open to the public; an open mic follows the featured reading.

Kathleen Lynch’s collection Hinge (2006) won the Black Zinnias Press National Poetry Book Competition (California Institute of Arts and Letters). Her chapbooks include How to Build an Owl (Select Poet Series Award, Small Poetry Press, 1995), No Spring Chicken (White Eagle Coffee Store Press Award, 2001), Alterations of Rising (Small Poetry Press Select Poet Series, 2001) and Kathleen Lynch – Greatest Hits (Pudding House Publications, 2002). Her work (fiction and poetry) appears in several anthologies. She received the Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Choice Award, the Salt Hill Poetry Award, Two Rivers Review Prize, Peregrine and Sow’s Ear prizes, and ten Pushcart nominations. She lives in California.

OTHER POETRY READINGS In the past year, the Ventura Thursday night reading “Train of Thought” moved from the Bell Arts Factory on the avenue to the Selah Cafe by the college to the Coffee Roasting Co downtown to the ArtBarn. The current incarnation is laid back and friendly; I was over there for the Dia de Los Muertos reading and for subsequent readings as well. On these occasions, everyone gathered outside around the fire to read their own work or the work of others in a very informal but respectful way. If the weather dictates, the reading can always move inside the ArtBarn (856 Thompson near Kalorama, behind Kids & Families together).

words of writing wisdom from nila Northsun

My good friend nila tipped me about this video of Joy Harjo reading nila’s work:

Watch for a visit by nila to Ventura College this spring to read from her new book, Love at Gunpoint(RL Crow 2007).

Hmmn looks like I better figure out what’s wrong with the video or how I posted it!

In the meantime, here’s a classic poem of hers and an analysis of it:

the way & the way things are

1	gramma thinks about her grandchildren
	they're losing the ways
	don't know how to talk indian
4	don't understand me when
	i ask for tobacco
	don't know how to skin a rabbit
	sad sad
8	they're losing the ways
	but gramma
	you told your daughters
	marry white men
12	told them they would have
	nicer houses
	fancy cars
	pretty clothes
16	could live in the city
	gramma your daughters did
	they couldn't speak indian anymore
	how could we grandchildren learn
20	there are no rabbits to skin
	in the city
	we have no gramma there to
	teach us the ways
24	you were still on the reservation
	asking somebody anybody
	get me tobacco
		   		  	Nila NorthSun (1979)

Continue reading

this blog is a place…

This blog is a place for students of writing to share whispered words of wisdom–not know it all shouts, or slashes of red pen.

This blog is a place to be thoughtful, caring, and considerate, a place to share what works for each of us as writers trying to change the world word by word.

Soon this place will be bubbling with activity and ideas so check back often–and bring words to share!