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Workshop Preparation

Andrew Lay

1.) I've only had experiences with very short workshopping sessions in high school. They were called "peer reviews," but even that description is a bit much for what actually went on. For fifteen minutes once a week, we shuffled into the halls to sit in our randomly selected groups with the purpose of marking and making insightful comments on each of the group's respective rough drafts. This simply did not happen. While I consider myself a fairly capable writer, I never once received substantial suggestions regarding the content of my work - the proper spelling and usually proper grammar seemed to be too much for certain students in the classroom to look past. Suffice to say, I have only had negative experiences with workshopping. (Stated with all hopes that this class will change that fact.) 2.) Editing is much more of a touch-and-go manner by which to improve a paper, while revision is more of a complete overhaul of a work. Editing takes place primarily over short intervals of time throughout the process of writing a paper from beginning to completion, and includes such practices as improving syntax of a certain sentence, correcting spelling mistakes, and so on. In contrast, revision generally occurs at relatively few, benchmark points in the writing of a paper. Revision involves more concentrated focus on the content and style of a work; entire page-long blocks of texts may be completely cut and started anew if deemed appropriate. Editing and revision are both vital to the successful writing of a paper. Without editing, the "nuts and bolts" of the paper may not be well-fixed enough to tie the content and message into a cohesive work; without revision, the content itself will invariably lack in that the writer neglected to approach the work through different times and therefore different reference frames. 3.) Honestly, I have no major concerns regarding peer workshopping, as I'm confident that the university environment will be much more conducive to student interdependence in this context. If anything, I'm a bit worried that I myself will be the most introverted of the group, but overcoming this has been much less of a challenge for me recently. 4.) Straub suggests that we avoid the "short and sweet" approach when it comes to active commentary on a student's work (Straub). Specificity is extraordinarily important in terms of meaningful and constructive commentary, and I intend to focus on that fact during these workshopping sessions. Additionally, Straub emphasizes the importance of maintaining a friendly voice as opposed to a deriding or authoritative voice when responding to a writer. I believe I will implement this aspect well when in workshops simply due to my desire to not repeat the aforementioned "review session" experiences I had in high school. R. Straub, "Responding--Really Responding--to Other Students' Writing," Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1999, pp. 140