On 28 Nov 2005 at 12:20, Mark Weiss wrote:
> I've run a few holocaust survivor writing and reminiscence workshops.
> The stories were memorable, to say the least, but the writing rarely
> was. Some of what I asked of participants was what I would ask of
> participants of any workshop--rather than something like showtrial
> testimony, which is what most were accustomed to presenting, I pushed
> them towards greater and greater detail of things, feelings, etc., and
> I helped them clarify their writing. Still, the interest was more
> documentary than literary. I'm not sure why that's a difficult
> distinction. We value writing for different reasons.<
Writing necessarily compels us to make choices about what we present
and how we present it. We may value a piece of writing for different
reasons, but we must, I think, value writing itself for the same reasons:
how effectively it does the job it purports to do. Writing may be done for
comic or dramatic effect, but we can still say it's good or bad for reasons
that have nothing to do with its content, can't we?
Isn't the purpose of a writing workshop to improve one's rhetorical skills,
not to provide an audience for the content of the piece? Why should
those who want to be writers, and who have suffered greatly, not be
helped to improve their rhetorical skills just because the teacher, or
those who have suffered, believe that their suffering creates value in
and of itself irrespective of how well it's presented?