13 Ways You Know You’re Dating A High-Quality Woman


Thought Catalog

Forgetting Sarah MarshallForgetting Sarah Marshall

1. She encourages you to pursue your goals, but she doesn’t micromanage. She trusts you to make the right decisions in your own life. She’s the cheerleader, not the coach.

2. She doesn’t try to make you jealous. She’s secure in her worth, and your ability to recognize how valuable she is. She doesn’t need to play games to “trick” you into seeing her her for what she is.

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3. She doesn’t have a princess complex. She demands that you treat her with respect — but because she is a person you love, not because she is a woman and therefore magically entitled to something. Just as she would expect you to treat your friends and family with respect, she knows you wouldn’t treat her any other way. A high-quality woman wouldn’t be with a man who was disrespectful to the people he is…

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The Elusive Collaborative Student Writing

In Collaboration Is Not Collaboration Is Not Collaboration: Writing Center Tutorials vs. Peer Response Groups, essayist Murial Harris raises a point that seems so obvious I can’t believe I haven’t been aware of it before: we talk about knowledge being socially constructed and therefore all our work and writing is a sort of collaboration between peer groups, but I can’t think of any experience I’ve had where that theory is applied. Certainly not in the sphere of academic writing. The peer review groups that high school teachers and sometimes college professors seem so fond of often fall into the category of “editorial work” focusing on lower order concerns that I’ve been railing against in previous posts (Harris 372).

My mission then became a search for natural practical application of collaborative writing at the university level. I knew for sure that I wouldn’t find it my GE courses or the English department, these are places where the author is still seen as the isolated genius sitting at a desk whipping words into perfection. (Or their places where indifferent students slap sentences onto the page for a mediocre grade.) So I turned to the creative writing circles, primarily those that I’m familiar with: writing rooms at the film school. Collaborations between directors and writers, or producers and directors, or producers and writers are fairly common during the development stage of thesis films–or, they’re supposed to be. Luckily, I’m a producer living with one of the screenwriters who involves herself in the production department.

I endeavored to sit in on one of her writer-director script workshops to see just how collaborative the process was…will the director construct the storyline and leave the physical act of writing to the screenwriter? How much say will she have in the plot structure? How involved with the director be in word-crafting? I fully expect these writing workshops to be different depending on the participants, but, having never been present for one myself, I want to see the collaborative magic happen before my eyes. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally catch a glimpse of true collaborative writing face-to-face.


Stayed tuned for the results.

But what all th…

But what all that stems from is this idea that emerged in the Romantic period of the 19th century, the image of the writer as the solitary genius, the idea of the work of art springing fully formed from the pure imaginative invention of the writer. And there’s an idea of the writer with his blank bit of paper, and that’s the sacred scene of origin of the literary work. But if you actually start looking at the historical records we have of the theater in Shakespeare’s lifetime, in fact it wasn’t like that at all. It was a profoundly collaborative activity. For instance, Shakespeare wrote particular parts for particular actors, because sometimes instead of putting the name of the character he puts the name of the actor. And you can actually see in his plays, there’s always a role for the clown, and he knows who the clown is, there’s a role for the actor who specialized in playing the older man — the councilor, the Polonius figure.

Jonathan Bate, in a PSB interview about the authorship debate raging in Shakespearean circles: who was William Shakespeare?

The commonly and most widely believed account points to commoner William Shaksper of Stratford-upon-Avon, but theorists have argued for centuries over the real identity of the playwright. Was it contemporary Christopher Marlowe? The famous Sir Francis Bacon? Elizabethan courtier Edward de Vere?

Sometimes it’s validating to hear academics from completely different circles speaking to the belief that writing is not a singular, individual act but a collaboration among peers, just like I spoke about in my first post in this category.

Practicing Tutoring

In my previous posts, I’ve talked about essays that tear down the misconceptions of an on-campus writing center and books that succinctly outline the dos and don’ts of tutoring writing. These assigned readings were informative and, on occasion, inspiring, but served more to reinforce and illuminate ideas about peer revision and tutoring that my past experiences have embedded in my subconscious rather than blowing my mind with new, revolutionary concepts.

So when our Writing, Tutoring, & Conferencing course broke up into pairs for a practice peer review session, I took it in stride with a shrug; it made sense to start applying what we’ve been reading in a hands-on approach.

I definitely didn’t expect to be sitting with a classmate’s entertaining, personal, and biting three-page narrative in my hand thinking, “Crap, where should I start with this? What do I say?”

I’ve been reading for five weeks about what I’m supposed to say in these situations! But I found myself wanting to dip back into old habits ingrained in me by years of standardized education—there was a misspelled word on the second page. It wanted me to comment on it; it was begging for me to start there. But I knew what I should be doing instead, addressing the higher order concerns: structure and organization.

I silently congratulate myself with an internal high-five. Yes! First hurdle vaulted, I’m awesome. Then I realize I’ve been sitting in silence with my pseudo-tutee who’s been waiting for the last few minutes for some helpful feedback. Or, was she? Maybe she doesn’t have any issues with her paper and, even though the activity for the day was to playact a tutoring session, she didn’t want some arguably unqualified student’s advice defiling her piece of creative genius. It is a personal piece of writing, after all, and reveals some pretty intimate thoughts. It would somehow feel less abrasive to objectively correct an academic essay.

So…maybe I should ask her what she wants me to say? No. No, that’s definitely not a technique that Donald McAndrew would support. Questions are good ice-breakers because they get the student engaged in the discussion, but I need to be a little sneakier about discovering what issues she’s having with the paper. Ahah! There it is. I make my first move:

“So, how do you feel about what you’ve written? Is there anything in particular that you’re not 100% on?”

(Score! +1 Tutoring Techniques)

Turns out, she did have some minor concerns with the length and the structure of the anecdote. Once I got my tutee talking about what she wanted, then I could tailor my comments to best fit her needs. I’d point out the low order concerns later, just to ensure that forgetful spelling errors and punctuation lapses weren’t overlooked later on.

For all my years of peer revision, tutoring sessions, and personal drafting and redrafting, I’m amazed at how challenging it is to apply theories of tutoring in a real-life situation, even when most of the tips and directives seem like common sense. All students go into peer edit sessions with an internal groan, knowing that they’ll most likely get corrections that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of the paper, but also knowing that they’ll respond in kind because it feels less critical. Advising someone to fix a grammar mistake rocks the boat much less than pointing out major structural flaws in their eight-page research paper.

Tutoring writing might seem like a daunting challenge, but it’s important to remember that the writer (in most cases) wants to be helped. I went into the activity with just an outline and all I really wanted to do was talk to a human being who could engage in a spirited discussion about the effectiveness of my writing. I knew that crafting the words would be relatively easy, now that I’ve found my voice, but having a structurally sound and effective essay proves to be a steeper hill to climb. Students at any level want to succeed; they want to leave the session with something they’re proud of (or at least something that will get them a passing grade). You, as a tutor, have to be willing to get your hands dirty and really dig into the meat of the work in order to help your tutee shape something great.

You have to risk it to get the biscuit.

My Writing Process (Literacy Narrative prompt response)

I’m sitting down to write a cover letter for a highly competitive, paid internship at United Talent Agency. I don’t know where to start, so I look online…sample cover letters, example cover letters, cover letter tips. They don’t all say the same thing:

–        Be funny! I read hundreds of cover letters a day and if you don’t stand out then I’m not going to bother getting to your resume.

–        Keep it professional. A cover letter isn’t a creative writing sample, I just want the Cliff Notes version of yourself so I know what I’m looking at.

–        Share a personal anecdote. Your resume tells me about your accomplishments and work ethic, I want to know who you are as a person.

–        Keep it short, I have a lot to read.

–        Don’t skimp, otherwise what’s the point of even writing one?

–        Include your address, I need to know if you live close to the office.

–        Don’t put your address, no one’s going to send you mail and they assume that you can get to work if you’re taking the time to apply.

–        Don’t sign “Yours truly,” this isn’t a love letter.

–        Don’t use “Sincerely,” it shows you didn’t try hard enough.

There are so many contradictory pieces of advice that I’m even further away from knowing where to start than I was before I went online. I try to think of something that’s funny, professional, personal, and relatively short. Wait a minute…I’ve done this before. This sounds a lot like the “find your voice” exercises from my sophomore writing class, Composing the Self. We ended up writing a personal memoir in three acts, but we started with small anecdotes using sensory descriptions to paint the tone.

If I hadn’t taken that writing course, my cover letter would probably have started off as a formally professional version if,

“Hi, I’m great and you should hire me. Here are reasons A, B, and C. Those were my reasons and it would be really great if you hired me. Thank you and stuff.”

But I know how to write in my own voice now. I can get creative and be a little funny and paint a wonderful picture of myself as a hardworking, quirky, organized person who would be an asset to any company. I know how to start this cover letter: drop them into the story.

At ten years old—if I had a second free of ballet, school, and homework—I’d most likely be wandering the house in confusion. I didn’t know what to do with free time and I needed to find something to occupy myself so my parents didn’t notice my idleness and make me clean my room. For some reason, organizing my mom’s scrapbook drawers or dressing up as Cinderella to wash the dishes and pretend to be a downtrodden house slave seemed way better options than cleaning my own room. No one else would really benefit from my clean room; what’s the point of doing all that work just for me? I don’t mind if it’s messy. Besides, sweeping and mopping are way more therapeutic and the living room’s open floor plan offered more space to test out my techniques.


Okay, wait, that’s way too informal and it’s taking me too long to get to the point. This story was supposed to prove that I’m really good at doing grunt work and making other people’s days better by working hard at things most people don’t like doing. It’s definitely not doing that, and I have no idea if my conversational tone will fly with the recruiting executives at the major L.A. talent agencies. But how can I know what they’re expecting, or what they want?! If I have no idea who my audience is then how can I even know what language is most effective? I think of all the techniques I studied in my rhetorical foundations course. The five canons of rhetoric, narrative techniques, ethos/pathos/logos. Then I figure out the issue: I’m the speaker and I know what my message is, but I can’t really get started until I pinpoint my audience.

I know they’re LA agents, but Hollywood is a strange place full of unique individuals; there’s no telling what kind of people work at UTA. I type “recruitment supervisor United Talent Agency” into my Google search bar, because it can’t hurt to be specific. Up comes an interview with the head executive and co-founder of UTA, Jeremy Zimmer. If I can figure out the figurehead of the company—what are his personal values, company goals, maybe his opinions on humor in internship applications—then I can figure out what the company as a whole is most likely looking for and that could give me some idea of how to market myself to the recruiter. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than nothing.

According to the interview, the C.E.O. built himself up from nothing and greatly respects passionate, interesting people who are fearless. That bodes well for me; as long as I come across as an interesting passionate individual then I should be fine. If he were to be reviewing my application. Of course, I could argue that the co-founder is probably a good representation of his employees, but it’s really just a crapshoot. My best bet would be to keep the anecdote as short as possible and segue into more professional language at the end. I switch gears, making sure that I use all the training in succinctness and brevity that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have ingrained in me over the years.

At ten years old—if I had a second free of ballet, school, and homework—I’d most likely be at home trying to get out of cleaning my room. For some reason, even though I’d gladly visit my grandmother just to organize her jewelry drawers or collate information packages with the PTA volunteer group in the summer, cleaning my room was the worst form of punishment. I didn’t understand why until two semesters ago, when I was the Assistant Director on a student film set and I had to stop myself from picking up the broom to sweep prop beads of the floor of the set. I could easily order someone else to do it, but there’s something so therapeutic about repetitive grunt work that lets me escape from the chaos and pressure of being a college student, especially a college film student. My opinion is not a popular one among the Chapman University producing students, who all seem to aim for Hollywood producer credits straight after graduating, but I can appreciate the work that most people don’t appreciate doing.

I wrap it up with a few words of appreciation, an implication of hopefulness, and promise of dedication before the concluding signature. Then I start to worry that I sound like I’m bashing the other Chapman students. The person I interview for might be a Chapman alum! Or maybe they were one of those gung ho film kids. Or maybe, worse still, they prefer gung ho film kids! So I alter the anecdote. I go through five versions, all highlighting a different aspect of the same kind of story, all funny and personal and demonstrative of key personality traits that talk me up. Four hours later and I’m no closer to knowing what kind of letter to attach than I was at the start. If I don’t tell a story that makes me look awesome, I run the risk of underselling. I could tell a more damning anecdote, one where I share my flaws and how I overcome them, but will they appreciate my honesty or see only my potential flaws? I still don’t know what they’re looking for so I still don’t know my audience so I still don’t know what kind of language and what kind of story will be most effective.

I’m not done yet. I might arrive at the right version soon. Or maybe I won’t. I’ll just have to keep returning to the page, keep guessing at my audience, and keep coming up with personal-professional fusions until I get the version that feels like a winner. At the very least I’ll end up with another fifty-page personal memoir in three acts.