Invention

Before I started graduate school, an invention was the work of a scientist, engineer, or eccentric tinkerer. It involved knobs, wires, dials and levers. It was man-made object (generic specificity intended) that was primarily technological: if not mechanical, then electronic. 

In my occasional exposures to rhetoric, invention (or, more often, inventorio) is described as the stage when a writer (or orator) brainstorms ideas before structuring them into an argument. In composition, this has come to be associated with prewriting. But prewriting had a particular orderliness imposed on it: outlines, graphic organizers and diagrams were often suggested as ways to organize disorderly thoughts in the same way that an inventor drafted blueprints or meticulously labeled parts.

I have come to see invention as synonymous with creativity or imagination. In place of a metal box with dials and knobs I see a dancer improvising steps, a chef combining familiar ingredients in new ways, a poets walking through a woods, her focus divided between the landscape surrounding her and the words forming a chain of sound and meaning in the recesses of her mind. Invention becomes a playful activity, a mode of living, that invites joy and wonder and occasionally feels miraculous, but is open to every person with the capacity for curious dreaming.

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Welcome to the Salon Sous-Marine

I’ve always been something of a mermaid.

I don’t have a fishtail, or even an ounce of sirenian allure. But I do tend to resist categorization. I like to hang out in the spaces between categories. No surprise, then, that I ended up in a joint PhD program. English for the creative writer. Education for the teacher/reformer. Trying to carve a space in between for the researcher/scholar. And happily found a field that didn’t exist 20 years ago and which I knew nothing about before I started my doctoral studies: ¬†Creative Writing Studies.

Like most writers who teach and teachers who write, I find that hyphen between writer and teacher both an exhilarating and uncomfortable place to stand.

I’m probably a lot like you.

So welcome to my underwater salon, where hybrids like us can swim freely and revel in our split natures. And occasionally dive for pearls.

The current division I’m trying to navigate is how to be digitally literate without forsaking paper. I love the feel of my fingers curled around a pen (always a Pilot Precise V5, Extra Fine). But here I am in Starbucks, awkwardly trying to coax the spongy keyboard for my tablet into producing something that resembles English words. I only got this far because Sarah Swofford graciously helped me link.

It’s going to be a steep climb.