On making a difference through writing

On this day of remembrance here in the U.S., I thought I’d pull together a collection of past articles related to the theme of writing, especially those forms designed to make a difference in this world — which, when you think about it, is the larger contribution of just about all good writing. And, of course, the earliest piece starts with coffee.

Using scholarship to make a difference (2020) (link here) — “When I first became a law professor, I was skeptical about the potential of legal scholarship to influence law reform. My intention was to do scholarship in sufficient volume and quality to earn tenure, and then to pursue writing and activist projects that didn’t involve lots of citations and footnotes.”

The privileges of creating a “body of work” (2019) (link here) — “Four years ago, I wrote about Pamela Slim‘s Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together (2013), which invites us to examine — in the author’s words — ‘the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you have created’…”

On the social responsibilities of writers (2019) (link here) — “I’d like to take a Sunday dive into the nature of writing to fuel positive individual and social change. This may be especially relevant to readers who write about fostering psychologically healthier workplaces that are free from bullying, mobbing, and abuse.”

Even Shakespeare had a writing circle (2017) (link here) — “It was an interesting exhibition, and here’s what specially caught my eye: Shakespeare was part of a writing circle — Elizabethan style!”

Author Jenna Blum: “I didn’t become a writer to not say what I believe in” (link here) — “On Saturday, Jenna was the featured speaker for a program hosted by the Boston chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, speaking on the ‘crucial role of women’s literary voices in literature in the current political climate, and the fusing of art, writing, and activism.'”

How do you take and keep notes? (2017) (link here) — “At annual board meetings and workshops of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network in New York City, I’ve taken delight in watching peace educator Janet Gerson‘s use of hardcover sketchbooks to take and preserve her notes, as well as to host her artistic forays and distractions.”

Three great authors on writing to make a difference (2015) (link here) — “For fresh, inspiring outlooks on the uses of writing and scholarship to make a difference, I often listen to voices outside of mainstream academe. Here I happily gather together three individuals, Ronald Gross, Mary Pipher, and John Ohliger, whose names I have invoked previously on this blog.”

Embracing creative dreams at midlife (2010, rev. 2018) (link here) — “Hilda’s desire to write novels was evident in college, but getting married, raising a family in Valparaiso, and becoming a high school English teacher would come first. However, she never let go of the idea of a writing life, and over the years she would exchange ideas, essays, and chapter drafts with friends and family members.”

Intellectual activism and social change (2013) (link here) — “For some time I’ve been studying a topic that I’ve labeled ‘intellectual activism,’ the practice of using scholarly research and writing to inform, shape, and influence social change initiatives.”

Mary Pipher on Writing to Change the World (2012) (link here) — “For all in this broad category, Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World (2006) is instructive and inspirational. Pipher is a bestselling author and therapist. Her book reflects upon the uses of writing to make a positive difference.”

Collegiate reflections: Working on the campus newspaper (2012) (link here) — “The Torch was the most important extracurricular experience of my college career. The topics of my articles and columns were limited largely to campus issues, but even this was heady business for me. There was something powerful and scary about writing pieces for publication with my byline appended.”

Coffee and work (2011) (link here) — “Coffee seems to be especially associated with writers. Crookes invokes J.K. Rowling, Marina Fiorato, Ernest Hemingway, Henrik Ibsen, and Malcolm Gladwell as examples of writers drawn to cafes and coffee shops to do their work.”

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