First, happiest of winter holidays to everyone on this December 24th. I am at my home on the northern California coast, enjoying the peace and quiet, long walks along the ocean bluffs, and time with good friends. We are hoping for rain every day and rejoice when we hear the tinkle of raindrops on the roof.
I don’t write about my textbooks very often—in fact, I can’t remember writing about one of them at all. But I’ve just recently received the 6th edition of The Everyday Writer, and I am especially delighted with it. For years, I have been urging that we integrate the information contained in the “Multilingual Writer” section of my reference books, and that goal has finally been reached! I had felt for some time that such a section seemed to marginalize multilingual students, and that bothered me very much. Now all that information is available to ALL students throughout the book. And if I’ve learned anything from my research on student writing, it is that many of the issues multilingual writers have are also issues for native speakers of English. Take prepositions, as just one example: I see many students struggling to get these idiomatically correct, not just multilingual students.
Given my long commitment to teaching graphic narratives (not to mention reading them!), I’m also thrilled that for this edition, award-winning cartoonist and graphic narrativist G. B. Tran has created “True Tales of The Everyday Writer,” based on interviews editor Carolyn Lengel and I conducted with college writers from around the country. In this sixteen-page comic, we meet seven student writers who share anecdotes about their own use of this reference book. It was great fun to conduct these interviews and even more fun to see these students come to life on the pages of this book. (There’s an avatar of me in there too, which, unfortunately, looks pretty much just like me.)
I worked very hard on this edition to make it as clear as possible that writing today is multimodal, by definition. My research over the last two years indicates that teachers are assigning more and more multimodal writing—and that students are doing even more multimodal work outside of class. This is a very exciting time to be a writer, and I hope I convey some of that excitement in this book.
Finally, I want to thank Laura Aull, whose work on student writing and corpus linguistics has been of enormous benefit to me. I have learned a great deal from Laura, and have used that knowledge to help students use corpora to check their own usage compared to that of other student writers as well as expert writers.
I began work on my first textbook over 30 years ago, in 1984. That book, and all others I’ve written, was based on research I have conducted on student writing and student writing development—and on my decades of teaching high school and college students. These books have given me an opportunity to meet students and teachers across the country, around the world, even, and to keep on learning about the art and craft of teaching and writing. And I plan to keep on doing so!