by Rahn Adams
I’ve been a decent writer all my life, but the University Writing Center is still my happy place—and not because I work there.
Actually, Belk Library, whose second floor houses the writing center, has been my home away from home for various periods since 1976 when I was a 17-year-old senior in my high school’s Advanced Placement Program.
That’s right—I was a high school A.P.P. student with two P’s. Even way back then, the university made the most of that acronym, though I was here long before AppalNet and even AppalCART.
Although times and technologies have changed, all libraries—from the humblest county bookmobile to the incomparable Library of Congress—are sacred spaces wherein knowledge, illumination, and, yes, even joy await readers whose minds are open to those gifts.
But what about writers, besides the fact that most libraries—excluding the bookmobile, of course—have so many flat surfaces upon which to write? That includes carrels, tables of all shapes and sizes, chairs with flip-up desks, and even exercise bikes with desktops for old, out-of-shape guys like me.
As it turns out, our college library is perfect for open-minded writers, too, wherever they happen to be in their writing lives, from the frenzied freshman facing that first draft of a 250-word essay assignment to the diligent doctoral candidate working on the final draft of a 250-page dissertation.
If you’re one of those particular writers—or any other community members who want help with your writing—you’ll only have to climb one set of stairs above ground floor or take one short elevator ride for the most convenient writing assistance available in the library building, if not on campus.
The receptive writer can get all three of those benefits—knowledge, illumination, and joy—in Suite 204 of Belk Library, where a host of University Writing Center consultants await your visit. All you have to do is walk in or, better yet, make an appointment here.
Our UWC consultants are practiced listeners, readers, and writers who include trained undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty members, and professional wordsmiths like, well, like me. At least that’s what my Staff page listing says.
As far as knowledge goes, you may need help understanding a writing prompt or some other aspect of a writing assignment. You may need someone to read a sentence, a paragraph, an essay, or a chapter—as much as can be covered in a 45-minute session—and to give you their impression of your composition. You may need to know how to dot your i’s and cross your t’s in terms of language use or citation styles.
Illumination is the writing center’s goal—that is, the result of helping you to realize your ongoing and ever-changing goals as a writer, one session at a time.
And then there’s joy. That’s the feeling a good writer—or anyone, really—relishes when a challenging task is done, and done well.
It’s one thing to B.S.U.R. (be as you are) when you first walk in the U.W.C. door. It’s definitely another, joyful thing to be a better writer when you leave.