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Though I am a Yankee and a Chicagoan at heart, I have now lived here in Arkansas for sixteen years and taught at NWACC that whole time. I don’t think that makes me a Southerner, but my Chicago friends all tell me I don’t sound much like a Chicagoan anymore; however, all my degrees and education happened in the Chicago area. My B.A is in Communication from DePaul University, and my first teaching job was at that school while I was a graduate student at Columbia College. My Masters of Arts in the Teaching of Writing is from Columbia and my student teaching was all accomplished at this school. I then taught in Michigan for six years at two different schools—Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University. All told, I am now in my 26th year of teaching and still going strong. When I am not teaching or grading, I am with my family—my brainy and beautiful wife, Susan, who teaches in the English Department at the U of A, and my two boys, Aidan and Jamie. I also try to find time to write my own science fiction and read as much in that area as possible.
I would have to borrow from Mike Rose here, a cognitive psychologist who studies how we write: “The only rule about writing you should ever have is to avoid rigid, inflexible rules.” I try to teach my students to develop a flexible process that will help them not only in future academic writing situations but in work writing situations as well. Let Audience, Purpose and Genre be your guide and the end result, after a lot of hard work, will often be great.
I was born in Mississippi and raised in Arkansas. I received my Bachelor’s from University of Central Arkansas and my Master’s from Mississippi State University.
Read what you enjoy. If you find something you like,
read it. Never stop reading.
Earned my MA in English at the UA in 1979. Promptly left academia to marry, have kids. Worked at several interesting but low-paying jobs. Began teaching one class a semester at NWACC in January 1997; became a full-time instructor in Fall, 1998. Haven’t looked back since. Am now a proud grandma and love seeing the world anew through their eyes.
Create a working thesis statement as early in an assignment as possible, and use it to guide your writing. Doing this saves a lot of time and energy.
I joined the NWACC Writing Center faculty after careers in the military, leadership consulting, and financial planning. Raised in Pine Bluff (AR), I completed my undergraduate work at the University of Arkansas, a master’s degree at the University of Missouri–Columbia, and my Ph.D. in English at the University of Texas–Austin.
In the Army I served as a public affairs officer for the army surgeon general in Washington DC. From 1987 to 1992, I was chief of the army writing program for the army medical department and was responsible for training over 5,000 officers in effective management writing. I completed a 21-year career in 1996 and moved with my wife Brenda to Rogers. We have a daughter and a grandson.
I have taught Composition II and Technical Writing and worked in the Writing Center for NWACC. I have also taught for the University of Texas–Austin, St. Leo’s College, Columbia College, and the San Antonio Art Institute. My published writing ranges from news releases to scholarly publications, radio spots to administrative and technical documents. I’ve also written poetry and fiction. Currently, I write a monthly column for the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.
1. I try to write something in the first paragraph that compels the reader to read my essay. That something rarely comes to me during the first
draft. The last thing I write in the first draft is the introductory paragraph. My first effort is usually obvious and mechanical, so I know that I must change it. I then read the first draft to discover
what the essay should be about and rewrite a few sentences and jot down some notes to focus the paper more sharply. Then I try to answer these questions:
1. Why do I care about this topic?
2. What do I want the reader to do or think after reading my essay?
3. If I could tell the reader only one thing about
my topic, what would it be?
4. What motivation could I tap to entice the reader
to read beyond the first sentence? First paragraph?
5. What crucial information would be lost if I just eliminated the first paragraph? Too often, the answer is none.
6. Could that information be placed elsewhere
just as effectively?
Only after answering these questions do I consider the traditional introductory devices: a provocative quotation, a meaningful statistic, a poignant anecdote, a striking assertion, etc.
2. In revising an early draft, I repeat a key word (noun or verb) from the preceding sentence in the one I am writing. This practice can improve the unity of the essay without my even thinking about it.
I am a graduate of St. Mary of the Woods College with a double major in English and secondary education and earned my M.A. in English at National University. I have taught at NWACC for a little over two years and enjoy it very much.
When you are first discovering who you are as a writer, you need to try different techniques to find how you write best. If you find it difficult to plan your writing by using an outline (as I do) you might find coloring your draft helpful. For this strategy, you will start by writing your rough draft first. After you have completed this draft, use your assignment sheet to determine what elements or features should be present in your essay and then choose a color that will correspond to each element. For example, you might choose to color your thesis statement blue, your quotations orange, your explanations and supporting details purple, etc. When you are finished coloring your draft, you should have a good idea about which areas you need to explore in more detail and where you need to fill in (or take out) information.
Originally a Gulf Coaster (from Mobile, Alabama), I went to Washington, DC for a BA in English from Georgetown University, to Baltimore for an MA in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University, and finally to New York for an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College. Last September, I moved from New York City to Northwest Arkansas, and I'm so happy to be teaching at NWACC. I currently live out in the country, where one sees more deer than people, and have learned that the phrase my mother used when I was a kid, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise,” has literal meaning out there.
Zen and the Art of Essay Writing: “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.” --Shunryu Suzuki
Read with openness and enthusiasm. Ask yourself questions as you read. Read with “beginner’s mind.” I had a wonderful college professor who taught me that one should always read a poem, story, article, or any text, for the point that you really don’t get. In other words, where are you really stumped? What is the most vexing question you run up against, a question to which you don't have the answer? He called this point in reading the “ort.” That’s the most fruitful place from which you should begin writing, or thinking about writing, because—to answer a truly vexing question—you have to rouse your critical thinking skills, make connections, and work your way towards possible solutions.
For more information, questions, or to comment on this website, please contact Lorraine Bach.