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WriteCast Episode 49: Meet Your Reviewer: Cheryl Read

© Walden University Writing Center 2018

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[Introduction music]

 

MAX: Welcome to Write Cast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers, a monthly podcast by the Walden University Writing Center. I’m Max Philbrook,

 

CLAIRE: and I’m Claire Helakoski.

 

MAX: In today’s episode, we’re talking with Cheryl Read, one of the Writing Center’s newest Writing Instructors. If you’re a Walden student who has had a paper review with Cheryl, or if you’re considering using our paper review services, you’ll learn a little bit more about Cheryl today and her review approach. Even if you’re not a Walden student, keep listening to learn about Cheryl’s best advice for student writers.

 

CLAIRE: Hi Cheryl, welcome!

 

CHERYL: Thanks so much, Claire and Max. It’s really great to be here today.

 

CLAIRE: We’re excited to have you. Why don’t we start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself. How long have you worked at Walden? What’s your academic background? And where are you located?

 

CHERYL: Sure! I started working in the Walden writing Center in August of 2017 so, like Max said, I’m one of the newer Writing Instructors on our staff. My background is in English I have a BA and MA in English from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and right now I’m finishing my PhD in English at Duquesne University, which is located in Pittsburgh. But right now I’m working at a distance because I live in the suburbs outside St. Paul, MN.

 

MAX: Cool! What are you studying and writing about at Duquesne?

 

CHERYL: I work in reception studies, which is interested in readers of texts and audiences. So I’m actually looking at book list books, which are those books that tell you what you should read in order to be smart, or a good citizen, or all kinds of other fabulous things.

 

MAX: That’s really neat. I bet it really informs your work as a reader of student writing.

 

CHERYL: absolutely.

 

MAX: And on that note, you work with lots of different types of assignments that Walden students submit for paper review services. Are there any types of papers or assignments that you particularly enjoy reading?

 

CHERYL: You know, I think anytime that we’re reading something, it’s all about finding those personal connections. So that’s true for me. When I’m reading student papers as well. So I really like reading papers that let me get to know a little bit more about the student writer. So some of those more narrative papers are really interesting to me because they give me some insight into students who I don’t get to meet face to face. But I also really enjoy reading papers that teach me something that’s new and that’s relevant to my life in some way. Cause that’s kind of a fun little surprise when I open up a paper. So, for example, I recently read a paper that talked about animal therapy for autistic children. Which was really cool because I have a family member who uses that treatment. So it was exciting to see some of the research behind that approach.

 

CLAIRE: That is fascinating. I love that, too. I get to learn so much by reading student work here at Walden. I’ve learned so much about health care and business and leadership and disciplines that I didn’t really study, but that have always interested me. Speaking of student work, how would you describe your reviewing style or general approach? What could a student expect from a review with you?

 

CHERYL: Sure. As a reviewer I think of myself kind of like those people on the home improvement shows who walk into a house [laughs] so they walk into a house and they look at the bones. Right? They’re not necessarily looking at what’s on the surface of the house, but they’re looking for good bones. So my reviews tend to focus more on the structural and the organizational elements of a paper. And that’s cause I really like working with students with developing their thesis statements and figuring out how they might organize their papers in order to convey their ideas in the best way that they can to an audience of readers. So obviously that’s related to my own work with audiences and with readers. But, I don’t know I think it really makes sense to do that kind of bones structural work first, because when you’re working on a house, you wouldn’t start by changing the paint color and then knock out the wall. You want to start off with knocking out the wall and then figure out what color you want to paint it. So when I’m revieweing papers I find that often times writers already have all of the stuff, all of the ideas there. So the bones are good. But they might need to move things around a little bit to make that piece more accessible for readers to follow along.

 

MAX: Cool, I love this metaphor, too. I think we need to do something with it, like maybe a reality show?

 

CHERYL: I’m all for it.

 

MAX: Awesome! That sounds really good. [laughs] So if a student wanted to sign up for a paper review with you, Cheryl, would they be better off in the early stages of your writing? In the latter stages of their writing? Or when do you think it’s best to have a student come and submit their work in the Writing Center?

 

CHERYL: I really think that students can benefit from our paper reviews at any stage in their writing process. And I think the important thing is being willing to revise. Because if you’re at stage in your writing where you’re like, “I’m just done with this piece, I don’t want to think about it anymore” you’re probably not very open to feedback. So it’s important that, even if you’re in those later stages of your writing process, you’re still open to making some changes to your work based on whatever you hear from your instructor. And so, like I said, I’m really interested in helping students with organization and that can happen at later stages, because you might find that you have a fully completed paragraph that the paragraph itself is fantastic, but it just makes a little more sense for it to occur in a different place in the paper. Or, you have an idea where we could really use some more explanation as readers of your paper. That’s something that can occur even in those later stages.

 

MAX: Absolutely. And sometimes it just takes a trained eye of an outside reader to help you see those things. So, you’ve been writing for a long time now. What is the best piece of writing advice that you’ve ever received?

 

CHERYL: Ok, I have to admit, that I’m a recovering binge writer. [laughs] Not always a successful recovering binge writer. So the best piece of writing advice that I’ve received is one that I’ve had to hear over and over and over again. From all different angles. And that’s to write every day. So I think that’s maybe the most common piece of writing advice and I’ve had to hear it a lot. So what’s helped me embrace that advice is to recognize that that writing might not look anything like the finished product. So a lot of times I write responses to what I’ve read, or I might write a journal entry that’s like, “I’m having a really hard time with my writing today” and sort of exploring why I’m having that trouble. But it’s really important for me to just get those words down on the page because the more I chip away at actually sitting down at writing, the easier that process becomes.

 

CLAIRE: That makes a lot of sense. Do you have any, you know, particular advice for Walden students regarding that that’s been helpful to you? Something to make sure that you stay accountable to that daily writing?

 

CHERYL: That’s something that I’m constantly working on. What I’m thinking about right now, in terms of scheduling that writing time for myself, is figuring out what my priorities within sort of a 24 hour span, and when I’m best able to do my writing. So right now, my priorities include: spending time with my family, and going to work at my job, and then obviously getting some writing done on my dissertation. And I know that I do my best writing in the morning. So in order to maximize my time with my family, and make sure that I’m getting my work done, I’ve been getting up really early in the morning. Because I know that I have that time and I know that I’m not going to be distracted during that time because everybody else in my family is still asleep.

 

{Laughter}

 

CHERYL: So it means an earlier bedtime for me, but it’s been working pretty well so far.

 

MAX: Well I think you’re quite an inspiration and a really good model for the type of time management that Walden students kind of have to go through. So many of our students are kind of in a similar boat as you, Cheryl, working full time, doing the family stuff, making time to have fulfilling family lives and then still, kind of, undertaking the studies. I really like your priorities list and I think you’ve got a really great foundation for completing that dissertation that you’re working on.

 

CHERYL: Thanks.

 

CLAIRE: Well, with that in mind, is there anything else you’d like to say to our student listeners today, Cheryl?

 

CHERYL: Well I have to return the compliment and say that I find our students here at Walden really inspirational. And I find that reading student work is very energizing for me because I see all of you working on your own graduate degrees or any other academic projects that you’re working on and it inspires me to work on my own. So I have to say thank you for that. And I also do want to say you have an amazing amount of support available to you as a Walden student. So be sure to reach out, be sure to take advantage of all of that support that you have. Because everyone really wants you to succeed.

 

MAX: Well said.

 

CLAIRE: I feel so warm and fuzzy now!

 

{laughter}

 

MAX: Maybe we should just use that as our closer for today. That’s fantastic. Thank you so much, Cheryl.

 

CHERYL: Thank you!

 

CLAIRE: Well thank you again, Cheryl for being on the podcast today.

 

CHERYL: My pleasure.

 

CLAIRE: Students, we have a few different resources that might be helpful to you based on what we’ve talking about during the podcast today, and you can find them all linked from the blog post on this episode, which you can find at waldenwritingcenter.blogspot.com. And one of those episodes is The Five Rs of Revision, which is episode 14 of the podcast. You might also find 5 Tips for Establishing a Writing Practice, which is episode 18, useful.

 

MAX: And you know, Claire, Cheryl was mentioning writing every day and creating a daily practice. I think listeners would really get something out of episode 34 and 35 of the podcast – Taking Care of Yourself with Mindful Writing. And that’s the podcast episode for this month, listeners.

 

CLAIRE: Thanks for listening again today!

 

MAX: Until next time!

 

CLAIRE: Keep writing!

 

MAX: Keep inspiring!

 

[Music]

 

MAX: WriteCast is a production of the Walden University Writing Center. You can find past episodes on iTunes and on our website     . We’d love to hear from you. Connect with us on Facebook, on Twitter @WUWritingCenter, and on our blog: WaldenWritingCenter.blogspot.com. Thanks for listening!