National Day on Writing is a large-scale event dedicated to recognizing the role of writing in our daily lives. Established by the National Council of Teachers of English, National Day on Writing celebrates writing in all its forms and for all its purposes. IU East has been hosting events and activities related to National Day on Writing since 2013. This year’s activities promise to be rewarding and thought provoking, as the campus shares perspectives on writing and invites a pair of speakers to highlight the importance of writing in difficult times.
Kelly Blewett, director of the writing program at IU East, shared her passion for teaching writing, in an interview with IU East instruction librarian KT Lowe. Blewett noted that “No one can take what you write away from you. It’s a personal experience that moves your own learning journey forward and can help you figure out who you are and what you care about. There’s nothing more important to me, professionally speaking, than helping people along that journey.” IU East’s participation in National Day on Writing is just one of the many opportunities the English department offers to recognize and champion student writing. Others include the Celebration of Student Writing Day, held every April; Tributaries, IU East’s journal of student writing, which has been published in various versions since 1980; and events hosted on campus throughout the school year.
Events related to National Day on Writing will take place on October 21st in Whitewater Hall. This year, student and community perspectives on how writing helped them survive 2020 were collected from late September through mid-April, and will be shared on the IQ wall in Whitewater Lobby from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. At 4:00 (doors open at 3:30), Byron McCauley and Jennifer Mooney, authors of Hope, Interrupted, will be hosting a reading and question/answer session of their book in the Community Room. Byron is a journalist originally from Louisiana, while Jennifer is a business executive who was born in Canton, Ohio. As longtime friends, they began exchanging a series of letters at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, recognizing that they were living in extraordinary times. This book is a testimony to the power of writing and the enduring kindness of friendship.
Writing, however, can have an impact on a number of levels. As professor Blewett wrote, “I am fascinated by the way that writing happens in everyday moments, but then can last forever. Writing transcends time and space; the oldest written communication dates back over 5000 years. As modern writers, we are invited to join in conversations with people we may never meet. Whether we write scholarly articles, creative works or more everyday things like lists or paychecks, writing plays a fundamental role in our daily lives.
Yet not everyone can read and write – worldwide, only 86% of people are fully literate, with nations like Niger, in Africa, claiming a literacy rate of only 19%. Moreover, women in poorer nations tend to have lower literacy rates than men. The ability to write is neither automatic nor something to be taken for granted. Therefore, the need for occasions like National Day on Writing remain essential as a reminder of the importance of writing and its almost invisible presence in our daily lives. Professor Blewett sums up all the ways writing impacts her life:
“Seriously I can’t believe all the ways I use writing in my daily life–to keep myself on track, to help me remember details, to motivate myself, and to connect with friends. On top of that, I definitely use writing to help me understand things about the world. Every time I am writing a scholarly project, I am amazed by how much I learn through writing. I am more of a student than ever!”
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