Writing that Wants to be Written

My MFA Thesis abstract at the Rhode Island School of Design, 2012:

In Strunk and White’s The Element of Style, the first principle of writing is: “Choose from a suitable design”. Design, before laying down a single word. It can be the structure of a novel (lines of text forming rectangular blocks, spreads separated by chapters, the plot triangle). It can be an academic report (the parameter of the page count; footnotes/endnotes, double-spacing for pen marks, introduction, argument, counter-argument, conclusion). It can be as granular as the paragraph unit. The indented extract. Marginalia. As marks, they are visual, and their formal qualities dictate certain principles of organization, spatial relations, narratives, and interactive inclinations. While another brand of graphic design may give form to existing content, this kind offers writers a formal framework within which to write, so that their writing might be transformative. 

I believe a suitable design must correspond to the patterns of communication technology engages us in at any given era. Today’s patterns lend themselves to attentions that are analytical, to relationships between reader and writer that are participatory, and to new contexts for textual experiences. My work entails the design of new writing frameworks that are informed by these patterns. As digital interfaces, they introduce 1) meta data tracking which support visual and multi-layered analyses, 2) social interactions as frameworks for collaboration, and 3) designed experiences that reestablish how text is valued in specific contexts. All offer new designs from which writers can choose. Designs that seek not only to evolve writing practice, but appropriately transfer the values of the old into the new. It is alongside this evolving system of communication which our culture embraces that suitable designs must be reinvented, now, as well as era after era, in order for the tradition of transformative writing to be sustained.  

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