Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Credit Where Credit is Due

(The photo is of a stack of books on my desk awaiting my entry into various documents I call "quotes to use for __" [fill in the blank specific book or teaching project]. I have a whole set of online interviews/documents I also keep in files for use in teaching/writing...)

Yesterday, a student who does both academic and non-academic writing and publishing mentioned that she's taking a short course at the university about how to use Endnote so it can do all of your attribution and bibliographing for you. For a long time now, I have suspected (since I graduated from college in 2000) that there must be programs that could do these things for me - help me find quotes (yes, I already use Google Library and even Amazon at times), attribute them, sort them.

I read. A LOT. 

I constantly have my nose in something - in one of the many magazines I read weekly/monthly (The Sun, Shambhala Sun, Buddhadharma; New Yorker, Harper's; Bitch, Bust; Glimmer Train, Poets and Writers, Writers Digest) or books - usually one writing, one dharma, one fiction, one essay, one poetry book at any time. Often, I won't be quite sure how an idea came to fruition in my writing/mind - my life is an embarrasingly rich world of words - 40+ students a week, many good friends with whom I have powerful conversations weekly, and all that reading.

Phew. It's hard to keep track, in my mind, much less on paper.

I have been making a more concerted effort lately, entering quotes in to the computer, instead of just hoping that by dog-earing a book and putting it back on my shelf I will recall where its brilliance is located when I hope to cull it, for instance. I tried note cards again, for the first time since college, awhile back, but they don't work for me (just as they didn't work for me then). I'm unlikely to use a program like Endnote, but I am finally finding my own way to own and give credit where credit is due, unless the credit (like to my anonymous student who is now using Endnote) is given but without identifiers. Even then, I want to recall, if not who, or if "who" is inappropriate, when/what/how.

Including to my own thoughts. And so I am finally doing it - writing the books on Miksang and on Writing that I have thought about writing in the past. When culmination occurs around an idea I have seen arise hundreds of times in the last few years of teaching, I can finally get something down on page. I can respect my own experience as some kind of authority, and trust that what I have to say, based in those years of reading and listening and writing, is enough.

I am enough. My students have certainly told me as much, as have my teachers. Now I can finally give myself credit where credit is due - in my own writing, with appreciation and attribution where those, too, are due - to those same students and teachers who, over the years, have made my own experiences worth something to write about.

Thanks to the books and magazines and people; to the sunsets and sunrises and silent moments.

(Credit where credit is due - the books in the photo above are, from bottom to top:
Sam Hamill's translation of The Art of Writing by Lu Chi
So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
Fuel by Naomi Shihab Nye bonus: Nye interview with Bill Moyers - transcript
Notes on the Need for Beauty by J. Ruth Gendler
Half Wild by Mary Rose O'Reilly
The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje bonus: Ondaatje reading Cinnamon Peeler
A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe by Fernando Pessoa (translated by Richard Zenith)
as always, please support as many local and little bookstores - and/or the publishers themselves - as you can when purchasing books)

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