Debby Ellis Writing Center
Hi there! I’m Vanessa, a sophomore Biochemistry major.
I remember poring over my favorite book as a seven-year-old, sitting with my legs bent in the awkward “W” shape that would supposedly ruin your joints, and underlining my favorite parts in the yellowing, gold leaf pages. In retrospect, it was a little odd that I was so obsessed with my mother’s 1989 Webster’s dictionary, but it sparked my love for all things linguistic. There were so many things to say and so many ways to say them! The almost scientific precision of words gave me the ability to say what I was thinking with uncompromising exactness.
This was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, this newfound power of words made me an enthusiastic writer. I would write everything from poetry to faux newspaper articles. To the chagrin of my English-teaching mother, however, it was all tongue-in-cheek. Academic writing didn’t always take well to my plucky style, and I was left feeling creatively stifled. In my mind, it was all or nothing; either I unapologetically splattered words on a page with no regard for my audience, or I regurgitated whatever vapid phrases I thought the reader would want to hear.
Many years of writing later, I’m happy to say I’ve found balance between the two. The rules of formal writing aren’t a cage, they are the final piece in the puzzle of effective communication: an awareness of the audience. Who would have guessed that people respond better to palatably phrased opinions than offbeat humor? While there might not always be a place in academic writing for cheek, there is always room to express your true sentiments. As a consultant, I hope to help you organize this beautiful mishmash of a language into communicating exactly what you want to say.