gdes/senior seminar/fall 2012

Writing notes. Sketching and Writing. Observing and Noting.

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Another note by Natalie Goldberg from Writing Down the Bones.

Be specific. Don’t say “fruit.” Tell what kind of fruit—“It is a pomegranate.” Give things the dignity of their names. Just as with human beings, it is rude to say, “Hey, girl, get in line.” That “girl” has a name. (As a matter of fact, if she’s at least twenty years old, she’s a woman, not a “girl” at all.) Things, too, have names. It is much better to say “the geranium in the window” than the “flower in the window.” “Geranium”—that one word gives us a much more specific picture. It penetrates more deeply into the beingness of that flower. It immediately gives us the scene by the window—red petals, green circular leaves, all straining toward sunlight.

Be specific. How long was that man on the phone? Was he a student or are you just labeling him “student’? What was he wearing? Was he talking on an iphone?

How many folks walked past wearing hedphones? backpacks? newspapers? What did they look like? How many people were sitting on that bench? For how long? Did they talk at all? It is the specific details that constitute a qualitative data collection. Be quantitative: how long? where too? what direction? how many? answer as many what, where and whens as you can.

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Author: laurachessin

photography, visual culture, graphic design

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