Sensitive Topics

This blog relates exactly to that of Sarah M., who posted a few days ago. I have consulted with this “Bob” she speaks of twice, he actually mistakenly scheduled with Sarah the week before last. His work was actually creative non-fiction, which was more bothersome to me than it would have been had it been creative fiction. I have been struggling with these consultations since the first one occurred. I have not been sure how to take them, but I too, was pleased with how they occurred in the end. I have talked with Mike about these consultations on several occasions, and he is kind enough to make himself available in the Writing Center whenever Bob comes in, should I feel need to bring him into the consultation.

The extremely sexual nature of his work can be rather bothersome. During the course of the consultations I have engaged in with him, I have felt perfectly fine, being able to distance myself from the content of the text and focus on the formatting, but I have also found myself in positions of discomfort. On the most recent occasion, he asked me if I would read the text aloud, and I tried to ever-so-slyly turn the reading back to him because I could in no way comfortably read the material out loud.

I am not sure what to do with the situation. I have managed to place myself in a position in which I do the best I can to help him. I have been able to refer him to three books over our two consultations, which he has actually purchased and begun to read. I was quite pleased to learn this, that I was able to help him in some way at least.

I worry though, about the other consultations occurring at the same time as his. During my most recent consultation with him, there were several individuals listening in, curious of the content that was involved, and also keeping eye, Mike heard the entire consultation from essentially a couple rooms over, and I worry a little about the other students that come into the Writing Center, and if overhearing might be uncomfortable to them.

Does anyone have any suggestions for ways to make the situations more comfortable, not only for the consultant, but possible other people who might overhear and be bothered?


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  2. Creative non-fiction, huh? Yeah, I had my suspicions, but I didn't want to think about that too much.

    When I began to read out loud in the session I had with Bob, he actually admonished me to lower my voice. And I wasn't exactly bellowing it out. So, I think maybe it helps that he is aware of others in the writing center, but I don't have a solution as to how we could be more considerate.

    Just out of curiousity, had Bob made significant revisions since he was in last?

  3. Hey Sarah--I have a few questions for you...

    Is Bob bringing in revisions of the same draft? Or is he bringing in different ones to every consultation?

    The only reason that I ask is because if he's bringing in revisions of the original paper, you might be able to skate around the reading out loud issue. Maybe just have him go over the rewritten sections--transitions, grammar, additions, etc--and save yourself the situation.

    I also believe that Bob feels that he has repertoire with you, and perhaps that is why he keeps returning to consult with you. If this isn't the case, and you find yourself becoming increasingly uncomfortable with your sessions, perhaps it's in both of your best interests to be honest about it with him.

    If he does keep returning to consult with you throughout the semester, sooner or later your feelings about the situation are going to directly interfere with the consultations, and both of you might end up regretting the time spent in those consultations.

    Just a few things to think about, and I wish you the best of luck.

  4. Sarah- The revisions weren't significant from when you saw the paper, but there were a couple changes and additions made.

    Alisha- I appreciate your idea for skimming past elements already looked over, because, yes, it was the same piece being revised, and I hadn't thought about just going over the new elements. I'm not sure he would have gone for it though, he was very concerned about the piece as a whole, how it flowed and sounded, because that was something we went over the first consultation. I had brought up how abrupt certain elements were, so I'm betting it wouldn't have flown, but that is a great idea for future consultations, thanks.


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