Today, I did my first e-mail consultation in the writing center. It was a little bit tougher than I thought. I remember doing one in the writing center class, but I guess that was easier, because I could take it home, think it over, and then write a response. But in the center, I only had 1 hour blocked off to read the paper, think about it, and then write a response. It took me longer than an hour. I’m not saying an hour is not long enough; I’m saying that I’m slow, probably because it was my first, real e-mail consultation. But it got me thinking about e-mail consultations, and how different they are from the other work I do at the writing center.
At first, when e-mail consultations were introduced to me, I kind of liked them more than other consultations, because I could sit down, and write a really thoughtful response, and then the student could actually have something to take home with them, instead of going off a few notes or off of memory. But, then, after doing a real e-mail consultation, I realized that it’s so one-sided. The awesome thing about face-to-face consultations is that they aren’t one-sided. A real conversation with the writer takes place, and as a consultant, I get more of a feel of where they are in the writing process, instead of just assuming where they are by only reading their work.
Writing the writer a response feels more like English Workshop classes—where your job is to practically criticize the work, instead of help the writer. Of course, constructive criticism can be good, but I don’t think it’s what most writers come to the writing center for. They want to be helped, not critiqued. I just hope my e-mail consultations sound positive and helpful, and not like criticism.
It’s hard enough for me to write an e-mail, limiting myself to only so much space, causing me to pick out only so much, to help the writer—but then I also have to make sure my words sound positive and helpful, too. Luckily, e-mail consultations are edited before they get sent out. J
I don’t mean to rant about doing e-mail consultations, because I honestly don’t mind doing them. It’s actually kind of nice to sit for an hour in the center, and read and write and think. It’s nice to not have to think on my toes, all the time. So, e-mail consultations do have their perks, but overall, I think it’s great that the majority of the work I do at the center, is with face-to-face consultations. It’s just so much nicer to have that in-person communication.