As I ponder what it means to be a tutor, I first think of my own experience with writing. I ask myself why I write and what I hope to accomplish. In other words, I think it best to begin by putting myself in the position of a writer.
If someone were to ask what it is that I like most about writing, I would say that I am most fond of the autonomy it allows me and of how this allows me to connect with others. When I write, I extend a part of myself onto a medium, expressing myself with the hope that I can connect with an audience in some way, that I may both show and be shown, that I may both teach and be taught; this hope is why I write.
Yet I have found that this hope seems less realistic at some times more than others: Reflecting on my writing experience, academic or otherwise, I recall times of inspiration and of frustration, of despair and of triumph. Though one day I may feel like a paragon of writing prowess, I could easily lapse into doubt and frustration the next, as my purpose may be lost in the translation from mind to paper, or perhaps my purpose is ill-formed and lacking—there are numerous possibilities for why I could struggle on a given day.
However, when I have difficulty expressing myself, I find solace in one thing (Well, OK, more than one, but Iron Maiden and chocolate are not particularly relevant here): discussing my ideas with someone else. From another’s perspective, I can see beyond my mental horizon, and discover ideas that are hidden within me, as well as ideas that are outside of me. When I take part in such discussion, I benefit from being shown and taught.
Considering all of this, I believe that the role of a tutor is to provide the aforementioned external perspective.while allowing the writer to remain autonomous. As a tutor, I need not be an oracle; instead, I need to listen, observe, and share, helping writers to see outside themselves so that they may better see ideas and inspiration within themselves.