May 30, 2020
Fresno State students, faculty and staff write their major and why writing is important to them during The National Day on Writing on Oct. 21, 2017) (Alexandra Harrell/The Collegian)

Why is writing important to Fresno State?

Whether a blogger, book writer, magazine or news writer, everyone is a writer.

Last Friday, the Henry Madden Library hosted The National Day on Writing, a celebration that highlighted the importance of writing.

The event was commemorated by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), but it was noted by Dr. Thomas McNamara, assistant professor in the rhetoric and writing studies program at Fresno State, that writing is not reserved just for English majors.

McNamara said having the writing event outside of schools encourages people to reflect on how much they write and, sometimes, why they write.

“Writing is a part of our daily lives through social media,” McNamara said.

National Day on Writing encourages writing in across North America – particularly in churches, schools, libraries, community centers and universities – according to Dr. Reva Sias, an assistant professor in the rhetoric and writing studies program at Fresno State.

“Not only am I sharing my voice,” Sias said. “But I’m also in conversation with others that have similar thoughts or even counter thoughts. [I’m] always in conversation with the community.”

Sias discovered political power through her love of writing.

“Historically, people have used literacy practices, used writing, to marshal a people towards something that was bigger than themselves,” Sias said.

Sias sees writing as a form of protest. It can be a form of giving marginalized people a voice on a particular topic. It allows people to have a voice on any platform, she said.

“Where the written word sometimes gets marshaled in who has power to produce a printed work, your individual writing still allows you your own agency to say what you want to say and to put your voice out there on any subject,” Sais said.

Those who attended the reception used social media to share about the event and were encouraged to brand their messages with the hashtag “#WhyIWrite.”

Boards were set up so attendees could respond to why they write and post them for everyone to see. The responses varied from writing “to express myself” to having ones voice be heard.

The reception also featured a keynote speech from Dr. Nicole Gonzales Howell, Fresno State alumna and assistant professor of rhetoric and language at the University of San Francisco.

During the keynote, she gave the audience a call-to-action – wanting those who fight for a better future through writing to remain fueled toward social justice.

“The social change that I write and work for, I will never see,” Howell said. “We don’t fight for our tomorrow, we fight for the next generation’s tomorrow.”

Nylah Pehrson, a fourth-year English education major, said she writes to change the world.

“If we are willing to write our problems and get enough people to read how minorities, women and transgender people feel, we can all really influence and educate people,” Pehrson said. “I think writing is the safest and best way to do it.”

Writing has a great influence on the political climate, Pehrson said. She has personally seen literature influence the lives of the people around her and help in their judgement of others.

Generally, writing has the power to change everything, Pehrson said.

She recalled the works of people such as Martin Luther, Emily Dickinson and Anne Bradstreet and how their writing had an impact on the world.

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