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Last week in class, I mentioned that when writing about what I have been told by others I worry about the reliability of the material written.  At the time, Dr. Wolff asked me to clarify what this meant to me, but I did not answer.  Since then I have done much reflection, and I now know what it means to me.  First, I gave an example in class that night, which I felt might cause others to question the reliability of my work.  My mother grew up in foster homes her entire childhood since she was two, and she has told me several really fascinating, yet horrifying, stories.  For example, she was viciously abused, both physically and emotionally.  She observed other children being abused also.  She remembers waking another foster child late at night, telling her to go to the bathroom out of fear that if she wet the bed she would be once again smothered in her wet sheets, beaten repeatedly in her own urine, while wrapped in these ruthless rags of toilet torture.  As a writer, I would really like to discuss these stories in a nonfiction piece, yet I would like to do it without having to conduct an interview or feel as though the reader is saying, “How do you know exactly what happened?  This is heresy.  We want to hear from the mother.”  These words pierce my mind when writing about the words of others, for I have been taught that reliability is crucial in nonfiction writing.  

Strangely, this overbearing emphasis on reliability contradicts what Syverson suggests writers should do, namely to consider more than “what they know” during the writing process.  Reliability suggests that writers should ask what they know rather than what others know or what others have told them, thereby reinforcing writers once again to focus only on thought, namely what they know, as the primary contributor in the writing process.  Clearly, writers should consider more than what they know.  Therefore, this definitely makes for a great discussion and poses a really important question.  Should we be emphasizing reliability as much as we do in writing, and if so, how do we do it without compromising our active engagement with the complex system of writing?  Surely, the complex system of writing is something that just happens subconsciously, yet I believe if we learn to consciously embrace it we then will experience writing at a different level, a level of supreme mindfulness.  At this level, we will learn to embrace writing, not with our minds, but with our pens, our keyboards, our hands, our bodies, and our environments.

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