Writing comes alive

- March 12, 2007

Gail Lethbridge

Dr. Sunny Marche, wearing a bright yellow T-shirt and eating potato chips, sat in the Scotiabank Auditorium typing on a laptop computer while a large video screen displayed his work. It was not the typical process for researching and writing an academic paper, but part of a unique experiment that Dr. Marche conceived.

Entitled Write Here in Plain Sight (WHIPS), the event was designed to allow a glimpse into the private world of writing. While he wrote, Dr. Marche offered an ongoing discussion of his project (even providing some sage advice on computing power when his voice recognition software slowed down). His research-while-writing style provided unique insight into the thought processes of an accomplished academic. 

Chronicle Herald newspaper columnist Gail Lethbridge took a different approach. She relaxed in front of her computer surrounded by two empty coffee cups, a bottle of water and a home decorating magazine (her 'muse' for the day). Friendly and engaging, Lethbridge chatted with onlookers as she wrote her weekly column. When asked by an audience member if she could be productive in such an environment Lethbridge described her home life: "Two kids, a cat, kids' friends, a partner, and lots of dust bunnies. I work in a whirlwind, so when they said I could come here and people would just watch me work, I thought that was great." 

Lethbridge's style of creative writing appealed to third year History/English student Ingrid Gushurst, "I was very interested to see Gail Lethbridge write. Creative writing is often a very personal thing. To be able to see someone like her writing her column so openly is great." 

The experiment included Dalhousie academics Dean Irvine (English), Lyn Bennett (English), Jack Duffy (Industrial Psychology), and Carolyn Watters (Computer Science). The entire event was filmed and a video will be made available to students wanting to improve their academic writing skills. Gail Lethbridge's completed column will appear in the March 17 issue of the Chronicle Herald.


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