Tag Archives: writing

Kōkua Aku Kōkua Mai

girl and dog

When I am up against deadlines, I find that I constantly learn something about myself as a worker, as a researcher, as a writer, as a person. I was re-reading a Peter Elbow article to prepare for a writing workshop with my student teachers when I came upon one section in Writing Without Teachers where he talks about his process of writing for 45 minutes straight, putting it aside, and the next day writing again. It is a way to let the center of gravity of what you are trying to say bubble up on its own. I decided to try writing for 45 minutes on my article and just see what I was grappling with. Like he said, it was definitely a stream of consciousness mishmash of mostly questions that would hopefully lead me to some kind of direction.

However, instead of sitting on it, I decided at 10:30 at night to send it to a few critical friends who I knew were fast skimmers. What I asked them for was just to point out something poignant, something that piqued their interest as feedback for me and a little more direction from people who had no idea what I was trying to say or not say.

The results this morning were fabulous. The perspectives were different, but I have confirmation of my own thinking and I am challenged to go where I really did not want to go… but now I have to go based on my feedback. I will need to add this to my repertoire of writing process tricks. I will call it kōkua aku, kōkua mai and the trick is really to have handy a few critical friends who are willing to enter into this mutualistic relationship with me.

In Hawaiian, kōkua is to assist. The aku and mai are directional markers, so aku is away from the speaker and mai is toward the speaker. It is a mutualistic relationship because when help is asked for, give it, and when help is needed, ask. It forces me to set ego and vulnerability aside, but also to jump when the same is asked of me. If that is how the world always worked, we would have a really great world.

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