I am Gillian Rennie. Writing to discover what I think is how I negotiate with monsters. So here I try: keeping track, making sense, seeking meaning. I teach journalism students at Rhodes University. A lot of what I do relates to quelling fears – theirs and mine. One way for me to do that is to work alongside them; I do not ask students to fulfil tasks I am not prepared to do myself. So I blog because they blog. Which means we’re all anxious now. We chorus: what will I say? who will care?
There are people far more accomplished than me at learning and teaching, legions of better writers. What a bloody blogging cheek. But, I hear myself counsel them, it’s not those people writing. It’s you. What have you got to tell about the way you live the world – what is the you-ness of this blog? They stare at me. For a Tuesday afternoon, their breath is noticeably shallow. They have no answer. Exactly, I say. We have no idea. But we’re about to start finding out.
Remnants of earlier learning/teaching hopes do lie around the intersphere. I leave these remains there to show students that I don’t know as much as they would like me to.
I was a journalist for about 25 years. In the absence of a plan, I became an academic. Transferring such a long-held identity turned out to be a protracted process. But slowly I realised that I can no longer make meaning for others if I am unable to make it for myself. I would have saved myself a lot of time if I had just swallowed Virginia Woolf whole when she said How can I tell the stories of others if I cannot tell my own?
This is where I now wrestle.