DukeWrites Interviews Writing Tutor Alex Ruch

This week, DukeWrites interviewed the Writing Studio tutor Alex Ruch.
Photo of Alex Ruch

How long have you worked as a writing tutor at Duke?

I have been tutoring here for three and a half years. I also advise the Duke Creative Writing Group and work with Durham teens through the wonderful Write On! program.

Describe your particular approach to tutoring.

When I started out, I felt a lot of pressure to be an expert on all things involving writing, but after tutoring for a while, I realized that trying to be an expert actually got in the way of responding naturally as a reader. Now I try not to think of myself as a tutor at all, but as an interested reader of moderate intelligence who has some experience writing. I find this makes it much easier to ask useful questions and let the writers I meet with develop their own questions and concerns.

What do you think are the most useful resources at the Writing Studio?

The easiest answer is that we have so many handouts and links available 24 hours a day on our website. Among those, though, I keep coming back to the handout on revising for revising for clarity and conciseness. The tips it covers are simple but easy to forget, and they work for almost any piece of writing. It has definitely helped me improve my own writing!

Tell me about your work at Duke Creative Writing Group.

I have been working with the Duke University Creative Writing Group for a year and a half now. We meet weekly (Wednesdays at 8 pm in the von der Heyden Pavilion) to talk about pieces members are working on and communicate information about creative writing events, like NaNoWriMo(the National Novel Writing Month, which is now almost over). The conversation is pretty informal, and it’s a great place to go to get feedback on a piece and meet others interested in creative writing at Duke. The meetings are open to anyone, so feel free to drop by some Wednesday evening. We usually have a sign, but you can also look for me. We are currently working on a new print magazine of creative writing at Duke to fill some of the gaps not covered by The Archive and planning an open mic reading night at the Duke Coffeehouse for the Spring.

What do you do when you’re not tutoring?

This one has two answers, the academic one and the personal one. I picked up a PhD in Literature last year, and work on twentieth-century British and Irish literature. If you want to know more about that part of my life, you can find lots of info on my website. As for the rest of my life, I like to paint and am several years into an obsession with baking bread. I have some samples of the paintings on the website; for samples of the bread, you will just have to talk to me in person! I’m usually out selling it with Berenbaum’s outside the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

Where and when can writers find you this semester?

(Edited Spring 2012) I tutor at Perkins 112 on Monday nights, from 1-4 on Wednesdays, and from 10-4 on Thursdays. The Creative Writing Group is meeting at 7 on Tuesday nights this Spring, but the location is still fluctuating a bit. If you are interested, shoot me an email and I will let you know the current details.

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