Walter L. Dutton - Writer - Teacher
Writing to enjoy reading.
Personal Essays
CSU Summer Arts Memoir
About Us
Contact Us
New Listings
University Writing
First-Year Writing Class
Transition from HS
Critical Thinking
Thinking Process
Textual Analysis
Pre Writing
Organizing Your Essay
Other Ways
Writing the Essay
The Thesis
Article Analysis
Analyzing Fiction
Grading Rubric
Argumentative & Analytical Essays
Misusing & Avoiding Words
Student Comments
American Culture
Native American Culture
Family History
Family History II

Welcome! Read and enjoy!

I love reading and writing. I love to teach my students to write well. I love to talk about writing with others who love writing. Well, you get the idea. Join me in discovering the wonderful world of words - their usages, etymologies, and behaviors. I was hooked on reading and writing by age five and since then have found knowledge of words to be my most useful skill and endeavor. It seems I can never read enough or write enough; not just for publication but to communicate with people effectively. If your reader feels, sees, senses, and imagines the world created in your words, you have given that person a wonderful gift. Memoir, mystery, police procedural, legal thriller, psaychological thriller, family history, short stories, or poetry can evoke passion, images and the reader's ability to imagine wondrous places and fates. I write for pay, too! If you use my "Contact Us" form, you can contact me and we can talk about your writing project!  I am interested whether your project is a personal essay, a college admission essay, a memoir, fiction, or a college essay on whch you need help. Of course, for college essays, I will not write it for you but, I will provide guidance and suggestions that will improve your essay. Contact me about your work ideas and projects. I am excited about helping other.

The section on brain injury and writing stems from my M.A. thesis: "Using Story in the Rehabilitation of Persons with Acquired or Traumatic Brain Injury" (CSUSM - 2004). If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury, of any kind, story can work wonders in the rehabilitation of thought processing, memory access, and day-to-day activities.

The section on writing for first-year university students stems from my work as an adjunct professor in the Literature & Writing Studies Department at CSUSM. I love to teach. It is a lot like trying a case before a jury. I have developed wonderful friendships with many of my former students as they graduated and moved on into the business world or their chosen careers. Critical thinking, reading and writing analytically must be learned by first-year students and this part of the web site is my humble contribution to try to help. Analysis, like diagnosis, is necessary to reason what has gone amiss before a prognosis and treatment can be planned. This is true for automobile mechanics, physicians, psychologists, attorneys, business managers, engineers, teachers and many other professions.

This web site is separated by categories. The first pages are designed to help novice writers with memoir, personal essays, family history and creative nonfiction. The second part, which begins with University Writing and ends with Native American Culture, is purposely maintained for use by first-year students at the university level. I use these pages while teaching first-year students rhetorical analysis and critical thinking.  The third part begins with Brain Injuries and concludes with ABI/TBI Links. These pages stem from the thesis I wrote for my M.A. in Literature & Writing Studies. I base it upon the idea that speech deficits, memory access deficits, reading and writing deficits, and word related deficits can be more quickly rehabilitated with the use of story and narrative creation. My personal experience is what I base my argument upon and I support my argument with the writings and comments of other brain injured persons, who graciously gave me permission to use theiur stories and writings. Finally, the last section is my family history, begining with Genealogy to the end of the web site. I have investigated my family history for decades, laboriously tracing each ancestor through records (e.g., military, court, wills, deeds, vital records, stories and even newspaper items). This is a task that brought me close to many previously unknown relatives and opened my eyes to the wonderful world of genealogy.

I am a perpetual student; one who studies and loves to learn.  My business is also writing: 

I can write a piece for you or mentor you as you write it. The rate I charge differs according to the nature of the writing desired, e.g., personal essay, memoir of essay or book length, or a family history project. Mentoring means that you first read specific works I recommend building a knowledge base. The works (essays, books) are chosen based upon the sort of writing you want to accomplish. Once you have studied the material, you will send me a copy of the materials (news stories, obituaries, certificates, letters, photographs, et cetera). We will discuss the voice in which you wish to write your work and plan important details of content, style and structure so that you accomplish what you want. Only you know how your family and friends will react to a memoir that includes them. Working together, we will organize the work by outlining it. I like to keep flexibility in works as they grow so that you, as the owner and author, can make changes to the work as it is written. Often a writer finds her voice during this process, and discover a style that suits her best. Keeping the voice consistent is important.

Payment to me is made pursuant to a signed agreement which is written and signed by both of us before we begin. My mentoring of or assisting the writing for combat veterans is a greatly reduced amount. The contract is important because it is binding upon both of us and both of us must meet our promises. The content of the agreement will be clear and contain time requirements for both work and payments (as well as how payments are made and what happens if one of fails to comply with the agreement). It will address what happens if either of us need to cancel the agreement, too.

Some of the important things you need to think about before you retain me to work are things like (1) what and who do you want to write about (memoirs usually include a number of people and events and family histories cross generations and state and even international lines of place and time), (2) do you have all the data  (pictures, letters, news stories, other printed material) you will need, (3) whether you want to use fiction techniques to dramatize or enliven the reading, and (4) whether you are prepared to pay me for my work. Let me give you an example: I met with a person who had escaped from a country at war with America. She wanted her escape and family story of tragedy told. She had typed about fifty pages of writing about some of the events and people but, the writing was not publishable for a number of reasons. She wanted me to take those pages and some pictures and write her memoir. I advised her that the material was written in very general terms and the details needed would have to come from some fairly lengthy interviews I would have to complete. There would be questions to follow the interviews and requests for corroboration of some facts because she was labeling some people as killers, kidnappers, and similar criminals. She did not understand the concept of libel. When it came to payment for my work, she said she could not pay me as we worked but wanted me to instead accept as the only payment, the royalties from any book sales. I do not work on contingency as an author because no one can know if a book will sell or not. Writing a book length memoir takes an immense amount of effort and no small amount of time. I suggested she needed to consider these issues and reschedule a meeting if she then wanted to proceed. I never heard from her again. I was not surprised. 

 A family history book can be challenging and a lot of fun. The discoveries of information about ancestors can be quite enlightening. It is very important to think about whether you want a true family history or a shorter work, perhaps like a memoir, that involves only three or four generations. A memoir I recently read drew comparisons between the eldest men of each of three generations. This focus was chosen before the writing began and allowed the author to organize the memoir skillfully. It was not a family history in the sense that it did not treat each family member equally nor provide a lot of the data commonly included in a family history. These books can be full of facts, including brief recitations of stories, but usually do not include dramatization. Other family histories are written using dramatization of exciting events when it is called for and personality or emotion driven writing in other parts. There are many ways to write these works and that is decided before we begin.

If you are interested in pursuing the writing of a work and want to discuss it with me, use the  "Contact Us" page, found in the text links column to your left, and e-mail me. I check my e-mail daily and will respond promptly.