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English professor’s writing process, new novel highlighted in Oregonian

July 16, 2012

When sitting down to write in his office at Lewis & Clark, Pauls Toutonghi, assistant professor of English, used to reach for a towel. Not because writing worked up a sweat, but because covering up the screen helped free him from overthinking his words. Today, he uses a wireless keyboard.

“It really helps, and this is why it helps: because it disables the critical faculty,” Toutonghi says. “I can’t see what I’m typing. It’s full of typos, but if I’m sitting here and it’s going on the monitor over there, I’m not self-editing.”

Toutonghi, popular at Lewis & Clark for his courses on the rock-and-roll novel and fiction writing, was recently the focus of the Oregonian’s Where I Write, a series that uses work space to explore the hows and whys of writing. Toutonghi’s office is his sanctuary and the place where he wrote almost all his new novel, Evel Knievel Days.

“[Writing is] just what I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s immensely satisfying to me,” Toutonghi says. “It’s a way of ordering the world. The world is so overwhelming, and to be able to describe anything in it and communicate that description to another person is the only thing that’s really interesting to me.”

Learn more about Paul Toutonghi’s work:


[Story updated December 6, 2012]


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