In March 2020, while most students were at home making whipped coffee and binging Netflix shows, senior Rachel Wei, a triple major and Cornelius Vanderbilt scholar, was writing a book. Wei’s new book titled “Primed: The Everyday Art of Rhetoric” gives readers the tools necessary to become more proficient communicators and therefore more successful students and people.
“I was looking for something meaningful to do that would be fun and entertaining,” Wei said. “And I came across a program led by a Georgetown professor that helps you write a book and get it published.”
Led by professor and entrepreneur Eric Koester, the Book Creators Community has helped over 800 first-time authors publish books, Wei said.
“I had always been interested in language, especially the way that a lot of public figures speak,” Wei said. “It is interesting to observe how they convey themselves, and how they can change peoples’ perspectives of themselves simply through their use of language.”
With majors in English Literature, Biology and Human and Organizational Development, Wei was able to use diverse skills from the classroom to look at different fields. These fields actually have much in common from the perspective of the importance of language.
“Writing is a skill that can always be perfected,” Wei said. “The diversity of requirements within the English major alone forces you to seek opportunities you normally would not. Also, having three different majors has made me a more curious person overall.”
Language is a common theme not only in her book, but throughout her life. In addition to being an author, Wei was a columnist and editor for The Hustler and formerly served as Director of Communications for VSG.
“Writing is something that comes naturally to me, and I truly enjoy it as it helps me reflect on my own life and the world around me,” Wei said.
Despite her excitement for the book, Wei found the process to be challenging as she had never met a writing assignment quite this large before.
“Getting the process started for writing a book was really intimidating, especially since I am a student,” Wei said. “Imposter syndrome came in and made me question if I am even a good writer. I decided to go field by field, and that is how I broke up the really broad topic of language.”
Wei said that balancing school work, a social life and the book was difficult at times. As with any tough assignment, Wei felt she had to push through some stressful times to meet her editing and publishing deadlines. A self-proclaimed workaholic, however, Wei said she can focus on multiple assignments without getting easily overwhelmed. She even said the work never really felt like work because she was so fascinated by the topic.
“I was able to interview people with interesting stories and that was really exciting,” Wei said of the professors and language experts she spoke to; including Marvin Diogenes, director of Stanford’s writing and rhetoric program, and Hannah Riley Bowles of the Harvard Kennedy School. “It felt like an independent project that other people would be able to benefit from.”
The book’s title can be broken down into two parts, both pertaining to language. “Primed” first shows that language will prepare a person to be successful in any walk of life or career, and “The Everyday Art of Rhetoric” then demonstrates how language can be an everyday tool.
“Language is not as archaic and intimidating as it might seem,” Wei said. “I wanted to use the word rhetoric in my title specifically, because I don’t think we formally discuss it very much in a leisurely reading book.”
As people grow older and wiser they naturally become better and stronger writers, especially in the nonfiction field. Writing a book may seem like the ultimate writing challenge, but Wei said she encourages readers to go for it.
“The pandemic gave me the opportunity to just go for it. A lot of the skills necessary for writing a book—like interviewing and editing—we already have access to,” Wei said. “So it is a great challenge to put these skills into practice. Ultimately, keep writing and keep reading because we absorb so many skills through practice.”
“Primed: The Everyday Art of Rhetoric” is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, in Nashville at Parnassus Books and is also available as an e-book.