Tag Archives: learning

NaNoWriMo, Day 11: 8,000 Words in the Red

keep-writingCaveat: This is a political post. I’m also gonna talk about religion.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we usually post our Pep Talks on Sundays, at the top of the week, and this Sunday I’ll have the pleasure of posting a Pep Talk from Rob Greene, Chair of the NH Writer’s Project.  But for many of us it’s been a tough week, and frankly I needed a Pep Talk myself.  So I wrote one.

Election Day, post-election week/8,000 words in the red = 8,000 tears I’ve shed

If you know me, you’ll know I did not vote for Trump. I believe Trump is inexperienced, but worse, a charlatan. Tuesday night, I watched the election returns report his climbing numbers in total disbelief. To be honest, I’ve watched Trump’s entire campaign in disbelief during which I have experienced many nights filled with anxiety, and when I could sleep, it was a poorly spent night of fitful unrest. Wednesday was hard. I was crying. I was disappointed. Pro-Clinton friends were  comforting each other. Pro-Trump friends were rejoicing and I was trying to listen and understand their perspective. One friend posted this on Wednesday –

I will choose love.

This morning I have a heightened awareness of my calling and responsibility as an artist – to tell the stories that help others choose love as well, to tell the stories of those who have no voice, to be a powerful and yet compassionate prophetic voice.

Thank you Lord, for reminding me that the arts, my life’s work and my true joy, matters.

-Catherine Pleis Gaffney

Many who work in the arts are politically left and progressive and are being particularly vocal on social media in the election aftermath. However, logic dictates that there are conservatives and Trump-supporters working in the arts, who, at least on my feeds, have not been as vocal; nevertheless, this call to love needs to be for ALL OF US.

My Nano project is retelling a Greek myth, so I’ve been reading about Olympian and pre-Olympian pantheism and classic Greek poets and trying to understand that culture through the sieve of my Christianity. To stay true to my beliefs, I need to wrestle with pagan ideas and reinterpret them, while maintaining some integrity of the story and respect of the culture of the time. The piece has already unearthed themes I’ve never written about and since it’s my practice during NaNoWriMo to write fluidly by adding in inspiration from current events (which have been anything from an overheard conversation to a news event), I am also processing my hopes and disappointments about the election and funneling that into the book. With every new project we have an opportunity to grow in our craft, and I encourage you to continue to be a voice and a mirror to our society.

I heard an interview with author Richard Russo on NPR on Wednesday, and he says this, when host Renee Montagne asked about

“the responsibility that…writers have, if any, in this very new era in American life?”

RUSSO: Well, it’s a new era in one way, and in other ways, it’s just the same old world. It hasn’t really changed. And I don’t think that the purpose of literature has changed either. I think we writers do have a responsibility, first to entertain, but second to instruct by bearing witness. If we had a great responsibility before this election, I would say we have, perhaps, an even greater one today.

Russo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and screenwriter. “Nobody’s Fool,” “Empire Falls” and his latest, “Everybody’s Fool,” explore the world of the white, male, blue-collar demographic that carried Trump to victory.  This is not my demographic. I am a Filipino-American, Protestant, white collared woman. I have never read Russo, but I connect with him as a fellow-author who puzzles over their world.

Yes, I encourage you to begin a peaceful transition, and I encourage you to begin listening to each other and to try to move toward understanding the point of view that is opposite your own. This does not mean we rewrite history by erasing hateful things the president-elect has said and the violence he has incited. I hope my fears are unfounded and I hope I am wrong. I sincerely hope Trump’s campaign has not been a vanity project,  but history  will hold him to the truth as well.

A NaNoWriMo call to arms has always been, “The World Needs Your Novel,” and if we are to come together, we need many voices, and many views, and many compassionate hearts listening to each other and sharing our stories.

Your Novel will bring about that future.

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A Comic Dissertation

Jsmall_03_09_irrationalTrue fact: Even though I lived through its writing, I have never read my husband’s dissertation. I probably never will. I don’t say that arrogantly; I know I’m not the intended academic audience, so unless he pares it down for popular publication, it will remain on the shelf.

This guy, though, this guy, Nick Sousanis (Columbia University Teacher’s College, 2014), I’d love to get my hands on his dissertation. Titled “Unflattening: A Visual-Verbal Inquiry Into Learning in Many Dimensions,” it’s written and illustrated in graphic novel form. Believed to be the first dissertation of its kind, the project caught the attention of The Chronicle of Higher Education, which notes that the dissertation “…explores how comics’ interwoven el­ements open up new ave­nues for creating and learning that aren’t possible through writing alone. Mr. Sousanis calls the work a series of “philosophical essays” that employ images and metaphors. He uses a text outline as a scaffold to flesh out sketches on large sheets of paper, and finishes the final drawings on a computer.”  You can read the full article here, find out more about Dr. Sousanis here and order a copy of “Unflattening” from Harvard University Press here.

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