Dear SPN Students,
Our lives, our cultures are made up of many overlapping stories and experiences. If we listen to the media we may hear all the negative stories being pushed on us and may begin to believe that everything is bad. Everything. The New York Times reports August 28th, 2012: “Churning Storm Nears Hurricane Strength” “Court Rules Israel Wasn’t at Fault in US Activist’s Death” “Afghan Beheadings Could Signal Confusion in Taliban Ranks”. But as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author states, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” So, SPN friend and student, we ask you in this course to do perhaps what could be the most courageous act – we ask you to write. To write your own story. And not just one. We ask you to write as many stories as you can muster. And we, your instructors, are here, to teach, guide, and to support you in your individual writing endeavors. We are here to give you the freedom to wrench the stories from your gut and your intellect, and to encourage you to grow into an understanding that your stories are important both for you and for others. We will help you the best we can, while maintaining that ultimately it is all up to you to start, sustain, and finish your writing project.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
~Henry David Thoreau
I think of being human as a kind of writing incubator. You are your own hatching station.
If, at this time before our course begins, you know that you will be so busy living life that you have no time to sit down to do the readings or do a lot of writing, then you will have to ask yourself a question: is this the semester when I should be “standing up to live” rather than “sitting down to write?” If your answer is yes, then please consider putting off taking this course until the fall of 2013. To be a good writer requires that in addition to living, you also need to do much sitting. Richard Rhodes, the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his books, says that the most important part of the anatomy for a writer is not the hand, head, heart, or eyes…it is the butt. Without putting “butt to chair” on a regular basis, writing will not get done. Butt to chair is the basic posture for all writers. So, if you think that your activities for this upcoming semester are likely to take away all your time for writing/reading, then please drop the course. We will not ask you any questions or hold anything against you. In fact, we will respect and admire you for your good sense, honesty, and self-insight. And as SARK has reminded us perhaps your hatching is not yet ready. We are sure that Henry David Thoreau would be proud of you too, if what he says above is any indication.
photo credit: Bill Watterson