Another installment of our very own correspondences, the Letters of Questioning:
Dear island-bound Ravyn,
Oh, the painful irony! Unable to learn make it to your workshop because of an injured foot. A lesson in the importance of mobility? Cruel fate? A metaphorical missed step? Only a coincidence, of course, but definitely the material from which layered, poignant literary material is cut….
Missteps is a nice segue to my academic work. It goes slowly. Days where all I can do is focus on the work that pays the bills – the teaching, the extra job. Some days like today I can get a few hours in at the coffee house and get some serious work done~ Nevertheless, the work is important in its own fashion. The study of literature overlaps with history, anthropology, law, philosophy, art, music, science, even math (gasp!). But to me, the most important feature of that overlap – what literature uniquely brings to the table – is the study of ideology. How do people make ideas? How do ideas turn into a system of beliefs? How are those beliefs structured and how are they visible behind the things we do, say, and make? It’s endlessly fascinating to me. In one sense, I am a step closer today to understanding these things and helping make them legible to others, but in another very real sense, I’m learning over again every day.
So yeah … teaching mission statement. Mission statements are very hard to put into a concise form! This, you and I have learned well! How the hell, I ask you, do we squeeze the entire process of teaching and learning, one of the fundamental things which make us human, into just a few sentences?! (It makes about as much sense as a mission statement for writing!) But yes. They help! There is something you said about making the rewards we, as individuals, feel about writing or teaching sort of a central part of the statement. That helped me a lot. Seeing others grow as writers in my classroom is fundamental. It goes way beyond what the university as an institution can measure, too. For me, it is seeing students become critics, skeptics, trouble-makers in their own right. Cuz the world belongs to the trouble-makers!
Today is definitely a “words are nothing” day. That could mean a lot of things in itself! Words are easy; they are light; it’s nuthin. Or it can even mean the opposite: they’re meaningless, they’re trivial, they refuse to come; there’s nuthin there…. Yep. It’s a “words are nothing” day!
Where are you at when this letter finds you? I love your ideas for a book of prompts. That sounds like a kind of giving back after writing your flash fiction. After so much inspiration from the prompts of others, its time to give folks some prompts of your own! And the cycle goes ever on…. Are words everything, then? Ha!
Stomping in dizzying circles,
How about you, my friends? Do you find that you see who people are, what their ideas are from the essence of self in their work? Do you ever relate with words are nothing; both from the easy side or the trivial, meaningless side of things? What are your thoughts and feelings? Please, share with us your answers to our questions! This is so much bigger than the two of us, and we want you to be a part of it! And if you have any burning questions of your own, don’t hesitate, we are always looking deeper!