We’ve been doing lots of reading, and you’ve got a longer-term reading assignment on your plate (see below!), so this week we’re going to tackle a writing exercise and discuss our findings!
I ask you: How can writing lead into an idea, and help us explore the possible?
Your prompt this week
Step 1: List 10 job you might have had if you’d had a different life. These can be dream jobs that you have no skills for, or a realistic option that you did not, for whatever reason, pursue.
Step 2: Choose one of these, and for thirty minutes, write about it. Why is it on your list? How would your life be different if this was your job? Maybe you list out pros and cons. Or you could choose to write out a “day in the life” of this alternate you. Maybe you end up writing about regret. Maybe you end up writing about hope.
Panelists will share their discoveries in our next session. What was the process like of choosing your Big Ten? How did you decide which life to focus on? What was it like imagining in this way? Did the exercise teach you anything about the role writing plays in your life, whether or not writing is part of your professional life?
⭐️ One more thing to think about is what writing implement you choose. I encourage you to try and use a pen or pencil on paper, but it’s ok to use a laptop if that’s more comfortable. The reason I like paper for these assignments is because it marks a clear differentiation between this work and your professional work, which most likely happens on a laptop. It puts us in a different headspace. If you choose to write on your laptop for this assignment, try and set up a situation that’s different from how you work. Is it moving to a room you don’t normally work in? Lighting a candle? Try and separate this writing from your work, whatever you do.
Ongoing reading assignment
There will be no Long Conversation on November 27. On December 4, we’ll be discussing Helen Keller’s memoir The Story of My Life. I would like everyone to read the book in its entirety (about 78 pages), so you’ve got three weeks to make it happen! There are also letters that chronicle Keller’s writing from the very beginning of her communication through to her entering college. Those are there for your perusal—there’s a lot to learn as you watch Keller coming into language.
This book is available on Holloway, a digital publisher of which, disclosure alert, I am Managing Editor. You’ll have to create an account to access, but the entire book is free! https://www.holloway.com/b/helen-keller-the-story-of-my-life
Thank you all for another wonderful week, and to our guest Dr. Yagelski for making it so special. Here’s the paper we brought up that came out of the aftermath of the 2016 election, on “writing as a way of being silent,” and “writing as a way of being together.” https://www.dropbox.com/s/ilgtgjcx5smka7e/Yagelski-Writing%20Silence%20and%20Well-Being-JAEPL-2018.pdf?dl=0
Have fun this week!