Social: Caffe Gelato, 5:00–6:00
Seminar: 316 Gore, 6:00–7:15
Special Guest: Janel Atlas, author of They Were Still Born
Thinking About How Audience Helps to Shape How a Story Is Told
Fastwrite: The same tragic story of stillbirth drives each of the three pieces by Janel that I’ve asked you to read. But the way Janel begins that story differs—slightly but, I think, significantly—on each occasion. Please reread the first few lines of each of her pieces, and jot down some notes on what you find (a) interestingly different, and (b) importantly the same.
Before she was born but after she was dead, I decided that there must be a book. There had to be a collection of stories written by people who had firsthand experience with stillbirth in their own lives, who had stared into the abyss of burying a baby and lived to tell the tale.
I sought this book, frustrated, in the library. I looked for it online. I kept thinking perhaps it would appear on a different shelf or at the top of the next search returns. But it didn’t.
And so I determined to make one myself. (Atlas 2014)
Eight months into a healthy pregnancy, my belly suddenly hung lower. I noticed that the baby’s movements slowed, decreased in frequency, and seemed sluggish compared to just a few days before.
Concerned that something might be wrong, I called my obstetrician’s office and described what I’d noticed. . . . (Atlas 2017a).
Through the night, waiting for labor to progress, I heard babies’ first caterwauls. Drifting down through the sterile hospital hallway came the sounds of laboring women, supportive nurses, encouraging partners. I turned onto my side and cradled my hugely pregnant belly in the crook of my arms.
I already knew that my baby would make no sounds in the delivery room when she was finally born.
I knew because she was already dead. (Atlas 2017b)
And then we’ll talk with Janel—about these three pieces, audience, writing in general, writing online, and anything else that seems useful!
We will not meet again as a seminar until Monday, 10/30/2017. During that time we hope that you will be working on the first full draft of your Curriculum Unit. That unit is due on October 30. Please email me and Kathy your draft before seminar meets that evening. Title your document <Lastname Draft 1>.
I would then like to spend some time in seminar on Monday, 11/06/2017, workshopping these drafts in small groups. During the next two weeks (when again we won’t meet as a group), I will schedule a one-on-one conference with each of you to talk in detail about your work.
I’d also like us to read and discuss the other book we ordered for this seminar: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Please plan to read to page 130 by October 30, and to finish the book for November 6. Remember that November 6 is also “Bring A Friend”evening; I hope you will do so!
This is the time when everything starts to come together! I’m excited to read your work!