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December 6, 2017: The Writer’s Life: High Hopes

I remember once reading an article in which the writer (I forgot his name, could have been James Dickey) criticized writers who don’t set their hopes high enough. He said that writers should strive to have their work stand the test of time, and added that merely aspiring to be published in the New Yorker isn’t even an aspiration.

Today, as I was cleaning the horse pen, I most likely made Dickey roll over in his grave. I began thinking of how cool it would be to be the commencement speaker at Mat-Su College. A low aspiration in terms of the big picture for sure, for Mat-Su College is (supposedly) a Podunk college that only a handful of people in the Lower-48 know about. It has not even been listed in Playboy Magazine’s Top Ten Party Schools. I did have the privilege of teaching at two of these colleges, Plymouth State College in NH and Slippery Rock College in PA.

I at first thought some about what I’d say, if I was asked to speak at Mat-Su College – all that came to mind were platitudes. Then the perfect topic came to mind, the title of my talk would be If You Come to a

Fork in the Road, Pick it Up. Right then I knew that I was on to something because the metaphor that I am in relying upon in writing this book is applicable to graduating college students.

I would first talk about the book, and how the title came to be, and how it fit in with the journey of the Alaska State Fair recyclables. I’d then talk about some of the forks in the road that I came to in writing the book, one being mediating between exposition and narration, and another being finding the elusive focus. I’d then talk about academic forks in the road, particularly as this relates to academic literacy, first drawing upon self-example, the main one being the difficulties I had in transitioning from a small, two year college (Cobleskill Agricultural and Technical College) to a larger, four school (The University of New Hampshire). I might then suggest ways in which students might deal with the forks that are ahead of them.

Geez, I really like this idea. Well, I am not a person of any notoriety, being in no inner circles locally, nationally, or internationally. But when this book gets published, I am going to who it is who arranges for commencement speakers at Mat-Su College and I am going to pitch my idea to them, adding that it is right up there with Dr. Suess’s Oh The Places You Will Go. My idea is really good, so the powers that be will at least pause before saying no. Then a few days later I will get a phone call that will begin “You know, we’ve been thinking about your idea. . .”

After, I’ll write an article for the New Yorker, one in which I write about having dealt with the commencement-related Fork in the Road.

Next: 338. 12/7/17: On the Most Dark of Day

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