Hustlers like Hosseini

As students of writing, we are often given opportunities to learn about writers we may not have ever heard about. Ones with styles unique to our own, who can give us new insight into how we may present our writing to the world or how to improve our own writing techniques. For most of us Eagles, it’s likely that we’ve often been instructed to read, study, and analyze the writings of mainly European or American writers. Although there are numerous talented writers that are American or European, it is best to not forget that writing and writers are just as diverse as the populations of the earth, meaning that we ought not to limit ourselves in our studies. The field of writing is open for all writers of any nation, of any descent.  

Meet, for example, novelist and physician Khaled Hosseini. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Hosseini and his family were quite accustomed to the refugee life. When Hosseini was eleven years old, he and his family were forced to relocated to France because their home-land was invaded. Four years later, because they were still unable to return to Kabul, Hosseini’s family applied for and were granted political asylum in the United States, and shortly after were given citizenship.

While Hosseini was studying medicine in the United States, he also worked on his first novel, The Kite Runner, a work of fiction which centers around the life of an adult Afghan refugee who tries to heal from the trauma he experienced as a child. It centers around the themes of the violence and warfare; its effects on family and children; and how those affected can learn to accept and recover from the violence. Hosseini, however, was quite unaware at the time that his first novel would become an international success, becoming available in over sixty countries, and remaining on the bestseller list of his own country for well-over a year. When being interviewed about what aspiring (and veteran) writers can do to improve their craft, he presented us all with his simple, but worthwhile advice:

“Read a lot. Read new authors and established ones, read people whose work is in the same vein as yours and those whose genre is totally different. You’ve heard of chain-smokers. Writers, especially beginners, need to be chain-readers. And write every day. Write about things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.”

Hosseini is just one of the many brilliant examples of writers we may not hear too much about. However, fellow Eagles, let not our sights become narrow to the writers who are just like us. We will never grow that way. Instead, let us collectively open up our minds to exploring writers who are totally different from us. We have so much to learn.    

Nicholas Kristof and the Big Power of Small Acts

The Performing Arts Center was absolutely smack full on Monday night for guest speaker Nicholas Kristof.

Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prizewinner, New York Times columnist, and is–along with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn–the author of several books, including most recently A Path Appears: Transforming Lives Creating Opportunity. For him to visit the university was both a privilege and a treat.

Kristof was almost immediately recognizable as a writer–he was simultaneously soft-spoken and commanding, as well as passionate about human rights, a field he knows incredibly well as an international columnist. But he was not there to speak on writing. Kristof was instead interested with imparting on the students and faculty of Georgia Southern the idea that the world is a changeable place if we are willing to change it.

Speaking on the issue of humanitarian work, Kristof first used the example of the Gambian Pouched Rat, a rodent that can reach 3 feet in length and also possesses the ability to detect mines and clear an entire minefield in Angola with a fraction of the time and danger it would take a regular minesweeper.

Here is a Gambian Pouched Rat. Wikipedia tells me they’ve made deadly attacks on humans, so I feel confident in saying that the man in this picture was probably eaten shortly after it was taken.

This theme of the small being able to accomplish the big was the theme du jour of Kristof’s talk, and he had the numbers to back it up. According to Kristof, among the best ways to increase school attendance in developing areas of the world is through a few dollars spent on simple de-worming medication, which can double school attendance by children who will now be well enough to make it to class. It costs $350 per student to build a school in Africa. It costs $100 to buy uniforms. De-worming costs only $3.50 per child.

These facts were enlightening and encouraging, especially coming from a man who has managed to achieve so much in his life. Students left the event (which was put on by the Student Abolitionist Movement) electrified at the idea of what they could accomplish.

“If you are willing to bridge the empathy gap,” Kristof said during his his talk, “you’ll have a transformative effect on someone else that will have a ripple.”

Creative Classes Still Open

Friends, if you’re still looking for that perfect class and you’re a writing major or minor or anyway interested in writing, we still have plenty of cool courses left.

Check this out.book

Intro to Creative Writing WRIT 3130: still plenty of room available in Eric Nelson’s (MW 2:30 to 3:45) and Emily Bolden’s (T Th 5-6:15) classes as well as one lonely seat left in Dr. Terry Welford’s class (4-5:15 MW).  Intro to creative writing teaches you the foundations of writing stories, poems, and narrative essays. It’s a fun course that opens up the way for a variety of other creative courses.

Speaking of Emma Bolden, Advanced Creative Non Fiction WRIT 5531 (3:30-4:45 T Th) still has seats left.  Learn all about how you turn your real-life experiences into engaging stories.  Everyone has something that happened to them that should be shared.  It’s important! So don’t skip over this one because it’s offered only once a year.

Fiction Writing WRIT 4530: as of today Laura Valeri’s course still has a few seats open.  If you think you want to some day write a novel, start first with this course on short stories to get your warmup. We write really cool and crazy stuff including short, really, really short, tiny, tiny fiction (try telling a story in 10 words or less, go on, I dare you!)  and stories about thugs who turn into babies and zombies who mow your neighbor’s lawn at 2 in the morning – who does that? MW from 2:30-3:45

Poetry Writing WRIT 4430 with the multiple award-winning Eric Nelson will take you through the world of musical and imagistic wonder that is poetry.  5:30-6:45 MW

If you’re looking for a 2,000 level area F course, what could be better than Dr. Terry Welford’s Writing The Undead WRIT 2090 B? All about zombies, vampires, and all sorts of creepy crawlers.  MWF from 10 to 11:15.  Come on, folks. This is worth coming to campus on a Friday.

Or, if you’re really into fairy tales and cool myths, why not have a look at Dr. Sarah Domet’s Retellings and Retelling WRIT 2133.  Want to make your own version of Maleficent? How about post-apocalypse Cinderella? I’m sure there’s a retelling in you somewhere, just urging to sign up for this class.  11:15-12:05 MW.  Only a few seats left, so hurry!