Week 3? How is that already possible? We have somehow collectively arrived at week three of our ten week writing group. One-third of the way through! We kicked off this week with writing insights from Kirin Narayan (“Ethnographic Writing with Kirin Narayan: An Interview”). Much of what she had to said coursed through my writing mind this week: on trying to merge what you have to write with what you want to write; on the theoretical and ethical importance of portraying people in their complexity; and her answer in its entirety to my question “Why ethnography?” She replied:
For the discipline of paying attention; for learning from others; for becoming more responsibly aware of inequalities; for better understanding the social forces causing suffering and how people might somehow yet find hope; and most generally, for being perpetually pulled beyond the limits of one’s own taken-for-granted world.
This week brought another gift to anthropologists writing in the form of a public conversation between Ruth Behar and Paul Stoller. On February 5, at the Graduate Center at CUNY in New York City, these two pathbreaking scholars discussed their own writing paths and careers, including writing in a range of genres well beyond the “Anthropologists Writing Fiction” title of the event. Take the time to listen to the video of their conversation either in its entirety or perhaps in short segments as you write; these are the sorts of insights and experiences that are in and of themselves writing prompts. Yet another way that listening can be an important part of the writing process.
Finally, this coming Monday we have our next Writers’ Workshop blog post from guest author Sienna Craig. Trust me that her essay on unreliable narrators is one you will not want to miss. For now, though, please do check in on how your writing went this week. Hope it was a good one.