I have to admit that I love this year being 2020. Numerically, it's cool: I was not around for 1919, and I won't be around for 2121, but I am getting the pleasure of the year 2020. Even better would be getting to see the year 2222 or the year 2345, but that's not on the agenda for me... and I'm starting to wonder just what kind of humanity is going to make it to the 23rd and 24th centuries.
I also love the metaphor of 2020 as in 20/20 vision. I'm totally nearsighted; even with my amazing super-powerful weird-looking trifocals, my vision is just 20/30 at best. But I will be hoping for clear vision and insight all throughout the year 2020. If I can't see 20/20 with my actual eyes, maybe I can see 20/20 with the eyes of the spirit this year. I am inspired to try!
And entering a new decade like this is also something that really makes me stop and think. I first came to OU in 1999 at the end of a decade, end of a century, end of a millennium even... wow! But every ending is also a beginning, and so that means I've begun a new millennium at OU, and a new century, and now: a new decade. It's the Twenties!
I'm also extremely excited for the classes this semester, both as a teacher and also as a student. Because, yes, I'm taking the Indian Epics class this semester... I've gotten into the habit of taking one of the classes every semester, and this time: it's India. I did Myth-Folklore last semester, working on Africa stories and Brer Rabbit, and I had a blast; here is my Storybook from last time: Brer Rabbit and the Witch-Rabbit.
So, as a teacher: excitement! Normally I don't try to add in new things midyear like this, especially since winter break felt especially short this year, but I had some ideas that I just couldn't wait to try out. So, there is the new "student advice" widget in the sidebar of the class announcements blog that I hope will inspire people to have fun, be creative, and also take charge of their schedules in this class. Then, there are the two new kinds of writing options that I've blended in with the Story Lab (and also as extra credit): microfictions and also biographical writing. I am really curious to see what people will do with those options!
And... as a student: excitement! I will be writing microfictions this semester for sure. In fact, I already know I want to do a Portfolio for Indian Epics this semester based on a form of microfiction called drabbles, which are 100-word-stories. I've been totally obsessing about drabbles for a few weeks now, and I am glad that this class gives me a chance to keep on obsessing about them. The way that happened is that I wrote a book for National Novel Writing Month in November (that was my biggest accomplishment of 2019 for sure, writing a whole novel in a month!); it's a collection of stories about Nasruddin and Birbal, who are folk heroes of the Middle East and India respectively. Here's the book, if you are curious: Witty Tales of Nasruddin and Birbal.
Then when I set up the website to go with that book, I decided to make a randomizing widget with Nasruddin stories, and I needed for the stories to be really really really short to fit in a widget, so I decided to make them 100 words or shorter. Well, when I shared my new widget at Twitter, one of my friends there told me about a 100-word-story contest he had seen at his local newspaper. I had no idea that 100-word-stories are a THING, but they are. They even have a name: drabbles. So over the winter break, I started writing drabbles; I even made a new website to collect them: Drabbles: Stories in 100 Words... or fewer. I wrote over 100 drabbles over the winter break, focusing on stories from India.
And now.......... I will get to write drabbles for the Indian Epics class. I am really curious what it will be like to look at the epics, which are big by definition (the Ramayana is big, and the Mahabharata is even bigger!), through the lens of these tiny stories. I have no idea yet just how my project will evolve, but I can guarantee you that it will be built of story blocks that are 100 words in length. I've really found my niche with this writing style, and I am so curious to see if other people get into the whole 100-word-story thing too.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope we all have a fantastic semester ahead! And a wonderful new year! And a fabulous decade too! :-)
On the thought of endings AND beginnings, here is a cartoon by one of my favorite cartoonists, Grant Snider: The End.
The end of one story... is the start of another.
I set up a Padlet in the Canvas courses for people to share favorite music videos, and I included this song from India, Yaara / Anthem, which features a lot of different Indian musicians, including Maati Baani, who are the janitors. I hope everybody will add some music videos to the Padlet; look for Music in the Canvas menu and you'll see it there. Turn on CC to see the English subtitles: