Sunday, August 15, 2010

In the Beginning Was the Word

Perhaps this should start with a Whoops! If the preceding post has two or three words, just delete it. I must have hit the wrong button.

Here we go again: the title doesn't refer to the biblical Word, but to the one in give-me-your-word. Among the lovely things a program like Hamline's does it make us all keep our word. Over the years, how many people have I run into (a lot!) who broke their own promises. The ones they make to themselves. "I'll start that novel this year." "I'll learn a lot more about poetry." "I'll write every day no matter how lame it seems to be."

Everybody does this; it isn't a sin. But it's a bad habit to get into. However, it's a habit that our program (and Vermont's and others) can break. Everybody who's enrolled has to write for their advisors. Students promise forty pages or a few picture books or a handful of poems, then keep the promise. It's nothing more complicated than simple behavior modification.

I hear from students after they've graduated and they wish they were still working with an advisor. It's hard for them to stay focussed. Life, they say, gets in the way.

And it absolutely can. But in my usual draconic way I find a way to say this: if you're not going to keep your promises to yourself, don't make them.

It's that simple.

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