What is there to say other than Thank You, North Dakota? For the past three weeks Deb and I have been bumbling around in our suv, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and stories of North Dakota. We've logged over 4,000 miles, listened to over 100 people tell their stories of loss, migration, change, and love, and we've watched the light ripple across the buttes and prairie of this land.
It's a gift to travel throughout your home state, teaching--but teaching isn't really the right word-- its more living out your vocation. I love words. I love stories. And I love helping others tell their own stories.
When I signed on to help lead these writing workshops I had little faith anyone would show up. Writers do not live in North Dakota.
I was so wrong. As Deb and I traveled from Beach to Hettinger, Dickinson to Cannonball, Williston to Watford City, Crosby to Powers Lake, Tioga to Towner, Fort Totten to Dunn Center I kept meeting people who love language, people who love telling stories.
Something beautiful happens when people write: they go deep within themselves to search for a language, their own language, to help express their experience of life.
In his essay "Doing Good Work Together," William Kittredge puts it this way: "We live in stories. What we are is stories. We do things because of what is called character, and our character is formed by the stories we learn to live in. Late in the night we listen to our own breathing in the dark and rework our stories. We do it again the next morning, and all day long, before the looking glass of ourselves, reinventing reasons for our lives. Other than such storytelling there is no reason to things."
North Dakotans can certainly tell a good story; it's my hope that they continue to write the stories of their lives.