Thank you for stopping by the Torg Stories site. I’m an ex-basketball coach and English teacher turned writer, filmmaker, podcaster, and professor. Originally from a small town called Winamac, Indiana, now I split my time between Asheville, North Carolina where I live with my family and New York City where I teach First Year Writing at St. John’s University in Queens. Torg Stories have found their way into the world taking many forms including…
Pat Conroy called The Coach’s Wife, “One of the best books about basketball and coaching I have ever read with a love story so complicated and wonderful it will have book groups talking about it for years.”
Thanks to Pat. I learned a lot about writing from reading his work, and I’m thankful to be able to keep hearing from him via his books.
Horseshoe is Midwestern Gothic collection of stories with themes about love, sin, guilt, and redemption.
In Love on the Big Screen, Zuke is a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-80’s romantic comedies.
The Mushroom Hunter is about my father and his buddies’ passion for hunting morel mushrooms.
Click here to watch “The Mushroom Hunter” free online.
To start off classes this semester, I had the students sit in groups of five. This meant 5 tables of 5 students each. I asked the students to list each member of their group on the board as well as a detail that might help us to get to know them. After they finished doing that, they listed five “Rules For Writing” that they believed in or had been taught to them in previous classes.
Next, each group read a different text written by a writer about writing. On the first day, I used these texts/excerpts:
Black Boy by Richard Wright.
“Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott
Life by Keith Richards
Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
“Unlearn to Write” by Donald Murray
The students read the excerpt out loud and answered the following four questions:
What is the writer’s message about writing?
What are some “golden lines” that you think are worth talking about?
How can you apply the ideas here to your own writing?
Does any of what this writer says about writing cause you to rethink any of your own Rules For Writing?
When each group was finished, I counted off by fives at each table. Students moved to a new table and presented the text they had just read to students who had read something different. I want to thank St. John’s University doctoral student Katelynn DeLuca for reminding me about this “jigsaw” method of getting students to move around the room.
In the coming weeks, students will be reading and commenting on texts written by writers about writing. This exercise was a way for all of us to begin to get to know each other and for the students to get acquainted with some of the choices they have for their reading this semester.
Twitter can be used for much more than publishing to the world what you are having for dinner. There’s a metaphor gifted to me from a former professor that goes like this: writing floats on a sea of conversation. Twitter is often about conversation. It’s great for making professional connections, accessing information published by people from all over the world, and participating in discussions including the last presidential election, a major sporting or entertainment event, or finding those who care about what you care about. Just last semester, students used Twitter to find gas for their cars after hurricane Sandy, located potential internships, and exchanged tweets from professionals in their area of major from all over the world. Like Facebook and other forms of social media, Twitter can give you a voice heard by businesses and government organizations.
We’ll begin using Twitter as a way to establish community in our course, access information beyond our classroom community, and perhaps build connections with people who care about the same issues we do. Follow the directions below to set up your account.
Consider if you’d like for people to know who you are on Twitter. I’m “BillTorg” and that’s pretty obviously me. If I’m “EightiesDude,” then maybe it’s harder to figure out who I am.
If you already have a Twitter account, you are welcome to use it. The personality and content of your Tweets will depend on the public identity you wish to create. This might be the time to use your St. John’s University email account to start a new approach.
Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters. The longer your Twitter name, the less room you and others have to exchange messages. So “BillTorg” works better for me than “WilliamJosephTorgerson.”
You will be asked to write a short bio for yourself. Think about what it will say. Some people write a silly one. My sister’s is, “What’s on the what what?” Mine explains my job and what I do. I often find myself revising mine.
You can link to your Twitter account to another site. Perhaps your blog?
Fill out the “New to Twitter” box. Complete the steps. Let me know if there’s additional directions I should have listed here. Help me to revise this document so it can better serve the needs of those new to Twitter.
When you finish setting up your account, you are going to tweet to me. You should see a white box that has this inside: Compose new Tweet…
Click inside the box. First write this: @BillTorg
The “@billtorg” is my Twitter name. Put whatever you want after that, something like, “I set up my Twitter account!” If you want to write something more creative than that, go ahead!
When you tweet to me, I’ll write you back. Do you see that “@ Connect” button at the top of the screen? If you click on that, you’ll see everyone who has tweeted directly to you. That will be how you know I received your tweet. I don’t usually follow students and you shouldn’t feel obligated to follow me. We’ll set up a system to see each other’s tweets related to class.
There’s a lot more you can do with finding tweets and customizing your background. Experiment by reading and clicking around on the Twitter pages. Two great places to start are the “view my profile page” and “#discover.” On the profile page, click on the large “edit” tab in the upper right hand corner. On the “#discover” tab, look all over the page and click around. Be sure to click on the following words and phrases: activity, who to follow, find friends, and browse categories.
More instructions, guidelines, and assignments will follow.