Every month I read a book with a group of peers from in and out of prison, half are university students from UW (University of Washington) and half are us, students from inside prison. Our last book was The Bird Artist, which was incredibly hard for me to read. But an unlikely lesson arose from the experience.

First I am the critic of the group, I struggle with fiction altogether as I prefer nonfiction. But I do read fiction, my favorite book currently is “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. My lesson didn’t come from the reading, it came from the group, specifically the groups sponsor, Professor Steve. He shed a light on a piece of literature and its style that has changed the way I read, write and even speak.

Don’t waste a word…Make every syllable count.

How much time do I waste on filler or supportive material? Who knows, but I do know that there are moments I am thankful for. I am not thankful I offended someone so important to me, I look up to Professor Steve far more than I let on (not sure why I hide it, but I kind of fan girl out when he’s around, I feel very small when I see him…) and he has become a tacit mentor for me in life, but I am thankful I spoke my mind so I could be corrected.

Its called diversity of thought. I like it. Thanks. I look forward to our newest read “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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