On Tuesday, November 10th, over 100 people came together via Zoom and Facebook Live to listen to an INconversation between Jean Thompson and Barb Shoup. Jean Thompson is the author of our statewide read The Year We Left Home, and Barb Shoup is the author of eight novels and the writer-in-residence at the Indiana Writers Center. It was the final event of our INseparable initiative, which has invited Hoosiers to consider what divides and connects us across urban and rural lines—a resonant question at any time but especially right now.
Here are a few of our takeaways:
- Indiana roots run deep. Jean started by reading an original reflection about her family and their Indiana ties, composed especially for our gathering. Hear the reading starting at 7:15.
- Hardship is what brings us together. Jean noted that 2020 has been a challenging year, but in a hopeful world that may lead to greater connection.
- Home is the place you come back to. For some, like Ryan in The Year We Left Home, home is the departure point, the place to leave in order to start living. But Jean noted that it’s also the arrival point, and what you circle back to. The book’s title, she said, is ironic: no one ever really leaves home.
- Reading fiction helps us empathize with others. Barb noted that in The Year We Left Home there are no true villains. Rather, we get a glimpse into all the characters’ inner thoughts, revisiting them at different points in their lives, coming to understand them better in all their complexity and imperfections. If you’re feeling disconnected from other Americans right now, might we suggest a book from our INseparable collection?
- Sharing your writing with others can be hard but is worth it. Barb says it will help you identify the difference between what is in your head and what is on the paper. Jean added that if you share your writing with a group of peers and go in with goodwill, the process can be a gift. (Looking for a community? Learn more about the Indiana Writers Center.)
Listen to Jean and Barb’s entire conversation here.