Welcome writers! My name is Nina Schuyler, and I’m excited to help you create something different, something shattered, pieces splattered everywhere, only to find when you step back—or maybe step closer—there’s a gestalt-like whole. It’s always been true that you can view the world in pieces—the sun in the sky, the sun gone, a self in love, a self in despair—but this era specializes in fragmentation, with the bombardment of 24-7 news and social media, where a plate of hash browns resides beside devastating news from Syria.

This era begs for new ways to tell stories. So we’re leaving behind the usual way of doing things—where one thing leads to the next—and letting fragments zing on the page.

I urge you to set aside the natural tendency to make things cohere. The human mind likes to look for patterns, but we need to let randomness, messiness, and contrasts exist first.

“So many fragments, so many beginnings, so many pleasures.” Roland Barthes

“I don’t think of life as a round, complete circle—it’s shaped by fragments, shards, and pinpricks. It’s a collage of snapshots, a collection of the unspoken, an attic full of situations that aren’t easily disposed of.” Grant Faulkner, The Art of Brevity

Song: “Pieces” by Sum 41:

Fragments of what? Well, for now, whatever comes to mind. What’s in your mind? To get things rolling, to upset habitual thinking, here’s an excerpt from Danielle Dutton’s short story, “My Wonderful Description of Flowers”:

But now their computer is sleeping. I shut a bedroom window. Then I go downstairs and open the door and call for the cat in the fog.

In a book I’ve been reading about a painter in the early twentieth century, there’s a passage about how she, the painter, Paula, liked to be alone: newly married, thus newly renamed, whenever her husband, Otto Modersohn, went away on a trip, she’d paint and paint and paint, and at whatever hour she liked she’d stop to eat and would not set the table. No candles. No meat. At dinner she’d read Goethe with rice pudding. “Half of me is still Paula Becker,” she wrote, “and the other half is acting as if it were.” But since I have to be on campus by eight, into the shining microwave I toss a frozen burrito. Then I text my husband: “I am not *leaving* I have to go to work.”

The street lamps in the mist are wild pearls of light. I nod at a passing neighbor, walk down a half-hidden path.