Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Dangers of the Single Story and Teju Cole’s Small Fates Series

“Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”

“It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power.”

[ted id=652 width=560 height=315]

“All of these stories make me who I am, but to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me.”

“Stories matter. Many stories matter.”

(Again, I have nothing to add. She’s said it all. And said it beautifully. I happened to watch this while working on my syllabus for the Literature and the Adolescent Experience course next semester. It was perfect timing for me. I hope it is perfect timing for you, too.)

Edit: I do have something to add…

Teju Cole’s Small Fates Series: A Source for Such Stories

Today Teju Cole tweeted his composing processes for his Small Fates Series. If you don’t know about the series, here is the most recent Small Fates tweets he published:

In that single tweet, he’s amplified an otherwise missing story. Thank you for sharing these otherwise missing stories, Teju, and thank you for sharing the processes. This is a great response to those who think there is little to no real composing in tweets. I recommend watching the following in a slideshow format to get the full effect, but they are also listed below from my Storify version of his tweeted processes:

  1. I’m often asked what my small fates process looks like. It’s like the making of laws or sausages: unsightly.
  2. For the curious, here’s the anatomy of a small fate.
  3. First I find a story in one of a dozen Nigerian newspapers, either via their Twitter feeds or from their websites.
  4. Then I compose. In Word if I’m home, on email if I’m out. I use Helvetica Neue because I can estimate (from experience) the character count.
  5. The last fate (snake in an apartment) went through 8 drafts and took about 15 minutes. That’s about average for me.
  6. The basic concept for this one came early, so my editing was for speed of the line, rhythm, and ironic inflection.
  7. But often I’ll start with one concept and completely change it halfway through. Some fates go to 20 drafts. The longest took 30 minutes.
  8. Three commas are slower than one. A rare word can help stretch a story’s sense of time. But I wanted this particular story to zip along.
  9. I chose late on to use Edith Ndu’s first name instead of her last. When I got to “encourage her” instead of “help her decide,” I was done.
  10. Anatomy of a small fate.
  11. More from Teju Cole on Small Fates:

3 thoughts on “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Dangers of the Single Story and Teju Cole’s Small Fates Series

Leave a Reply to Anna Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.