Common outcomes for the average eight-week college course usually include some quizzes, tests, some essays and maybe a class project. For one fall 2021 LIT2000 course, the outcome will be a little different.
Eddie Matthews, Point Loma Nazarene University adjunct professor of literature and writing, decided he’d like the students of his literary publishing course to walk away with an actual published book available for download. The class has been responsible for coming up with the book idea, putting the book together, publishing the book online and marketing.
The name of the book is “Dear Anybody, But You.” It is a compilation of what the students like to call “letters never sent.” The premise is to write out things you’d like to say to someone, ask someone or confess to someone in the form of a letter. The idea originated with Jaclynn Pineiros, a PLNU nursing student.
“I have a couple of letters like that,” said Pineiros. “Or, just words I want to say to people, but I don’t know how it will affect my life, so I don’t.”
Pineiros said she felt like she still needed to get the emotions out, so she wrote the letters but never did anything with them. She says she knew she was not the only one who went through this process. And, it turns out, she is not.
Matthew’s lit students not only generated letters from within their class, but invited PLNU students campus-wide to include letters in the book. The book’s writing team created a Google form where anyone from the PLNU student body could turn in a letter. Soon the campus was buzzing about the class’ book of letters.
“So many of my friends have heard about it,” said Pinieros. “So I encouraged them to write a letter!”
All letters included in the book were written anonymously. Pineiros says she feels people will be more open and honest if they are not required to sign it.
“When you know that no one is ever going to know who wrote the letter, there’s no holding back,” she said. “I know I was very emotional as I was writing mine.”
Many of the letters submitted are emotional, dealing with family or peer issues, heartbreak or even childhood trauma.
“It’s a direct glimpse into a college students’ mind,” said Nick Eusebio, a PLNU computer science major.
Eusebio chose to write a letter to his father, confronting him with questions he’s had since childhood. Same as Pinieros, he treated the letter much like a therapy tool. In fact, he encouraged others to do the same.
“You want to know how our generation thinks, just read the letters in this book,” said Eusabios.
He says the book is a snapshot into not just the mind, but the mental health of college-age kids today.
Matthews’ said this is his fourth time teaching the class, the first time he has introduced the book project. In the past, Matthews said, he would bring different authors they were reading into the class for students to interview.
“I think that was great for Zoom,” said Matthews, “But, now that we’re back in actual class, I wanted us to produce something more tactile.”
Matthews split the class into various groups, each responsible for different aspects of the book. Students volunteered at the beginning of the semester to be in a writing, editing, graphics, marketing or operations group. Each group worked together through a business communication platform called Slack, to produce the final product.
Once the book is published, students hope to have an official book launch on Caf Lane on the PLNU Main Campus. Currently the students are working on a website for the book, but you can follow the project for now via their Instagram at handle @dearanybodybutyou or on Twitter at @NeverReadByYou.
By: Amber Robinson