A class of undergraduates at the University of North Dakota (UND) wrote, edited, and published “This Is Me. You. Us.” a collection of entries ranging from 100 to 500 words. The topics in the book range from heartbreak to societal issues. Each entry is different than the next, having something for each reader. Through an email, Katherine Hayes, a recent UND graduate, Myra Henderson a current UND undergraduate student, and Madison Knoll now a UND Master’s student explain the process and the inspiration behind the book.
“Our collection was inspired by Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart’s book, ‘The Hundreds.’ In our book, we utilized the format that Berlant and Stewart present in their text as each of their entries were in sets of one hundred words. In correlation with the title, ‘This is Me. You. Us.’ the book was broken into ‘Me’, ‘You’, and ‘Us’ sections and the entries were separated accordingly.” Henderson said. “Adding a bit of our own flare, yet similarly to Berlant and Stewart, we created a ‘Things We Thought Of’ section where a list of what came to each contributor’s mind when reading the different entries. Continuing to emulate Berlant and Stewart, we chose to keep each individual entry anonymous and created a ‘Meet the Authors’ section at the end of the collection.”
The Hundreds by Berlant and Stewart is also available on Amazon for purchase. Knoll explained that everyone had different writing styles and content in mind, which makes the book unique.
“Since there were eleven authors for the book, and I don’t think I could adequately describe what they were trying to write, I’ll kind of talk about the pieces I wrote,” Knoll said. “We all wrote five pieces for the book, and mine were focused on the creative writing aspect. I wanted to experiment with form the most, and some of the ideas I had for stories. I didn’t really write with anything specific in mind; it was more about what I wanted to explore or create than necessarily something personal.”
Everyone in the class did their part in the process. Hayes explained that the class was broken into groups to create the book.
“The writing process was mainly individual and most of the contributors brought in about three of their pieces to the final product.” Hayes said. “After the pieces were written and submitted to the final product, we were then broken up into three groups to work on the publication side of the book. The three groups were: typesetting which included using InDesign to create the inside of the book, cover design which resulted in three different designs seen throughout the book, and the marketing and metadata which facilitated the online description and tags which help bring people to our book through internet searches.”
The class of eleven started working on the book in February 2020 and published it on October 19, 2020. Knoll explained that due to the pandemic and complications, Dr. David Haeselin, the professor for the course, was unable to publish the book. Hayes, Henderson, and Knoll decided to publish the book themselves since the class worked hard on the book. Hayes commented a couple of things that readers should keep in mind when reading the book.
“I think something to keep in mind while reading is that we all have something to share and contribute.” Hayes said. “This was not individuals working independently but collaboratively. As you are reading through the pieces, allow them to sit with you for a little bit and soak in, because of the short style writing sometimes the power is behind the words.”
Henderson added her thoughts and feelings about being a part of this project.
“I hope readers understand just how much their support means.” Henderson said. “To know that there are people out there buying our book makes me so grateful. As a reader, my life has been impacted for the better by so many different authors and as a writer, I aspire to do the same. So, I hope that as a group we were able to reach you, so you know there are others out there, just like you.”
This Is Me. You. Us. is available on Amazon for purchase at
Brianna Mayhair is a Dakota Student News Editor. She can be reached at [email protected]