Paper Topics - Explore Your Inner VoiceIn the three volumes of Paper Topics, Phyllis Wheatley not only presents a selection of intriguing text-based essays, but she also takes us through a tour of her personal archive of paper topics. Each topic starts with an introduction by Wheatley that opens up the topic for understanding and exploration, until we're no longer having to read about the subject; we're having to experience it firsthand, right there in our hands.
Wheatley brings readers into an interesting world of which they were unaware before. Every day, she works in the field of paper topics. She keeps track of her thoughts, information, and experiences as she continues to make contact with the communities in which she lives. It's a richly detailed journey, bringing the reader to a truly alive paper topic community where communities are created and changed in the making.
Wheatley understands that there is no better way to gather information on interesting topics than by learning from the very people who have experienced them. She asks participants to tell her their story, their vision, their ideas, and the emotions they felt when they found out what she was doing. In doing so, she learns about what's important to these communities, what is missing, what needs to be done, and where the community is headed. Wheatley feels that by looking at this lived reality, she is able to explain how these subjects will likely be discussed in the future. In fact, one of the topics on her writing booklet, The Story of Paper Topics, is titled, 'The Future of Paper Topics.'
Wheatley sees people in many different topics. Her focus is on community and the activities that it takes to sustain that community. It's no wonder then that her second book, explores the big issues facing the future of community, covering topics such as aging, trauma, relationships, world events, ecology, and more.
Wheatley knows how she'll react to the topics she chooses to write about. She discusses them and poses questions to test her own creativity. The communities she visits are told that the books she wrote are considered 'fringe,' but Wheatley argues that the stories she hears are somehow much more important. More importantly, she adds, these topics have a higher relevance than simply being 'fringe.'
It's not surprising that the subjects chosen for her Paper Topics include topics that aren't mainstream. This is one of the things that sets Paper Topics apart from other contemporary literary novels. What makes Wheatley's choice of topics interesting is that she is broadening the scope of what is accepted as literature in today's world. In doing so, she helps to break down some of the 'sticky' rules and get past some of the misconceptions about what 'literature' is, or should be.
Her book offers advice for writers, allowing the writer to be creative and informed without the 'purists' getting in the way. She challenges the reader to think critically about what has been written, and what may be written in the future. While doing so, she provides a way for a writer to explore her inner voice and provide a voice to her readers that cannot be heard if they don't know how to read her work. She's addressing both the reader and the writer through her writing, helping to close the gap between the two and reaching the heart of what it means to be human.
When it comes to understanding the reader, Wheatley takes us through her world and creates a world where the reader can feel like they're part of it. Her message is clear: 'We can change the world by staying in our own.' That is what Paper Topics has to offer the reader.