Why Sputnik?

Upon the redesign and rebrand of my blog, I discovered generational differences in the reactions of readers to the new name. My peers said that to them, “Sputnik” meant trailblazing, far-reaching, and outer space. Yet for those that grew up during the Cold War, when Sputnik was actually launched, the name evoked radically different feelings. These readers remembered Sputnik as an attempt by the Russian government to cover up oppression in their society, and upon seeing the word “Sputnik” splashed across the new masthead, felt dread and even confusion. Why had I changed the name from Work in Progress to Sputnik Prose?

I do not mean to lend credence to the regime that launched Sputnik, nor do I support the Russian regime of today. As an American, I appear to be on the wrong side of the Sputnik issue.

Yet Sputnik means more to me than the satellite sent forth in 1957.

When I was in the third or fourth grade, I learned about Sputnik 1 and the beginning of the space race. The notion of space travel greatly thrilled me. In fact, since about that time, I've harbored secret dreams to be an astronaut.

About the time I first learned about the space race, I received a new purple bike, and christened it Sputnik. To me, it sounded like the cool version of the name Spot: a pet name with a funky twist that tickled my word-loving brain.

I outgrew the bike and moved on, but space continued to fascinate me. I went through a huge Star Wars phase when I was about 11. At the last preschool I worked at, one of the Pre-K teachers had a book in her classroom library on how to become an astronaut, and when I was in the classroom monitoring sleeping preschoolers, I picked up the book and read it, probably just as excited as if I too was 4. And our country definitely needs budget cuts, but when the space program was defunded, I was heartbroken.

Unfortunately, this story does not end with a science degree and astronaut training. For I've also loved writing for as long as I can remember, and I relished the reading and writing that composed my English major.

Sputnik is a metaphor of the journey I have taken through writing, from preadolescent Star Wars fan fiction to this blog. The word itself has also been translated as “fellow traveler” from the Russian, which fits the ethos of this blog, and what I hope to accomplish by my writing. For I hope that you the reader and I can be fellow travelers in the stories of our life journeys.

Image is in the public domain, via Wikipedia Commons. If it should cease to be in the public domain for any reason, it will be taken down.


  1. I started my Star Wars phase at about the same age (I haven't left) because it was the beginning of everything we see today. Almost like witnessing The Big Bang. I turned 10 when I got my Star Wars birthday party and the best R2-D2/C-3PO birthday cake. Pretty fitting considering your celebration this week. :) Have an amazing day.

    1. I'd still love an R2-D2/C-3P0 cake today :) Star Wars is something that I too, never outgrew! I love hearing that you enjoy it too :) Thanks for the birthday wishes!