Greetings, all! It has been decided that my two best writerly friends and I are going to linky link to each other's blogs to tell an interwoven tale of three creative writing university students. So I would like you all to meet Holmes over at Life, the Universe and Everything According to a Writer, and Watson over at Not A Sexy Vampire. Whenever in the past you have heard me talk about my writerly friends, these guys are the people I'm talking about.
Once again, it is closing in on that time where all of my assignments are due in quick succession, but I think I'm ahead of where I need to be, so it isn't so bad. Here is a summary of what I learned in class this week, feel free to skip to your area of interest:
Fiction Writing: Story, Structure, and Starting Out
Readings: Workshop pieces.
This week was again spent mostly workshopping, but I wanted to bring up something I saw in one of the pieces a classmate brought in. It was a brilliant piece, so well written in my opinion, and she's paid attention to small details that helped to really establish what the character was like. By this, I mean, she made intertextual references: for example, she named a book, quoted from Pulp Fiction and referred to a character from another text. The way she wove it into her story, although I didn't know much or anything about most of the references she made, still allowed me (and from the sounds of it the majority of the class) to enjoy reading it. It didn't distract me from what I was reading and instead I got this idea of a character who was intellectual and into pop-culture. But our teacher disagreed and said that more detail about these references had to be made, because a reader shouldn't have to go and look something up from outside of the text. Now, if our teacher had stated this as a suggestion rather than a you must then maybe I wouldn't have such a problem with it. I just think this is one example of the exception to the rule, but our teacher couldn't recognise that although the majority of the rest of the class did. Our teacher has this obsession with concrete details and writing about the mundane, and while I understand the importance, the way she stresses that these are RULES makes writing feel more like a science than an art.
Poetry: Making it Strange
Readings: Mina Loy Others and Feminist Manifesto.
The radical's radical was this week's topic in poetry. We spent a bit of time looking at Mina Loy, who wrote some very gritty stuff. In Others she basically breaks the convention of a love poem and turns writing about sex into something ugly and honest. I don't think the guy she was writing about would have been particularly flattered by some of her representations of him. I really enjoyed that reading, ha ha. Our teacher asked us to consider what part hatred plays in writing poetry. Two things that seem to be a large part of human nature (and should therefore be a part of poetry) are eros (erotic or romantic love) and thanatos (the death drive and the will to destruction). This led into a discussion about writing a manifesto, which, the understanding I got, is when you basically write a big rant about things you think are wrong with the world. Mina Loy wrote one about gender inequality. I'd probably write one about homophobia or racism or something like that.
Literature for Children and Young Adults
Readings: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Why Race, Class, and Gender Still Matter by Margaret Anderson and Patricia Collins.
This week we were focusing on identity, intersectionality, and the ethics of interpretation. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is Sherman Alexie's fictionalised autobiography, which I absolutely loved, controversy and all. This book was used to analyse how race, class, and gender are represented in books and how they intersect both in text and in real life. We also looked a step further, to see how sexuality, ability/disability, and religion are represented and intersect with each other to represent life in books. Basically, we were looking to see whether or not the book broke the characters down into labels and focused on one aspect, or if they too all of the aspects of a character into consideration whilst writing to show the way they work together to create an individual. For example, the main character, Arnold, is a Spokane Indian, but he is also poor, but he is male, but he is straight, but he was born with too much cerebral spinal fluid inside his skull so now he has a stutter and a lisp, but he's still athletic and intelligent. So we were looking at how these different aspects of him were represented and how they came together to create one person. I'm going to review this book later in the week.
Creative Nonfiction: The Personal Essay
Readings: The Boys of Beallsville by J Pilger, The Long Fall Into Steel by B Walker, and Consider the Lobster by DF Wallace.
This week we were talking about issues and stories and it it is important to find the shape of our story. Some people just want to write about relationships, or they just want to write about death, but they can't do that effectively unless they take an angle on the issue and make a story of it. You can write about relationships, or death, or poverty, or war, or happiness, but it needs to be within a context and a story. Something interesting that sometimes happens is that the structure of a story reflect or becomes meaning, and the form becomes content. I've noticed I do this subconsciously, and then someone points it out and I'll be like "Oh, yes, that was totally intentional" *shifty eyes*.
And that sums up what I learned this week. I hope something in there was useful to whoever is reading, and please check out my mates' blogs, because they're both very cool and unique people and writers.
Did you learn anything writerly this week?