Thursday Musings

It is amazing how shared space can bring about such tension…

My twelve week creative writing class has begun. It’s hard to get a feel for a class until a few weeks have passed, but I think that this group seems enthusiastic enough. We discussed creative nonfiction and the sticky subject of what that “creative” really means. I showed them the famous passage from Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, after which one student declared he didn’t like writing that put him in the moment…right.

I love this from Harpers!

Some of my favorites:

memoir: From the Latin memoria, meaning “memory,” a popular form in which the writer remembers entire passages of dialogue from the past, with the ultimate goal of blaming the writer’s parents for his current psychological challenges.

clandestine science fiction novel: A work set in the future that receives a strong reception from the literary world as long as no one mentions that it is, in fact, science fiction; for example, The Road, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

chick lit: A patriarchal term of oppression for heterosexual female writing; also, a marketing means to phenomenal readership and prominent bookstore space.


Tuesday Musings

Mark Sarvas is once again off on his book tour, so his guest blogger for this week is Todd Hasak, whose post this morning really resonated with me. Check it out.

I do remember when I just loved reading. I still get that feeling a lot, but I think a “love” of reading is complicated. For instance, I love Woolfe’s To the Lighthouses, but I don’t think I’d necessarily curl up with it on a rainy morning. It is beautiful and complex and even though I’ve read it and studied it, I’m still not convinced I completely understand it. I’m OK with that. I think that’s partly why I like the book so much. On the other hand, I read books like Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim At Tinker Creek or Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking or Barbra Kingsolver’s The Posionwood Bible and I can’t put them down. These are books I would curl up with. I like reading books that challenge me and I like reading books just to read them (Harry Potter falls into this category) but it is a complex question to ask, why do I read?

Speaking of reading, I started Harry Revised the other night and am now on page 48. I love books that make me laugh and so far this one is doing a smashing job.

I like to follow the blog of Sara Tracey, Mindful Ramblings, because I feel a certain kinship with her. Her post this morning takes me back to when I was in grad school at UNT and I was trying to teach three comp classes, work on my thesis, and finish up theory and literature classes. When she says that begin a PhD student isn’t really helping her poetry, I want to chime in with an exuberant “Yes!”

It is difficult being a full time PhD, MA, or MFA student while teaching and working and writing. I always say that after I’m done with my MFA, I will have more time to devote to writing. As it stands I have a few ideas for some new poems, but I have yet to sit down and committ those ideas to paper, because, well, I’m f**king swamped.

Recently I came to the realization that this problem will not get much better once I’m done with my MFA. I’ll still have a full time teaching gig, I still have a dog, and friends and family, and an apartment. In other words, I will still have many demands on my time, and the MFA will soon be replaced by something else. I used to think my graduate professors were trying to screw with me when they would assign a poem, a 300 page reading assignment, and a literary critque on top of the mound of narrative essays I had to grade for my comp classes, but now I understand. They were not screwing with me. They were teaching me how to be a writer, specifically a poet, and survive in the real world.

So cheers to you, Sara. Hang in there and know that I’m out here too trying to figure out just what the hell I’m doing.