Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Post-Semester: Spring 2013

While I worked so hard this semester that I barely had time for any creative writing (besides work on the short novel for the workshop), though I did finish a few poems, I came away with, as always, some invaluable knowledge and know-how.

Novel Workshop

I had decided to go with a new project than work on a previous novel before joining the workshop. With my first submission, I got out some ideas and considered the structure for my short novel about a young man who is harassed by cops but can't tell anyone because everyone denies it. The criticism I received was very helpful and my second submission, I think, was much closer to what I had set out to do. I'm always overwhelmed after a workshop because there are so many things I didn't see that people bring up about my work and I sometimes doubt my abilities to "fix" all of the "problems." But, as the professor said, I'll just do the best I can. I don't want to give too much away about the content of the short novel. With some luck, I'll be finishing it this year, as part of my master's thesis, and publishing next.

Studies in Melville

I've already stated my newfound appreciation for Melville's pioneering brilliance in a previous post. Maybe what surprised me most was how enjoyable his very long works are! Yes, there are whole chapters of Redburn, White-Jacket, and Moby-Dick, among others, you can skip and not really miss anything regarding plot. But when Melville moves the story forward, it's compelling. The way he uses language, the prose poems, for instance, and his knack for story-telling rival much, if not outshine, most of what's published today.

American Studies

How a lit course should be run. There were no heavy-handed, longwinded lectures (as in some undergrad experiences of mine). Most of the class time actually involved student discussion and the professor mostly moderated. The course was about the books, books I won't soon forget, such as Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider; Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises; Michael Herr's Dispatches; and so on. You just learn more, actually, when you are actively involved in the analysis, not just told what it all means and asked leading questions.

Minus the papers and stress of grades, etc., I would not mind being a student forever.

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