First paragraph: What have you been learning about yourself as a writer this semester? (Has your writing changed? This paragraph can go in many different directions).
Second paragraph: What were the most significant revisions to your work, and how did they relate to the workshop process?
Third paragraph: What are the aesthetic values that you hold most dear in fiction writing? What do you like? Where would you like to see your work go in the future?
10 December 2014
Disclaimer: This is a metaphor, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.
I’m climbing this broad, meaty tree and the bark is stroking my ankles with the tickle of a father’s overgrown beard on the cap of his baby’s forehead. Every day I climb a little further up and I watch as a crowd assembles below. Familiar faces emerge among the mass: I see Bubbie Sandy, my grandmother, standing round, firmly; I see Mommy encouraging me not to piss off the animals above (or get pissed on by them); and then there’s my educators, my blog community, my peers, hurrahing me to climb further. Every gap I close, rising limb to limb, squatting hard and lunging low, their compliments double, rising higher. So I look down and wonder why they cheer so much. They do not know that I am afraid of heights, because what can I climb that no one has already climbed? What knobby nook or secret nut crevice can I discover that a squirrel has not already homed or ransacked? If I go higher I risk failure, or at best, mediocrity. If I descend stealthy back towards ground, my crowd will dissipate; Bubbie and Mommy will say, “just get in the car,” and I will be resistant but not knowing why, and confused where to go. But at least I will do it on my own terms. I look inward at the core, pressing my face against the birch, inhaling pencil. My eyes whip open, with a birdesque curiosity, turn around resolute, and take off running, off the edge of the limb.
In free fall words arrange, link and make love, forming glorious lines, filling beautiful pages with communicative fetus networks, a jaded daughter with her vegetable-mother. The free-fall is exhilarating. It is beautiful.
I open my eyes and somehow I am back on the tree. The crowd bellows even louder below, and I realize, somehow my free-fall brought me higher up the rungs.
Hello Tree, you are paper, you are pencil. Hello Climbing, you are expectations. Hello Crowd, you are encouraging, sometimes annoying. Hello Free-fall, you are risks, and I love you.
It was difficult re-coupling with my work after workshop: fellow writers weren't very helpful in their critiques, looking for morals and whatnot. What I tried to alleviate were those burning questions, spoken and unspoken: are they in a single womb, or multiple? Who is Odella? Is it important to know who is speaking, or is the not knowing critical to understanding the unity of the Chord?
The most hot-potato, witch scolding, tongue burning question: Is the ending my own personal views on life after death?
But it’s not meant to be answered because this question is not personal to me, its personal to whoever’s reading it. So, is my ending in any way definitive? Well, butter burner, coal scorcher, you should probably suck a popsicle. What does the ending mean to you?
I am a sucker for empathy through imagery. I don’t care if you’re trying to get me to fall in love with a one-eyed goat, or an iphone5 case, you better give me something rich to read. I love first person narratives: I crave literary panoramas and profusely tender dialogue. In the future, I see myself climbing or falling, or both—into your lap, with my name on the cover, under a title I thought way too long on, taking myself all too seriously, wondering whether I should have capitalized the word “The.”