First week of classes

I’m only taking two classes this semester and preparing for my thesis semester in the Spring. My Tuesday class is Sequences with Keith Abott. We are going to be looking at how books are structured. We’ll be reading the first books by Brautigan, Erdrich, and Gaitskill.

Of these three I’ve read Erdrich’s already. It became one of my favorite books. I’m looking forward to reading it again.

My Thursday class is Characterization/Monologue with Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Class today was great. I’m not yet sure what I’ll get out of her workshop. She graded my SWP portfolio and left the comment:

A bit light-weight. Criticism is not his forte. 

This is one of the only […]

1st Workshop reading leads to more questions

And that’s how it should be.

I was nervous reading. Like it or not, reading aloud for others is a performance even if performance is not the point. But I got through it.

There was more silence than I expected and I didn’t know what to make of it. But later one of my classmates told me that she had been emotionally moved by my piece because it was so real according to her own experiences. I couldn’t have asked for a better review. That felt good.

But even more than a good review I wanted some helpful comments. And I got some of those too. One helpful comment was that I had three different time periods in the one monologue. The speaker is in the present, […]

ninety-nine percent perspiration

The MFA party went well.

I also went to a meeting of Bombay Gin. I think I am going to be involved with their next issue. The last time I did anything like that was when I was part of the school newspaper in 6th grade. That was the year that Martin Luther King’s birthday became a national holiday. I decided to write and article on it and interviewed three students from different grades. But during the interviews when I asked the other students what they thought of the new holiday, none of them even knew who MLK was!

So I wrote a report on the need for such a holiday and lambasted the school for not teaching about MLK and the civil rights movement. (I was a rather political child, around this same time I wrote a four […]

How to Tell a Story by Margo Rabb

Check it out: How To Tell A Story by Margo Rabb

I’m not sure what to say about it. What I did not like was the way she tore down everybody, describing people only by their flaws. I get really turned off by that kind of cynical voice in writing and in life.

But her story moved me and made me want to like it, which was enough. It spoke to my own insecurities about writing and being in an MFA program, and I figure many writers share those insecurities.

Today I host an MFA party at my place. I’ve invited about a dozen new MFA students and a few more second year students over for a potluck at my apartment’s pool. I can’t imagine it turning […]

Class No. 2

This morning I had my second class of the week, Concerning the Spiritual in Art  with Prof. Donald Preziosi. Really fantastic. Preziosi is distinguished, visiting faculty at Naropa. He’s on the faculty at Oxford. I checked out the reviews of his book Brain of the Earth’s Body and was really intrigued. It was heartening when I heard him talk about the importance of Naropa because he is distinguished and because he’s on the outside of it, as close to objective as I expect to meet on campus.

At times I have strong feelings of insecurity about attending Naropa and pursuing an MFA. Am I getting a worthwhile education here? Or am I being led done some useless hippie faddish path? Am I becoming a better writer? Or am I jumping through meaningless hoops for a piece of meaningless paper? Those questions still come up now and then. It’s nice to […]

Rusty Pipes

My first assignment in Keith Abbott’s class is to write a 500 word monologue involving all five senses .

Monday after class, one specific idea came to me very strong. It was a personal thing, based on people in my life. In my autobiography class I touched on it, but kept it very vague because I was concerned it would overwhelm the stories I was writing. And maybe I was concerned it would overwhelm me.

I felt my heart beat faster when I thought about it, my blood pressure rising. I couldn’t sleep. Should I write about it? Is it too much? Will I be able to write it so it says all of it? What else can I write about?

Trying to fall asleep Monday night […]

Louis, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship!

Finally! Classes have started!

This morning I went to Building Blocks of Fiction taught by Keith Abbott. I actually thought I was enrolled in Towards Accumulating a Larger Text but that class, usually taught by Bobbie Louise Hawkins, is not being offered this semester.

In Building Blocks we will read short works/passages from various authors and/or view short passages of video for assignments on specific skills: Dialogue, Characterization, Scene Work, Narration and Point of View during the first half of every class.  The second half of class will be devoted to work shopping our own writing.

Today Keith Abbott read a brief monologue from Curse of the Starving Class by Sam Shepard. We also reviewed Sam Shepard’s Monologue List  which is a list of questions […]

Naropa: Privilege & Diversity

Yesterday was the diversity training part of Naropa’s orientation. At 2:30 there was an interactive theatre presentation that was very after-noon-talk-show-like. Two actors acted out a short skit, then the audience got to ask questions while the two actors remained in character. I get very uncomfortable watching talk-shows and the format put me off. The main issue seemed to be class and economics.

The second part of the Experiential Look at Diversity, Difference, Privilege & Connections  was much more powerful. We broke up into several groups of about 25 students and went into separate rooms. Of course, we started with the Naropa bow (which I really appreciate). We formed a line shoulder to shoulder facing the same directions and holding hands. This was called the Privilege Line.

One of the facilitators asked questions of the group and told […]

Two stories submitted

This week I sent off two stories to two different magazines.

Yesterday I sent my story Half Empty, Half Full to Tin House. They are accepting submissions for an apology/confession themed issue. Half Empty, Half Full is a story I included in my portfolio for Naropa. I also work-shopped it in Jim Hall’s class and at zoetrope.

Mostly I got great reviews (and helpful comments) at zoetrope. But my favorite review said the following:

I got the feeling that this is not really a story, though, but a scene or an episode. Where does it go? Boy meets girl, boy fools around with girl, boy ends up with girl at truck stop where she is going to make a few bucks by engaging in oral sex. What […]

Naropa Orientation, Day One: Let it be.

Today was the first day of Naropa orientation. I got my student ID and RTD bus pass. There was a nice breakfast with chai tea, Danish, and quiche. The morning began with a song by T.C. Horton and band: It’s not what you say and not it’s not what you do. It’s how you choose to be. 

The music introduced several hours of introductions and speeches. One speaker explained that over the next few days and weeks we would encounter frustrating and disappointing situations. She encouraged us to open up to these experiences, saying that there were lessons in them for us to learn, as well as lessons in the classroom.

I had lunch with two other MFA students: Nadia and Sarah. I couldn’t finish my burrito, but I did drink two large Pepsis.

August 15th, 2005 | Category: Nothing Achieving | Comments are closed