Sunday, February 15, 2009

school stuff.

1. I had signed up to workshop with one instructor this semester, but I changed my mind and switched to a different workshop at the last minute. It was a good move. From what I hear, the other instructor is a prick. I’ve been told that, in addition to many other terrible workshop moments throughout this semester, he gave a 30-minute lecture on the art of literary fiction, how it has a soul, whereas commercial fiction isn’t an art form and doesn’t have a soul. This all led up to the statement, “And this. This is commercial fiction.” He was talking about one of his student’s short stories. Ouch. And at the end of the class, everyone still present, he told her, “Your hair looks nice.” Shithead.

2. I didn’t read it, but the girl who wrote it is, well, a really good writer. Her sentences are clean. Her stories are engaging. She also has a gift for portraying people who are far outside of her experiences. I envy her ability, because she’s 10 years younger than I am. That said, she’s young and really gifted, and I have no doubt that she is not only capable of taking her work where it needs to go, but also that she will do just that. So if her stories are lacking something, it’s this instructor’s job to give her feedback as to how to get it where it needs to go. He does, after all, receive a paycheck from the university – and not for his fiction, but for his TEACHING JOB.

3. Writing instructors who say, “Writing can’t be taught” ought to be fired. They are basically declaring: “I cannot do my job.” What makes writers feel so entitled to their teaching paychecks when they’re too damn stubborn and lazy to mentor other writers?

4. My workshop professor is an incredibly smart woman, insightful, helpful. I’d even call her brilliant.

5. I will not lie. Two other girls in the program and I have been talking about forming a band and naming it after her. Think, The Jane Does – except it will be this professor’s name.

6. I guess I really need to get on learning how to play bass if that’s going to happen. This summer, I’m actually going to take some lessons, I’ve decided. If not bass, violin.

7. I am taking a Saul Bellow course. I’ve discovered that I don’t care for Saul Bellow’s work. It makes me want to cut my throat.

8. I am taking a “Problems in Literature” class, though I haven’t exactly figured out what ‘problems’ we are solving. We read a lot. We talk about what we’ve read. – How the author achieved some particular quality in the writing.

9. I am IAing for a really demanding professor. She makes sure that I put in the full 20 hours while most other IAs put in 7-10. I feel resentment toward her, because it cuts into my writing time. This fact makes me angry, if you want to know the truth. Another professor told her IA, “I don’t make you work crazy hours like X” does,” X being my professor. Apparently, she has a reputation among her colleagues. The upside is that I am well aware what great preparation I am receiving for next year when I teach my own class. In the meantime, I’m working on trying to manage my time so I can condense my workload into 15 hours a week.

10. This semester, I have cried once. In my IA class, I felt overwhelmed because a student complained to the professor about the grade he received on his essay. “I did everything she told me to do. I have the draft with all of her comments on it,” I heard him tell her. Then he sat in the front row and glared at me through class. I wanted to shout: “I DIDN’T GIVE YOU THE MAGICAL GUIDE FOR MAKING AN A. I GAVE YOU SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR D-GRADE DRAFT! AND YOU EARNED A C+ IN THE END.” Instead I stood there and ran the power point, and just yelled inside my own head at the smug brat.

11. At the end of class I got bombarded with people telling me their essays were going to be late. The professor is okay with late essays. She doesn’t have to manage my time, so I guess she would be okay with it. I am not okay with late essays.

12. Five minutes after class, and just before my workshop class, a fellow student asked me a question. He and I are coordinating the MFA student readings this semester. He asked me about some email I needed to send, and I started to answer him, and as I was talking, I heard my voice wavering, and felt my eyes welling, and I interrupted myself to say, “I can’t talk about this right now.” Then I rushed off to the bathroom and cried my eyes out for two minutes before I attempted to compose myself and headed to workshop.

13. My eyes were red for nearly the entire 3 hours. I barely spoke a word. That is not like me.

14. As for my own workshop on the Sajan story a couple of weeks ago, it went pretty well. My really brilliant workshop teacher had some concrete suggestions that I think are insanely helpful. I can’t wait to revise it over the summer.

15. Finally, revising is a difficult task. I dread it. But I will overcome this dread.

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