a day in the life.

cover letter.

Posted in Uncategorized by erin on the December 14, 2011

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I hate revision. I honestly believe it’s my own work I hate revising. Perhaps, if I had an editor or if I were editing for someone else, this wouldn’t make me so annoyed and upset. It’s like I’m embarrassed to go back and read what I wrote. I wrote it a certain way for a reason, so now to change it seems preposterous to me. Preposterous was the word I chose as my favorite in one of the class exercises we had this semester. Overall, I think it was a beneficial class full of learning, reading, writing, exploring, and engaging. If I had to take it over, I absolutely would. And, I definitely appreciate how we were let out early from class. The length may be one of its only downfalls.
While revising my longer short story, “The Nonbeliever,” I was basically looking for grammatical errors above anything else. I wanted to make sure the diction choice, commas, and sentences were all chosen well and made perfect sense. With both stories, including “Father,” I wanted to make sure the main characters were well thought out and understood. Both of the men are the speakers in the stories so they need to be clear and descriptive. I want the reader to be able to feel the way the men feel and fully grasp the concepts of each piece. I purposely leave things out but it’s on purpose. As a reader myself, I like to have a little ambiguity here and there because stories are easy to get lost in. They are entertaining and exciting, so sometimes I like making pieces of it up myself. I can’t lie though, sometimes when other authors leave details out, I get so angry. But it’s about presentation and wanting the reader to want to continue reading the piece. So, some minute details are left so the reader has some room to play around with whatever they want to.
I want it to be clear in “The Nonbeliever” the boyfriend has snapped. He has literally gone off the dead end in the sense that murder was his only way out. He wanted to save some girl he thought he loved and the thought of having to have a family and spend his life with her made him physically and emotionally ill. As soon as she showed her sorrowful feelings towards his negativity, he became mentally ill. Though she has every intention of killing herself, he finished it and now he is in an institution speaking to psychiatrists. In “Father,” I want it to be clear a wife made the decision to leave her husband and their presumably teenage son runs away. The wife withdraws from her soon to be ex-husband and the son returns looking to rekindle the love their family once shared. But the mother is dead. That’s how I ended it on purpose because it’s more fun for the reader to use their imaginations and answer the unanswered questions themselves. When revising, I made a point of making the storylines clear and easily comprehendible. I also made any of the characters possibly relatable because that’s my favorite thing about fiction.
I love to read and I love to write. After taking a creative writing class, it’s easy to see one cannot write well if they are not well read. Throughout the semester, I enjoyed the reading selections immensely. In fact, I assumed I would not but I was very wrong. The creative nonfiction and fiction pieces we were assigned were my favorite. The poetry was good of course, but I am personally less interested in it than the other two genres mentioned. I thought my favorite genre to read would be fiction but it was the stories we read for creative nonfiction. Perhaps it was because elements of them were actually real, but both were very interesting to me. I enjoy darker stories and some were definitely dark. I have also learned revision is mandatory. I know the first draft of writing is never acceptable, but I like to pretend it is. I like to think the raw stuff is the best stuff even thought I know it’s not. As much as I hate revision, it’s actually an important aspect of creative writing.
All the assignments were enjoyable I believe. I had no problem reading what was assigned and keeping up the blog. I’m glad it was decided to keep the blog posts going throughout the semester, it made me much more comfortable to write it and have others read it at their own will. The last group of assignments was the only ones I had some trouble with. I think perhaps I am traditional in the sense of having poetry written down and being able to read it straight through because the author intended it that way. I like the fact one piece had music. However, I personally loved some of the phrases jumping out at me, so much I wrote a few down. But if I were playing some rock and roll instead of the music the author provided, I probably would have loved it so much more. As for the interactive ones, I’m unsure how I feel. I tend to lean more towards liking structure because it’s easier. I read things to understand them and if it’s all over the place, it’s harder to know what’s going on. But overall, the assigned work was enjoyable.
The exercises were sometimes difficult to be comfortable with, mainly the main two when we were in a circle and it was a group activity. At first, I was hesitant to participate in both of them. Now looking back, I realize that is silly. Both of the exercises turned out well and I was able to write quickly and I think, well enough. It was hard for me because knowing the next person would see what I wrote made me slightly uneasy. But in the end, they worked out quite well. I really enjoyed every time we had some free time to write. I do with there was perhaps some more of it. I would start potential pieces and never finish them. I hope one day I can. I still have a high school creative writing notebook filled with unfinished stories that I haven’t touched in years, so I hope the same doesn’t happen with these. I really hope I can continue working on each story I began because I would hate to see these ideas wasted. From this class, I’m taking away the fact I can write. I can actually write. I can write whatever I want, when I want, and show whomever. I can pretty much do whatever I want when I grow up. I refuse to call myself an adult now, I have Peter Pan syndrome, so when the time comes I have to be an adult, I can do whatever I want. I am also going to keep writing, no matter what. Sometimes I stop because of life and that’s not really fair to me or the potential pieces that can be born from the writing. Sometimes, life doesn’t get to stand in the way and win and the writing must commence. I’m going to take away from this class the fact writing is not scary, it’s art. It’s an expression of the author and one should be proud of the thing they’ve created. Writing lives forever.

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  1.   jenny abeles said,

    on December 30th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Erin,

    Well, I wish I could’ve changed your mind about revision this semester—that’s how strongly I feel about it—but your point about feeling embarrassed to look at your writing again is interesting. Maybe in the near future, you will feel ready to work through this embarrassment in order to elaborate on the process of shaping your writing in ever complex and subtle forms. If you ever change your mind about revision, please let me know. I’d love to hear what that epiphany was like for you!

    I’m also curious about how you decide what to “leave out” and what to include. This series of choices can be one of the most excruciating and tell-tale for any author, and once you’ve begun to craft a habit of decision-making, it absolutely informs your particuar style and what kind of writer you are. What Hemingway leaves out and what Henry James leaves out—very different, indeed!

    “Father” has a Poe-like creepiness, particularly near the end, and if you revise this (against your will, no doubt!), I would work on establishing that unsettling creepy tone earlier. There’s longing and sadness, but the Father who brings meals to his dead wife upstairs is seriously unhinged, too, right? What about Carver’s advice for letting an everyday object signify some mental state or mood? Is there something in the house that could represent the Father’s clingy instability? I think this story has potential.

    “The Nonbeliever” is full of powerful emotions and potent descriptions. It’s a very long mental excursus from the point of view of one character, and I have two suggestions about how to make this soliloquy more vivid and textured. First, insert sections of scene and dialogue within his long narrative, so the audience gets a chance to see the relationship as well as just hear about it from one point of view. My other suggestions is to spend more time organizing this narrator’s thoughts, making sure that he does not repeat himself needlessly and that his recollections and impressions unfurl in a tantalizing, intriguing way for the reader. You have much lovely writing in this piece, and the subject is one of the best (I think!), amour fou, or mad love. Since you see the benefits of reading in tandem with creating your own stories, you might enjoy a look at Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned, a wonderful book that touches on similar themes as yours.

    You have been a perfect student this semester, Erin, committed, diligent, enthusiastic, and creative. As smart and witty as you are, I would have enjoyed more participation from you in class, but it took me years to build the kind of persona that spoke up in class, so I understand the challenges of that process. Thank you for all your fine writing and work this semester; you have earned an A for the course.

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