Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I've been busy

This residency has been so so so so busy. Yet, I have learned so much. I learned about the importance of verbs in moving action. I learned about how to avoid sentimentality in writing. We read some really really awful pieces.

I was workshopped and basically need to change my whole book. Imagine writing 140 pages then being told to change everything. It was refreshing and I didn't cry. I actually felt okay and looking forward to rethinking everything.

This residency has been a lot of fun. I've had good conversations about writing and with people. Over lunch, myself and a bunch of authors and students played desert island albums, movie, and book. I chose:

1) Confederacy of Dunces as a book
2) Beatles White Album as the album
3) Annie Hall as the movie (though I'm not confident on this one.)

I heard some great readers. My advisor David Elliot read from his book (Wuv Bunnies from Outers Pace). It was hysterical. I have a workshop with MT Anderson today and he is reading tonight. So I'm excited.

I also read yesterday and people were rolling in the aisles and laughing. A couple people said I intimidated them, which I found funny, because I think I'm lest intimidating person.

I'm off to read and need to get to Lesley to learn about point of view. YAY.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I'm about to learn about juxtaposition and parallel structure - YAY

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I just had two seminars on revision and ate a wonderful veggie wrap.

I want to comment on the second revision seminar - It was intense and humorous. Our class is starting to bond - awesome.

During the time, we really looked at our intentions behind scenes and characters. And, we asked ourselves these questions:

Why did you invent the characters you invented?
How am I similar to this character?
How can I heighten the similarities?

We talked about using active verbs, "word" choice, knowing our dramatic tension, line breaks, sentence variety, being able to enter the story through the backdoor, the importance of well-placed fragments, etc.

The instructor, AJ Verdelle, quoted good ole' Bill Shakespeare - "Action is eloquence" - USE ACTIVE VERBS. This is the same thing I tell you. Be active, not passive.

She told us, if we have a word more than eight letters in our work, that we better be prepared to lie on the ground and fight for it. I love long words. I'm so reminded of what I tried to convey with clutter, specifics, etc.

I'm enjoying the talks and the workshops, but I am feeling dread about my own story. I feel like a don't have a plot. This is big. REAL BIG.


Residency: Day One

Last night was our opening reception. It was great to see people I hadn't seen in six months. There was a lot of energy and I felt ready to get back to studying and writing.

I took the opportunity coming off much praise for my reading a few weeks ago to lobby myself to be the commencement speaker for our graduating class next June. I managed (with some shady backroom dealings) to secure myself the spot as commencement speaker - a dream come true for me. I already have a title: "Writers in the Hand of an Angry God" - I plan on delivering it as a 17th century Puritan preacher, complete with whipping rod and compulsory biblical recitation. It is going to be sweet.

After the delightful lunch meat and sushi spread, we had our opening reading. I was thrilled because Susan Goodman, my advisor my first semester, read from her new book: See How They Run - It is about presidential elections. The book is hysterical and she gave some great advice to non-fiction writers. I'm going to try to get her to do a classroom visit next year. She is so funny, and would probably really make fun of me.

I don't start today until 10:45. In one great ironic twist, my reading today consisted of the chapter from On Writing Well entitled Bits and Pieces - the same one I assigned to you - proving that yes, we are still learning.

I'm off to get caffeine and perhaps a toffee bar at Starbucks - um, toffee bar.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oh - this is so funny...

I'll be live-blogging my residency starting this Friday, then shutting the site down. My blogging adventures will not end, and I hope yours won't either. Keep blogging. 

I found this on McSweeney's. Being from Philadelphia, I always had a wonderful love for Will Smith a.k.a. the Fresh Prince.

Friday, June 13, 2008

End of the Year...

Well, thank you for this year. I have enjoyed you all as students and as people. Thank you for your hard work, your intellect, your kindness, and your humor.

I'm always a sucker for good summer music. I'm currently revisiting Neutral Milk Hotel and everything by Bruce Springsteen (great BBQ music). Post any recommendations of good summer tuness.

I'm going to live-blog my MFA week, which begins next Friday. I have a class with M.T. Anderson, the author of Feed. I found this helpful for me to remember what I was learning as well as hopefully interesting to you all.

I included a video from Bryan Adams. It is classic 1980s. Yes, I had hair like this. This song always reminds me of my teenage summers, with the world before me, wanting to be a rock star. I remember having band practice in my living room and we were really rockin' out and I was ready for my monster solo, when my mom interrupted us with Strawberry Shortcake. I knew from that moment on I was not going to be a rock star. Rock Stars don't take Shortcake breaks.

Have a safe summer. Stay out of trouble. Don't do anything genuinely stupid.

Oh, and Read.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Extra Credit Reminder

Hey everyone,

The assignment is below for extra credit.

I just wanted to remind everyone about the reading and Seussical. The reading is at 4 p.m. today on the 5th floor of the Barnes and Noble at BU. The address is in a below post.

Seussical is at 340 Dorcester Street at Fourth Presbyterian Church in South Boston. It is at 7 p.m. It is right off of Andrew Station T stop.

Both events are free and are one hour in length.

If you attend, you get extra credit. Bonus points if you make signs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Blog Extra Credit

Choose one of the following assignments for extra credit (20 points)

1) Choose an ending to any of the novels/plays we have read this year. Rewrite the ending. Don't just provide a summary, but actually WRITE a new or additional ending. Try to mimc the author's voice.

2) Think of a situation in which a long-held fear or anxiety that you have comes true (this should be a situation which could, but has not yet happened). Now, using the third-person mode of narration, write a scene describing a fictional version of yourself dealing with the situation.

3) Write a dialogue between two characters where each character has a secret. Imply the secret, but do not tell the secret outright. This scene should have exposition, climax, and a resolution. Ex. Husband has lost his job, the wife has been having an affair.

4) Choose one of the following characters: Holden Caulfield, Sydney Carton, Gene Forrester, Bottom, or Antigone. Write song lyrics that best express their character. You may wish to put the lyrics to a familiar tune. Instead of Billy Idol's "Mony Mony", you could write Holden's "Phony Phony".

HOW LONG? (200-300 words)

Due June 12th.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Humor in Shakespeare

We've talked lately about how Shakespeare creates humor. This video "reduces" his humor and combines all of his comedies. They also mock him as a formula writer.