Takeaways from Second Semester of my MFA

  • After experimenting with a new medium (digital video), I remain convinced that writing conveys character and complexity better than any other I’ve encountered thus far (and I’m including CAVE writing in that). But after watching a couple of television series back-to-back on pirate television stations, I think the best plot-writers are probably working in television these days.
  • Developing a more rigorous reading process – specifically re-reading stories – will be the next big challenge of my writing career. For decades I’ve read like a journalist, sifting swiftly through text to find nuggets of information. But if I’m going to learn how to really draft my own work I have to learn how to slow down and process what I’m reading. I will plunge myself into the great works of short fiction this summer, as recommended by my workshop leader – DH Lawrence, Raymond Carver, Rudyard Kipling, Sommerset Maughm, Paul Bowles, Isaac Babel… am also going to plunder from next semester’s short story seminar whose reading list includes:
    Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy: Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy; Anton Pavlovich Chekhov: Forty Stories; “Ward No. 6”; Joseph Conrad: Great Short Works of Joseph Conrad; The Shadow-Line; Edith Wharton: Roman Fever and Other Stories; “Bunner Sisters;” Willa Cather: Collected Stories; D. H. Lawrence: The Complete Short Stories; Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Collected Stories; Philip Roth: Nemesis.

  • I will skip the Willa Cather.
  • The “multiple scripts” metaphor (imaging different, conflicting perceptions of a scenario) for writing dialogue.
  • Transcribing while editing video and cutting when things get boring.

    More to come…

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