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Creative Kindle Use

Two weeks ago I received my new Kindle in the mail. Last week I mailed the old one back. I haven’t yet had a chance to sync the new gadget with my old account. But having a Kindle again means I’ll probably be posting about my (sort of) complicated relationship to it on here at some point.

In the meantime, I found this interesting post about a writerly use of the Kindle. It makes me want to send one of my own stories to my Kindle right now. I wonder if it would give me the same feeling as seeing my words in print?

I’ve been posting much more often over here these past few weeks, and I think that reflects my general state of being. I am very busy with teaching and being a student and writing, but it isn’t what occupies my mind for the time being.

I feel this sharp juxtaposition right now between “grad school” and “real life.” I guess because I’m getting married, planning for the future, dealing with the stuff of adulthood. (Because really, grad school doesn’t completely require you to be an adult, although it helps.) That juxtaposition is part truth and part illusion, because life is whatever and wherever you’re living in a moment, not some abstract concept. And yet when it comes to where I imagine myself being, and who I imagine myself to be, this MFA program is transient. Important, desired, but over in another year. I’m not entirely certain what lies on the other end of that year, but I’m eager to find out.

Committing regular time for writing has been difficult. Partly because of this blasted business, but also because my attention has been focused on other things. I find that writing requires a balance of stillness and activity. Too much of one leads to stagnation, too much of the other doesn’t allow one(/me) that interior quiet that’s necessary for creation.

If good writing captures the spark of life, it seems to me that it’s necessary for the writer to life a full life (which isn’t the same thing as a busy one). But when life is exceptionally full, I often find myself drawn away from writing, or simply forgetful. (Except there is always that guilt gnawing away at the corners of my mind, asking me how I can call myself a writer, which will only be silenced by writing, and writing, and writing well.)

I’ve no conclusion to this train of thought.

For Your Enjoyment

Yes, I ought to be writing and/or grading essays. But I had to share this blog post by author David Abrams about his visit to Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home. Hilarious.

(And hey, it’s been far too long since I used that Flannery O’Connor tag.)

At some point while grading the past essay I crossed the threshold into “sleepy,” so even though I have lots of work to do by Monday (and not much Saturday to work with this weekend), I am calling it quits for today and going to bed.

In the meantime: I was cleaning some document shortcuts off my desktop, including some assignments various students had emailed me, and I found this, under the title “ending”:

At the end (or very near it) she drops the book and runs. We see the look of realization on her face, the swing of her arms as she races to catch up with him before it’s too late. The wind blows the pages and leaves scuttle past.

Who is she? What book has she dropped? What, exactly, is she realizing?

I have absolutely, positively no clue.

The fact is I may not have had a clue when I typed this. I get little flashes and think, “Oooh, shiny, must write it down so I can do something with it someday.” And they don’t necessarily have stories formed behind them yet, or else I would have more extensive notes behind them.

But they usually have some emotion behind them, and what frustrates me is that I don’t know what the emotion here is, whether it’s a happy or sad ending. Which means, much as this fragment intrigues me, that intrigue is only a source of frustration, because the spark itself is missing.

(What’s interesting, too, is that it’s more cinematic than anything, isn’t it?)

“How do you tell a story when you don’t have the facts, but the story’s complete inside you?”

That’s Ben Okri talking about his book Starlighter, which I’ve never read. I recently finished another novel of his, The Famished Road, which I’ll admit felt like far too many words to support the story they carried; but after I finished it and started writing about it for class, I realized that it’s pretty amazing. Everything–the characters, the forward motion, the feeling of the world the book creates–accumulates as you read. In many ways the movement of the novel is more cyclical than linear, but each time something comes back it is intensified, and has subtly shifted. By the end the changes and emotion of the book left me breathless. It’s one of those books I’m very grateful someone made me read.

That’s not a review, and I’m too lazy to make it one; I’m basically procrastinating right now, anyways. Because open in a word document is one of those stories that is complete inside of me, that even has some facts to it (maybe too many), but I’m trying to figure out how on earth to tell it. It is a story of accumulation–the emotional accumulation of some things I’ve seen and some others I’ve been told–not to mention the pressure of all sorts of other things and stories that don’t directly affect the one I’m writing, but still exist in a network with it, inside of its reality.

But the accumulation in my head, while emotionally precise, has no plot, no shape except a personality.

So what does this story look like expressed on the page? Where does the movement come from? What facts are needed, what facts will just clog it up, and how do I navigate that?

It’s what I’m trying to figure out this weekend.

It’s what the deadline asks of me. (That’s March 28.)

… I’ve been submitting stories. To a contest and a literary magazine most recently; planning on sending another thing out in the next week or so.

I feel like a writer. Woohoo!

It’s been a bit too long since I last submitted anything, honestly; same as it’s been too long since I posted on this blog. One always intends to do that sort of thing over Spring Break, but then things happen. Like surprise bridal showers and apartment hunting. (Other things don’t happen as much, like homework.)

To be honest, it’s when all that Real Life stuff starts taking over that I stop and wonder, why the heck am I still in school, again?

And then, gradually, I remember Reasons. To be part of a writing community; to better myself as a writer and an individual; and, of course, to write.

And I certainly know there are many aspects of academia that I’ll miss sorely once I’m finished. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two years, it’s that I have absolutely no desire for an academic lifestyle on a long term basis. And there’s always a part of me that’s chomping at the bit, waiting to be finished.

I guess it’s pretty lucky time doesn’t listen to my whims.

One of my students just wrote in his essay evaluation that he didn’t include quotes from the text he was writing about because he didn’t want it to seem like he was “arguing with a deceased person.”

I could go on about how we’ve discussed writing as an opportunity for “conversations” with a text/author many times in this class … but the fact he said this is pretty funny in itself, course context aside.