We talk about last night’s faculty readings – how long is too long? I also noted that I didn’t like it when an author brought up their notebook or book, and leafed through it to find the next piece; dude, you knew you were coming. Be prepared.
For our own readings over the next few days, it’s important that we only be three minutes long, as there are a lot of students to read (20 each night). Someone recommended Onlinestopwatch.com, which you can set to give you a round of applause when you reach your time limit!
Discussed The Memory of My Disappearance, and how the structure mirrors the topic. We had trouble with the sentence
But then there’s phren, “mind,” and its genitive phrenos, “diaphragm, heart, mind,” which is of unknown origin/is the last time I saw Mother/is the anatomy of fear, which presents as racing heart, difficulty breathing, dry mouth, or hyperventilation, most likely on the kitchen or bathroom floor.
and I wondered whether part of the problem is that in our packet, it breaks across pages, which makes it harder to follow visually.
Discussed Things Gone The Way of Time, and how the long sentences build like the cars in a train, which is one of the images used in the piece.
We’ve come back several times in our discussions to Dinty’s (teacher’s) idea of The Invisible River – the magnetic force that flows through your piece and everything is pulled towards it. This could also be thought of as the theme, but the idea is that whatever the point of your piece is, everything you write connects to that point.
- It’s often unstated by the writer
- The theme meanders, like a river, finding its own way, but with a specific destination
- Everything is pulled toward the river, leaning in toward the magnetism; if not, perhaps it doesn’t belong in the essay.
Examining hazy memories—brainstorming on what you might write about for tonight’s homework. 5-7 minutes.
250-300 words examining hazy memories. A short piece that approaches a not-well-remembered event from several angles.
Reading Our Own Work
Second person piece about suicide – How To Live – had a great quote. “I don’t want to die, I just want to feel something.”
A kayaking piece called How To Make a Wet Exit – we all get stuck on “wet exit” sounding sexual. Discussion that in a short piece, the theme still needs to show up two or three times. “You can have a lot of texture, but one note must sound more strongly than the rest.”
A piece about packing for a trip that’s actually about anxiety – “Add some nouns” – the idea that more specific items will show more of the narrator’s character and anxiousness.
We also discussed –
- making sure you have a solid perspective. Who is telling this story?
- cleaning up details. Making sure you’re using the right details to tell the story, not extra clutter details that are distracting.
- zooming in. Using the “big picture” of a piece and also getting in “close-ups.”
Quote of the Day
From our MTF transgender person: “I never expected to look like my mother.”
Compliment of the Day
From my teacher, after I said something helpful about someone else’s piece: “You know, if this circus thing doesn’t work out, you should be an editor.”
I am more at peace than I have been in a long time.