Poetry and fiction workshop with Tim Tomlinson, 9:00-12:00, Monday, 14 Jan 2013, AVR, CHSS Wing, Admin Bldg., UP Mindanao. Tim Tomlinson is co-founder of the New York Writers Workshop and co-author of The Portable MFA in Creative Writing (2006). The workshop is sponsored by the BA English (Creative Writing) Program and the Department of Humanities, CHSS, UP Mindanao
That's how Amy Tan describes how she creates her story. By imagining herself in the story she is writing, believing in the belief system of the place and people she writes about, being in the story, she is able to come to what she says are "particles of truth" that allows for some understanding of things.
Here's Amy Tan's talk on Ted.com:
Not just about their art but also about making a change in this world. That's exactly how Isabel Allende was in her talk on Ted.com, as she told tales of passion. And the operative definition for passion here is from its etymology -- the Latin for "suffering." Here's Allende:
The tricky part indeed is the morning after when the dancer wakes up to find himself the mortal being with weak knees.
I like the notion of giving the idea of genius back to its supernatural source only because having it reside in the artist is quite a burden for the latter. Especially the morning after.
Because come to think of it, the artist already has a lot to worry about mastering the craft -- especially for moments when "divine inspiration" takes the day off, leaving the artist to earn a living.
Why is there a need to reflect on one's creative process, one's creative pieces?
That was the question I asked myself while preparing the Intro to my CW 200b class this second term. I know this is also the question foremost in my students' minds as they try to reflect on their writing.
Descartes' Mind and Body
Because I know they will be thinking, aren't the stories or poems or essays we've written not enough? We struggled over those, sweated through the Workshop and the panelists' comments, and labored over the revisions we had to do on our works. Aren't those enough for a thesis? Why do we have to write about how we wrote those pieces?
The way my college professors explained it to me was: you'll be a better writer if you're aware of what you do -- the effect you achieve by writing your piece this way or that, choosing this word or phrase over another, shaping the narrative this way rather than another, and so on.
Of course some of my professors also argued about how too much self-awareness about one's writing kind of deadens one's enjoyment in the process of creating something, and makes the writing of a creative piece almost mechanical.
But in the business of teaching creative writing, we really cannot help but demand such critical knowledge among our students.
Perhaps the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) says it best in their "Creative Writing Research Benchmark Statement" (2008), when they reviewed and proposed standards for the teaching of creative writing in higher education institutions in the UK.
NAWE points out that this critical awareness will help develop among student writers the confidence to depend on their talent and knowledge as they graduate and become professional writers.As someone who went through the same process myself, I know how important this self-awareness can be. For while having a community of other writers as one's readers will help enhance one's writing, it is finally one's self and not a teacher or a workshop panelist who decides that this piece of writing is ready to see print.
What you can do with new media. One funny example is Burger King's Subservient Chicken. It's kind of stupid, really, but funny nevertheless. Here's the link. Have a LOL!
But the more serious stuff you can make with new media is something like what Judd Morrissey, collaborating with Lori Talley, did with The Jew's Daughter.
Page from The Jew's Daughter
By playing around with the hyperlinking tool, Morrissey and Talley presents an "interactive, nonlinear, multivalent narrative, a storyspace" contained within a page that subtly changes as the reader passes the cursor over the highlighted words. The change is subtle readers think they are still reading the same page of text. But then they soon notice the changes from their peripheral vision, and realize they are reading a different text that carries echoes of the previous pages.
Morrissey and Talley play around with 225 pages of text, one similar and yet different from the others, and they play around with the narrative form their new format creates.
Because of their innovative work, The Jew's Daughter is now taught in Literature, Creative Writing, and experimental programming classes in various universities.
While marking papers and preparing for next term's classes, I read Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984). This passage from her book stuck:
I stumbled into making pictures with a camera. Frame, proportion, perspective, the values of light and shade, all are determined by the distance of the observing eye.
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