1. What was your favorite writing assignment? Why?
The one where we wrote a line and then passed the paper around the classroom so everyone could write one line of story. It was interesting to see what people came up with.

2. What was your least favorite writing assignment? Why?
Probably the punctuation assignment – placing punctuation marks in unusual places for some reason really grated on my writing nerves. It’s not something that I would ever do, usually, because the unusual pauses and breakage of words left me feeling unusually militant about grammar and punctuation.

3. Discuss your reactions to full-group workshops. Would you change them in any way?
Overall, I liked the full-group workshops. I felt that the criticisms and comments were productive and that the feedback was important. There is nothing I would change about them.

4. Discuss your reactions to small-group workshops. Would you change them in any way?
I liked the small-group workshops for the same reason I liked the full-group ones. However, the small-group ones felt more intimate and it was easier to have a conversation about everyone’s writing and to bounce around ideas than in the full-group.

5. Did the overall course structure (two portfolios, emphasis on invention before revision, arrangement, delivery) helped your writing practice?
Yes, it did. The only comment I would make is that there be either a blog or a writing journal – not both. Otherwise, a workload that should have felt both reasonable and necessary feels overwhelming and more like busy-work.

6. Would you have liked more specific instructions on genre conventions (e.g. poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, etc.) or were you comfortable with the multigenre or genre-less approach to writing? Explain your answer.
I prefer the multigenre/genre-less approach to writing. I feel it provides more freedom of expression and produces more interesting results.

7. Did you like having the opportunity to negotiate grading criteria? Were you able to fully participate in this process? How would you change it for future classes?
Yes, I do and I wouldn’t change anything in that regard.

8. Did keeping a journal and blog help your writing practice? Explain.
The writing journal was helpful because it provided a creative outlet and it was something that I almost always had on hand. The blog was more of a conscious effort to write in and quickly became tedious.

9. What did you use the blog medium for (creative writing, reading response, journaling, etc.)?
Usually, I used the blog medium for creative writing.

10. Discuss my performance as an instructor. Did you find the way the course was conducted satisfactory? Would you have liked the instruction to be different? Explain.
I liked the way you conducted the class. It was easy to respect you as an instructor and it was clear that you had a specific direction in mind for the class. I do think a printed syllabus with a list of assignments would have beneficial, but because you had the blog, it wasn’t completely necessary.

11. Please offer some advice or helpful hints for students taking this course in the future.
For students who take this course in the future, I would say: I really hope you like to write because you will writing a lot and often.

1. Finish this sentence: Creative writing is…
the sudden secession of stupidity. Just kidding. Creative writing is a mirror, metaphorically speaking.

2. Briefly describe your history or background in reading and writing creative texts.
Well, prior to this class, I wrote creatively on and off, as the mood struck me. That much has not really changed since taking this class. However, now that I have taken this class, I find that writing scope has broaden a little to include less overwrought drama and a little more ridiculousness.

3. Are writers born, made, or both? Explain your answer.
Born, generally. You either want to write or you don’t. I’m going to paraphrase a line from Ratatouille: “Anyone can [write].”

4. Explain how writing affects your daily life.
I feel as though I observe smaller things more and that as a writer, I process information around me a little differently. Everything, I have come to realize has the potential to spin out into a story.

5. What is the purpose of the creative writer in contemporary society?
Creative writers, like any artist, provide society with a mirror that reflects the nature of what we are back at ourselves.

6. Will you continue to write creatively when this course ends? What are your plans?
Absolutely. But as far as submitting my work anywhere – that is something I would have to think through carefully. Right now, I haven’t the patience to sit and complete any more story satisfactorily. Until I am more willing and able to put in that kind of work and time into my writing, I will not be attempting to get published anywhere.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

If you are looking for a new author to read and you like horror and fantasy stories, then Fragile Things is the book to pick up. Fragile Things is a compilation of short stories and poems written in Gaiman’s familiar witty prose. Cleverly, the stories and poems are arranged in a long story-short story or poem pattern. This pattern allows the reader a breather between the longer, more emotionally dense stories like “The Problem of Susan,” a short story about Susan Pevensie from E.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. However, the shorter stories are no less intense – one short story is actually a series a tiny vignettes that were written to accompany Tori Amos’s album “Strange Little Girls” and deals with the women that each song heartbreakingly depicts. Each piece has some kind of fantasy element, something that places the story outside of the realm of what we consider to be normal. However, each story has a kernel of emotional truth that makes the characters in Gaiman’s stories, if not relateable, then at least recognizably human.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17th, I went to a Janet Burroway reading in the Bone. Burroway was incredibly articulate and introduced the three sections that she planned to read from her novel Bridge of Sand. She read the sections in backwards chronological order – she began with a section near the end of the book and concluded with a section from the beginning of the book.

While talking about her novel and writing process, she admitted that she spent four years of torture writing her novel every day. The writing process for that particular novel, she said, did really fall into place until she realized what it was about and what she liked about it.

Overall, the reading was an excellent experience. Janet Burroway talked about her writing process, her novel, and graciously answered the audience’s questions at the end.

1. Finish this sentence: Creative writing is…an expression of something internalized

2. Briefly describe your history or background in reading and writing creative texts.
I have written creatively since I’ve known how to write. However, my writing has never been consistent – I only write when the mood strikes, which means I have incredibly bad follow-through and rarely finish anything I start.

3. Are writers born, made, or both? Explain your answer.
Born – like anything else, writing is something that comes from within. You can teach writing competency but you can’t teach creative writing.

4. Explain how writing affects your daily life.
If it weren’t for writing I wouldn’t be constantly creating and discarding stories. Or observing all those little things.

5. What is the purpose of the creative writer in contemporary society?
Creative writers, like artists, holds a mirror up to society.

6. Will you continue to write creatively when this course ends? What are your plans?
Yes, I will. Beyond that I have no plans.

Literary Journal: The Dirty Goat

Website: http://www.thedirtygoat.com

Submissions:

* multiple subimissions
* emailed submissions

Reading period: Year round

Response time: 3 months

Payment: $10 per copy

ISSN: 1042-4768

Published: Bi-annually, in January and September

What it publishes: contemporary prose, poetry, drama, and visual art – people can submit from all over the world

Lately, I’ve been working on a short monster story. The idea sprung from reading a snarky fashion blog, oddly enough. But I guess ideas pop up in weird places.

On top of that I’ve found that a great way to get started on writing anything is just a one sentence line. Usually, I’ll just ask someone for a sentence or pick a sentence of conversation up here and there and I’ll use that as a springboard for writing. So far, it’s helped a great deal and I think it’s helped me get over a large part of my writer’s block.

I’m currently working on a horror story. What are some ways to kill characters off? And what monsters would really be hilarious/scary to use?

The setting is a pumpkin patch in the country and there are two main female characters, Liz and Beth.

He’s a criminal. A man up against a wall, facing down a battalion with chin raised and eyes fiercely bright. His crime is not important. All that matters is that he is being punished, or “brought to justice,” as the generalissimo had so gleefully stated.

He did not see his life pass before his eyes. He only saw the wide-eyed face of his young son. The boy would be alone now, nowhere to go and no one to turn to. And that was what he regretted most – his failure to be an able and strong father for his son.

I’ve been having the hardest time just coming up with ideas to write. This may be because my classes are dividing my attention and I don’t have the time to focus solely on writing.

However, I am viewing this class as a chance to really settle down and focus on just stretching my writing and moving out of my comfort zone. With that in mind, I’m going to try different short story ideas and character viewpoints.