Friday, November 9, 2007

Process Paper G2-5/Goddard

Contents:
Annotation #13: “The Elephant”
Annotation #14: American Buffalo
Annotation #15: Seize the Day
Long Critical Paper revision
Chapter one From Color to Ansbach revision
List of Annotations
Self-Evaluation


Dear Kyle,

Well, I really don’t know where to begin this process letter. I can say this, I have included the absolute bare minimum as far as the number of pages. However, in the spirit I have been working this semester, simply meeting the required page limitation has not been my mode of doing things. My packet number five is not the way I intended to end this semester.
I’m writing this process letter from Oakland, California. I got here a few days ago, and will be here for an indefinite amount of time. Emotionally, I’m wrecked. My cousin Butch (Donald) died a few days ago. I suppose I tell you this because in a way you know him, I modeled Cousin Joseph on my childhood memories of Butch. Aside from the obvious, being here is very difficult. Turns out Carmichael and From Color to Ansbach are closer to autobiography than I would have admitted before. If only I could get on a plane and go to some Bavarian town, perhaps this process letter would have a different feel. New thoughts are surging now, as I suppose is normal when there is death. Deana, Butch’s sister (my cousin) were the only ones to look at Butch’s body the other day. I had to see him, and still I was waiting for him to get up off the table and start talking shit to me.

Well, that’s that. I’ve had to finish my work here, which has been tricky. In my developing work process, I realize now how dependant I’ve become on a routine. The biggest growth I’ve had this semester it’s the routine of writing. I get several hours every morning (Between four and seven, typically) to be alone with my work. When I think about the last several months, the amount of reading, the critical writing and even my creative work, it has all developed due to lack of distraction, and a strict schedule. In retrospect, the biggest reward in the Goddard program thus far is a way of planning, and executing my thoughts, and having time to do it. Admittedly, I spent plenty of time on a weekly basis just sitting at the kitchen table and thinking about things. Being back here in the Bay Area I lack the scheduled time, and the appointed place and it really is a detriment to my work.

The annotations are continuing to help me formulate thoughts, and a constructive exercise in translating my thoughts to the page. In this set of three, I read a short story, a novel and a play. Conserving words, and making them all count was the underlining thought for me in the analysis of “The Elephant.” The use of the third person narrative in Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day has helped me in my thoughts of revision of my work from the first person to the third. Lastly, American Buffalo was an exercise in reading for me. I read the play four times, and I think I could probably benefit from yet another reading. I kept thinking about Fletcher, and what a powerful character he was to me despite never appearing on the stage (or page?).

The long critical paper was the only piece of this packet I worked on before leaving Denver. Denver, I bet it’s sunny there… I’m grateful to have had the third go around on the LCP, and over a couple of sunny days, I feel like I have a paper to be proud of. Thank you for your patience and considerations with it. It is more developed than that first short critical paper, the Charles Johnson’s paper. The thought of that first paper is such a marker of growth to me now.

My creative endeavors move quicker now. I took some time to think about the questions you posed to me, and I later posed them to the characters in the story. I have written the first chapter again. Using a different point of view is a very forceful way to look at the work differently. I revised the first few pages several days after rereading my first draft. I chose to leave it alone for those days and when I started writing, I elected not to look at the original draft as I worked. As I start up on this new direction of the story, I think the revision will be more meaningful to me as a writer. I think cousin Joseph will be more meaningful too. But I have to tell you, the events of the last week are more consuming than anything I’ve known before.

I would love some suggestions about a new advisor. I was terribly impressed with Sarah during my first residence, but I know she’s moved on. I don’t have any strong feelings about anyone else. So, please, I’m open to any recommendations. How does the process work? My only experience, of course, has been with you.


I went to the teaching practicum workshop last residency. The plan had been to start looking at the end of October for place to teach. I have a few ideas, I have been talking to one of my professors at the Metropolitan State College of Denver who has been helpful. Also, I used to serve the chair of the English Department of the University of Colorado at Denver when I was a bartender. I’ve known him for years, and at one point (about five years ago) he was trying to persuade me to attend UCD’s grad program. I haven’t talked to him in a few months, but I will be looking him up once I get back to Denver. The apprehension of these two leads, of course, is that the stakes seem to be really high. As I remember my undergraduate days, the instructors seemed so much older and wiser. As I think about it, perhaps they were not much older than I am now. Be that as it may, I don’t feel particularly wise. Who knows? Also, there are a few other options for me, we have so many continuing education associations in Denver, and I do have plans of cold calling some. We’ll see, and I can’t wait to tell you the outcome during the January residency. Can you believe this semester is already at an end and we’re already talking about January?

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