Friday, February 1, 2008

Process Paper G3-1/Goddard

Annotation #2: Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer
Annotation #3: Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter
Annotation #4: W Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge
Notes and outlines for creative manuscript
Chapter’s: “Lightning in the Upstairs Room,” and “Window in Düsseldorf”
Teaching Practicum dates and schedule
Workshop exercise: “The Tokidoki Staller”

Dear John,

It was a real pleasure working with you at the residency; I must admit I was a little nervous to change advisors. It’s just a fear of change, I suppose. I regret not making it to your sense of place workshop. I read the packet, but I was too tired to make it. In looking at the material, you submitted for consideration in that workshop, I‘d suggest the first chapter of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. I bring it up only because I’ve it on the docket for the workshops in my practicum.

Packet number one: I valued the annotation exercise in our group advisory at the residency. I found it useful, of course because it gave me an idea of what to expect from you. It also gave me a way to gauge what others are doing with their annotations. I kept that in mind as I wrote mine for this packet. I enjoyed the Miller and the Welty annotations, they were great reads too. Maugham’s book as well as the annotation was a little bit more difficult. I was put off in the opening chapter when he compared himself to Henry James. I hated reading Henry James when I was in college. I had a professor then who told me that I was too young for James and to reread it at forty. I’m thirty-five, and just knowing I’ll be forty is frightening enough, never minding the inevitable chore of having to read Henry James again. Nonetheless, I found plenty in The Razor’s Edge to keep me going.

I’ve found a renewed interest in my manuscript. As I told you in your office on our first meeting, I was feeling tired and frustrated with it. It may not be the book I ultimately want to write, but I know there is more time for more novels. Some of the difficulties I was feeling I have resolved. The idea of an extended amount of time on one project was the biggest problem for me. Since I started the program at Goddard, I haven’t written anything else. This manuscript has been getting all my attention. In the fall, I really put it aside to work on other projects, a grip of short stories and even older novels. I seem to remember telling you about these. Basically, I spent hours transcribing thousands of handwritten pages into a computer format with the idea of working on publications. I guess I was looking for another, more tangible release of energy. After all, I thought, what the hell prevented me from submitting stories for publications all these years. Another issue plaguing me was a feeling of not producing enough. In this packet process, we put together 40 pages every three weeks. Before Goddard, I just wrote in notebooks, story after story. I don’t have a number of pages I would write in three-week intervals, but I felt like I was writing so much more. I digress. After our initial conversation, I started thinking about my manuscript very differently. At the residency I was struggling to think about what my story is ultimately about, why would anyone care to read it, etc. I think I came up with the answer, at least enough of an answer to keep me motivated. In this packet, I’ve included “outlines and notes,” which is giving me a greater understanding of where I am and what I need to do. Additionally, I hope it will give you some insight to my project. At the residency, I printed the entire manuscript, and I was horrified to find 335 pages in front of me. I mean, that’s nearly an entire tree, right? So far, I’ve dropped just under 200 pages of the piece. Most of that were pieces or unusable drafts of existing chapters. So, starting at a base of about 150 pages, all of which I was excited about, I feel like I’m in a good spot to continue work.

Lightning in the Upstairs Room” and “Window in Düsseldorf” are both new chapters. Although pieces of the latter is a reworking of a rogue chapter left over from my first semester. I feel confident in this new work, even in the rough draft form they are in currently. My plans now are simply to produce more new material to be the cohesive glue in the manuscript. In looking at the schedule of events for this semester and for the following, I believe I will have a complete draft of this manuscript ready by August 25. I’m in good shape.

The Teaching Practicum: I was very allusive when we talked about this during our meetings. I didn’t have an accurate picture about it during the residency. I had four solid maybes, two long shots, and one hell-no going for me when I left Denver in January. Oddly enough, it was one of the long shots that worked out and everything else just fell into place. As you’ll see on the initial schedule, I’ve left things a little vague. It was important to get all the workshop information on one page. In short, Crystal Sharp, owner and operator of the Holiday Chalet Bed and Breakfast has agreed to sponsor my workshop. We meet in her Tea Room (The breakfast portion) of her hotel. Her hotel is on central east Colfax Avenue here in Denver, Jack Kerouac and his buddies used to drink at the bar across the street, isn’t that fun? So, we have the place on Monday nights for the workshop. Crystal has been a great help with the promotion, and two of my eleven participants came because of her urging. The first workshop was last Monday, and I was absolutely terrified. I started the session with a little quiz, which was the best icebreaker I’ve ever done. It was a twenty question literary quiz (What is a catch-22? Who is big brother?) and it got lots of laughs. I guess, I’ll tell you more in the teaching essay. I was amazed at how calm I was once we got going and how receptive and excited these eleven people were. Needless to say, I’ve very excited about session number two. Is there anything else you need to know about this practicum? I’m following all the guidelines, and again, I feel confident in the fulfilling of this requirement.

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