Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Final Process Paper G4/Goddard

The Process
During my first residency I must have heard “trust the process” at least a hundred times. As allusive as that statement seemed to me, it still got me thinking. Trust the process, I thought, I so seldom trust anything. However, during the months to ensue, I began to see the process. At first, I thought why don't these people tell me to simply see the process? After the first semester, and after seeing the process, I thought, well, I should be working the process. There are so many processes to be worked after all, the process of putting each packet in order for deadlines, and within each packet, a process letter. Then there was the process of getting to the residencies, getting a study plan together, the process of all the paperwork, and I suppose, the process of the program as a whole. Meanwhile, there was the process of learning how to work, and a process of thinking about the work. As cliché as it might seem, the process of reflecting on this experience is what's happening as I'm now finishing the program.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Process Letter G4-1/Goddard

Dear John and Jeanne,

Well, I hope your summer has gone well, filled with all sorts of summer activities, and vacations. I'm settling in fine here in Denver after a very long and hot summer. They say it's been the hottest summer since 1903, and I can only imagine how miserable 1903 must have been. We have had a bit of a reprieve in recent days which has been great. During these cooler days I've been able to venture outside and strip the peaches and plums from the trees in the back yard. Needless to say, I've had my fill of fruit for now. My house is still on the market, it's been about 9 weeks, and I've had 21 showings so far. This is important because should the house sell, I will be moving. When the time comes I will send both of you the updated addresses.

The universe has been working with me these late weeks. Fortunately, I've been able to work on my manuscript a great deal, and I've been able to accomplish most of the other tasks required of me during this last semester. In short, I've finished all the requirements, and I send this first packet with great relief and excitement. Directly after the residency when I got home, I took care to be organized and spent my time wisely. I believe the greatest asset I've acquired during my time at Goddard is wise time management. Of course, there were (and still are) several unknowns I face this last semester, namely the sale of my house. Additionally, the Democratic National Convention will be starting this weekend here in Denver. I'm still working in a restaurant downtown and we are very convention dependent. Honestly, I look forward to this next week with a certain amount of dread. I hope is all goes over well with a minimum amount of problems. I don't particularly care to work long hours, but there is such a possibility for money, something I can't pass up.

Sending From Color to Ansbach is such a relief to me. Some of my challenges have included making a flow of plot events, enhancing some of the smaller conflicts for greater resolution for the Carmichael character, and the spelling of German words. The over all plot makes better sense to me now, and I believe this understanding has developed because I directed my annotations and reading ambitions to the study of plot. I cannot begin to explain the impact John Gardner's The Art of Fiction, especially the plotting chapter, has done for me.

Jeanne- From Color to Ansbach is a coming of age story about a young American in an exchange program in Germany. Being a seventeen year old boy, recently orphaned, he comes to Germany to avoid being placed in foster homes in the United States. The main character, Carmichael, is learning many things, how to live in Germany, how to be a student, and most importantly, how to live life. The story is episodic in nature, partly due to the lack of continuity of a young narrator's life and point of view, and partly due to the way the story was written. Although I felt some success during many periods of the writing of this story, there were many troubling times too. In recent months I've spent my time working out the roughness of the troubling points. After amassing several chapters, I've tried to make all parts of the story flow.
Lastly, John was gracious enough to read the first draft last April or May, and I took all of his suggestions and critiques seriously, and even conceded to a few.

John- I do believe this draft is the best incarnation of FCTA yet. Close readings of a few novellas early this summer (“Things that Hang from Trees,” and “Kneller's Happy Campers”) have helped me realize that episodic writing is okay when tightly written. I don't think I've been able to revise the Brautigan feel out of the story too much, as there still is a dreamy quality remaining. I was able to control some of the looser parts for a better feeling of continuity.

In the meantime, I hope the manuscript is a pleasure to read. I'm eager to understand the process from this point. Unlike every other packet, I realize I won't be seeing this packet returned for a few months. I will included two address labels, one for my current address, and the second being my new address. As I said earlier I will have to email you with which address to use, as soon as I can.

I look forward to working with both of you during this process. Be well.