Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall 2012

Considering I've been posting maybe once a week since the semester started, I thought it was about time I told y'all about the classes that are currently taking up all my time.

This is my third semester of my MFA program. I'm now considered a "second year," which feels terribly grown up. (UNCW is a three year program, so I'm basically middle-aged. Also, this is the worst metaphor ever.) Compared to my first year, the work load is about the same, but the teaching load has doubled, and that's the biggest adjustment I've had to make. I think I've finally got it under control, so hopefully the rest of the semester will run a little more smoothly. 

This semester, I'm taking (and loving) the following: 

Novel Writing I
This class is a year-long commitment (everyone in it will take part II in the spring) and the goal is to get us started and/or make progress on a draft of a book. Each MFA student needs to complete a thesis to graduate, and in my case, that thesis will be a novel. This class is a chance to plan/outline my novel, and begin workshopping sections of it with my peers. I really love the set up so far - my cohorts are awesome, with amazing book ideas, the professor (Robert Siegel) is inspiring and supportive, and I feel like I'm actually, really, truly going to write a novel this year. Considering that's been on my to-do list sine I was, oh, eleven years old, I'm pretty excited.

Forms of Fiction (or, Trauma Class) 
A pretty standard lit class - we read books, then come to class once a week and discuss them. Our professor, Rebecca Lee, has chosen the theme "trauma," so the books will deal with things like murder, rape, incest, etc. A little morbid, perhaps, but I'm really looking forward to it. I stayed up until 1AM last night finishing the first book of the semester, We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I couldn't put down and can't stop thinking about (full review coming soon). I love lit classes because for once, reading a book is a priority, instead of the thing I do at the end of the day, if I'm lucky enough to have done everything else.

Bookbuilding
The goal of this class is to learn the publishing side of the writing world - how to design books, why different fonts are chosen, what goes into a cover design, and on and on. Class is held in a computer lab, where we're learning how to use Adobe InDesign, and our final project will be designing and constructing a physical book containing our own writing. I chose this class because I'm interested in design (a curiosity sparked by tinkering with blogs for so many years) and because I'd like to do a semester of work with Lookout Books, UNCW's awesome publishing house, and this is a prerequisite. Plus, after so many semesters of creative thinking and meandering discussions, computers and design programs are a chance to tickle my brain in another way.

I'm also teaching two class but - speaking of teaching - I have to go do that in just a few minutes, so you'll have to wait for those thrilling tales. Suffice it to say, I am in the throes of a challenging semester, working long days to get everything done, spending an inordinate amount of time at my computer, making progress on an actual novel, and doing more reading in a day than I previously thought humanly possible. 

And I love every second of it.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun course load! I hope you'll let us read your thesis some day!

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  2. Ah, so cool! It's great to hear how much you love the program and the specific work that you're doing as a grad student. Ironically, I just returned the DVD of We Need to Talk about Kevin, unwatched. I just wasn't in the mood and would rather unwind with something less heartwrenching :-(

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    1. The book is heartwrenching and terrifying and disturbing and beautiful. Definitely make sure you're in the right mood before you watch the movie! (I'm waiting until after the class discussion.)

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  3. I also took a novel writing course that went through the entire year for my MFA program. The first part was focused on the words/ plans/ outlines and the second portion in the spring was all peer review and revision. Was slightly scary at first but so very helpful!

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  4. Wow! Just reading about your novel course raised my heart rate! Your very, very brave. One day I'll bite the bullet...

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  5. Oh man. This makes me want to go back to college. I mean, not actually, because I'm pretty sure about halfway through the first paragraph of my first paper, I would want to quit. I just want to sit around and discuss/debate literature all day. So basically what I'm saying is, I want to be in a book club.

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    1. Ha. My trauma class is basically a book club - just a really, really, really expensive book club. :)

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  6. All three of these courses sound terrific, and I can't wait to hear about your experiences in them.

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