Friday, September 18, 2009

The Writing I'm Doing in My Program

by Jennifer Brown

I thought I’d let everyone know what kind of writing I’m doing in my program, which is a lot more than I’d expected to be doing given that I don’t have workshop this first semester.  I wanted to go for an MFA because I knew it would force me to write a lot more than I ever would on my own—and I’m getting what I wanted. 

I have two classes that require what others may not consider a lot of writing, but that is a lot for me (plus I have a lit class that requires academic papers).  

In my Forms of Fiction class it looks like we will be writing a 3-4 page story each week after we turn in our first 3-4 pager on the 28th, and we have to turn in a full 20 page story at the end of the class.  The first mini-story, due on the 28th, is a journey story, written in conjunction with our first reading, which was The Odyssey.  In later weeks we will be reading and writing fables, fairy tales, a coming of age story (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for the reading! Yay!), etc.  I’ve already started and tossed two journey stories into the trash, and I’m now on my third attempt, which I hope will be ok.  I think I’m being a little obsessive—but it is the first thing we are reading aloud in class!

In my Setting class we had our first assignment that I turned in this week, which was to go up to the top of a hill at dawn and write 500-1000 words about the light.  I loved doing it.  Due this week are two 500-1000 word pieces written in response to D.H. Lawrence’s “St. Mawr” (A gorgeous book if you haven’t read it.  Some of his prose is downright rhapsodic).   I’ve started both of these pastiches, one of which I like, and one of which I hate and need to do a lot more work on. 

So as you can see I have great assignments that are pushing me to write, and to write stuff I would never have written on my own.  But to be honest I’m struggling a bit. You see, I am one of those people who takes forever to write something.  I have only one story I would consider finished, and it is only 9 pages and it took me over a year.  I write the first paragraph, and then I start to revise it, and revise it, and revise it.  You can see how this means that I never get anything done.  So a 3-4 page paper, plus a couple of 1000 word pastiches is a TON of writing for me.  But I’m so glad. 

This is exactly what I signed up for.  


  1. Woo hoo! Nothing like the threat of a bad grade/failing to make you push past perfectionism and get 'er done! Your assignments sound really thought provoking and fun.

  2. I love this idea of just writing instead of necessarily having the work workshopped :)

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