Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Break is Dwindling down...

By Casey Tolfree

It's been a very productive winter break. I was a little nervous when the semester let out that I wouldn't want to do anything for the month. Just sit around, reread some book I'd read a million times already and veg, but that wasn't what happened at all.

I spent a lot of my first semester revising and I was tired. I needed something fresh and new to work on. What I really needed was the time to think about.

I took a writing prompt I'd written for my workshop and created a short story out of it. I consider myself a novelist so this was a great achievement. The first short story I've really ever written. You can check it out on my blog, it's called Reunion. After writing the short story I actually came up with an idea to change some plot points and add a lot more and created an idea for a novel based off the same character and a similar but not exactly the same situation. That's on my blog too (the beginning) it's called Ennui.

But the writing is always there. I have to write. Even if I don't put anything on the page, I'm always writing and rewriting in my mind all day. I read a lot over break. I started off with a cute book called Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs. It's the third book in the Friday Night Knitting Club series. It was nice to visit old characters.

After that I checked out A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore and Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy. Both were on the NYT Book Review Top of 2009. I don't read a lot of what is considered literary fiction and though I was interested in both books, they weren't all that exciting. The Moore novel felt like it wanted to be something it wasn't. It was reaching for something it couldn't quite get a grip on and the end came all too quickly and randomly. The collection of short stories was intriguing, though I felt most of them ended where they should've began.

I also read A Raisin in the Sun, it was homework for my African American Women Playwrights Class. It was a quick read but very in depth for a play. It almost read like a novel. I just started Don DeLillo's White Noise. We talked about him a lot last semester and I had never read anything of his, so I picked it up. Now I just have to finish it before next week. As someone who entered my MFA from a journalism program, I often feel I missed out on a lot of literature and I'm slowly trying to play catchup to the English majors. It's a process.

I'm excited for the semester to start. I missed my classmates a lot this break. Not only is the semester sure to be a blast but even better - the AWP conference is in April and I just bought my plane ticket. I have a lot of new and different things to present this semester and I can't wait to see how my classmates react to it.


  1. I'm so jealous you get to go to AWP. UNCG has been hit hard financially and we weren't able to send a bunch of students (i.e. me!). We'll have one of our directors there to represent us, but I am still quite sore about missing another chance to spend time in beautiful Denver!

    On another note--have you read anything by Richard Russo? You may like him because he seems to straddle the line between commercial and literary fiction (though I'll admit I don't know what the big difference is). If you get any time for leisurely reading, check out "Straight Man."

  2. Glad to hear your break was productive. When do you start back to school? We started last week, and it seems a lot of other folks started today, so it sounds like you had a nice long break! Good luck with your second semester.

  3. We start the 25th.

    I'll definitely check out Straight Man over the summer lol.

    Well, we still have to pay for travel to AWP which is killer.

  4. i am really bummed to miss AWP this year. I went to Chicago in 09 and it was amazing! But I figure I can drive to DC in 2011 so I'll just have to wait a year!

  5. i am really bummed to miss AWP this year. I went to Chicago in 09 and it was amazing! But I figure I can drive to DC in 2011 so I'll just have to wait a year!

  6. Thanks for your updates.I love reading this blog and appreciate the distraction right about now... I'm an applicant this year.

    Good to hear you had a productive winter break. Keep it up!

  7. Good job being productive! I can't say the same. I finally have class tomorrow..yay! I need classes and busy-ness to keep me productive, I guess.

    Yay for you going to AWP! I'm not doing AWP this year. It's going to be in DC next year so I'm just going to wait until then. Too bad, because I want to see all of my poetic obsessions in person!

  8. I'm with JayTee and Jessie on AWP - holding out for next year when it's within easy driving distance. Have a fantastic time though!!!!


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