The good thing about Advanced Creative Writing was that we did more than just write fiction papers. From what I’ve learned as an education major, every chance a teacher or professor gets, they should incorporate technology into their lessons. Professor Quinlan did exactly that! On top of technology, we had weekly meetings where all we did was edit and discuss each other’s work. It didn’t have to be anything that was for the class. It could have been part of a novel or a book of poems that we could have been working on. Not only did we explore as writers, we explored and analyzed the works of James Joyce’s The Dead. Not all of us enjoyed his works, but in the end, we did have a good time talking about it.
As for technology and education, there couldn’t be a better match. As an education major, I’m supposed to know how to work a smart board, and LCD screen, a projector, and whatever other snazzy things are on the market today. The one thing I never thought I would use, or benefit from, is blogging. This class opened up a whole new part of the internet to me. I was always aware that blogs existed, but I always thought they were cliché like have a diary. The thing is that’s not the only thing they’re used for. There are blogs for everything; whether it be cooking, advice, lovers of literature, etc. We were asked for blog each week about something that either had to do with the class, something we were writing, or anything out in the literary world. Commenting back and forth and getting feedback from each other was fun. I’m surprised that another professor didn’t come up with this idea first. I think it’s pretty awesome. At first I was skeptical, but it was a great idea. At times it did get tedious, but what on the internet doesn’t. I’m beyond sick of instant messaging, so there you go!
Now, about this work shopping business! We all did complain about doing it, but it the end it did benefit each and every one of us. My first paper was on the bad side and it probably got better because of the input that I was given while work shopping. My second paper, in my opinion, totally rocked because I remembered the ideas that were given to me the first time around and tried to incorporate them into that paper. I walked away feeling accomplished and pleased with what I had written. Besides just doing work at our work shops, I think we came together as a class and got to know each other pretty well. It’s easier to understand a person’s work, if you know who they are. We also had a lot of fun and some good talks during those sessions. I particularly enjoyed the time we passed that paper around the room and we each added two lines to it and it became this out of control poem. We all definitely got a kick out of it.
The one thing I was never good at is poetry. Everyone always says this about themselves, unless they have a real knack for it. The great thing about poetry is that it doesn’t always have to be rhyming and/or in meter. Thank god for prose! By going onto the blog each week and having to go look at other literary sites on the blog, I found a new way to write poetry without having to think too hard and write clichés all the time. Being that I’m awful at poetry, I tend to bump into clichés a lot! On the Big Window blog, the class and I found different prompts that can be used for poetry writing. I think every ones particular favorite was the blackout poem. I will be handing that in as my poetry piece for my portfolio, since the one I did write this semester was absolutely awful. For all those people out there that come up with or find poetry prompts, they have probably saved a lot of students from not having an idea what to write about when writing poetry.
One more side note on poetry is about abstraction. It sounds really cool and when done the right way, probably comes out awesome. When you have no idea what you’re doing, like me, things tend to get a little messy. For those students in our class who did great on the abstraction assignment, I’m very proud of them. For those who had a hard time, I’m right there with them!
Now, about James Joyce! I always found him hard to read and never enjoyed anything that I’ve ever read by him. It was in the first part of American Literature that I first heard about James Joyce. I do have to admit that I was nervous when I saw his name on the syllabus. Unless you have some insight onto what he’s really about, it’s hard to like him. It was fun to read him in class and analyze what the story was about. Doing it with a class is so much better than sitting and reading it alone. Maybe another author would be better for next semester!
Advanced Creative Writing is a great class. It was definitely different from what I thought it was going to be and that made it better! I really did enjoy this class and I hope that you teach it again and do everything exactly the same. Maybe just take out Joyce!