Anything we read for pleasure, we read because it interests us.
~John Gardner

Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.
~Simone Weil

You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are.
~Joss Whedon

Course Goals
This course will explore fiction in its many variations as we critically read the assigned essays to understand the form and the craft of the genre. We will also read to critique the writing of our peers to help us find ways to improve our own writing. And as students of fiction, we will also compose our own works for publication. Memory, observation, self-discovery, and research—these are the main tools of writing that will help us to investigate various traditional and non-traditional forms of writing about people, places, and things. Through these writing exercises, we might find that we are better able to locate our own perspectives on the richness of our lived experiences.

Course Outcomes
Below is a series of questions which will get you started at thinking about the process of creation, and how you approach the craft and art of creative nonfiction. Answer them as best as you can, then come back at the end of the course and see how your answers have changed.

  • What is your vision of the life of a writer? Pick an image, symbol, or metaphor of yourself as a writer, then write it down. Where are you? How do you spend your days? Where do you want to go? How and why is writing important to you. Does your image fit your ideal?
  • What is creativity? Describe the creative faculty, and discuss where that faculty is located (in your intellect, emotions, soul, etc.).
  • Are the processes of learning and creativity linked? If so, how are they linked? Discuss the value of discipline to creativity—are they connected? Does one feed the other? How? Are the activities of creativity and discipline important to your image of being a writer? How does discipline fit into your image or metaphor as writer?
  • Does looking at the world through the lens of “poetic” imagination change the way you see the world? How?
  • Is there a link between your creativity and your experiences? If so, what is that link, and how would you use it in your work as a writer? If not, from where does your creativity originate? How do you access it?
  • Does your experience with creativity value the fleeting, “beautiful” moments over the everlasting “truth”? Are either, or both, important aspects of your own creative vision?
  • How do you handle writer’s block? Do you think that writing about specific moments in time is easier than writing about more generalized thoughts or ideas? Which fits with your ideas the best?
  • When you face an unknown experience, do you do so with dread or excitement? Describe such an experience, and discuss how it fits into the way you approach writing.
  • What is your right hand touching? Name it. Now erase the name and turn what you’re feeling into a process by describing what your hand is feeling.
  • How were you able to tell what your hand was feeling? Was it through an absolute level of knowledge like a “known” fact, or did your mind move down into your hand to feel what it was feeling? Or did your mind stay in your head while your hand told your brain what it felt?

I look forward to seeing you all in workshop. Let’s have fun!