Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Spidey Senses . . .

. . .are tingling. can't sleep much.

Also, my hearing impaired student told me I didn't really need to LECTURE THAT LOUDLY for his sake. To be honest, I'd forgotten he was hearing impaired.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's the little things

I have a "One Note" entry up at Small Doggies today. That was really fun.

You probably heard we had a bit of a geological event here yesterday. Some nick-nacks and picture frames got broken. One of the aftershocks tinkled the hanging wine glasses. But at the time of the quake we were in a thai restaurant. I'm glad the manager laughed when I told him it was because the food was too spicy. After lunch Dean & I walked home and found a check for $25,000 blowing around the sidewalk. Don't worry, we returned it to the Pay To law firm.

Oh, and my first Louisianan reader reports to me that Death Wishing is a "terrific book; really funny." Which is something of a relief, as I've been terrified of the LA response. But the reader did tell me that something I thought I made up--a gothic-y cape shop in the quarter--is real, or at least it was a few years ago.

I get away with stuff. Except for my parody bad review. I guess it wasn't funny/obvious enough? A lot of people got irritated on my behalf. I may be a jackass.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My First Bad Review

Well, it was bound to happen. Found this in a grocery cart tipped over outside the Lutheran church. Apologies for the poor scan, I'm a little too upset to put much effort into this. Click for bigger images. Sigh.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Change

This will be a boring post. Fair warning.

Today is the due date for my promotion packet. I am currently a Term (non-tenure track) Associate Professor, with the opportunity to go up up for Term Full status. I have no idea what that means, but I do know it won't come with money because there is no money. But this is irrelevant to my post. Part of my packet includes a Teaching Statement, as it did 5 years ago when I went up from Assistant to Associate. I wanted to share excerpts from both, if only to show you how things have changed. Keep in mind my argument, if there is any, is light in both instances, because I'm limited to 1000 words and the promotion committee is comprised of literature faculty. Explaining what goes on in a successful creative writing workshop would be a little like describing by phone how to fix a pocket watch.

December 2006:

"From that earliest class in developmental English, which was populated by twenty-four low scoring high school graduates and one mentally challenged adult who had taken and failed the course seven times, to my current classes which are full of students who have self-identified as gifted writers, I find myself returning to the same challenges over and over again; each class I teach, whether it is beginning or advanced, writing or literature, seems to be about overcoming or controlling one’s personal responses for the sake of influencing the personal responses of others. I understand why in composition and literature classes we may encourage entire assignments and projects to remain personally driven (as with journals, response writing, and certain essays), but as my composition and literature students make the transition from personal to critical writing I notice hiccups in proficiency. I have always been worried about the relationship between success in personal writing and competence in other kinds of writing, especially that which requires argumentation and synthesis. And I often think of short fiction as being shaped as an argument, culminating in the fusion of imagery, symbols, action, and character transformations to make an unexpected point. So no matter what kind of class I teach, critical management of the subject is my priority."

August 2011:

"In the past I emphasized the importance of the writer’s critical management of the subject, but to a certain extent that attitude was a response to the fact that the primary form taught in fiction workshops is the conventional ironic/epihanic short story. However, as students and the active reading world become much more interested in very short fiction or very long fiction, I’ve looked for ways to adapt the workshop to accommodate all forms. My thinking mirrors that of writer/BSU professor Cathy Day’s in her essay, 'The Story Problem: 10 Thoughts on Academia’s Novel Crisis.' . . . Initial drafts are produced under highly emotional circumstances, compounded by deadlines. Craft (and often form) is discovered in revision, and understanding that order of development is crucial to effective instruction . . . With technical advances and the reshaping of the publishing industry, we’re starting to see some fascinating development in contemporary fiction, and I want my students to participate—as artists, sure, but also as voices in the public discussion of emerging literature. Along with workshops, craft lectures, exercises, I’ve made a special effort to invite published writers into my classes, at least virtually, to discuss writing culture."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good things come

The reading tour is taking shape, especially with Elliott Bay and a really cool Writer's Center event added to the list. In feb I'll be doing a Writer's Center Open Door reading or something with fellow Mason alum, Matt Norman, whose debut novel, Domestic Violets, CAME OUT TODAY.

Dean and I are only just talking about the travel plans, logistics. He wants to be with me at these things but he teaches tues-thurs hybrid courses, which means missing the f2f portion is a big deal. I'm thinking of firing up Facetime on my macbook pro for that Weds Oct 26 reading in New Orleans at The Garden District Book shop so he can watch or be by my side. Like a head in a jar on Futurama. Maybe we can do a little comedy routine.

The updated confirmed list of events is here. Not nailed down yet, but looking good for 2012: a 510 reading, a Pank offsite for AWP, and the Tennessee Wiliams/New Orleans Literary Festival.

General question: Book Launch Party? I want one, but is there a point?

Off topic. My response to The Chen-Venn has been a series of immature one-liners that, on my hour long walks into work, coalesce into a brilliant, one-woman show that no one will ever see.

Domestically--Dean is taking his teenaged neice and neph to Universal Studios theme park this weekend. I'll stay home to work on my promotion packet. I'm going up for full prof. I've said this before, but it is probably the least important thing I do career-wise this year.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Ig's website has been beautifully reconditioned, and my page there is awesome.

Gonna head off to WV for a few days this week, so I expect some catastrophe at work.

I've made a very modest contribution to the "On Reading" series at The Laughing Yeti.

My unnecessary review of John Minichillo's The Snow Whale is up at Plumb today.

It's my brother Doug's birthday. I'd do something netty about it, but he doesn't like computers.

Why is PH Madore friending people on Facebook? Guess I should ask him.