Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Quote: On Meaning and Escape

"For the true writer...there is some distance, some remove, that allows for the shaping of the work...Every reader can sense the difference between a writer who embodies meaning through the events he describes and the writer who seems simply mired in those events. It is that struggle for meaning that lets the writer escape the tyranny of what really happened..."

---Sue Miller

6 comments:

alaiyo said...

This is so true. It's what my creative nonfiction class is all about.

Quotidian Light said...

Have been thinking a lot about creative nonfiction lately. The MFA program I'm batting eyes at requires one to choose one's emphasis, and nonfiction is an option.

You don't happen to have your class syllabus and/or assignments up online anywhere, do you?

alaiyo said...

Oh, did you see my syllabus at Reflected Light? It's English 325. And I am changing it up some to use G. Douglas Atkins' books -- wow. I will probably require the two less expensive ones -- Tracing the Essay (historical overview/definition) and Reading Essays (a study of many essays, such as Dillard's "God in the Doorway" from Teaching a Stone to Talk). The one I really, really want them to have is On the Familiar Essay -- but at $80 I think I can't really require it. It is fantastic, though, and you ought to pop for it (I think it's actually 60-something at amazon -- it's so expensive because it's hardback and academic -- but the size of it for the price is still rather shocking!). The other I have is Literary Paths to Religious Understanding which I am very, very eager to read (it, too is very academically expensive), especially as I know that Doug is a believer, that he lost everything when he began to live in the deconstructionist theory he fell for, and that the essay has been a means of healing and redemption. I have no idea what his theology is, but that he still claims Christianity seems clear from what I see so far -- but without being overly or continually overt and certainly not simplistic.

I will continue to use Lopate and probably The Writing Life, and have them each choose a memoir to read and report on. I'll probably have them doing different kinds of assignments this time, at least in part. Maybe a lot of "On X" short pieces; I'll keep the Scripture meditation I think because they need to know how to do that without being sappy or simplistic. I'll probably drop the critique and the profile, though. We'll see; I won't be trying to finalize it till August, most likely! But I am very, very excited about Doug's books. (He was the grad coordinator in the English Department at KU.)

alaiyo said...

Oh, and I bought his books with college money. Yeah for professional development funds!

alaiyo said...

Oh, and the Gerard book (Creative Nonfiction) is a keeper as well; very practical as well as inspiring. Anything by Lee Gutkind is of course valuable.

Randy said...

excellent wisdom there. Very good reminder