Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Swatting gadflies

Two days late. A new record, I think. I don't have excuses, only reasons, and I'm trying to get into the habit of not even using those to sanction my actions. Monday morning I woke up a bit refreshed. Sifting through my own book 2 in preparation for book 3 went well, but I decided to wait, because I had finally made up my mind to go and try to audit that creative writing class offered on campus. I went to the class, spaced off a lot, stared at the clock a bunch, and remembered why I hated school.

I came away a little contemplative, too, in regards to what was said, and what I took away from the introductory lecture. So much that I was stunned a bit into not writing yesterday. And that's not to say that I'm done mulling things over, but I committed myself to write in this space once a week, and that, more than anything, is why I'm sitting here, doing this right now.

Frankenstein. For some people, this conjures up a variety of modern interpretations of what was, originally, a creative investigation of what separated life from artifice, and what distance there existed between man and god. Speculatively. Because a student in the first lecture mentioned that as his favorite book, we discussed it briefly. The professor had lots of good things to say about it, his eyebrows interested and his posture invested. We did a round table type thing about what other sorts of things we were into reading. When it came to my turn, I cheated a little. Months ago I revealed to my mentor that I was interested in "genre fiction," the sort of stuff academics mock at their retreats. But I didn't plan on taking that back, even for a stranger, however I did try to mention the most impressive sci-fi author I'd ever read: Robert Zelazny, and his Lord of Light. I described the book as about a group of advanced people who happened upon a faraway planet with underdeveloped technology, and labeled themselves god-rulers, using the Indian pantheon as their guideline. Personally, I found the concept interesting because it introduced a blueprint for godhood, and featured the stresses inherent to applying the stamp of the divine to the flawed.

I guess he disagreed, or rather he didn't hear me. His expression soured and his eyebrows drooped. He waited though, to hear about this student's fantasy interest, and that student's Pottermania, and then addressed all of us at the same time, saying that he found it so intriguing that all these sci-fi and fantasy stories, this speculative fiction, had become so popular. When asked if he had read the books or seen the movies, he shook his head and dismissed the thought with a hand. Of course he hadn't seen them, or read them, or considered them laudable. I couldn't help but insist, quietly and to myself, that Mary Shelly's seminal achievement, written years later, would be scoffed into the slush piles of publishers everywhere.

Still, there were some good things he mentioned. He talked about how the students would commit to a writing journal (I thought of the blog and twitter account). He outlined how the students would work towards finished 18 double spaced pages before the end of the semester (I thought about my own novel, the critique group, and the contest I'll be judging). It all sounded good, but it also sounded like I was already doing all that. The MFA program popped into my head during the second hour, an idea of a place where I better belonged. A co-worker cautioned me against reading too much into the narrative of my life that I was writing myself.

And in the midst of all of this, the Decatur Book Festival is right around the corner. Just like my friend's wedding, I still have no idea what I'll say.

In other news, the semester finally started this week, so things are getting busy as things get busy. Thoughts are beginning to percolate daily. Maybe what I needed to rouse me from all the lethargy was a bit of discomfort. I neglected to pray this time, against messing up some student's future. Instead, I decided to just not mess up some student's future.

"His downfall? Hubris."

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