Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I can use anything as a procrastination tool, but not usually blogging. However, I am still tearing my hair out over that short chapter book and instead of working on it this morning, I'm blogging. Sigh...
One problem with it is the word length - I need to get it down to around 1800-1900 words, and no matter what I do, the darned thing insists on sticking at 2200. There is one early scene I could delete, but it's a scene that at this point sets up a central tension builder. If I take it out, I'm not sure how else to create tension. An early comment from an editor was that the story was a bit "flat". So now I'm in crisis about how to create more excitement and build it up more.
Usually I'd go back to the main character and create more internal conflict and lead in from there. With 1900 words hanging over my head like a sword, I'm feeling stuck. So here I am, blogging instead (and having a long, whiney noise echoing inside my head - oh, that's not me - that's the guy cutting and fitting the skirting boards with his power saw).
In class at the moment, students are doing what we call "oral presentations". No, they're not sticking out their tongues and saying "Ah". They're giving a prepared talk to the class on a topic. Students hate them, but in this world where the author is expected to be a publicity machine, or at the very least be able to do press and radio interviews without sounding like an imbecile, it's a torture they'll thank us for later. I think. It's also a great way of sharing information. One class is giving talks on children's authors, another on poets. We get to hear about a lot of authors and poets that we otherwise wouldn't (especially when a student chooses someone whose books they love and everyone else has never heard of them).
Today the poetry students will be tackling the sestina. They've done really well so far - villanelles, pantoums, sonnets, prose poems. And after the sestina, the haibun.
I have inflicted close reading on my Short Story 2 class - I say inflicted because many of them have been quite resistant to the pleasures and excitement of actually being able to see how a writer creates voice, style and tone on a page. OK, so I don't get out much, but I think it's wonderful, and every time I do it with a class, I learn more myself. Last year's class loved doing it too. This year ... let's just say I'm not sure I have convinced them of the benefits. Yet. Maybe I'll ask them tonight what they think. They do tend to be honest.
All right, enough of this. Back to the chapter book.

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