Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Me and the MFA - January 2012

I have just finished my second residency at Hamline University in Minneapolis/St Paul - 12 days of hard work, deep thinking and reflection. A lot of reading as well (I was reading ahead for my next 40 books on the list), six workshop sessions, many readings, lectures and presentations. The theme for this residency was Point of View, and we looked at this in every way, from picture books to YA, poetry to rabbits. Rabbits, you ask? I guess you had to be there!

I loved all of the lectures, and although I know about POV, there are always more ways to think about it. We looked at psychic distance a lot, and had plenty of discussions about things such as "What is the POV in Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus?" We also looked at the 3 act structure, playwriting, and most importantly for me right now, the writing life. It's not about time management so much as committment and being brave enough to go deeper into your writing. Facing fears and "breaking open on the page". That's a scary thought for many writers. We like to write about other people, mostly, especially imaginary ones. Write about ourselves, even through a character? No way!

But I think these challenges are what I'm going to be thinking about all through this semester, as I write picture books and keep working on my novel, as well as tackling the critical essays. What does it mean to be a writer? Really. Does it just mean we write stuff and try to get it published? Or do we need to engage more with what and why we are writing, and what are the themes that are most important to us? Claire Rudolf Murphy asked us two questions.

1. When was the last time you wrote something safe, in order to "get the job done"?
2. When was the last time you wrote something risky, and wrote with freedom?
I'm going to be thinking about these two questions on my long flights home! But after that, I have enough in my notebook to keep me going for six months. And then in July, I'll be back - minus the snow.


Snail said...

Lots of food for thought. Sounds as if you definitely made a good decision with this study.

Sherryl said...

I did! Stay tuned for a squirrel photo (if it came out), and maybe some more reflections on what we had in lectures.