Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Writing...Wait, did I just plagiarize Stephen King?

Last night, I went to Ballard's, a bar in Durham, after work, to meet Ian and another MFA student and study. What? Sometimes I need a Bloody Mary when I plan class.

When Ian and Caro had left to go teach their 401 classes (yes, they both had just planned them the hour beforehand. Over wine and a beer), I stayed behind to linger over Edith Wharton's Twilight Sleep (what I like about 1920s literature is the way the authors all just stopped their stories. Not ended. Just stopped.)

I had been there about an hour when the novel writing class, composed of MFA fiction writers and Andrew, a poet, came in, together with their professor, their bookbags, and assorted papers.

They then proceeded to take over my table (the large wooden one near the fireplace) and have class.

It was a very interesting experience for me, seeing a workshop in the MFA program. I've never really seen what the MFAers do in their classes, nor read much of what they write. Gradually, and inevitably, my interest turned to envy. AND THEN MY ENVY TURNED TO HATE. Okay not really. Mostly just envy.

They had class in a bar! And had beers! And fun! And all class was was giving the writer advice about how to make her story better, and asking her questions they thought needed clarification in her novel's structure!

What. The. Hell.

I've never had class in a bar. I've never had a beer in class. Not that I'd want to, but a glass of wine might be nice.

You know what else might be nice? Writing a story--or a creative non-fiction essay, maybe?--for class every other week, instead of teaching myself phenomenology and cranking out a 20 page paper in two weeks.

I have degree envy.


Ardith said...

We talked about 4Chan in my class today. And we had a cop come in and talk to us.

Student affairs is awesome.

Ian D said...

Here's the deal, though: novels class = not nearly as serious as workshop or most other form and technique classes. I do think, though, that having your early 20th century lit class or your Victorian city class or what-have-you at a bar would do wonders to loosen many of the wound-incredibly-tight MA-lit people. Or try a restaurant, or a coffee shop. There's a lot to be said for having class outside of a classroom.

chrisst said...