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Process letter to my advisor:

April 12, 2007

Dear XXXXX,

How have you been? I’m in a better headspace than last time… My job went crazy again right after I sent my last packet, but I’m “going with it.” The district is experiencing budget problems, so I was informed that I am now a “displaced worker”, which means I have a contract but the programs may be discontinued. One teacher at my school was informed that the pottery class he was currently teaching no longer existed. If the district no longer offers ceramics, why have a ceramics teacher, right? They told me my programs would probably still exist next year, so I was encouraged to reapply (since they will be reclassified) along with the general public. Needless to say, I am not reapplying. The upside to all of this is that now that I’m not planning on having anything to do with the district in the future, I don’t have to worry about it. I’ll finish out the year and that will be that. I don’t want to work for someplace who treats their employees this badly on a regular basis. Michael and I are talking about possibly selling our house and moving to a subsidized artist live/work space in Connecticut. Should be interesting, and I’d be able to afford working some crappy part-time job while I’m in grad school.
Anyway, this is my second packet and it contains three annotations, my first critical paper, and approximately twenty pages of my creative work. For this packet I did annotations for Buber, Arenas, and Bourgeois. Hopefully they are improved from last time. I tried to not get so mucked down in writing them this time around. For my critical paper I compared Quentin Crisp’s The Naked Civil Servant and Reinaldo Arenas’ Before Night Falls.

I also worked on some revisions for the creative work I submitted last time. Your comments were very useful. I am not submitting these revisions in this packet, because I think I need to stew on certain ideas more and may need to restructure the way I approach certain elements. For my creative work this time I am submitting approximately twenty pages of writing from Stalking America. Pages 12-21 are all brand new work written this packet period. Pages 1-11 are revised earlier work. After completing pages 12-21, I realized I needed to go back to the preceding bit and rework it to fit better with the new work. There was about six months between the time the first part was written and the new work was created, so the exercise of working on the two together helped me get back inside the feel of writing this story. How do they work?

This part of the story goes back to the main storyline of Stalking America with the kid on the train. Some guy got on the train the night before and they had some minor contact, but this writing represents their first real interactions. I’m interested in how people interact on these long trips. Long trips are mostly an internal experience, but people approach social interactions in a different way on them. Some people avoid interactions altogether (like me usually… who wants to get stuck talking to a religious nut for 20 hours?), but usually boredom sets in and you have to talk or read to get through it. I once took a Greyhound bus cross-country by myself. It took almost seven full days and we stopped approximately every 40 minutes at a new station. The bus would turn on all the lights day or night and the bulk of the passengers would unload to smoke or buy fast food. After day one there was a weird camaraderie like we were all in this together. People who you would never talk to suddenly became your best friends for the duration of the trip. I actually met a delightful young couple that were Satanists and seemed to be actively proselytizing in an oddly chirpy and upbeat manner. They were very weird, but nice and mildly entertaining. Who knew?

Anyway the twenty pages contain two short chapters about the kid talking to the guy and thinking. There is a chapter that will be inserted in the middle at a later date. That chapter will be another episodic account of the TV show Stalking America. The second chapter in this work is unfinished. I included some extremely informal notes to myself at the end of it to give you an idea of where it is probably going.

Oh, also the narrative changes from the kid’s perspective to the guy’s on page 13 (marked with the ***). When telling that particular story I was having a problem setting the tone and immediacy through the kid’s eyes… so I just switched perspectives. I basically used it as a way to just get the story out, figuring I would translate it into the kid’s voice afterward, but I kind of like it this way. I’m sure it is too confusing for the reader, but it appeals to me in a cubist sort of way. If I could figure out a structural way to make it work, it could be an interesting device if I used it in a couple other places in the novel. I’m definitely not married to it and feel it might be too superficial of a flourish and might come across as twee or trite. I left it in for now to see if you had any input on the matter.

For my creative work next packet I plan to focus on revisions of what I have submitted so far. I am also having mild problems obtaining a copy of The Law of White Spaces. I ordered it through Amazon and they waited almost three weeks to inform me that they had made a mistake and couldn’t obtain it for me. I then had another online bookstore take my order, but later confess that the copy had mysteriously disappeared (ooh spooky). I’m still interested in reading it this term, but might have to bump it to later on my list if I don’t locate it right away (it’s on my list for the next packet).

How have you been? I am looking forward to the end of my teaching year and unemployment this summer. Ah, unemployment…

Sincerely,

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