So I had a post to go for earlier this week, but then my parents vetoed it because they thought it contained sensitive information that might cause spies or something to come after me and my family, and I wish I was joking but I’m not really so you’ll just have to keep living your normal life with that huge cliffhanger hanging over your head.
And now I have no idea what I’m going to write about so currently I’m writing about not knowing what to write about in the hopes that as my fingers move across the keyboard, something will come to mind.
Maybe I can just try to ramble for an entire post. I’m doing pretty well so far. Let’s see how much longer I can go on for.
Oh wait, I know what I can actually talk about. (Wow, maybe this typing-until-something-happens strategy is legit.
This week and next I’m doing this fiction writing program, and I’m kind of confused how I got into it. The only reason I was able to fill out the application was because the work sample part allowed for non-fiction essays. My entire application consisted of past blog posts—there was zero fiction on it.
This was because of the very simple reason that the only fiction stories I’ve finished are a parody assignment from eighth grade (about a chicken) and a story I wrote when I was younger. Like elementary school younger. I don’t remember exactly what it was about except that it involved a panda and maybe a door opening up into a magical world.
As I write that, I realize it sounds like I was influenced by Narnia, but I don’t think that was the case because I didn’t really like the Narnia books. But I really loved pandas. My stuffed animal collection of them is still pretty strong.
I deeply wish I could go back and read it, but the whole thing was written in this small, pink notebook, and I have no idea if we still have it in our house right now or if it got thrown away. My parents obviously made the biggest mistake of their parenting career by not taking care of it.
Anyways. It’s only been three days into the program so far, but so far, it’s been slightly strange, so interesting, and so great.
It’s been strange because fiction writing and fiction writers feels like a world I should be a native in, but it’s not actually that way at all. I’ve already learned two new words. To “workshop” a piece of writing is when you read your story and the group talks and helps you improve it. “Flash fiction” is a super short story. Google says a typical one is under 1000, 1500 words. That’s probably around the length of this blog post. When I first heard that phrase, I imagined it was something you wrote really fast, like in one sitting or something.
It’s been interesting because of the syllabus my instructor has put together. (Her name is Alexia Arthurs, by the way, and she’s very cool. I haven’t read her book yet, but it’s called How to Love a Jamaican—and um, I just saw that it’s reviewed on Goodreads by Roxane Gay?? The author of Hunger and Bad Feminist? I told you she was cool.) The program has several different classes, but the one Alexia is running is called “Social Justice & the Creative Writer.”
Around a month ago, she sent us some links and a PDF to read before class, but it wasn’t until we started discussing it in class that I realized just how beautifully and purposefully the different essays, interviews, articles converse each other. Yesterday we talked about empathy and the ethical imagination and the power or language, and as I’m thinking back on it, it just felt good to talk about words so seriously.
I would come close to recreating the experience on paper what it was like to hear in 3D other people’s perspectives and to feel dots quietly connect (or at least turn on) in my brain, but I’m going to at least try in a small way. These were two quotes from different passages that really connected during the conversation.
Rather than “speaking about” a culture outside your experience, the filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha suggests we “speak nearby.”
From an excerpt of Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong. Emphasis mine.
I want a poetry of proximity, not just by theme or figure, not just by metonymy or metaphor, but by physical proximity, a proximity by frame…
Placing different languages in proximity removes them from their prescribed roles, jostling them into new possibilities. And the caretakers of language, the poets, their role, the caretaking of language, is to keep it from calcifying.
From this confusingly intellectual essay by Solmaz Sharif, A Poetry of Proximity. Emphasis mine.
And finally, it’s been so great. Great because it’s been forcing me to write fiction. When Alexia sent the reading list, she also gave us an assignment to write a twelve to twenty page short story that is “interested in justice and an ethical imagination.” So far mine is nine pages and double-spaced, which means it still needs to do some growing before we workshop (dude, vocab) them next week.
OH! I almost forgot to mention that I’ve also gotten Discord because of this camp. It was and still is a little confusing—for example, I asked my friend about the different channels except I called them hashtag groups so he had no idea what I was talking about. But I have to say, it’s kind of cool. I don’t like admitting it though because that has same friend has been telling me Discord is superior for a long time. And I don’t want to tell him he was right.
Have you ever entered a world that you thought you would be more comfortable than it really was?
Are there any other fiction terms I should know?
Do you have a memory of dots connecting/appearing during a conversation recently?
P.P.S. Whoa, I can’t believe it, but this post is the first time I’ve used the tags “writing” and “fiction.”