MFA Semester 3: Day 4-6

Oh boy, did I ever fall behind.

Well, on Monday we came in for The Sentimental Trap with Hester Kaplan. We discussed the difference between sentimental writing and writing with sentiment. What i got from it is that sentimental writing dictates what the reader will feel (cancer=sad) while writing with sentiment conveys true emotion without relying on a symbol to get the feeling across. You have to tell the reader something she doesn’t already know. It was really fascinating.

After this was the large group workshops again. Chris Lynch conducted most of this workshop. I haven’t had much experience of my own with him, but now i can add him to the much too long list of mentors I wish there was time to work with.

Tuesday started bright and early with AJ Verdele in Type ‘A’ Revision. AJ is an excellent speaker, and the entire hour and a half (it’s a two-parter) I was caught in what she was saying about scene, types of action, how to revise vs. rewrite, and so so many other things. I took more notes for her than anyone. But. She’s kinda scary. She’s really intense, and really opinionated. Also, I heard once that she’s thrown someone out for yawning during her lecture – so obviously I yawned the entire time. But she also seems like she would just whip anyone into shape. Another to the list.

Next up was the mentor meetings to figure out what the heck I’m doing this semester. I went in practically empty minded, but thank goodness Susan knows what the heck she’s doing.

After this was an I.S. fair, where different I.S. instructors ran seminars and some people displayed the projects they worked on all semester. It was fun to sit in on the graphic novel seminar, and I was able to meet Beth Glass, the woman who worked on my picture book I.S. with me all semester. I also managed to look at some of the student projects, including my friend Sharon’s own graphic novel. It made me regret a little not trying to figure out how to submit something, but maybe I can contribute next semester.

This was the free night (no dinner) so four of us -me, Rachel, Elley and Sharon – went to eat Ethiopian food. We all got food in this buttery sauce, and it came served on the same plate on top of this amazing spongy bread, the name of which I can’t remember. It was delicious, and I could eat that bread with everything.

And now Wednesday. This started with Tony’s seminar on visual language. Of course Tony gave us an intense reading list which I only got halfway through, and he managed to add more favorite books to my list: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan… and now I have to finish reading A Death in the Family and pick up some P.G. Wodehouse books. The whole seminar was about using language that makes you really see something when you read, and how you can do this with your own observations using unique details. It’s especially important to be clear with the language in children’s literature, since kids need the solid details to visualize what you’re getting across. Also, we talked about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Good time.

The afternoon was set aside for Large group workshop, but since my large group is a bunch of champs we blasted through everybody’s on Monday and were able to start small group today. Since the mentor groups are so small, Jacqui and Susan’s groups got bunched together, and today Jacqui’s mentees went first. Tomorrow I’m up with Susan.

After the night’s readings (Steve Almond is hilarious) and the reception, Hunter, Elley and I went out for a drink with Tony Abbott. We all had so much fun with him over this past semester, and he helped us so much, so it was really great to go out and tell him that. We wound up talking for hours about books, and comedy, and Community, and learning to talk to people. It was so fantastic, I don’t even care that I got 5 hours of sleep.

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