Myself in the world

My fellow LJ-ers from my creative writing class have both posted something class-related today, so I feel like I should too. Yes, I’m jumping on a bandwagon! Yes I am!

I’ve realized lately that as extroverted as I can be sometimes, if left to my own devices, I get very comfortable in my own world. I get into this zone where I don’t reach out, don’t seek company, stay at home and just really get cozy in my little one-bedroom shell. This ability to be content in my solitary existence allowed me to live without a roommate for several years, and kept me from going completely insane in the isolating world of grad school. It’s a good little mechanism and I’m glad I’ve got it.

I always go back out into the world again, though, eventually. And thank goodness I do, because otherwise I’d just become a totally withdrawn person, the all-too-common grad student hermit. And whenever I do reach back out to those around me, I’m always so surprised and glad to find that people are really worth knowing and talking to. It sounds so weird to hear myself say this, but it’s true; I constantly forget how much communication affirms our humanity.

This has wandered quite a bit from my original “class-related” intention, but it is linked to it. I am really, really enjoying my creative writing class. It’s infinitely more delightful than last time. During the last course, with this same professor, two years ago, I was a first-year grad student, a first-year UCLA student, and a first-time creative writer, and exploring all these new territories at once made me very defensive and vulnerable. These days I feel a lot more secure in my footing as a writer and reader. I hadn’t realized I’d grown at all in those directions, but the two interim years of regular writing and reading critically seem to have done a lot for me. It’s pretty awesome, actually, to be able to feel how much I’ve learned and how much more capable I am. For all the other things I hate about grad school, at least I can say it’s given me this much.

Plus… I like my classmates, no one’s written a lousy story so far, and the professor cracks me up constantly. But constantly!

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]

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11 responses to “Myself in the world

  1. who’s making that noise?

    who’s out there talking? you are disturbing my very important dissertating… now back into my cave.

    -grad student hermit

  2. you forgot to mention the exorbitant amounts of food, but i’m pretty sure i’ve done enough of that in my entry. louie is definitely hilarious and i really enjoy the class a lot more than last time. yay for time and experience!

    • Yay indeed! It’s nice to know life actually teaches you stuff as you grow older. ;b

      And yes the food… polished off three more of those during the movie. πŸ™‚

      • mmm beard papas.

        I don’t know, I kind of miss the caliber of the work my freshman year though. It felt like everyone was really good (except for me). This time around, since there was no prescreening, sometimes I get frustrated when I edit. Like, some people in our class don’t seem to know basic formatting, and it slightly bugs… But maybe I’m just an elitist.

        Someone noticed that I did not put two spaces after a period. I was doing that to sneak in space. Oops.

        • That’s interesting, because I feel like the work is better this time around — maybe not as writerly, but it comes from a more honest place perhaps? Either that, or my expectations for student work have gone down dramatically after a year of TAing. That would not be surprising at all. Meanwhile your expectations may have gone up now that you are no longer a freshman.

          I definitely remember being frustrated over people’s ignorance of basic formatting in the last class too. If you remember, the protagonist of my second story scoffed at a community-college professor for not knowing how to spell “city,” and people totally got mad about that, saying she was elitist. And I was very depressed and disappointed, thinking that maybe writers didn’t care about spelling or style after all, since I’d noticed in their own work that they weren’t very picky about these things.

          Eh. Maybe it just depends on one’s own state of mind/life in these classes. I’m just so happy it’s not a graduate seminar. *glee*

          • With me, I really want to be challenged, I really want to step up, and I really work hard to improve. So I am disappointed when people turn in something and it’s not up to quality–bad plotting, characterization, grammar, cliches, etc. I don’t know, maybe I’m just an elitist, but I was a writer for many years and so I’ve built up very strong standards of “No,” and “Just no.”

            The works are more visceral and honest just because Louie gave us a very personal prompt. Sometimes, from a technical and professional standpoint, I just want to pull my hair out when I read these. I want to scratch red lines all over the text.

            I guess that makes me sound like a very elitist bitch, but I really just do better when I feel inferior. Instead, I feel snooty. =/

            • Good thing med students don’t have to grade undergrad papers then. ;b I’m really not that offended by our classmates’ work, though I used to have the same kind of reaction you’re describing. “Quality” is pretty subjective; what’s terrible and cliched to you might be someone else’s best work to date. So yes, maybe a more selective class would work better for you — or you could become a proofreader like Shoba and get paid for marking red lines all over people’s papers!

              I don’t know if it’s solely the prompt that produces the more honest stories. The fact that it’s an Asian American writing class, filled with many students who are not yet jaded with writing or with Asian American themes in literature, I think plays a pretty big part.

              If you perform better when you feel inferior, you will do fine in med school. πŸ™‚ Or any kind of grad school. As for me, I do better when I don’t feel like I’m below everyone else’s level.

              • Oh and I meant “quality” as refers to plot, characterization, etc., not grammar. Obviously there are rules for the latter that need to be followed at least to some degree.

                • Yeah, and I’m not that picky about that…I guess I just get frustrated because I don’t know what to say to work that is “amateurish”…my god that really does make me sound like a bitch. I don’t want to be like Shoba.

                  Sometimes I wish that Louie’s classes were more focused on technical stuff. A lot of it is figure it out yourself time, but I wish he did stuff on various technical topics, like “how to write dialogue” or “what is a story” or “how to pace your plot”, etc.

                  • I wish he would do that too. What he does, he does so obliquely… I never know how to apply the lessons of, say, “Seventeen Syllables,” to my own writing. He did say there wouldn’t be any “how-to” in his class, but I do miss it.

                    One thing, though, is it’s hard to fit in real workshopping and meaningful discussion of a published story AND get in a good technical lesson in three hours.

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