After a nice drenching walk in the rain, I had a wonderful breakfast with a couple of fellow students and professors Ron Koertge and Gary Schmidt, two brilliant writers in their own right. I gushed a little (COALTOWN JESUS was fabulous, and OKAY FOR NOW made this blog last year as a YA favorite novel), of course.
We were welcomed back. Today is the first day EVERYONE is here. Yesterday, it was only new students and mentors/buddies. The newbies looked a little less frightened today, and all the returning students hugged and cried and rejoiced at being together again.
I really need to commit to a critical thesis topic. I have been convinced of my topic many times, but then I change my mind. I just need to COMMIT. So anyway, we had a helpful meeting today to talk about that very topic. The faculty, always generous, offered to help read our proposals, especially Ron and Marsha Chall. The fourth semester students had many good suggestions for us about our upcoming semester which is focused on our critical essay. It culminates with a presentation of our findings at the January intensive.
The clever, cat-loving Anne Ursu introduced the theme of our intensive, Point of View. She spoke for about an hour about the different points-of-view, although she didn't address all 26. (thankfully) I loved that she said a good point of view "keeps the reader under the spell of the story without breaking the spell." She reminded us that things look different from different vantage points, so we should ask the following questions: Who is speaking? Whose eyes are seeing? Whose thoughts do the reader access? What distance is the narrator from the action?
She used excellent examples from many, many books (and now I have about ten new books I want to read), and I took about eight pages of very insightful notes and thoughts on POV.
Then, I moved on to a workshop on the first person POV by Swati Avasthi. Swati is a gifted instructor. I could listen to her teach all day long and be a WAY better writer for it. She required us to read CODE NAME VERITY prior to this class, so we'd be prepared to use this novel for discussion on this topic. I can't wait for this class to meet again (well, okay, I need to do my homework first....), but I felt like the instruction was really helpful and informative for me.
We had a class meeting and then another meeting, I can't remember what it was. Then, we had a dinner and social to mingle with everyone including the returning alums. (38 of them this week-end!) Then, we returned to hear readings from Ron Koertge, Christine Hepperman, Phyllis Root, Laura Ruby, and Marsha Qually. Every reading was outstanding and entertaining. Being surrounded by all this talent is humbling and inspiring. This faculty is so talented and generous in sharing their gifts with us.
Now, I am exhausted. I might have slept seven hours total over the past two nights. Tonight, I must rest. Busy day tomorrow with first day of workshops.
Big love to everyone at home. Big kisses to all. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers and encouragement. I feel so blessed to be here.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.