Something I thought about:
- The pacing of this semester still feels so strange to me. We are starting and ending earlier than I’m used to, and the break falls at the very end of the semester instead of at the halfway point, so we built momentum, came to a hard stop for a week, and now have to push through two final weeks before another break. It feels like being in a car with someone who accelerates and brakes aggressively — that lurching motion – and I have to keep readjusting while moving. And I still can't believe the term is almost over. I taught my final workshop yesterday and felt amazed once more at how far students have come in both their writing and their critiques in a few months. The semester flew by.
Something I did:
- Introduced the child to Doctor Who
- Went to French class
- Worked on the course literary magazine website
- Taught my last workshop of the semester
- Had a lot of meetings both at and outside of work
- Learned about our trees
- Missed my graduation ceremony, which was on Friday in Neuchâtel — I couldn’t fly out for what would have been an incredibly short and hectic trip
- Went to the town holiday celebration
- Bought a Christmas tree
Something I read:
- This idea of an “observational lens” was very relevant to my interests — even more so with the discussion of Annie Dillard and John Berger.
- I always enjoy Isaac Fitzgerald's walks with friends, and this conversation with poet Maggie Smith was place-centric in a way that interested me.
Being so grounded—so rooted in where I live—allows me to be untethered artistically.
- I also enjoy George Saunders' Substack, especially when he gives advice to writers – he's so generous in his responses – and this is something I've been trying to convey to students as they work on their portfolios of revisions.
I try to see the whole story or book as a series of zones that are either lit up or not.
Finding the structure, then, is about 1) considering losing some of the non-lit zones, and 2) arranging things so that the lit zones glow more brightly. Asking questions like: “How does this zone cause the next? How are these two zones in essential relation? Is any of this text there just because….I wrote it?”
That is: I’m trying to increase the intentionality of everything.
The essence of this, for me, is trying to find a throughline that will actually mean something to the reader – something emotional and visceral and relevant to his or her actual life, something that, in the telling manages to move and amaze and, at the highest levels, comfort them.