22 January 2014

20 Lines A Day, Genius or Not

As mentioned in our first class, you will benefit enormously from a daily writing habit this semester. Just getting something (practically anything) on the page every day will help build your confidence with writing of all kinds. Daily writing will also result in an array of words, sentences and ideas to be foraged for the stories you're working on this semester.

I've always liked Stendhal's instruction to himself (partly because it's French, I admit it):

 Vingt ligne par jour, gĂ©nie ou pas. 

However, one of my students this semester has done that pithy phrase one better. That's right, a student blogger has created a post full of smart ideas and links to others thinking about daily habits and especially daily writing--so do check it out. 

17 January 2014

Fave book and punctuation assignment

Ahem, the assignment.

I generally am very happy to stick with writing about my old boyfriend, James Joyce, and to discuss him a little when working with college writers. Reading him and thinking about him absolutely cannot hurt a writer. Unless--but that's another topic. You can always riff through this blog to find old posts on the topic, if you wish.

However, it's probably time to mention someone else to my students. I've admired the Brazilian novelist-essayist Clarice Lispector since I was introduced to her in grad school many moons ago. The book I've got by my bedside is her first novel, Near to the Wild Heart, translated by Alison Entrekin. (The very first book I read of hers, The Hour of the Star, is absolutely fantastic too, and I'm only not quoting from it because I'd have to do some digging to find it.)

In keeping with our assignment, here is a bit from the beginning of a Wild Heart chapter called "…The Bath…"

When her aunt went to pay for her purchase, Joana took the book and carefully slipped it among the others, under her arm. Her aunt went white.
    Outside, she chose her words with care:
    "Joana … Joana, I saw …"
    Joana glanced at her quickly. She remained silent.
    "But don't you have anything to say?" blurted her aunt in a tearful voice. "My God, what will become of you?"
     "Don't worry, ma'am."
     "But just a girl … Do you even know what you did?"
     "Yes …"
     "Do you know … do you know the word …?"
     "I stole the book, isn't that it?"
     "But, Dear Lord! Now I'm at a complete loss, as she even confesses to it!"
     "You made me confess, ma'am."

It has (as per our assignment) perfectly standard punctuation.

This will probably be my last assignment (one of the joys of being the teacher), but I remain ready and waiting for yours. 

Back to school: Open world