Kim Barnes: Learn the Craft, Trust the Process

CW Programs Teaching Writing

Recently, a former student emailed to say he’d been accepted into a few MFA programs, but ultimately, he’d decided on the University of Idaho. When I asked him what made the difference, he cited the beauty of the location, the full funding. “And,” he said, “Kim Barnes has created a multi-semester novel workshop, and I think it sounds fantastic.”

I knew this was one person I definitely needed to talk to. So I emailed her out of the blue and asked her if she would mind sharing this experience with the readers of my blog. She was kind enough to say yes. Continue reading

The Swamp

The Swamp

Teaching Writing

When I was a little girl–reading novel after novel, watching movie after movie–I noticed one thing: men got to retreat from the hubbub of family life into their own special rooms, and that their time in this room was sacrosanct. They were not to be disturbed unless it was an emergency. This truth cut across time and class. I saw no difference between the way that Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice retreated to his study

and the way that my father retreated to The Swamp, his garage/man cave/beer fridge/smoking area, the place where he has always gone to get away and think and process and fiddle with things. 

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Shall We Play a Game?

Teaching Writing

 


Greetings Professor Falken

For the last few days, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to “gamify” my novel writing process. To give each day’s writing session a strategic goal. A certain number of pages, or words, or time spent. During October and November 2010, my goal was 850 new words a day–every day–and this period of sustained productivity was deeply satisfying. In a short period of time, I drafted an extremely rough 175 pages of my novel.

My progress lately, however, has been more difficult to measure, to quantify. Every day, I edit and shape the those pages I generated in the fall. Every day, I feel as though I’ve gained a little a little more insight into my character, into the book’s themes, and how the book will be shaped. But strangely, these achievements towards quality feel less satisfying to me than when I was focused strictly on quantity. So I decided to go back and reflect on this post, written during that period of high productivity. Continue reading

No Word Allowed

No Word Allowed

Teaching Writing

A few months ago, I gave my Intro to Creative Writing class this assignment:

Create a story, essay, poem, or play that is composed in anything EXCEPT Microsoft Word (or any word processing program). You must type the text into some other kind of software or application or tool, such as Google Maps, Facebook, Flickr, Xtranormal, Power Point, Ebay, Survey Monkey, Blogger, etc. Basically: if it’s got a dialog box you can type in, then you can use it. Your piece must engage with, make use of the medium or mode you’ve selected.

At first they thought I was crazy, but I spent some time showing them examples: Continue reading