I'm sorry everything I have posted is nothing but complaining, but I'm just really stressed out. And for those of you who care or have followed the back and forth between me and my creative writing teacher it has come to a conclusion I'm assuming, with me the victor. She hasn't emailed me back in days. (I hope this jackassery doesn't effect my grades). But for those of you haven't, here is what happened:
I'm taking a creative writing class and something the instructor put in the syllabus really irked me. She included this disclaimer
"Warning: No fantasy, science fiction, fan fiction, romance, historical romance, pornography, or children's fiction, i.e. no formulaic or 'commercial' fiction. this class teaches literary fiction. avoid imitating the mundane, the mainstream, the mass-produced, the expected. Go for the literary, the original. Find your voice."
I found this confusing, appalling and restricting. So I emailed her an email riddled with me being kind of an asshole:
"Hello, my name is Victor from Creative Writing (ENGL 2307) class at 8:30-9:50 AM on Tuesday and Thursday and I had a question about the direction of the class. My question refers to the disclaimer stating, "No fantasy, science fiction, fan fiction, romance, historical romance, pornography, or children's fiction, i.e. no formulaic or 'commercial' fiction. this class teaches literary fiction. avoid imitating the mundane, the mainstream, the mass-produced, the expected. Go for the literary, the original. Find your voice." I had a bit of confusion. I don't want to seem assumptive, accusatory or aggressive, but it seems like a complete disregard for the genres... For example science fiction. The Hugo, Sidewise, and Nebular award-winning book Yiddish Policeman's Union takes place in alternate reality which falls under the blanket of "science fiction" and is written by 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning auther Michael Chabon, to me, holds high literary merit. And as far as fantasy goes, Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. And for romance, I understand not wanting a teen-saturated, Twilight-esque romance, but when done tastefully it can create something wonderous and beautiful. Romeo and Juliet, one of the most notable tragedies history has to offer, for example, has come to define love, and even Shakespeare's sonnets referencing the "dark lady" and the mysterious young man. I even find myself confused about the pornographic option. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, depicts sex graphically but TIME voted it one of the 100 best English-language novels between 1935 and 2005. Also I find sex a very interesting subject to write about, whether it be seriously or sarcastically, in flash and short fiction. Sex, to me, is a prominent force in literature, from the sex filled dystopia of Brave New World to the sexless year of 1984. Basically, in so many words crammed into fewer, are these genres going to be disregarded in our writings? As in are we completely barred from writing under the umbrella of the subjects and how much moderation should we use if we can touch base with them. Also I have a question about cursing in our writings. I know some teachers find it completely distasteful and untouchable territory, but i believe even the wrong can be done right, such as the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao bu Junot Diaz. The novel is riddled with swears that only worked to enhance the piece rather than bring it down."
I am aware I was being a dick, but I don't know I think I proved a valid point. She then responds with this:
You make sound points, but this is not a genre workshop or popular writing class. This class, as do most creative writing classes in colleges and universities around the country, focuses on contemporary literary writing.
I'm not saying that stories/poems/essays can't have a character who is in love or that is written in the voice of a child, but it must not be formulaic, 'mainstream,' or have improbable (i.e. aliens) circumstances or characters. Read through the Best American series and visit poets.org to get a clearer perspective on what types of writing this class is about.
I have no problem whatsoever about you writing about sex or using profanity as long as it is called for and have a distinct purpose and not written for shock value or to be "cool" or risque. The purpose of this class if for all students to find their own voice and their own method of craft, not to copy popular genre writing which is so prevalent today. Read widely and write often.
I hope this helps you. See you tomorrow!"
What? Huh? No "improbable circumstances or characters?" The improbability of something is what makes it wonderful. So anyway I just emailed her with this:
"I've read through some of the Best American series. That's how I found Michael Chabon back when he was acted as editor of the 2005 Best American Short Stories. I also own The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 and 2009. (Sorry I hit send to soon) And I feel like even some of these stories can fall under "formulaic" or "mainstream". I'm just trying to get a better understanding of the meaning of words like that. And also I feel that stories, for the most part, present improbable characters with improbable situations and that's what makes them interesting, noteworthy and award-winning"
The part of owning Nonrequired is BS, but I did read them when I worked at BAM. Except I read 2009 before 2008 but whatever that's beyond the point. Do I have a valid point here or am I just being a complete dickhead? I feel like limiting in a "creative" writing class is complete nonsense. I understand wanting quality, but simply because a piece falls under a certain genre does not mean originality or quality is detracted from the integrity of the piece as long as it is solid. then again I could be way off base here.
She just responded to me with this:
"Michael Chabon is excellent -- I own several of his books. I wouldn't consider him formulaic or fantastical as seen in many "pop" books out there. His work, it should be noted, is not genre fiction. It is considered literary fiction because it does not adhere to formulas seen in many mainstream works and is narrative-based and not gimmicky. I hope this makes sense."
And it still did not make sense so I went ahead with:
"But that is what I find confusing. For example in his first book, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, he even stated that as his thesis he wanted to created a story that fell in the three months of summer to follow "an inherent dramatic structure in three acts" as he said in the interview at the end of the Harper Perennial edition. This is the formula he worked with. He even goes as far as to say "The Great Gatsby did what every necessary piece of fiction does as you pass through the fruitful phase of your writing life: it made me want to do something just like it." He even cites that his inspiration to revolve his story around the summer months came from Fitzgerald and Phillip Roth, who used the exact same structure. And though I don't mean in anyway that all three of the works were anything less than wonderful, the summer shtick is sort of a gimmick. In Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policeman's Union it follows a very traditional sense of the mystery genre. The novel also plays highly on the fantastic and supernatural and is tucked neatly under the blanket of science fiction and has even won many science fiction awards. That also brings me to the confusion of science fiction. It is so mutli-encompassing with so many subgenres it's to pindown, like trying to define what makes something an obsenity. Which is why I find it confusing to bar students from writing under such a broad genre. I'm also not very familiar with the difference between fiction and literary fiction."
And her response?
Popular fiction (Clancy, Grisham, King, et. al.) is overtly and intentionally generic. These genre works share similarities of character, theme, and setting that have been proven to appeal to particular groups of readers: a mass audience. Literary fiction is fiction that examines the character of the people involved in the story, and popular fiction is driven by plot.
Literary fiction, by contrast, appeals to a smaller, traditionally more intellectual audience. What sets it apart are such things as excellent writing and originality of thought and style that raise it above ordinary writing.
I hope this clarifies things a little better for you. See you in class."
Nothing she ever says clarifies anything she said before it. She is dodging everything I say and not really providing me with much of an explanation. She just gets more vague and ridiculous.
I had nothing else to say but one two things:
I guess I'm just really confused, and never will understand the barring of specific genres in a creative writing; but this does not mean I will not work hard by any means.
'I would rather have as my patron a host of anonymous citizens digging into their own pockets for the price of a book or a magazine than a small body of enlightened and responsible men administering public funds. I would rather chance my personal vision of truth striking home here and there in the chaos of publication that exists than attempt to filter it through a few sets of official, honorably public-spirited scruples.'
The quote was included. For those of you who do not know John Updike is double Pulitzer Prize winner who won the award for the final two books in his Rabbit series, and I believe such a literary marksman would know far more than she would ever know as far as "literary fiction" is concerned. His quote illustrates exactly the opposite of what she tried to say. True writers do not care for the "small intellectual groups" Mrs. Amanda Aucther, my creative writing teacher, claims to be a part of. True writers only want to convey their idea and stories to the masses in themost pristine and personable way possible. It isn't the "small intellectual groups" that read from greats such as Shakespeare or Homer, it is the masses hungry for knowledge who feed from their cups. If you think I'm wrong, fine, but I know with my writings, I want to speak to the world.