Brave Writers

“[M]erely to write fiction is an optimistic gesture: pessimists don’t write novels. To write is to make a plea for some sort of human sympathy and communication. To write is to risk being rejected, ridiculed, misunderstood. To write is to make contact between the world out there and the world in here, both of them mysterious, perhaps ultimately unknowable.”

–Joyce Carol Oates from a 2003 interview with Stig BjorkmanJ_C_Oates

World Enough and Time

If I had world enough and time, I’d be blogging about…

  • the exceptionally decent writing assignments I am spending my weekend reading, sporadically, commenting upon, and evaluating…Did I suddenly TEACH better, or are students just a bit more prepared? motivated? 
  • the odd trend in student e-mails that temper the usual excuses and “just to let you knows” with affirmations of my fabulousness, such as   “I’m going to be handing in my essay late because my computer died. And I want you to know that you’re awesome!” and “My essay will be late, just wanted to let you know. And I really LOVE your class.” What’s with that?
  • Joyce Carol Oates, whose novels, stories, interviews I’ve been immersed in for weeks. She’s a fascinating woman. I’m in the midst of reading what at least one reviewer called her “angry lesbian” novel, Solstice (published in 1985). I wonder why there were so many misreadings of this disturbing story about an odd friendship between women: an instinctive attack on a writer who disdains the “woman writer” label?
  • the early 1960s-dress up party I’m attending in a few weeks. I can’t decide if I want to dress like Jackie O, or one of her more bohemian peers. Luckily, there’s Rusty Zipper, a wonderfully rich site for inexpensive vintage clothes…or, should I do what my mother says and wear a cardigan sweater backwards, with pearls, and one of my new pencil skirts instead?
  • the hairdo that goes with the outfit: the Jackie O flip or the Babs poof (see below)? Or is Bab’s poof too late 60s? (Ah, another excuse to watch Mad Men!).Streisandhairdo
  • and, finally, the big one: the earliest damned snowfall since I’ve lived in this town (with downed trees, no electricity for hours this morning, and it’s STILL snowing)…

But, alas, I can’t blog about any of these potentially fruitful ideas right now. I need to shovel some snow, dig out the flashlight and candles before the next power outage (tree branches are literally cracking and falling throughout the neighborhood), and finish reading student essays.

Running Writers

 “Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think what it might be. In running, the mind flies with the body; the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms. Ideally, the runner who’s-a-writer is running through the land and cityscapes of her fiction, like a ghost in a real setting.”

—-Joyce Carol Oates (2003)