Monday, February 7, 2011

Check out "The Big Thing"

I returned home yesterday from the AWP Conference with various thoughts stinging my head, particularly about the organization's approach to pedagogy generally and its decision specifically to eliminate pedagogy forum sessions from the conference in 2012 and beyond. I think, however, that I will save those thoughts for a future post. Today I'd like to alert readers to a great and passionate blog titled The Big Thing, created and maintained by Indiana writer Cathy Day. Cathy is and has been extremely concerned about the ways in which the traditional creative writing workshop--regardless of genre--discourages students from tackling larger forms like the novel, the novel-in-stories, the long poem, the linked essay collection, and the book-length memoir. She discusses this subject on her blog and offers ideas to teachers on how to afford space in their classes for the longer forms and ideas to students on how to pursue them. A superb and compelling introduction to Cathy's point of view is her essay "The Story Problem: 10 Thoughts on Academia's Novel Crisis," published recently in the online magazine The Millions. Believe me, the piece has generated a lot of buzz. If you are someone who aspires to tackle longer projects like the novel--as I assume you are if you read Creating Van Gogh--and especially if you are someone who either takes or teaches creative writing classes at one level or another, you need to examine Cathy's blog. It is riveting and thoughtful reading, full of useful anger and provocative strategizing. It will make you completely rethink the idea of the creative writing course, in ways both subtle and significant.


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