Monday, January 26, 2009

Writing about Workshopping:

Earlier today, my Fiction Workshop class met for the first time this semester. Truth be told, there is something about creative writing classes that literally puts me in awe and scares me at the same time!

Admiration: These are the people (students—student writers—writers?) who will write and share short stories with me over the first half of the year.

Fear: These are also the people (readers—critical readers—critics?) who will read MY short stories and possibly rip my heart out in the process.

Scary. But I have to remind myself that “we” are all in this “together.”

I know a few of my classmates already. I have read some of their stories already even. We were in a class together last semester in which we essentially “workshopped” the entire semester.

Writers know what “workshopping” is BUT the average person might not (unless you read my blog last semester, because I assume I wrote about the process then as well).

(I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a “writer.”
It is something I consider more as a goal.
Until published, are you a “writer?”
Until you receive payment, are you a “writer?”)

Anyway, being “workshopped” entails writing something, giving a copy to everyone. Giving everyone the opportunity to read it—and then sitting there (in the same room) as the group of people discusses your written work.

Did I mention that the person who produced the written work has to sit there quietly and “take it?” It’s a literary firing squad, if you will—and you don’t get to be blindfolded or a long drink of the alcohol of your choice beforehand either.

(although I guess I just discovered a reason how a FLASK can come in handy)

I personally had two positive experiences with it last year. I also had one negative experience. I can admit to myself NOW that the negative experience really improved my story though.

Now do I have anything WRITTEN for this class yet? No. Do I have ideas floating around? Yes. I have a few weeks left to panic before my first story is due--which gives me not nearly enough time to continue reading a novel (one class), read some poetry (another), write a sonnet (yet another)...AND that's just THIS week!

You get the idea. *whew*


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaguration, y'all!

So I woke up Tuesday morning at the “crack of dawn” as they say completely aware that in a land far, far away (Washington, D.C.) history would be unfolding soon enough.

Politics aside, it’s 6 a.m. and I’m going through all the “getting ready for school” motions while glued to CNN.

By the time I was driving to campus, there were big, fluffy snowflakes falling and I couldn’t help from giggling. Really? It was absolutely beautiful walking scurrying across campus to my first class.

Big blue sky. Happiness in the streets. I couldn't get the smiling freezing faces out of my mind (thank you news media).

While working on an assignment in EDITING I clicked and refreshed websites looking for updated photos and my glimpse at the First Couple. Lovely frocks all around. Fantastic.

Sadly due to my schedule, I was unable to *watch* the swearing-in ceremony LIVE. I got to listen to some of Obama's speech in the hallways though and that satisfied my soul.

After classes (and before work) I watched Barack & Michelle (and Joe & Jill) walking along the parade route. Memorable. Following work (it was eerily quiet all night) I rushed home to watch ball after ball after ball.

I've read articles from different sources and newspapers (online) along with international reaction. I've listened to "upset evangelicals" on a national call-in radio show. I'm paying attention to everyone else's opinion.

For my own: I'm absolutely proud of my country in this moment. May this signal a new age. May this fuzzy feeling last for more than a week.


p.s. Be sure to check out all the amazing photos available through CNN, Yahoo and The Washington Post online. The view from a satellite hoovering over Earth is spectacular.

Monday, January 19, 2009


And so the Jurors in the Ashley Scott Trial have been "handed" the case...


It's not as easy as you may think. First things first, you chose a foreperson. Then you decide HOW exactly you are going to wade through all of the evidence & your notes in a relatively civilized manner.

And (something you may not realize), this is the first time the Jurors are able to discuss the case. They haven't been back there after testimony talking about things. They have had to keep it all in and just let it stew in their brains.

It can get emotional. It got emotional in our case.

There are moments during our Deliberation I remember clearly--there are also moments I do not. I even wrote a short story based on my experience. There is a lot to take in & let out.

I remember the Jury room getting hotter by the second. I remember the walls seemingly closing in. I remember the clock on the wall. I remember locking myself in the bathroom briefly so I can have "alone" time and cry.

We became mini-legal experts. I can tell you the differences between first and second degree murder almost verbatim. We read, reread and read the charges again.

Just as in life, some people want to talk. Some people don't want to talk. Some want to look at evidence. Some want to discuss little details they remember or wrote down.

Imagine twelve strangers with different backgrounds and ideas coming together to solve a "crime" or "case," coming to the SAME verdict. It's not an easy task. But it can be done.

The Jury has spent the last 6.5 days obeying the schedule of the court. It is literally their time now.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Classes resume:

The "Spring" semester officially started last week (Thursday, 15th) at the University of Memphis.

It was a very, very long day. Three classes--all but one went the "entire" allotted time...but it wasn't too painful because I knew several of my classmates already.

Initial Observations

(1) Editing will be interesting. It is by far the smallest college class I have ever taken (as far as enrollment is concerned) & I am the only non-journalism major. It is my last class in the department, which is exciting.

We already have homework--I get to go through the AP Stylebook!

I am really excited about our weekly "journal" in which we have to scour newspapers (and magazines) and include a “word of the week,” a “catch of the week,” a favorite headline of the week and favorite passage of the week.

Sounds nerdy enough for me, right? WOO!

(2) Poetry Writing will be very interesting. There were several familiar faces (5) and two of them I adore greatly!

I don't have too much to say about this class (we don't even have a syllabus yet) but I can say that it will be refreshingly different from the poetry class I took last semester.

& finally...

(3) Brit Lit since 1750...containing more familiar faces held in the same classroom as two of my classes LAST semester...will be an experience.

We have homework already as well.

I am looking forward to this class very much, I adore literature--and we get to concentrate on the Romantic and Victorian Periods. Woo!

Also my professor is very interested in the cultural and political climate of Britain at the time, so the history class I took this past summer should come in handy (which is why I took it in the first place).


The "Sequestered" Life:

So it’s Saturday and the Ashley Scott Trial seems to be in full swing already.

I debated whether to even blog about this, but I can’t help myself. Besides, I have a very “different” angle on the proceedings.

I have been reading and re-reading coverage from two different blog sites. Part of my interest has to do with the subject matter (I am human, after all)—and part of my interest has to do with the empathy I have for the jury (repeat previous parenthesis).

Even though it’s been about five months since I was a sequestered juror on a murder trial, the thought of being locked in the jury room behind the courtrooms (down the maze of hallways) makes me panic, just a bit--even today.

Sitting at a rectangular table in an ever-shrinking room, having absolutely NO idea WHEN you are going back to the courtroom is a very unexplainable feeling. Yes, the trial is tedious. Yes, the details are often gruesome.

It is a serious matter and since you are “locked away” and your ONLY job in the entire world is to listen—and eventually come to a unanimous decision—you want to GET IT DONE!

The Sequestered Life

We never got back to our hotel room (shared, not singles) until nearly 10pm every night. And we were up by 5am (awakened by deputies, not alarm clocks) so we could be ready by 6am to meet for breakfast (together)...

Breakfast. Sure, it was good and decent food (very good and decent and more than I've ever had for breakfast in years)...but you are hidden away, unable to talk to "strangers" aka anyone one other than fellow jurors or deputies.

No newspapers. No television. No Internet. No cell phones. Imagine all of your "regular" distractions taken away. Yes, EVERYTHING!

Side note: How many people do YOU think you can fit in an elevator? Random question? No. We regularly had 14 in one. YES! FOURTEEN people in ONE smallish elevator

*imagine Tetris puzzles here*

Nevermind, I will provide one! Now I guess I have to point out that this picture is NOT to scale, but it is very close.

We were often walking into 201 Poplar by 8am every morning. (after leaving a bus, driven and secured by even more Shelby County deputies)...

Worth repeating. A bus. On 240, I-40 or "Bill Morris Parkway" during rush hour traffic. My entertainment was looking into cars and watching people chat on cell phones, eat breakfast or put on make-up.

And back to "Walking." It is really a slow form of "Marching" in single-file, guarded on both sides by deputies--eyes forward (fingers on lips) being swept away into an awaiting door...into an awaiting elevator.

No one breaks the line. No one gets out of formation. It's serious business. Did I mention I became friends with one of my deputies? We all did. They were our guardian/big brother(s)/big sister throughout the entire ordeal.

MORE to follow soon. In the Ashley Scott Trial the jury is FINALLY back! They are out. Wait...they are BACK in the courtroom. Oh Brother!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dean's List:

Via Email today: "Congratulations on your outstanding academic performance last semester! Because of your academic achievements, you have earned a position on the Fall 2008 Dean’s List.

The faculty, staff, and administrators of the College of Arts and Sciences congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you continued success."

Oh yeah! I'm not going to lie. I am very proud of my ability to ROCK five classes this past semester while averaging 30+ hours a week at the pharmacy.

It wasn't "easy," but I worked hard and learned a lot of new information. My brain may not be too big for my skull yet, but it feels as if it is growing.

*insert completely impossible back flips here*

And here's to a NEW semester (starting this week)...may it be just as rewarding.


p.s. It's my last "full time" semester of college!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy Happy 74th!!

Forever my favorite picture of the King!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Textbooks? Really?

So I have a lot of "used but very good" copies (and some new ones) on their way to my house.

Yes, I am one of "those" students who finds out what the required book list is for classes BEFORE the first week of class. I track down the most "affordable" copies and have them delivered too.

  • A Poetry Handbook - Mary Oliver
  • Winesburg, Ohio - Sherwood Anderson
  • The Violent Bear It Away: A Novel - Flannery O'Connor
  • Creative Editing - Dorothy A. Bowles
  • The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008
  • Beloved - Toni Morrison
  • The Gold-Bug and Other Tales - Edgar Allan Poe
  • Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Media Writer's Handbook: Guide to Common Writing/Editing Problems - George Arnold
  • One Writer's Beginnings - Eudora Welty
  • Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist - Charles Brockden Brown
  • The Triggering Town: Lectures & Essays on Poetry &Writing - Richard Hugo
And as if that wasn't enough: The Norton Anthology of English Literature:
  • Volume D: The Romantic Period
  • Volume E: The Victorian Age
  • Volume F: Twentieth Century and After

Now that you have read thoroughly (skipped) this list, realize that I am actually looking forward to about 95% of these books. Yes. I said 95% (and just in case you're my professor, your book list is one of my "looking forward to").

No more $150-$200 science or math manuals (which I'll do absolutely nothing with after passing the class)...but these little gems...they are going in my LIBRARY (the one I'll have when I "grow up").


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Her latest Piece of Work:

(Laura Zigman matched for her latest book)

By her own account, best-selling author Laura Zigman likes to brant. There is even a mock dictionary definition on her website to help get the point across:

brant (brant) v.i. - to simultaneously brag and rant.

After four novels which sold, according to Zigman “not nearly as much as you might think” (actually several hundred thousand copies worldwide, taking into account foreign editions), she was in a self-described period of “failure” when her latest project presented itself.

brant (brant) n. - a shared on-line journal where people can post brags and rants about themselves and their personal experiences, opinions, observations, and feelings.

Be it about meeting Hugh Jackman (on the set of the movie adapted from her first book), celebrating Christmas as a non-Christian or organizational-porn, Zigman shares a lot of funny details of her life with her fans in her personal brant.

Writing about her “new favorite television show” during the summer of 2007, something unexpected happened. One of the people reading intimately knew the show Zigman was discussing.

Jessica Novak was online searching the name of her mother’s television series. She clicked a link directing her toward Zigman’s website and brant. She forwarded the link to Joshua Seftel.

As manager of Patti Novak, the matchmaker of A&E’s “Confessions of a Matchmaker,” Seftel alerted Zigman that they had seen her website and musings about the show. A standing invitation to meet Patti Novak was extended.

branted, brant-ing, brants
intr.v. To write entries in, add material to, or maintain a (we)brant.

Of course, Zigman branted about her luck online in typical third-person fashion, “Would she be interested? She felt like she was on Candid Camera.”

The television show chronicled the popular Buffalo-based matchmaking service. Zigman drove from her home outside of Boston to meet Patti in New York while she was in the city appearing on an episode of the CBS Early Show.

Although Patti had not read any of Zigman’s work prior to meeting her, the connection between the two was obvious, especially to Patti’s daughter.

“They instantly clicked and have similar views on a lot of things.” Jessica said, “I don't think I've ever heard them disagree.”

So they joined forces and several phone calls, legal pads, and thick black Sharpies later—a basic outlining for the book based on Patti’s gift for matchmaking was complete. Zigman was ready to start writing.

“We assumed it would be just a book about dating, but it turned into something with much more substance.” Zigman said.

While in the researching phase, she made the drive to Buffalo several times, even sitting in on five to six coaching sessions between the matchmaker and her clients.

“My job was to put Patti in book form.” Zigman said, which she admits was not difficult because “she has a distinct voice.”

Now appearing at a bookstore near you, “Get Over Yourself: How to Get Real, Get Serious and Get Ready to Find True Love” (Ballantine) is three-fourths self help book and one-fourth dating guide.

It contains basic background information on the matchmaker along with relationship history worksheets, and dating tips.

“It is indeed a self help book,” Zigman said, “but it really is a book about love.”

The Year on Film:

2008 (a slow movie year for me):

In the Land of Women**
She’s the Man
Casablanca (c)
The Hottest State
Kate & Leopold

Because I Said So
Becoming Jane**
The Jane Austen Book Club
Original Sin
The Darjeeling Limited (--)

Goya’s Ghosts (--)
Across the Universe**
Ginger and Cinnamon

We Are Marshall
P.S. I Love You
Georgia Rule
Lucky You

Martian Child
My Blueberry Nights**
Gray Matters
Love and Other Disasters
Sex and the City** (t)

Mamma Mia! (t)
Twilight (t)
Lucky You

The Nanny Diaries
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (c)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Zack & Miri Make a Porno
Broken English**
2 Days in Paris

Dance with Me
9 Songs

(c) Classic, **Really Liked, (t) theater, (--) HATED!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin