Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This is what writers do when they marry...

When I was in college and graduate school, I studied poetry almost exclusively. Like good liberal arts colleges and universities, both writing programs forced me to take a few mixed genre classes. And like a lazy liberal arts student, I breezed through the assignments as quickly as I could. Poetry is my genre, has been, will be, forever and ever. Amen.

Then, a curious thing happened, right after I finished my poetry book manuscript. Poetry & I stopped getting along. With my manuscript, I felt like I said everything I could say within the genre of poetry, for the time being. Yet writing still had to be a part of my life, because I don't know who I would be if I wasn't writing. Or at least trying to write.

So, for the past 12 months, I have been writing fiction with little success. Like a good poet, I can capture voice and description, but I write lots of long winding pieces without any plot. With muddled point of view. And yesterday, I had enough. I've written too many piss-poor first drafts that went nowhere. I didn't know how to continue and couldn't necessarily go back to poetry just yet.

Luckily, my husband is a prose writer, and has been as steadfast in his dedication to fiction as I have been to poetry. After my freak-out, he created for me a 4 week fiction primer, on the necessary schooling for a fiction writer. His primer includes:

Week 1: Shitty First Drafts

Week 2: Point of View

Week 3: Plot

Week 4: Revision

Optional Week 5: Detail & Characterization

Optional Week 6: Characterization

He gave me a reading list and writing assignments for each week. I'm feeling pretty lucky to have this generous of a husband. And pretty excited to be back in school, at least for a little while.