City Varsity creative writing class 2014

My first creative writing class got off to a cracking start.
We took as our starting point, the question “why do I write.” The students spent 10 minutes writing why they write. I invited them to share afterwards and three students articulated their motives for writing, which ranged from the desire to make a difference to the wish to express one’s true feelings.
Then we read George Orwell’s classic piece “Why I Write.”
Of Orwell’s four reasons for writing, the students related most to the egoistical and aesthetic impulses.
Orwell describes writers as “the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their lives to the end.”
He attributes the aesthetic impulse to “perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement.”
Only one student related to the political impulse and none to the historical. Perhaps this reflects the “right here, right now” attitude of the Y generation.
I offered Joyce Carol Oates idea that we write to give some form of permanence to the transitory nature of the world.
“What is art but the effort of giving permanent form – in language, in painting, sculpture, music – to those elemental forces in our lives, those passions, hurts, triumphs, and mysteries that have no permanence otherwise, and so require art to be known at all. Our lives, especially at their happiest moments, fly past as quickly as a mountain spring rushing along it’s rocky course, throwing up frothy, sparkling spray; the effort of art is to throw the rapid motion, to bring it to a halt so that it can be seen, known. All artists know either consciously or instinctively that the secret intention of their life’s work is to rescue from the plunge of time something of beauty, permanence, significance in another’s eyes.”
Joyce Carol Oates
I shared that my method of teaching is a combination of Dorothy Brand’s Becoming a Writerdorothy brande, Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones“,writing down the bones and Stephen King’s “On Writing“. stephen king on writing
The writer is a schizophrenic being: one part inspired, devil may care experimental artist, the other an editor and critic who is concerned wholly with the reader’s reaction.
The writer has to allow his imagination full play when he writes a first draught.
Then, he has to go back and “kill his darlings”, edit the text so that a concise meaning can be conveyed to the reader.
The writer has to approach each task with the correct part of his psyche.
Problems occur when the editor pokes his nose is when the first draught is being written, or when the artist doesn’t use his critical faculties when rewriting.

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