Debra Marquart

Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing--Summer 2007 Session

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Facing the Beauty: Divining Your Book's True Shape Through the Chaos of Drafting (C, LT)
Debra Marquart

A developing book project is like a free-floating constellation full of orbiting planets, meteor showers, spare moons, and all manner of flotsam, jetsam, and interesting space junk that has wandered into your book's gravitational field throughout the process of researching. While drafting, one wonders what to leave behind, what to keep, where to put everything, and whether or not all this accumulating detail will amount to any kind of meaning for a reader. The idea for the book was beautiful when you first imagined it, almost fully formed in your mind. Now, as each line and paragraph develops--so steeped in the particular and the anecdotal--the process can get messy, making it hard, if not impossible, to glance up from the close work and divine the book's true shape. At this point, some writers find it helpful to identify a higher theoretical structure appropriate to the book's content (e.g., aesthetic, linguistic, mythic, postcolonial, feminist) as a sobering lens to re-illuminate the material and re-inform the process. In this session, we’ll talk about strategies for conceptualizing the book's prevailing themes and theoretical intentions while in the middle of the often ugly process of drafting.

Required Reading:

--Eliade, Mircea, The Myth of the Eternal Return: Or, Cosmos and History (Chapter 1: “Archetypes and Repetition,” pp. 3-48)

--Smiley, Jane, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel (Chapter 9: “The Circle of the Novel,” pp. 178-203)

--Maso, Carole, Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, & Moments of Desire (“Rupture, Verge, and Precipice / Precipice, Verge, and Hurt Not,” pp. 161-191)

Recommended Reading:

--Barthes, Roland, The Pleasure of the Text.

--Levi-Strauss, Claude, Myth and Meaning: Cracking the Code of Culture.

--Eliade, Mircea, The Sacred and the Profane, The Nature of Religion: The Significance of Religious Myth, Symbolism, and Ritual within Life and Culture.

--Cixous, Helene, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing.

--Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.