Tag Archives: Erika Dreifus

Rethinking Creative Writing: The First Interview!

Wordamour is pleased to announce that today’s blog post is actually over at Erika Dreifus’ blog/newsletter/website Practicing Writing.

It’s fitting that Wordamour’s first  interview about the book would appear on this site, as she has admired Dreifus’ work and her site for years and has been admonishing her readers to make it part of their regular reading.  It’s a great resource.  And her book of stories, Quiet Americans, has been making all kinds of best lists.

Erika asked some wonderfully in-depth questions and Wordamour had a great time answering them.  It’s a terrific way to find out more about the book.

So what are you waiting for?  Get thee over to Practicing Writing  and check it out!

By y’all!

SV

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And so it begins. . .

The library edition of Rethinking Creative Writing, actually the ebook being made available to libraries worldwide, is out!

And your library wants to order it, right?  Right! Information on ordering is available here.

If you just want to see the link to the e-reader edition on the Sony e-store, that’s here.  And for more general information about the book, check here.

Word has been pretty positive so far, so I’m pumped.  My friend Erika Dreifus over at one of my favorite writing blogs,  Practicing Writing, has read it and sent along kind words.  And she wants to interview me about it for Practicing Writing; more on that as it develops. . .

My friend Anna Leahy, who administers the Creative Writing Pedagogy facebook page, was kind enough to put word out there and the response was good!  And when I put a link to the book in my own status, the response was truly encouraging.  I am lucky to have such friends.

Anthony Haynes, my brilliant editor at Professional and Higher says we’re taking the John the Baptist approach with the book, announcing the e-reader/library edition first, drumming up buzz.  Next will be the hardcover.

All in all very exciting stuff. . .with more to come!

Bye for now y’all!

SV

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Looking Ahead: AWP in DC

So Wordamour and husband are headed to DC this week for the Associated Writing Programs Conference with lots to look forward to.  So much, in fact, that we are going to have to pace ourselves.  And we’re at a hotel that’s a whole metro ride away from the conference so there will be very little going back to the room between events to de-stress by lying on a hotel bed staring at mindless tv (my de-stressing MO, if you haven’t guessed).

I’m on two panels which I’m very much looking forward to.  Fiction Writer’s Review gave me a shout out as a contributor when they listed contributor’s panels here.  I love Fiction Writer’s Review–if you’re at the Book Fair, check them out.  Better yet, subscribe to their blog.

Besides the panels:  Focus group on creative writing books for Bedford St. Martin’s with a free lunch and a stipend, dinner at Meskerem (a fondly remembered Ethiopian restaurant from my salad days in DC) with Anna Leahy and Cathy Day and friends, dinner with grad school pals Kelly Stern and Deb Moore, dinner with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law in from Maryland one night as well.

A publication party for Erika Dreifus’ Quiet Americans, which my husband reviewed here.

A whole group of students is going from UCA this year (and I know they will behave themselves so others can follow in future years.  Right? Right.).  Colleagues Mark Spitzer and Garry Powell. Former student, current Roosevelt MFA Heather Cox.

The Toad Suck Review will make its debut!

Glimpses of my British friends, Graeme Harper and Paul Munden among them (and the annual payment of my NAWE dues).

And the bookfair.  And more panels.  And somewhere in there, my birthday!

Good Lord!

I’ll be blogging about it all!

Bye y’all!

SV

PS A shout out to my mother, who is making all this possible by staying with my kiddos!  Thanks, Mom!

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A Word About Writing Prompts

Many of you have heard me mention the amazing Erika Dreifus, whose blog The Practicing Writer (see the blogroll) is a must read for any writer and whose book  of stories, Quiet Americans is coming out soon (I’ll keep you posted).  She has a great article on the Women on Writing site called Finding Creative Inspiration Through Prompts and Exercises.  Wordamour is quoted.  Check it out!

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What should MFA students demand from their programs, part 2.

So, what would I add to Niles’ list?

1. Teachers who read their students work.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but one might be suspicious of teachers who always want their students to read their work out loud to them. It might be a sign they don’t want to do too much reading beforehand, preferring the “off the cuff” method of verbal critique that not coincidentally significantly reduces their paper load and/or workload outside of class.
I’m not exaggerating about this, folks. I’ve been in sessions with teachers bluffing their way through a student’s work; occasionally it was even my own.

To wit, I once read a lengthy tribute to the beloved George Garrett in which the admirer fondly recalled listening to Garrett hold forth about a student’s work even when, well, ahem. . . uh, it became clear that Garrett hadn’t actually read it.

Apparently, it was enough just to be in the legendary writer’s presence.

Garrett’s volume of work and service to the field is also legendary and I have no intention of dimming the light that shines upon it. But it doesn’t make not reading a student’s work and then critiquing it as part of one’s employment responsibilities any more acceptable, especially when one considers that Garrett himself was an enormous influence, as a teacher, on other teachers of creative writing.

2. Programs that promote practice and purpose, not personality. Along with the star system, the cult of personality has a tendency to reign supreme in MFA programs. See #1.

I could write much more about this subject, and have, actually, here on this blog and elsewhere, but some of this is going to be in my book, currently titled Rethinking Creative Writing in Higher Education: Programs and Practices that Work. I don’t want to give it all away. Buying cows and free milk and all that.

Bye y’all,
SV

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What should MFA students demand from their programs? Part 1

Erika Dreifus, over at the esteemed Practicing Writing (seriously, writers, if you don’t read her blog regularly, you need to, she’s on my blogroll ) has drawn my attention to Robert Niles’ post, Eight things that journalism students should demand from their journalism schools. Of course, fellow MFA alum Dreifus wondered aloud “What should MFA students demand from their programs?” and then asked her readers to comment.

Well, Erika, here’s my response:

First of all, anyone seriously interested in this subject should read Niles’ post carefully and not just go by my summary because his arguments are lucid, pointed and convincing. They also demonstrate that despite the fact that MFA students ply their trade in the literary realm, their needs are really not very different from aspiring journalists:

Mentors, check.
Employment contacts, check.
A place to hack, that is, to try out emerging media such as blogging and other forms of digitial writing. Check.
Work contacts, not just internships but work outside the field ( go read what he says about this). Check.
Deep knowledge of a field other than journalism. Check. In journalism, this is known as a “beat field.” In creative writing, it’s known as a niche.

Opportunities to “get your name out there.” Check.
Passion for the field and for teaching it to the next generation. Check.

Those are all things that MFA programs should be doing for their students. And if you’re considering spending several years in such a program, you need to find one that recognizes its responsibilities to its students in the 21st century.

Of course, there are a few things I might add, which are in the next post, “What should MFA students demand from their programs, part 2.”
See y’all over there,
SV

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Discovering Mira’s List

Thanks to Erika Dreifus’ wonderful blog, The Practicing Writer (see my blogroll–Dreifus’ blog is one of the best resources for writers out there) I’ve recently discovered Mira’s List, another fantastic resource for writers and artists of all kinds. Another must read folks, and while you’re there, you might even want to donate a little support. Dreifus and Mira’s List are providing absolutely essential services for us all and these kinds of services are very time consuming, as in time away from writing, consuming.

I’ve been reading the Program Era, the history of creative writing programs, the past week. What a book. I’ll post a review when I finish it.

In other news, Slate.com, has recently posted the results of a taste test that confirms what I knew all along. Dunkin Donuts makes the best coffee out there. Whenever I tell the uninitiated that I must make daily DD stops whenever I’m near one (closest to me is Jackson TN, which is fortunately on the way to Nashville and points east) they usually mumble something like, “yeah, I like donuts too.”

Folks, how many times do I have to say it. It’s not about the donuts. I don’t even particularly like donuts and besides there’s nothing special, imho, about Dunkin Donuts donuts. It’s about that delicious, delicious brew. Read about the taste test here.

Bye y’all,
SV

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