This is a response to Roxane’s recent post, “How the Hell Do We Teach Creative Writing?”
I am a firm believer that creative writing can be taught; I’ve been teaching it for years now (at DePaul University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lake Forest College, and StoryStudio Chicago). Below, I’ll break “creative writing” down into five pedagogical areas (I’m a rather analytical fellow); when viewed from that perspective, I think, a whole host of practicable exercises and activities become apparent. (Note that this will be a blanket overview; I’d be happy to discuss any of this in much more depth.)
In order to sit down and establish any sort of ideology1 that guides my life, I really have only a single point to consider: art2 is, without a doubt, what is most important to me. Out of everything. I say this without a hint of irony, with a complete presence of sincerity: everything that has ever been important to me has been mediated by art, to some degree.
Perhaps this is easy for me to say because I equate art with pleasure. Or the idea that art is beauty (as a definition from dictionary.com would like to suggest). If this were true then I wouldn’t have anything to say here. But, the unfortunate thing is that there is a lot of bad art that makes me furrow my brow and launch into hyperbolic rhetoric or a complete insincerity (read: irony). The other negation to the aforementioned declarations heeds itself to my own ideas in an appreciation of affect over visual aesthetic: i.e., something ugly, terrifying, and evil can bring pleasure.
I am not an overly-depressed person. I am (fairly) high functioning in a pretty normal way. I have no desire to be constantly escaping from reality. Kneeling at the temple of Art is not about escapism for me, and I think that’s why I inherently hate the idea of mediating an experience of art (exclusively) through empathy (this is why I will always champion modes of art that lie outside of representation3).
I occasionally feel like when I make this declaration, I am widening a divide between myself & the general public. I say this without elitism. The problem is making a statement like this seems to establish binary opposition: if I don’t like representation, I must like crazy non-narrative abstract shit. Right? I mean, that binary presupposes the person who is contrasting her or his own approach to art with mine is able to conceive of an approach to art that is outside of representation (and this is part of why my mother has no idea in regards to what I am interested in and what I am doing when it comes to “art”).
But here’s the thing: I love narrative. I have no desire to escape narrative. Of course, throughout my experiences with art I have grown mostly tired of archetypal narrative arcs, neatly wrapped up stories, etc etc. But that’s not the point. What I look for in art, what I aim for in art, ultimately, as I’ve said many noted many times in comment threads, is affect.
Ariana Reines on Acker, Gallo, genital life, and “the absence of a living moral referent.” Via her bewitching blog.
PR: Dear Kathy, you are dead. Here is a link to your supposed last writings that I found online. I like it. You are very unclever in it. People want to make you clever, and you are, but I prefer where your cleverness takes you, rather than the cleverness itself. Here is some art inspired by you. I don’t find you clever as much as desperately searching for comfort and truth and honesty.
Kathy: I just write the truth. I don’t write fiction. I write out of need. Culture is that which falsifies.