Thursday, December 11, 2008

Home is Where the Heart is

I can't believe how hard I have worked for my Shakespeare class and I still don't have the A. The prof is demanding professional level critical essays about the Great Chain of Being and the roles of women in human society. Yes, he allows us to rewrite as much as we want to raise our grades. And he takes days to read our e-mail papers. I submitted the final revision of the last paper on Tuesday. Today is Thursday. He hasn't responded, I don't know my final grade and all grades have to be in by tomorrow, I believe. I guess I'm not going to worry about it. Or the $3,500 scholarship from the Ohio Board of Regents for graduating seniors with a 3.7 or higher GPA, to be applied to grad school.

For a while now I've been saying to my advisor, "Am I smart enough for this?" She's been saying, "Yes, you are." Then I realized my error. "I am smart enough, but am I knowledgeable enough?" THAT after all is why I went back to get my degree. I have been meeting and exceeding requirements for my classes. I've been learning A LOT. But have I learned enough? My instrauctors raise the bar for me so I have to work harder. Ohio, and counties like ours, Columbiana, having the lowest education rates in the state, is working to raise the numbers of college-educated citizens. When our students graduate from college, they don't come back here to live. If they graduate here, they move away to greener pastures. So, I know that completing my education is important to my region. My instructors know I'm going to, in all probability, stay right here. It's where my children and grandchildren live. And it's where my fictional characters live and dream and work. This is home. Home is where the heart is, and writers write what they know, what is in their heart.

My sense of community has been with me for a very long time. I've dropped out of sight public-wise because of my heavy school load and responsibilities as regards my family. But my goals remain steadfast. My stories, fiction though they be, reflect my community, and hopefully, will draw tourists to our county, and perhaps draw new business interests here, given that the region has been working on improving infrastructure for a while now.

OK. I should stop editorializing here. This is a novel-writing blog.

I said to my Shakespeare professor, "I am a creative writer, a writer of fiction. My goal is NOT to write critical essays." In essence his response was, "That's why you're having a little trouble with critical essay writing. They are different beasts." These aren't his exact words, but my interpretation.

I grumbled to my advisor, who also is my instructor in yet another literature class. I'd been beating up on myself pretty badly because of the word "incohesive" that the other prof attached to my writing. ME??? INCOHESIVE??? My advisor advised me not to let the critical writing affect my creative writing because I am an excellent creative writer. Well, that made all the difference to me. So, if I end up with a lower grade than I expect, well, I've learned a lot that mmakes me a better thinker, more critically-minded in interpreting what I observe and put down in words, and can only mean the quality of my fiction is better.

When you hear someone say, "Writers read a lot," they aren't 'just' reading the genre they want to write. They read Shakespeare who is a master at presenting the human condition and creating 'catharsis' for his audience. Compare Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story, and if I remember right, Hamlet to As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. The complete works of Shakespeare weighs about forty pounds. (Well, it seems like it.) But there is a wealth of knowledge and seeds for more stories from creative minds. Shakespeare's ideas came from his observations of his world and his society. My ideas come from my world, my society. Ah, the other thing is the importance of placing the story in a different time period to keep you out of trouble. Will did that because his patrons included the British monarchs Elizabeth I and James VI, whom he did not want to offend. Didn't Elizabeth remark that she was Richard II? Haven't critics suggested that Perdita from The Winter's Tale bears a strong resemblance to the young Elizabeth whom her father, Henry VIII, bastardized when he accused her mother, Anne Boleyn, of adultery and had her beheaded?

The only Shakespeare I ever read was Julius Caesar when I was a freshman in high school. But with this introduction to his works, I will study his work, read and reread his plays and think about the human condition from a modern perspective. I will read non-fiction as well as fiction, the genres I want to write and other genres, too. And I will not allow critical essay writing to influence my creative writing, for the creative writing is where my heart is. Home.


Angie Ledbetter said...

You go, girl, reach that goal. And listen to your GUT, not some stuffy old professor. :) Hugs to you and Merry merry!

MysteryKnitter said...

I hope you passed.