I'm off for the Summer Residency (July 8-18th) at Vermont College of Fine Arts - this time around I'll be teaching students in the Picture Book Certificate program, and I'll post to The Drift Record from there. Meanwhile, just look at the fascinating lectures my colleagues on the faculty are delivering (I'm not lecturing this semester - I'm giving the commencement speech!):
POINT OF VIEW AND PSYCHIC DISTANCE
Marion Dane Bauer
I'll be examining the different points of view a writer can use and the impact each choice has on the psychic distance between author, character and, ultimately, the reader.
THE CLOTHESLINE: LIFE IN THE COUNTRY—REGIONAL WRITING AND THE SELF
An exploration of how place, family, memory and all that makes up the “Self” influence what you write, who your characters are, what situations they find themselves in, and how plot and character interact. Lecture & exercise. Related reading: One Writer’s Beginnings, Eudora Welty; In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, Alice Walker; Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer, Nancy Mairs; Diving Deep and Surfacing, Carol P. Christ; Writing a Woman’s Life, Carolyn G. Heilbrun. *Note: Although several of these titles indicate study of a woman’s approach to writing, the lecture will be gender neutral.
SPORTS OF NATURE: FAIRIES AMONG US
What happens when we take a more or less naturalistic piece of fiction and invite the fairies to join in? Energetic, cheeky, attractive, sturdy and amoral, fairies add a distinctive flavor to stories of family, growing up, fitting in, finding a friend, feeling at odds with the world, and dealing with change. I'll look at a handful of novels that include fairy characters, none of whom have wings or wands. Books will include: Eloise McGraw, The Moorchild; Susan Cooper, The Boggart; William Mayne, Hob and the Goblins; Sylvia Waugh, The Mennyms; Franny Billingsley, The Folk Keeper;
Geraldine McCaughrean, The Stones are Hatching; and Nancy Farmer, The Ear, the Eye and the Arm.
I hope to inspire the realists among us to take a chance on Puck.
DESIRE IS THE CAUSE OF ALL PLOT:
THE SHAPE OF YEARNING IN LIFE AND FICTION
Where, in today's world, is there silence? Where, in our busy lives, is there time to listen to the stories that arise from the deepest places in our hearts and minds? Do we have the power to choose silence, and listening, and stories?
For the time period of this lecture, Noble Lounge will be a technology-free area. If you can't turn off your cell phone, leave your laptop in your room, put away your iPod or Blackberry, etc., this lecture is not for you.
I WASN'T THERE: THE CHALLENGES OF IMAGINATIVE APPROACHES
TO CHILDREN'S NON-FICTION
How “creative” can you be with creative non-fiction? Using examples from the I Was There and A Day That Changed America series (On Board the Titanic, Discovering the Iceman, In the Time of Knights,
YOU CARRY THOSE GROCERIES INTO THE STUDY, FREDDY, HONEY, BECAUSE...
Motivation is what makes a story tick. After all, a lot of what we call conflict is just someone who wants something and has to find a way to get it. In theater, the word holds a lot of credence, because an actor needs to know or find his motivation in order to play his part, and every move and gesture grow out of that central defining need. I will look at motivation with regards to writing fiction. But beyond generalized motivation, there must be the motivation of the moment. What I call the tipping point. Why is my character doing this now?
ALSO: The amazing M.T. Anderson will be delivering a guest lecture about plot devices, and leading a master class for alumni. M.T. Anderson is, flat out, a genius, and very funny, and he plays a mean game of Scrabble. I am deep into the Advance Reader Copy of Volume II/Octavian Nothing that I got at the ALA Conference. It's going to be my plane book from Seattle to Vermont.
ALSO: Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel will be delivering a special address about their writing and illustrating strategies during our special Picture Book Weekend, and the very lovely Jeannette Larson of Harcourt will offer up the editor's perspective.
It should be quite a residency! More soon.