September to April

A couple of weeks away from submitting Notes from the Nineties to the online proofing system…

Here’s a sample poem to whet your appetite (story excerpts coming soon!)


September to April

September

I want to do a creative graduate thesis, he said.

In that case, you should keep a diary, his advisor suggested. Write every day.

OK, he said.

And bring me a story or two to look at.

OK.

October

These aren’t stories, his advisor informed. These are more like diary entries.

How should I write a story, then? he asked.

Write what you know. Base your stories on people and things around you.

OK.

And bring me another story or two.

OK.

November

The narration isn’t believable, his advisor imparted.

Why? he asked.

It’s too difficult for the reader to identify with the characters. Nobody has a family with nine children.

What should I do?

Go read Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.

OK.

And bring me a couple more stories.

OK.

December

I don’t get any sense of through-story, his advisor complained.

What do you mean? he asked.

The stories aren’t connected. They’re all different.

Well, what should I do?

Try an internal perspective. Go read James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

OK.

And bring me another story.

OK.

January

This is too abstract, his advisor mused.

What do you mean? he asked.

This isn’t a true plot. The symbolism is too obscure.

It’s a translation of something I wrote for a German class.

You don’t want to be Kafka.

I don’t?

You need real life stories, with real people and real problems.

What should I do?

Go read Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral.”

OK.

And…

Bring you another story?

Two.

February

I think I see the problem, his advisor intuited.

What is it? he asked.

I think you need to experience more life before you can be an effective writer.

What do you mean?

You need to go out into the world and work different jobs, meet different people, move around a bit.

My thesis is due in two months.

So it is. Make sure you give your draft to me next month.

OK.

And…

Another story?

No. Just read my comments and rewrite what you have.

OK.

March

I don’t see the point of adding poetry between the stories, his advisor grumped.

Why? he pondered.

The poems interfere with the prose.

I thought you didn’t like the prose.

I would say you need to add a poetic sense to your prose.

How do I do that?

Try writing poetry. For practice.

And finish the rewrite of the draft by next week.

OK.

And print three copies on a laser printer. And buy three of those thesis black cover binders.

OK.

April

Well, the three of us have examined your thesis, and we decided on a grade of B+, his advisor beamed.

I know it’s not as high as you wanted, but I argued that the interplay of letters, poetry, and stories woven together formed an interesting kind of metadiscourse narrative depth to the thesis structure.

Congratulations.

Thanks.

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