Blog Reflection 3

Before we covered them in class, I had never heard of creative essays. To me it didn’t make any sense. It felt like you were just writing a story with a self insert. Between the assigned reading and class discussions, I discovered there was a bit more to it than that.

Creative essays seem to take what makes poetry and fiction unique and combines it into one. It takes the story element of fiction, but also adds to it an observation of the world as the writer sees it like you would find in poetry. It feels like an academic paper, trying to explain some topic, following proper writing structures, as opposed to poetry where rules seem arbitrary. However, instead of referencing articles to make a point, the writer is referencing their life.

What I enjoyed about the creative essay is it can explain a point of view you hold or a perception on something and explain it better than just outright saying what your opinion is. For instance, in the essay Lenses, Annie Dillard could have said she viewed life as fleeting and we were really small in the grand scheme of things. Instead, there was a lead in with her growing up in her basement watching microorganisms dance under a too hot light under her microscope. Then years later get the same feeling as she watched two swans fly, only this time she was the one in the spot light. It created feelings of wonder while at the same time caused the reader to think about it from her point of view. The set up both explained her line of thinking as well as her perception.

I enjoyed this genre more than I thought. I hated poetry, but I’m not a poet. I enjoyed the fiction section, because I enjoy writing fiction. This genre really surprised me and what I liked most was how I could take what I loved about fiction, but add it to my experience.

For my creative essay I chose to write about rings. Initially it was going to keep it broad, but when I write I like to see where it goes. I ended up writing about my father’s ring. It never was something I paid attention to as a kid, and even now, it’s not even the first thing I think of when I think of him. Not even top 5. Usually it’ll be him in a suit, or Michigan football (we would go to every home game). Despite that, it is what I most closely associate with him now because of 2 memories that have forever crystallized in my mind. What I tried to convey was how while my wedding band means a lot to me, it’s not a big deal if I need to replace it because the most important part of what it symbolizes (my husband) is still around. However my father’s ring is irreplaceable to me since it’s all I have left of him

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the chance to try something new.

Blog Reflection 2:

With all the stories we’ve read in class, I have been trying to compare what we’ve read to my own writing style and to see how I can improve. I enjoy writing conversation (both internal and external) and using that to develop characters. My greatest weakness has always been descriptions. So while my conversations help develop characters, there is always a depth missing that a good detailed description can give. A good example of that can be found in the The Blue Girl by Laurie Foos:

The day on the lake the sun raged and blistered our daughters, all fifteen and seeming to want to burst free of their bathing suits… We did not allow them to swim but kept them close to us on the beach towels and watched them slather themselves in oil. They sprayed their hair with lemon juice and smiled at each other but never at us… We were vain then, did not want wrinkles to drive our husbands away from us, men who already shrank at the feel of the stuble on our legs and under what had once been smooth arm pits and creamy thighs.

The Blue Girl, page 35

Not much happens in this scene, but it is still able to tell much of the story. It develops the narrator’s character more than any dialog in the story. It tells of the conflicts between mothers and daughters as well as their vain attempt to remain “perfect” for their husbands.

A good description can set the scene. The opening of The Fix by Percival Everett paints the scene perfectly, down to the last detail allowing the reader to easily picture it:

Douglas Langley owned a little sandwich stop and the intersection of Fourteenth and T streets in the District. Beside his shop was a seldom-used alley and above his shop lived a man by the name of Sherman Olney, whom Douglas had seen beaten to near extinction one night by a couple of silky-looking men who seemed to know Sherman… He steeped out into the November chill and discovered the sound was actually that of the larger man’s fists finding again and aging the belly of Sherman Olney, who was being kept on his feet by the second assailant.

The Fix, Page 3

There have been many other examples of scene development, but these were the two that stuck out the most to me. It is my goal to be able to mimic what they were able to do and incorporate it into my writing.


Reflections on Whereas

Whereas by Layli Long Soldier combines the struggles she has faced during her life and those of her people, the Lakota tribe. There are many examples of documentary poetics in that it can tell a story and get her idea across while still keeping a poetic nature.

As a mother, several of her poems touched close to me. First was Dilate,

Placed

on my chest warm fragile

as the skin of nightfall she was heavier than imagined her eyes

untied from northern poles from hard unseen winter months (Solider, 35)

Childbirth is messy and chaotic, but the first moments after the chaos when the hand you your baby is something you never forget. The clearest memories I have of the birth of my girls is the moment after when doctors handed them to me. It was equal parts terrifying and humbling when they look up at you for the first time.

Immediately following Dialate, was Left, which speaks to every mother’s fear,

…I tapped my breath to womb as pulse and pace teach first yet the baby was gone by the time they checked…

37

…my legs red wet the nurse did look at me and she looked like me I watched her how she held my arm empathetic us two women mouthless us two knowing better than to say __________ was just us women a moment quest as snow at the mercy us avalanched empty

38

The silent fear of every woman during pregnancy is a miscarriage. It can be caused by anything, including circumstances outside of the mother’s control. Despite the reasons for it, every mother will blame themselves or believe they could have done something different. The pain and fear is universal, and as the author shows, crosses boundaries, in this case between patient and nurse.

Whearas, the title poem of the book, touches on many subjects. From the struggles growing up Lakota,

WHEREAS I did not desire in childhood to be a part of this but desired most of all to be a part. A piece combined with others to make up a whole

64

… I played at recess as a fifth grader as a child I played in their shadows those bodies in cuffed jeans and sneakers three boys moved in stood over me heavy breathing I squinted upward my heart whirred loud as a card in the spokes of a wheel the big-boned blondie let out a pierceing “warcry” three boys together whooped and played Indian

81

This resonated with me, since my father would tell similar stories growing up the son of Mexican immigrants in Detroit during the 60s. He would be targeted by people from store owners accusing him of shoplifting if he happened to be carrying something similar to what was sold in store to a teacher telling him he couldn’t go to Harvard because it would be overstepping his place in society. The main difference between the stories he told of what he went through vs. what the narrator tells is how these events affect them. He used it to motivate him to do better. When I asked him how he felt never getting back at people who did that to him, he just laughed and said, “I graduated from Harvard, got my law degree from Michigan, I won.” By contrast, the narrator seems beaten down by everything,

I tire of engaging in numerous conflicts, tire of the word both. Both as a woman and a child of that Whereas.

74

Overall, the book was an interesting read, offering a perspective I otherwise would not have had.

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