One of the ongoing problems I have as a writer is deciding what to read next. This is, of course, what one might call a “good problem.” It’s not like I’m trying to figure out how to cure cancer or something. In my house, there are growing stacks of books, in various places—bedside table, recliner, coffee table, and so forth—that I have not yet read, and with each new book that I buy, chances grow that those unread books will remain, sadly, unread.
As a young (“emerging”?) writer, I feel a regular anxiety of not being as well-read as I would like to be. This is a bit irrational. Even my friends who are pursuing a PhD in literature who read hundreds of books in order to prepare for the comprehensive exam have plenty of holes in their personal canon. That’s just normal. There is too much great stuff to read, especially if one spends a portion of his/her time writing rather than reading. Sometimes the reading just stops because of the anxiety of influence. (more…)
Once I took my first creative writing workshop in college, I was pretty much hooked. Ohio State is on a quarter system, so I had time to fulfill the requirements that Ohio State had towards having an English degree with a specialty in creative writing: five workshops, and the Advanced Fiction Writing class could be repeated three times for full credit. I had an aversion to poetry—which I thankfully grew out of—and determined that after Mary’s class, I could take four more creative writing classes: three in fiction, and one in nonfiction. This seemed like a good plan, and one that I stuck with until it was time to leave Columbus.
Junior year of college, in my memory, seems magical. Maybe not magical, that might be a bit of a reach, a bit sentimental and melodramatic. But junior year is when I hit my stride as a college student. I spent my freshman year not really sure what I was doing in college. I ate a lot of hamburgers and watched a lot of basketball. I was shy, a bit dorky, and liked to spend lots of my time by myself. It also probably didn’t help to have kept up my relationship with my high school girlfriend (note to incoming college freshman: go to college single!). (more…)