Dec 21 2011

Portfolio III

Published by at 7:39 pm under Uncategorized

It’s a good thing we only had to write two short stories because, tell you the truth, it was even harder than writing poetry. With poetry I knew where I was going because I was following a rhyme scheme so as I was going I knew A had to rhyme with C, B with D and so on; the ideas were flowing in and out. With each rhyme, it felt like the path to the end was weaving on its own and all I had to do was choose the rhyming words to sort of give it direction. With the short stories, however, there is no limit, no rhyme scheme to guide me, and that was challenging. For example, developing the plot – the character is at certain point in the story, so how is he or she going to proceed next? Will she have a weapon to protect herself? You know, which path will I have the protagonist take to get to that endpoint. So there was a lot more decision making involved. Also sometimes as I was writing I’d be bombarded with one idea and then another and I’d just have to stop and think “which idea do I like more? Damn I can’t decide” and then go through a whole process. More often that though, I would get stuck in one spot and then I’d go crazy trying to figure out how to move on from that point. Trying to phrase my idea, make the sentences flow and find the appropriate words to describe the character, the situation and get the emotions across to the reader was my biggest challenge, that is where I got stuck the most.

When revising my long short story, I mostly focused on grammatical errors as well as punctuation so that the audience can get a good idea of the tone and how the character feels. I tried adding more details as I was going through the story but it just wouldn’t flow so I decided to leave it the way it was written. I tried to write an ending that was ambiguous but I don’t think I succeeded in that task. I didn’t want to explicitly state whether or not the girl in the story dies, I wanted the audience to come away with their own conclusions but I bet that anyone who reads the story will assume that she has met her doom. Also, I didn’t want to give the girl a name but the way the story was going in my head left me no choice in the matter. I was really careful, or I tried to be, in my choice of words while writing my short-short story because I was trying to sound like a guy; the whole time I was just thinking “does this sound like a man? Is this what a guy would say or think?” The death of an only parent is devastating but I was still worried that I made the character sound like a whiny and sad little girl instead of a teenage boy who suddenly finds himself carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Hopefully you can tell that the story was written from a male point of view.

I absolutely do not regret taking this class at all because (not only did I meet great people) but most importantly I learned that I suck as writer. Writing just doesn’t come easily to me, I literally sit there for hours and think of what to write and how to phrase the sentences so that it flows and sounds good; of course I already knew that I have difficulty writing but this class made me face the reality of it. And that’s not a bad thing because at one point in my life I wanted to be a writer but now I could safely cross it off my list. At least I could say I gave it a try.

I thought creative writing would mostly be writing short stories, like we’d have to come up with a different piece of fiction each week but I’m glad that wasn’t the case and not only because short stories presented themselves to be the biggest challenge. I like that we had a chance to dabble in other genres like poetry and nonfiction. Honestly, on the first day of class when I heard that we had to write poetry, I kind of freaked out on the inside because I always found poetry to be the hardest thing to write. I don’t like American poetry and I don’t get it (most of it anyways) so I thought that’d be the biggest obstacle. Fortunately, I turned out to be wrong; it wasn’t that bad and I actually had fun coming up and experimenting with different verses. I enjoyed writing the nonfiction posts the most, it something that came easy to me because I do a lot of observing and thinking on the bus anyway so I all I had to do was transfer it to paper. I didn’t have a problem letting people know the real me. And I didn’t have a problem keeping up with the blog posts, in fact I love the whole idea of the blogs and each week I found myself hungry for comments; I couldn’t wait to see what you and my classmates thought of my work.


P.S. I never got back my cover letter for portfolio II so maybe you could summarize your comments and post that as well? I would really appreciate that.

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One response so far

One Response to “Portfolio III”

  1.   jenny abeleson 03 Jan 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Margarita. Thanks for your letter—it’s an expressive one, and much of what you say resonates with me. I like your descriptions of the process of writing stories—the choices, the uncertainty, the sudden drying up of inspiration. The conclusion that came you to, however, that you suck as a writer, is completely false. Writing is not easy for anyone; if you meet a writer who claims it’s easy, I’ll show you a lazy writer of questionable talent. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but the things in life worth doing are never easy. Furthermore, I like your writing—you’ve surprised me on more than one occasion this semester.

    “Responsibilities” is just tragic, showing how vulnerable a person can be on so many different levels. I wish I could say this character’s luck and life are so bad that it’s not realistic, but, unfortunately, that’s not true. The most vulnerable peole amongst us are the ones that are open to further and further attack, as your story shows so well. There’s so much that you’ve done well here—the girl’s interior monlogue, for example; her rationlizations to herself would not be our rationalizations, but we understand her and why she thinks that way. It’s very hard to help readers understand a character they don’t really identify with, but you’ve done that here. Also, the vivid, bitter physical descriptions of a hard, cold, painful life—beautifully rendered. The ending is not ambiguous as you intended—she dies—that’s pretty clear, but I don’t have any issue with the ending. You show this character’s life unravelling, and I’m wondering if there could be a physical object that symbolizes that—her hat or scarf, for example, or is that too obvious? If you work on this further, slow it down, make it longer—there’s a whole life to account for here.

    “Promise” touches on the same theme—a tragic, beleagured existence, another sibling taking responsibility for younger kids—quite a topic for you, yes? Maybe there’s something here that you could work out of your system through your writing. Thre are nice details and moments in this story, too: “She leads me down to the end of the hallway, at the corner she takes a right and I follow in silence. It’s not the awkward kind of silence you see in movies or read about in books but I ‘m still grateful for the steady rhythm of the heart monitors hailing from some of the rooms for filling up the silence. Beep…beep…beep. It might be annoying to some but the consistency of the sound keeps my mind from wondering off and getting lost in my tangled thoughts, it’s the only thing keeping me rooted in reality right now.”

    At this point, I’m unsure wch two poems you intended to be in your portfolio (for wch you did get credit), but let me assure you that all your poems were creative, dark to the point of gothic, and textured in appealing/disturbing ways. I love how you began a few with “just trying this…” or something of that nature—keep experimenting! Keep writing! You’ve won the respect of your peers this semester and done wonderful work in the course, for wch I am only too happy to give you an A.

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