Residency day 2

And now things begin to really happen. The first agenda item was a meeting of people interested in working on Tampa Review Online, a bit disorganized in terms of planning etc., but I signed on to be a reader for fiction.

Thence to the first workshop, about which I will say nothing (what happens in workshop stays in workshop).

I had lunch at a table which was otherwise faculty, adding Nick Flynn to my list of people I’ve met who have been interviewed on Fresh Air. He enjoyed the opening paragraph of “Girls” that Josip Novakovich asked that I read.

After lunch was the first of the genre workshops, although this was less a workshop than a seminar/lecture to my mind. I’m curious to see how the faculty who will be leading the second workshop handle things and how it compares. There were a few interesting readings offered, most notably some excerpts from Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau which seems a book worth having.

At one point Mikhail Iossel said that authors repeat themselves. I almost offered up Exley and An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England as an example, but there was no opening. Probably for the best as I happened to look around the room and made eye contact with Brock Clarke.

This was followed by a seminar from Nick Flynn, entitled emotional rescue. This was the first moment that I really felt like I was learning something about improving my writing. The key takeaway here was to watch for certain red flags in our writing: exposition, abstractions and direct statements of emotion.

The evening’s reading was all Nick Flynn (again). He read selections from his memoirs and poetry, accompanied by a slideshow of semi-abstract imagery which is a nice way to add visual interest to what is otherwise a visually static experience.

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