Friday, September 02, 2005

Ho hum Friday

I'm talking to my writing students on Monday about theme. I have found one of the things missing from undergrad writing student work is any real sense of what their stories are about, and a corresponding inability to tie everything together. Now, admittedly, a lot of that stuff will come together in rewrites (if they every get to that point). But the point needs to be made.

They have three scripts I assigned them to read (some of you may remember me soliciting advice on which scripts to use back in April, I think (lazy alert: I'm not going to go look up the post right now). We already talked about theme in class, and now they're supposed to tell me in class what the theme of each script is, and they're supposed to back it up with evidence from the script (characters, plots, dialogue, etc.)

So my prep for this class session is to review the scripts and do the same thing myself. But I'm just struggling today and not feeling like doing it. So I've done a little bit to spur discussion, but I'm relying (naively, I imagine) that some of them will be prepared enough to really discuss this.

That's probably a stupid thing to do. But, whatever. I am getting much better at winging it in class when it comes to creative material.

Plus, I'm supposed to meet with the editor of the film to review some more scenes today, and my mind is on that (I always get uptight, in part because he's a student and there's some inexperience at play there, but also in part because the footage only works if I shot it well. So ultimately, if it isn't working, it's all on me).

In other news: I submitted my application to the department chair today for a summer sabbatical. She had advised me not to submit this year because, she said, she was told they're not looking to give them to 2nd year faculty right now. But, upon some other advice, I decided to go ahead and apply. I'm basically asking to be paid while I work on a new screenplay this summer (instead of teaching, which is far from guaranteed because of low enrollment these days). It only took me a few hours to put together the application.

I have no idea what my chances are. Creative work isn't too well understood or esteemed in academia, so I don't imagine they'll feel they need to pay me to do it. People tend to think creative writing is without pressure. And while I used to be able to write in any circumstance, lately I've found that it's very difficult to concentrate on a work with constant interruptions. Having three kids makes this hard at home. At school, my creative energy is constantly diverted to classes, students, and other tasks. So I really could use the sabbatical to work on this. And an extra 20% of my regular salary would be nice for the summer. As things stand now, summer pay is the only way I seem to be able to save any money.


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