Friday, December 2, 2011

Close Reading

I know that this is the way that I should’ve been reading through my whole MFA program.  But who want to read with pen in hand making notes like “POV switch here with lack of descriptors.”  Yuck.

The reason I’m a writer is because I’m a reader.  As a kid, it was the only thing I consistently loved.  And loved more than anything else in the world.

I now have all sorts of other things that take my time and attention, but I still can’t get to sleep unless I read at least a page.  Reading is still the way that I settle down my confused or unhappy mind, it’s still the way I anchor myself.

So right now, as I’m in the middle of this massive thesis struggle, reading is what’s keeping me together.  But strangely enough, it’s that horrible “close reading” that’s helping more than anything else.

This year I’m working with Jo-ann Mapson, a writing hero, and a writer’s dream for a thesis year MFA mentor.  After reading all the existing pages of my book she recommended that I read Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea.  I picked up a copy in September and immediately ate it up.  I’ve now re-read it twice since then, pen in hand, trying to suss out how Rhys accomplishes her tone, how she switches between narrators, time, and scene without a hint of hesitation.

How does she get to the clear-clean core of her story without losing all of its mystery and beauty?

I want some of her magic to rub off on me.

Weirdly, it actually feels like it is.  I’ve written new pages in the last week and I already like them better than anything else I’ve written in months.

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