A Tap on the Wing

“A book is like a man – clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun.”
– John Steinbeck

There comes a time when you realize that there will be weak points in your work, and there isn’t much you can do about it on your own. What do you do when this happens? Some writers turn to trusted friends, family members, former English teachers. Some writers turn to other writers to act as beta readers. Some writers join local writing groups.

As a graduate student, I have the rare opportunity to work with a published author this semester for graduate credit. I’m incredibly lucky, excited, and terrified about this opportunity to take an “advanced creative fiction” course.

And there’s a catch: I’m not allowed to write historical or romantic fiction. I’m also not allowed to work on a novel-length work, which was kind of my plan… to work on the sequel of Trentwood’s Orphan, Trentwood’s Heir. I can have a romantic theme, perhaps, but I’m expected to write literary short fiction.

So for the next couple of months, I’ll be writing about my experiences. Any advice that I learn from my professor, I’ll send it on to you. I will suggest that you all go and buy Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. It’s as good as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, though it does take a little dig at genre writing now and then.

So I modify my suggestion. If you’re open to learning about writing creative fiction, and enduring a dig now and then at genre fiction, pick up this book. You won’t regret it.

6 thoughts on “A Tap on the Wing

  1. I had a fiction class in college where I had to write literary fiction only. At the time, I hated that class because I felt like I didn’t know how to write anything but genre fiction. Now, I look back, and see how much that class pushed me as a writer, to look at characters and motivation and not just how to save the world.

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  2. I had a fiction class in college where I had to write literary fiction only. At the time, I hated that class because I felt like I didn’t know how to write anything but genre fiction. Now, I look back, and see how much that class pushed me as a writer, to look at characters and motivation and not just how to save the world.

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  3. That actually sounds really neat, Belinda. Back when I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree I took a 400-level course on literary nonfiction, and it made an incredible difference in my writing. (Only to recount that now to my genre-friends and see terror in their eyes, as if they think I’m suggesting that they branch out. Heh.) I hope this really strengthens you.

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  4. That actually sounds really neat, Belinda. Back when I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree I took a 400-level course on literary nonfiction, and it made an incredible difference in my writing. (Only to recount that now to my genre-friends and see terror in their eyes, as if they think I’m suggesting that they branch out. Heh.) I hope this really strengthens you.

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  5. Word Nerd – I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this class alters my writing. I’m always interested in craft, and reading new things. Should be fun!

    Eliza – It seems to me that the genre writers who utilize literary fiction/non-fiction methods are often very successful.

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  6. Word Nerd – I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this class alters my writing. I’m always interested in craft, and reading new things. Should be fun!

    Eliza – It seems to me that the genre writers who utilize literary fiction/non-fiction methods are often very successful.

    Like

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