Monday, October 15, 2007

one word

I was hunting for PhD programs to apply to for next fall (way too many prepositions there) and stopped by Stephen Tuttle's office for the AWP guide to creative writing programs. When I returned it, Tuttle and I chatted for a minute about my plans and his suggestions and then he asked me a question I've gotten a lot lately: "What do you write about?"

How do you answer that? Especially when you feel like you're all over the map? (I'm not, I know, but seriously? Seriously. And only Meghan would laugh at that and she's not here.)

Tuttle sensed my confusion (not that that was difficult) and prompted, "Just give me a word. This is a question you'll need to be able to answer."

I stammered out something foolish, felt foolish, and begged my way out of his office. I don't feel foolish any more, just curious. Should a writer be able to sum up their work with one word? Is there one word for what I write about? Because it's not all disappointment or silence or relationships or modern art or spiders. What I've come up with so far is "tension." It's what's prompting my newer work, so I'm going to go with that next time someone asks me. And then there will be a new question: What the hell does that mean?

10 comments:

oh! resolution said...
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Renaissance Girl said...
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Renaissance Girl said...

fiction people. (eyeroll.) what hacks.

mlh said...

Yes they should, yes there is and the word is "yes."

ambrosia ananas said...

I like your answer. A lot. Tension indicates the possibility of basically everything that matters.

Th. said...

.

Brilliant. I need to pick a word.

Amanda said...

Ooh, mlh, I agree with you. Yes. It's the last word of a brilliant book (yes I said yes I will Yes.) by Joyce and the subject of a great poem (love is a place...) by ee cummings, among other things.

oh! resolution said...
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Mr. Fob said...

Shoulders.

lady jane said...

what a question!! although, certainly a nice heads up. i probably would have barfed on the spot or something.

 

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