Re: My Writing This Term
19 April 1999
The last time I was asked by a teacher to write a review of how the course helped me to develop, the teacher failed to be objective in reading my review. Since the course was a performance course, my grade for the course was to be completely at her whim. Despite the fact that my peers felt her judgement was unfair, the Theatre Department stood behind her decision to fail me. The particulars of that case are not relevant.
Now I sit at my keyboard and ask myself, how do I complete this assignment with integrity? Do I squelch integrity in order to guarantee my forthcoming A (-- yes, as in arrogance)?
In many ways, this dilemia is similiar to the one with my Script, Text, Performance course. That course covered material I already covered elsewhere. I would not say the teacher's methods were not effective, but they were not as effective for me as exercises I had performed elsewhere. Hoping not to offend my instructor, but advise her to my own experience, rather than turn in ten pages on how the course helped me, I made the mistake of writing 50 pages on how to improve the course.
I don't have nearly so many pages worth of suggestions to make. And the biggest one you should probably expect since I told you on Day One what I needed in terms of feedback.
Should I say the positive now before you get too sick of the negative that you must know by now is foreshadowed? Or should I leave it till later so that I can end on an upnote? Or should I risk redundancy and repeat myself?
Were this a work of fiction, I'd probably make that a legitimate choice for you the reader; somehow this does not feel quite right for exposition. But let us make a positive note here. Though Twist-a-Plot and similiarly structured works are probably among my earliest enjoyed exposures to literature, it is not until this course for which I was inspired to write or work on one of my own. Although my Vacant Man project is currently at a standstill it is a project I hope eventually to resume. This course must be thanked for the impetus to begin that story.
On a down note, however, I never received much critical editorial feedback to improve or continue the story. Perhaps this is my own fault for handing it in single spaced. Still, I had hoped for constructive criticism that would rip my work to pieces. I could then take or leave the feedback in bits and pieces as I chose, but it would have given me eyes towards what needs improvement and how to improve it.
This course also inspired me to begin both The Elephant in the Brothel and The Emigrating Wall. But again the feedback I received was limited and rather than suggesting how I might overcome your natural bias against animated floors or walls, you seemed to recommend I should avoid them, which didn't really help since they were already integrated parts of already composed works.
On another upnote, I accomplished some poetry for this course. These poems would never have been written if it were not for this course. But as much as I hate those poems, I think there is something perversely delightful about those poems when I review them. Maybe it is just a sense of accomplishment mixed with pride over a few good lines. But I received little feedback on these poems and unlike my fiction I really am not inspired to do anything further with them.
As for this third portion where we have been concentrating on drama, the limitations of what I am taking out of the class are strictly my own "fault". I came in with work that I wished to complete and with personal deadlines. I did get some usefull feedback for Dr. Silverstein from the class (such as about abortions and the woman's sexual baptism of the doctor) and that information has been sent forward to my friend Mark Hilton who is running the Dope Nazi project for which that belongs. I don't recall reading any of my Transvestite Slain. I didn't get much critical feedback from my excerpts from Neptune to Babylon.
I think a part of my problem is that the course tries to cover three subjects, any one of which could easily have taken a term unto itself. Particularly with my fiction and drama, I would have found it more effective to turn in multiple drafts of the same work, receiving critical editorial feedback and then working in response to the feedback (This worked well for an expository writing course I took at Hunter University and again for a PlayWriting course I took here at Montclair).
So, in the end, what has this course done for me? It spured me to start three fiction works which I hope to return to, a number of poems that others might appreciate even as I fail to, and given me an opportunity to continue some dramatic works which I might not have had time for if some other course were on the roster for this time period. I hope that this is enough to give you a sense of worth as my instructor; it's more than some other professors have accomplished -- two of which have even proven more of a hinderence to my writing. Besides I'm stubborn and arrogant and hard to impress. Be happy that I am happy with this course and beg not for flattery that my misanthropic self is unprepared to give you.