Wrapping Up & the End Product

First off, I just read a bunch of posts and people’s comments on posts and it’s so nice seeing so much positivity on here. I’m already getting excited to be back at school [/lame].

So I’ve spoken briefly about the works that I read that I clung to emotionally and couldn’t get out of my head for 1-2 months, and I feel like now’s the time to start talking about the grueling process of writing.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love creative writing, I love telling stories, and I love making people laugh and generally feel things, but I’m not good at sitting down and making myself write things without having had some sort of epiphany first (or an assignment to finish). And for the most part, this is what I ended up forcing myself to do this summer, which I think is pretty important for me. I’d like more opportunities to force myself to write, really, and I think I’m going to make some of them for myself this year.

I mostly focused on four pieces this summer (one of them will remain unfinished indefinitely, though): two poems, and two prose pieces. I realised quickly that two prose pieces would take a while, since I took a semester to write my last one (props to Castleberry’s creative writing class). I’d like to talk about the unfinished story, though. I wanted it to be a sort of companion to Fitzgerald’s Diamond as Big as the Ritz, and it’s been floating around in my head since mid-June. I wanted to create the same image of absurd wealth that Fitzgerald created at the titular diamond/mansion/mountain, but I wanted the extravagance to be made up of something we all take for granted: water. I had all of these ideas of describing a mansion with a beautiful courtyard, and I wanted the reader to see mundane things like showers and water gun fights as a luxury. A sort of Tank Girl meets Fitzgerald. I’ve started writing, and I have this universe sitting in my mind and stewing, but I might wait for either a lazy day with a comp book or some impetus to get me started to keep going with that one.

The other prose piece I worked on is the one that sort of drew from several different writers. From Dashiell Hammett, I got crime. From Fitzgerald, I got my absolute and unending cynicism about American culture. I also feel like the amount of camp high school movies I’ve watched this summer have gotten me prepped to write a short story that focuses on a troubled woman, telling the story of her first love–who she may or may not have murdered. I’m extremely excited about this story, and I’m still polishing it up and worrying about how ambiguous to make the ending, but I think it’s turning out rather well.

I forced myself to sit down in a succession of appointments and their respective waiting rooms, and wrote in such a haphazard fashion that everyone around me probably thought my writing was actually the musings of a maniac (I was just getting into character). For me, at least, writing on the computer is a thousand times harder than just writing on a piece of paper with a pen.

I also wrote some poetry that I also feel reflects a lot on both ee cummings and Jean Toomer. My advisor told me that he can see a lot of Toomer’s influence in my writing, which I appreciate, given the man’s abilities. Both of the poems focus on teenage sexuality. One, “open questions” is really a found poem from silly junior high school rumours about your eyebrows being the same colour as your pubic hair and silly things like that, but when I was writing it, I did some reflecting on how weirdly sexualised my peers and I were when we were twelve or so. Gross.

The other poem was a bit of a pain to write. It was me trying to include as much rhyme and meter as I could bear to incorporate at 2 AM. I mean, there was definitely rhyme. It’s a weirdly personal poem about things that happened to me in high school, and I feel like no matter what perspective I look at it from, It feels a little weird.

I suppose that’s it for these posts, then. I really want to thank anyone who’s bothered reading this for fun or for profit or because we were assigned to comment on three blog posts or, you know, whatever reason.  I think I’ve gotten a fair amount of research done this summer and created things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to create. As for drawing conclusions, I think what I thought initially. Social issues, from 1918 to 2014, make for powerful and entertaining pieces of writing, and I’m super excited to share my writing with people this fall.


  1. skinniburgh says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I am so excited to hear more about this project this fall! The way you write about writers (especially that overview in your first post) is so compelling and honest, and I feel like — before reading any of your work or even many of these authors — I’ve learned a lot by reading these posts. I don’t know if you’ve visited http://iwl.me/ before, but it supposedly analyzes your writing and tells you what famous writer your sample resembles. It’s a neat idea, but I really admire that you took a step back to not only identify the themes and threads that shaped various 20th century American authors, but to incorporate them into your own writing yourself. (My creative writing is like H.P. Lovecraft’s, apparently, but does that really say anything about the themes and locations and images and emotions that I never get tired of exploring?)

    I think I find your research so compelling in part because I love how literature and social commentary and criticism can go together in any combination, how your poems and reflections are just as telling of how you processed the world as any reflection on the excess of the Jazz Age, and how many different types and weights of influences (whether life experiences or authors) on our writing style are out there. In short: I am very excited to hear more about your research and have tons of questions for you in person about your process and inspiration, so thank you for sharing!!

  2. This sounds like such a great project and I can’t wait to read all your writing. I really like the idea of intentionally incorporating an influence into something so personal as creative writing to see how it merges with/affects your style or your process. I’m interested to know whether you have similar experiences when you’re writing normally (whether you consciously acknowledge influences, etc.). I also really liked reading your first post and hearing about all the different authors you looked at–it was very interesting as a survey of that time period’s literary circles and I enjoyed hearing about new authors. I also appreciate that you did such a good job of explicating your creative process and talking so directly about your use of those influences. Sometime, I’d love to hear your talk more (although this isn’t necessarily directly related to your project) about conscious versus unconscious influence as a writer. Thanks for sharing all your amazing work!! You are the best.