As some of you may know, I am attending the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles. There, I’ve had many opportunities to work with well-established writers. When reviewing published work by the faculty, I was especially impressed with what I read of The Sleep Gardenby Jim Krusoe. It was thus a pleasant surprise when I learned he would be conducting my second residency’s workshop.
That workshop was wonderfully educational for me. The advice I received on physical descriptions and pacing were especially valuable. Today, I hope to bring some of that same value to you by interviewing Jim Krusoe about his work and his perspective on the craft. Thank you, Jim, for agreeing to this interview. Now, let’s begin.
Rob: For those unacquainted with your work, how would you describe yourself? What style and thematic qualities would you say define your body of work?
Jim Krusoe: I call my fiction meta-realism, which means nothing to anybody but me. But what I mean is the world of my fiction is a real world that also includes the unlikely, delusions, and dreams. My intent is to explore and challenge conventional boundaries: between life and death, dream and waking, past and present, artifice and natural, desire and limitation, good and bad, comic and tragic.
Rob: I’ll start by touching on a few items you mentioned at the December workshop. You mentioned that, for a recent novel, you entirely changed the point of view after your initial draft. Can you tell me more about that and how you feel POV impacts the story?
Some contend that writer’s block isn’t “real.” Often, I’m sure these people intend to say that writer’s block is self-imposed or all in your head. Both of these things are true, but that doesn’t mean that writer’s block is in any way less actual or problematic. In this entry, we’ll explore where writer’s block happens in the brain so we can develop strategies for combating it.
In previous entries, we explored two key ideas that are relevant here. First, that creative writing takes place in one’s neo-mammalian brain. And second, that the creative element of the process is distinct from the analytical process. To begin our discussion of where writer’s block comes from, allow me to introduce a third key idea: It is possible to get “locked out” of our neo-mammalian brain and our lateral thinking process.
To start our discussion, I will discuss how each of these “lock outs” can happen.
The following exercise comes to you courtesy of Rob Carney, an astounding poet and a professor at Utah Valley University. When Carney’s class was recommended to me, it came with one of the strangest testimonials I’ve heard. To paraphrase, my friend told me that when they took the course, they didn’t feel like they were learning at all. Rather — thanks to the exercises and assignments given in class — they were simply playing with language throughout the semester. It was only after the semester concluded that they realized how much this form of play had improved their effectiveness with the craft.
So, without further introduction, I bring you an exercise from that course (posted here with permission of the original author).
APRIL MAD LIBS
(Have enough fun that you can’t wait to share the resulting draft.)
1.Begin with “April isn’t the cruelest month. That would be [pick one of the other 11],
Rogue One sure was a movie. I don’t mean to call it terrible — or even bad. In fact, there was a lot about it I enjoyed. However, I also felt its story was problematic in a number of ways. As an exercise in narrative structure and story troubleshooting, I’m going to walk through a “script doctor” exercise for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
One of the greatest struggles for any would-be writer is finding the time, space, and — most importantly — motivation to actually write. To be sure, figuring out how to produce creative work consistently has been one of my own challenges. Over the years, I’ve come to a number of effective solutions.
In this article I’m going to make use of two pieces of my experience: what my studies of motivational psychology have taught me in relation to goal-setting and what’s worked well for me thus far. And with a current output of about 20 pages — or 5000 words — per week, things are certainly going well by my standards.
So, as you set your writing resolutions for 2017 and beyond, here is my advice.
About a year ago, the Creative Writing Guild went on hiatus. Now, at long last, I have the opportunity to end that hiatus and reactivate the site. For casual visitors, that’s all you need to know: There will be fresh content posted to the site regularly starting at the beginning of 2017.
For those who have been paying attention for a long time, who are interested in the inner workings, or who are otherwise curious about what’s been going on and what is to come … the rest of this post is for you.