Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two From The Millions

The Millions is one of my favorite websites. (Can't believe it wasn't on my blogroll, an egregious omission that I have now rectified.) Here are two recent posts of theirs that I found particularly worthwhile:
  • The Story Problem: 10 Thoughts on Academia's Novel Crisis by Cathy Day. This article is about how America's MFA writing programs focus on crafting short stories and offer no guidance on crafting novels, and the problems that this causes both for aspiring writers and for the reading public. As I read it, I couldn't help thinking of the blog post I recently wrote about playwriting books, and the conversation that Tim struck up with me at Theater Pub after seeing my post. There is something similar in the deficiencies that exist in the teaching (in MFA programs) of fiction writing and the teaching (in how-to books) of playwriting. These methods do not necessarily produce the kind of writing that audiences/readers most want. They define things too narrowly (you must write a minimalist, realistic story of 8 to 16 pages! you must write a realistic play about a single protagonist struggling to achieve a single goal!) and force some writers into a box where they don't belong.
  • Beverly Cleary's Dispatches from the Golden West, by Lydia Kiesling. Kiesling's experience of reading Beverly Cleary's two memoirs--A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet--basically mirrors my own. These are great books to give a girl who has outgrown "Ramona Quimby" and wonders what life was like for an American girl/young woman in the 1920s and 1930s (these are real-life "American Girl" books, yo). I wrote about them briefly here. Like Cleary, I am a proud Oregon girl who moved to California as a young woman, and this article has me thinking that I should reread My Own Two Feet now that I am living in the Bay Area.

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