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Blahety Blah Blah Fishcakes

I had class last night and was able to shake my apathy, although it’s hard when I’m essentially in an Intro To Fiction class with people who’ve never taken a writing workshop before, but I’m taking it for graduate credit.

We talked about theme last night, something I loathe to discuss. The concept of theme, I feel, is completely attributed to the reader. It’s such an English Majory thing that it makes my teeth itch. If a writer decides that they want to write something about desolation (which, by the way, is arguably the theme of the car salesman story I’m currently working on) and then sets about thinking up characters and a setting and a plot and whatnot, then they’re probably going to result in a lousy story. Above all else, there should be a story. If you have to think about the theme beforehand, then your story isn’t a very strong one. Which brought a discussion of how much you should reveal to the reader and how much you can demand from them and I just shake my head, not that I’m so much better of a writer, but I honestly don’t even think about such things. I never am conscious of how much I demand from my reader or how subtle I am. I just write. Just write. Just write. I just wanted to scream it to everyone. Just write, God damn it. Stop thinking and just write. But I should listen to my own advice. So I did, and wrote some more of my car salesman story, the end part that I’ve already got figured out inside my head, and felt lost in the loops and swirls of the black ink and irritated by the talking going on around me and reminded myself that yes, yes, I CAN do it again, at least one more time. At least for now.

And then we read “Hills Like White Elephants” by Hemingway (who is probably on my short list of Authors I Do Not Care For, however, if you want a demonstration of artful dialogue, that story is it). And someone thought that the man wanted the girl to get breast implants. Because that was all the rage in the 1930’s.

And then a boy (I wanted to use the term ‘guy’ here, but I doubt he is even shaving on a regular basis yet) stated that in the 30’s, women had no rights and she would have automatically caved to the man’s will, so that wasn’t realistic. Yes, little man, the personalities of women only turned on with the advent of the birth control pill. Until then we were just pretty little automatons with nice boobies for your pleasure. Can I get you a cigar and a brandy, my love?

Breast implants. Seriously. I think I saw my own brain with the furious rolling of my eyes.

I wonder at times why I’m even trying to do this whole graduate school thing, since I’d end up getting a job teaching little zygotes and explaining to them that Jonathon Swift wasn’t REALLY suggesting that the rich eat the Irish babies and no, Jane Austen did not totally copy Emma from the movie Clueless.

But in reality, I love words too much. I get slightly high during every class, thinking about what words can do and how impossible life would be without them. And even as much as talking about theme bothers the hell out of me, it reminds me how passionate I really am about the topic. And it’s hard to be apathetic when you’re telling a room of undergrads that if they bother to think about theme before they write a story, they’re just wasting their time.

I’m probably going to make a really awful lit professor.

But on the up note, it turned out that we didn’t have a story due last night, but in fact, next Tuesday. So I don’t have to cheat and turn in the freshly revised Baby Story (which has now been titled “Where She Went”), so I have a reprieve and am determined to finish my car salesman story. Mostly because I am in love with ending so much that it actually hurts. And that, I think, is why I have to write. Right there. Because I’m afraid of what might happen if I didn’t let them get out.