A Writing Journal

What was previously my blog – full of news, likes and commentary – should now, I think, become a writing journal, a document more closely related to the craft of writing. The individual posts might be daily reflections on writing, or, more likely, periodic summaries, but I would not be surprised if there is occasion for unrelated news, likes and commentary.

Today – this being Saturday, October 19, 2013 – I reflect on the week just passing. I am in the middle of fall semester at the University of Arizona, taking classes in literature and the craft of writing. I am forty years old and it seems like I finally know how to go to school. I completed two midterms this week without my mid-semester collapse that often shattered past attempts at an undergraduate education. Not to say that this semester has been easy, but the difference is probably a shift in emphasis: the point of my effort is to benefit my writing, rather than to receive a degree. After eight weeks my excitement remains and my writing has improved. I think this is working.

In ENGL 373A, “Survey of British Literature from Beowulf to 1660,” we have arrived at the strange world of England in the sixteenth century. One has only to read the introduction to the ninth edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume B: The Sixteenth Century  and The Early Seventeenth Century to put today’s world and its issues into perspective. The threads that tie the Old World to modern America are prominent stitches to be explored reverently with fingers, before picking and pulling to untie them. Why, I’m asking myself this afternoon, are there still pockets of this awful place even today? Is William Gibson’s famous quote “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed” a tenet of history? Maybe the chasm between the best world and the worst world grows wider over time, even as all worlds move forward. In our time, technology spreads rapidly to where even the worst poverty lies, but it has also already reached places where archaic notions of how women and children, for example, should be treated still exist. Are we a globalized world, and better off, or are we a hall of mirrors, reflecting in each pane the either our happiest dreams or our most frightening nightmares?

This is my education now, where reading about literature makes me question the impact of technology, and the horrors of the past frame exquisite accomplishments in writing (my favorite so far is Doctor Faustus, the play written by Christopher Marlowe.)

I’m forty years old and maybe I finally know how to learn.

Meanwhile, I write: journal entries (welcome!), essays and literary analysis for class, and fiction. Yesterday in ENGL 304, “Intermediate Fiction Writing,” the class critiqued my latest short story, “Horrible Daughter”. The critiques were generally favorable and the suggestions I received will indeed make for a better work. That my story cleaved the class in half according to their sympathies to certain characters demonstrates, I think, the story’s relevance.

I am, in summary, where I want to be. I hope, if you are reading this journal entry, you find it interesting.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.