Bad Advice Wednesday: Call in Sick

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Every year I come in and guest teach in our big intro lecture class, CRW 201. But this year I was sick so I wrote this to Wendy Brenner, who is currently running the class:

Woke up still sweating. Better, but not great.

Doesn’t look like I can do it.

How about you ask a student to read this:

David Gessner really wanted to be here. He has grown to love talking to 201. This was not always the case. At first he thought there was no tougher audience in the world than 201. When he spoke he felt a little like Rodney Dangerfield (a comedian from long ago). {Note to reader of this page: when you speak of Rodney squirm uncomfortably and wiggle your tie, or where a tie would be if you had one}

One year David decided he was going to wow the 201 audience. He had just written about about following the osprey (better known to you as seahawk) migration. He had gone into Cuba illegally and into the jungles of Venezuela following the birds. He had great pictures and a power point presentation, which was cutting edge back then.

He threw his heart into his presentation. He felt good when he was done and continued to feel good until he walked out the door after class along with the students. There he overheard one gum-snapping girl say to another: “That was the most boring fucking hour of my whole fucking life.”

Disheartened but not defeated, Gessner vowed he would get his revenge. If they thought that was boring, they hadn’t seen anything yet. The next year he asked a film student to sneak into 201 and sit in the front row, filming the class. Then he did this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuNjEs8mdrA

 

Guest contributor: Bill Lundgren

Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “The Remedy For Love,” by Bill Roorbach

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Living in Maine or anywhere with a real winter, we’re all familiar with the hyperbolic ‘storm of the century’ and the panic that ensues as grocery store shelves are emptied, cars shuttled about, gas procured for the snowblower and emergency supplies (batteries, water etc.), restocked. And of course what usually follows is anticlimactic as the storm blows offshore or the storm track veers off to the west (or east or north or south).

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Bad Advice Wednesday: Do Something For Someone Else (from the archives)

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour

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How to get published, how to get an agent, how to be a better writer, these are all high on the list of common questions we get asked here at Bill and Dave’s.  Where there’s not a bit of desperation in the question there is often anger, and where the anger has faded there’s sometimes sadness, maybe a whiff of self-pity.  Or is that me, feeling all those things no matter where the writing takes me, often in equal measure with pleasure, even elation (but that comes most often in the making, sitting at my desk alone, lovely, soon to be dashed).  What I’m proposing today is forgetting about our own careers (or lack) and thinking about what we can do for others, what we can do to make the world a more hospitable place for art, and for artists, which is to say for writing and writers.  Doing for others may be your key to success, and is certainly the key to happiness.  Herewith, 30 suggestions for writers, and an invitation to suggest more.  Karma, anyone? Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: Don’t Forget Suspense

categories: Cocktail Hour

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            Back when they built the fence between literary and commercial fiction someone decided it was a good idea that Suspense should stay on the commercial side. Oh, an occasional stray would wander over into the literary hills, but for the most part we here in fancy town looked down our noses at creatures so craven, so obvious, so vulgar. You mean our readers are supposed to care about what happens next? But then how can they pause and admire our beautiful sentences?

 

These thoughts came to mind while I was laid up in bed with an infection over the last week. With my body ping-ponging between cold and hot, and my energy level barely allowing me to get to the bathroom, I watched a whole lot of TV. And I read. At first I tried to dip into the more language-oriented books that I’d assigned for a class, but after an attempt or two they remained on the shelf for the rest of the week. Instead I picked up Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, a book that someone had put on one of those top ten lists on Facebook (and a movie that I had seen small parts of about a thousand times). I am not ready to put the book on any lists of mine, and I found it far from perfect, but Jesus Christ there were sections of that book where I was close to ripping the next page off, so excited was I to find out what was going to happen (even though I kind of knew due to the movie.) As my health got a little better, I would sit down for sessions of almost a hundred pages. And then I would just stop to close my eyes for a while, hungry for more. It brought back memories of the marathon reading sessions I had as a teenager—gobbling down Lord of the Rings, science fiction, Kurt Vonnegut. It was fun.

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Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “A Rough-Shooting Dog,” by Charles Fergus

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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Charles Fergus

Complementing my love of books, I have always been drawn to the beauty of the natural world. It’s why I was a farmer and why following a springer spaniel filled with bird lust, shotgun in hand, makes me feel as alive as nearly anything I have ever experienced. Recently I came across a classic that combines these twin passions: A Rough-Shooting Dog: Reflections from Thick and Uncivil Sorts of Places by Charles Fergus. Fergus’ book transcends the limitations of the hunting genre: it is a memoir of a man and a bird dog’s education that qualifies as genuine literature. Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: Need a Job? Be a Writer First

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour

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Do not listen to this man…

Oh, I’ve seen such anguish on FB and elsewhere about the thin market in college jobs for writers.  More jobs will turn up, of course, and somewhere, right now, someone’s writing up a job description that sounds a lot like you.  But that September job list really is depressing. Then again, if you’ve set out to be a writer, why let the job statistics for teachers bother you?  Yes, you need a way to make money, but what difference does it make how you get there, if the whole point is to buy time to write? Continue reading →

Come See May-Lee Chai read on Thursday

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New Creative Writing Faculty Member May-lee Chai to Read at the University of North Carolina Wilmington September 25

WILMINGTON, N.C.— May-lee Chai, new faculty member in the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, will read at 7 p.m., Thursday, September 25 in Kenan Hall Room 1111.
May-lee Chai was born in Redlands, California the eldest daughter of an artistically gifted Irish American mother and Shanghai born political scientist father. She is the author of the novels Tiger Girl, Dragon Chica and My Lucky Face, the memoirs Hapa Girl and The Girl from Purple Mountain, coauthored with Winburg Chai, the nonfiction book China A to Z and Glamorous Asians: Short Stories & Essays. In addition to her books, she has published numerous short stories in journals, magazines and anthologies as well as essays and journalism.
She majored in French and Chinese Studies from Grinnell College in Iowa. May-lee received her M.A. in East Asian Studies from Yale University. She also completed a second Master’s in English-Creative Writing from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has studied at universities in France, China, and Taiwan, and likes to study new languages. She has also taught at various universities, including San Francisco State University, the University of Wyoming, and Amherst College in Massachusetts.

All events are free and open to the public. Receptions sponsored by the department and book signings sponsored by Pomegranate Books will follow readings.

For further information on UNCW’s programs and events in creative writing, please contact the Department of Creative Writing at 910.962.7063.