I'm rewriting my essays tonight, as I have been in the recent past. See, I have to present my portfolio tomorrow in "Memoirs and Creative Non-Fiction" class, and apparently I can only do any work at the last minute. What sucks is that I make straight A's: there is no negative reinforcer for my irresponsible behavior.
Yesterday I completed... well, I didn't name the essays originally. I always forgot a title when I hacked them out at the last minute, and also I'm terrible at titles. Look at the titles to these blog entries: unless I'm quoting something relevant, my titles are shite. But I'm challenging myself to name these things: The Lives of the Sea Monkeys is about a tank of Sea Monkeys I tried to raise, resulting in disaster. (Check out that title, huh? That was ten minutes of conjuration.) The second essay, Quos Deus Vult Perdere, is about the cultural impact of e-mail technology against my own fascination with pen-and-ink correspondence.
Now I'm up to the third assignment, my memoirs of South Korea. I had a working title too banal to mention here, I'll have to think of something else. This written work was the most interesting process for me: using my military service in Korea as the context, I was going to write about three women who worked the bars, compare and contrast them against each other and against myself. Then it turned out I had too much to say about the first one, so I eliminated the other two but expanded the scope of the memoir to include the politics of club life, the symbiotic relationship of sex slaves and the military overseas, and the governments that turned blind eyes to them. It needs some expansion, but only as far as the main girl is concerned: I need to write more about her, flesh her out somewhat, before I work up to the drama and climax.
That's the difference between this and all my other creative efforts: these essays are actually undergoing a rewrite. Usually I turn in a one-off, first draft, but I'm actually sitting down and reviewing the feedback and making alterations to the text. I think the difference is that I actually have some feedback to work with. Usually I can't coerce anyone to read my stuff with $200 and a loaded gun, but our little groups in class provide a captive audience that has to offer criticism. This is very helpful to me. In fact, when we're meeting in our groups, most authors listen to criticism and spend a lot of energy responding to it immediately, explaining themselves, justifying their choices. Not me: I sit there quietly and nod and ask for more. I absolutely do not explain myself. I go back home and consider the useful advice and disregard the inapplicable commentary.
But I'm writing! I'm writing now! A lot!