"My How You've Changed!"
The other day, someone mentioned that my newer work is much different than my previous work. Not much to say about that, other than "thank you," and "I hope so." I mean, heavenforbid all my books now and until the duration of my writing life wind up being inter-related, character-driven prose poem collections.
Really, to be honest, I get bored. I get bored of a particular style. I get bored of "doing what I'm doing." So I wind up doing something differently from project to project.
My students are so concerned about sounding like themselves. And that's okay. I was concerned about sounding like myself for such a long time. And then I changed. My interests changed. Stuff happened.
I like to think that the assignments and exercises that I give the students who take my workshop allow them to find their own "voices" on their own terms. Sometimes, though, there's just no telling. I get e-mails from concerned students who ask whether they're "doing the assignment right." This weird desire to "get it right" so often occludes the real progress that should be occurring in a workshop--experimentation, risk, discomfort . . . So often my students look for immediate praise. And sometimes I do praise them. And sometimes I tease them. Sometimes I shrug. Sometimes I scold. Mind you, I'm never mean and I don't intend any meanness. I just believe in being direct, but doing so in a tone that's effective for an individual. I think I'm pretty good at perceiving who can handle what type of response.
You know, if you include when I was an organic chemistry TA during my undergraduate days, I've been teaching at the college level for 16 years. Wow.
My Brightest Diamond. A song for my Sunday chill-out.