In January, I started taking classes to finally finish my undergrad studies. ( I need 14 English classes for a degree in: English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. I'm not making up that title, that's actually what they call the degree.)
The two classes I'm taking now --Creative Writing, and the hilariously titled Creative Reading, are open only to writing majors. So there's a lot of insecurity and aspiration floating around. My first day at school I sat behind a couple who were vaguely flirting with each other by talking about what kind of writing they want to do. After a few minutes of this, the guy said, "Yeah, I'll probably end up writing technical manuals." Then they laughed. Hey, wait a minute!
I have more school stories, but they're mostly stuff it isn't cool to write about on a blog. Okay, I'll just tell one: a guy in my workshop group asked if, instead of writing original work, he could just write Batman fanfic. This would be less funny if he weren't majoring in writing.
Anyway, these days I'm reading a lot of depressing poetry, going to see even worse plays -- (why must actors always shout at the audience? can't there be adequate microphones?) -- and suffering from severe culture shock (guys who skateboard to class telling me I would love The Bad Plus and office ladies treating me with the condescension usually reserved for nineteen year olds). I'll be lucky if I finish a short story this semester, what with all the "essays on technique" and "urgent social poems" I'm required to write.
Since the last class I took here a million years ago was honors physics, I'm pretty freaked out by the "no instruction, let's just solicit your uninformed opinion" style of teaching. A teacher last week actually said, and I quote, "I could teach you from a textbook. But that would be boring." Then he assigned us to write (not research, not learn) a definition for the term "prose poem." I cheated. I figured I'd just let Robert Hass do that assignment for me as part of his poet laureate duties.