As I prepare for my thesis defense, I’m going back through my materials from the classes I took at UAF. In particular, I’m reading through my binder from Forms of Fiction, taught by the amazing David Crouse.
David assigned a writing project during this course that I particularly loved. We each had to write a resistance manifesto. In writing, you’re defined not only by the writing styles and ideals that you embrace, but also by those that you reject.
I took Forms of Fiction in the spring of my first year as a graduate student. The first semester of grad school is hell. It’s wonderful in many ways, too. But it is an overwhelming load of coursework, learning to teach, and trying to write. The first semester breaks you down and makes you realize that you’re going to have to work at writing if you really want to write well.
Then after that first stretch, you begin to rebuild your writing self.
This exercise was very cathartic at that stage of my writing development, but I believe it can be useful anytime you’re feeling lost in the crowd of writers. Define who you are, and who you are not as a writer, and keep steering by that star.
I do not want to have my work described as “good writing.” Fuck that.
I do not want to be any part of literary snobbery that denies entrance to form or genre.
I will not pass through the charnel houses just to be published.
I will not camouflage myself in the gristle and shards of “good writing” to earn any position or award.
I resist the urge to retreat into the safe arms of academia and forgo the world of the real.
I resist the urge to forget my childhood, the Southern strangeness that is part of my story.
I defy the division of images and text.
I support the proliferation of writing through public forms. I will write and share my writing through unfamiliar means.
Saddle-stiched. Hand threaded spine. A copy machine mage.
I will share my life with my family and friends through zines full of images and words.
I will write as well as I can, changing the lens until I get the correct prescription.
I will structure these lenses in thick black frames and blue striped socks.
I am not writing for an editor. I am not writing for a magazine.
I am not writing to be entombed in a print quarterly.
I am writing to be found on a bus seat, a chance library sale find, on a table in a cafe.
I am writing for the girl in the closet who speaks to her sister through the walls while her parents rage outside.
I am writing for the boy with long hair who lives in a house full of doors that are always closed.