Creative Writing I

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Creative Writing I--EN 220

12:55-2:40 T, TH

LH 326

Winter 2004

Instructor: Dr. Paul Hedeen

Office Hours: 2:30-3pm, MWF;

11:00-12n, T TH or by appt.

Luther 334, x-8449;

e-mail: paul.hedeen.

Required Texts
Walking Light, Dunn, BOA; Americans’ Favorite Poems, Pinsky and Dietz, Norton.

Students should also have a durable portfolio (folder) to hold their work.

Course Objectives
C to provide in an academic setting the space needed for acquiring the skills of self-expression and formal mastery attending good creative writing;

C to write lyrical essays and poetry;

C to introduce students to the workshop experience (offering and acknowledging the constructive criticism of writing).
Course Outcomes
At the completion of this course students will
C be able to write lyrical essays and poems;

  • understand imaginative writing as a “rhetoric”;

C have experience and knowledge about literary writing generally;

C know how significant events and feelings in their own lives shape and are shaped by written expression.

Course Premises
The course proceeds from a number of premises (all debatable):
1. Creative writing (i.e. creativity) cannot be taught. Being truly creative is a "stretch" for most people. (In short, talent is inherent; however, few of us fully utilize our potential. This course is designed to help you develop “your” talent.)

2. Writing is actually "rewriting."

3. Significant writing proceeds from and toward significant issues. (Do not confuse “significant” with “somber.”)

4. Significant also is not a synonym for "true." Writers, like artists generally, are creators: shapers, producers of gorgeous constructions. Even "realism" is not reality.

5. A writer’s truth is not a scientist’s truth. Yet what emerges from well-crafted writing, structures our memories, perceptions, and sensations so compellingly that we are asked to rethink our experiences of the world. Generally, writers explore nonlinear connections.

5. Grammar is always an issue, as is every departure from the grammatical.

6. The creation of literature is actually the composition of a specialized discourse. The learning of this discourse (much like acquiring a foreign language) requires immersion in it. In short, this is also a reading and discussion course.

7. If talent (the latent ability and need) is the “given,” then immersion, practice, and honest-but-supportive feedback are our hope.

Since this course depends upon interaction, frequent absences (profound nonparticipation) will make it impossible to do well. Don't disappear! The model I want you to follow is of the “real” working writer, the person actively engaged with language, other writers, and readers. The romantic cliché of the alienated genius alone and misunderstood in his/her garret composing for posterity is, as you guessed, a destructive (to actual writing) lie–Emily Dickinson notwithstanding. Your voice is needed in this class, and you will be rewarded for providing it. Also, students are expected to have periodic conferences with the instructor. Inform the professor of all absences–in advance when possible. On the other hand, don’t come to class in the last stages of galloping pneumonia.
Each student will assemble a portfolio of five projects and their drafts: two lyrical essays and three poems–no more, no less. Unless otherwise approved, all the work should be original to this class and should be word-processed: 70%. (Each essay is 20%; each poem 10%.) Students should expect to do multiple drafts.

The final grade given each piece of work will be the average of content (significant ideas, imagery, tone) and style (mechanics, technique) grades and will be arrived at with the consultation of the writer.

Participation and exercises, this includes participating in the workshop format and reading your work to the group: 15%.

Because this course will make frequent use of the workshop format, all writing for this course is considered to be in the public domain. The class will be adamant in its preservation of the distinction between authors and narrators, poets and speakers.

Reading Journal: Each student must keep a journal of fifteen entries, 6 for essays, 9 for poems. An entry is a typed response to an out-of-class reading, that is, an essay or a poem not assigned for class discussion. Each entry should not exceed 200 words and should include a thematic (meaning) and formal (rhetorical strategy) analysis of what you have read: 15%.
Extensions granted only by prearrangement. A late portfolio cannot receive full credit.
Plagiarism means the attempt to pass off someone else's words or ideas as your own—in short, cheating. In this course, all use of someone else's words or ideas is to be avoided. I am interested in your creativity! Students who plagiarize a piece of writing will get an F for that assignment. In the event that a question arises as to the source of a piece of language, the student will be required to substantiate his or her authorship. Failure to do so will constitute presumptive evidence of guilt.
In all of your activities in EN 220, adhere to the letter

and spirit of the Student Honor Code.
Workshop etiquette (for beginners):
C Respect the space and the sounds: actually, it is both a privilege and a necessity "to hear" creative writing. Be a respectful audience: considerate, affirming, constructive. Be a practiced reader: rehearse your work.
C Don't take it personally: comments within the workshop, even though they are about our "babies," cannot be treated as if it were criticism about ourselves. All writers suffer a little. Rejection is the “cross we bear.” Criticism in this room is “tough love.”
C Doing unto others: every writer wants his/her work to be dealt with decisively (to the point) but with tact and sensitivity. Often, the workshop criticizes or praises immoderately, especially the former. Temper criticism with praise. Choose language that is accurate but sensitive. Believe as well as doubt. Be precise: point to places in the language that are successful or that are weak. Offer the kinds of commentary that you find most useful to receive. Even though we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism (to paraphrase Lincoln), our job in this class is “to grow.”
C Amazing grace: accept criticism graciously. It is offered with love of our common and complex endeavor, trying to perform a difficult task well. Shun defensiveness, for it is selfish and an impediment to growth.
C Be extravagant: spend your language "like there is no tomorrow" or like you wish you could spend money. Every writer must risk failure and then having failed, or only narrowly having succeeded, be willing to revise (to re/see) his or her work. Everything counts in this class. Revision points the writer toward his/her best. Avoid bringing first drafts to the workshop. Invest in advance.

Withdrawal Policy
If you choose to withdraw from this course, do not simply disappear. Withdraw formally according to College procedures.
Topics and Dates
A tentative schedule follows. Individual exercise assignments and due dates will be given at the beginning of each class.
Jan. 6—Course introduction.

8— The Lyrical Essay; readings TBA.


15—TBA; 2 journal entries due (essays).

20—Prewriting group work.

22—Readings TBA; prewriting; 2 journal entries due (essays).



Feb. 3—Conferences; 2 journal entries due (essays).



12—same; begin essay #2; essay #1 due.1


19— same; 3 journal entries due (poems).

24—Readings TBA; introduction to poetry.

26—Readings TBA; in-class poetry problem; 3 journal entries due (poems).

Mar. 2—Winter break.


9—Readings TBA; in-class poetry problem.

11—Readings TBA; in-class poetry problem.


18—same; essay #2 due.

23—same; 3 journal entries due (poems).



Apr. 1—same (no fooling!); first poems due.2



13—Portfolios due by 5pm, my mailbox; (NB: this is not the time listed in your planner.)

1 Essays begin to be due at this point. Each writer’s essay is due one full week following his/her workshop.

2 Poems begin to be due at this point. Each writer’s first poems are due one full week following his/her workshop.

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