I learned last year how difficult it is to keep track of a variety of materials. In each 2.5 hour workshop, we discuss student manuscripts, reading materials required by the instructors, we also work on writing assignments featuring various topics covered by the theme. Following the workshop and lunch, we have a lecture from a visiting speaker, followed by readings from the speaker or instructors in the evening. Between these, student oral dissertation presentations occur. Last year, I attended both prose and poetry reviews and found them very helpful. I think it helps the student to have an audience because it shows we think their writing is valuable. It is also a good way to learn respect for your peers because the reading they do and questions they answer have been rehearsed, revised, formulated into a paper, and then feeds back to instructors who prompt the student to answer questions about their work, their process, areas of difficulty and growth, and long term development. It makes it clear from the start that there is a lot of work to do before reaching the point where a student can graduate.
So, to organize, I've got my calendar and my husband's calendar synchronized--we know where we have time off to be spent together or alone, and when there are readings and music that he might find of interest. I know where I need to be and what I need to do to prepare. I have files of material on my PC, but need to print a few things out. I will need to read and prepare my thoughts yet.
This year, my reading is light, two essays required by Steven Harvey, and five essays required by Robert Root, and three student packets for each week, for a total of 90 pages. I've begun to explore some of the writing of the guest speakers during the residency so that I will have an idea of their style beforehand.
What is happening with my work? Well, it's mostly on hold with the memoir for a few more days, at least in terms of writing. I have been working on identifying what each chapter's main ideas are and main emotions I held and how they were altered over time, by writing brief descriptions.
I've been working on the edits to some complicated poems I wrote last semester. An example, I wrote one five stanza poem, where each stanza was thirty lines or longer. These I trimmed back to have a consistent twelve line stanza, although two of the stanzas was broken into two twelve line stanzas for a total of seven stanzas. I offered connections between the stanzas using image and language. I also worked at fixing some of the holes identified during the manuscript review offered by my class mates and by Ruth Schwartz, last semester's mentor in poetry since I signed on to a multi-genre MFA program. The poem was written about a place in Nicaragua and I found since my travels have mostly been to Central and South America, that they were somewhat connected.
So I decided to try my hand at translating them into Spanish using my course materials from my class in Spanish at UCLA, an English Spanish Dictionary, and the Spanish Dictionary online SpanishDict.com from Curiosity Media. Doing the translation was actually a good practice for me because I had to find verbs that worked in both languages and I had to be more precise about the nouns I used and the tenses. In doing the translation, I tried working it out myself, then used SpanishDict.com to see how they translated the same lines. It was easier to pick up some of the words from the later because of the accent characters used in Spanish, but sometimes they offered alternative verbs, got rid of the pronouns to appear more commanding or active or offered a different connective. It's interesting work but very time consuming. It took me three days to revise and translate the seven twelve line stanzas. I've started a second poem. I do confess it may be avoidance of facing some of the tougher emotions in three of my poems I have still to revise. I've also sorted through my newer work, looking for category types and evaluating whether some could work together as chapbooks and came to the conclusion that several of my poems might work for the emotional statement about each chapter, the immediate reaction at the time that I felt.
My husband and I are working at fixing my second novel, once more checking for any errors that might have found their way into the manuscript--Bob spent three days revising, I spent one reading and noting any changes, then Bob put those in and gave me a copy.