random thoughts on teaching like a writer

Long and difficult week of teaching has me dead tired and wondering if I can return to manuscripts. Revisions of Monte Stories will have to wait until I can read through a mountain of student essays. And this week as I have been teaching I am more and more aware of this disconnect between teaching and writing. Maybe the amount of reading I must do which is such a chore that comes from teaching has me worrying and thinking about time taken from my own work to devote to others’ work. And it’s not because they are student essays and not the best reading material. I do try to shape the prompts to focus on my own interest–specifically literacy and literacy development. But these essays from my students are all communication I have decided. Not much expression. I’ve read the first paragraph of nearly all of them and I will get motivated and focus on them sometime before midnight on Sunday night. And even though I have given them all I got on form–anecdotes and exposition of information–I still believe they are mostly communication. And that’s what they should be. Right?

I get these ideas from Hugo and most writers I enjoy who write essays about writing. Specifically Hugo who speaks about poetry and poets. And I feel like I’ve been talking about Richard Hugo and his essay “The Triggering Town” all week–and Auden too. I don’t have my creative writing students read Hugo because we write essays and short stories instead of poems. I should though. I speak of him so often. I like to profess his thoughts on how a write should love the language of their work much more than the reader. I thought of this line from Hugo’s essay: “In Auden, no word is more his than yours.” I love that line. And I want that in my work though I don’t write poems but I feel the way with form–I love the stories I create more than anyone else. And Hugo gives the opposite example of the article in a newspaper or magazine–zero expression and mostly communication. And, again, even though I want my students to be passionate and I want my students to express moments from their lives I know they will prove thesis or claim of fact I call this first one rather than recreate. So maybe that is why teaching comp is difficult for a guy with an MFA. I don’t know. I might be wrong. Maybe they will learn to create feeling rather than just information. I do have them give scene to their claims of fact.

On another thought, I have some thoughts to return to Monte Stories. I got these from watching interviews with Ray Bradbury. He relates in one interview how he met the Illustrated Man and how he wrote Fahrenheit 451 in a library. Then he mentioned how he sat in the library and generated more to his manuscripts when the characters spoke to him–came to him and found him and he got wht they said down– and then I started thinking of Carlos and what Bruna might say to him–what they both might say to me. Of course they spoke to one another very little in real life. But in the manuscript I might have ideas for more answers to these characters. I came up with these:

Why do you drink?

Why did you let me go?

Why don’t you have nothing?

Why do you treat Lena so badly?

I hope I can get back to Carlos and back into Monte Stories soon so I can find these answers…

monte stories–another chapter breakdown

Still quite a bit of work left to do–need to get everything going in present tense. Later chapters make too many time shifts. Also I need to give more resolution to Pifanio and Carlos–perhaps we learn of Pifanio’s death–and the idea that Pifanio is Bruna’s father–how to deal with this mystery…also I have listed at least 4 chapters where I know I need more development. Specifically the section where Felipa haunts Lena and infant Bruna and Carlos in hospital after amputee surgery.

South Fork 1946–Intro of Carlos and his work. Intro of Tony and Jake as his younger coworkers; also Pifanio and his brother Eddie. Felipa is introduced as demanding younger wife.

Felipa–Felipa is introduced as youngest Vigil daughter and how she meets Carlos. She tells him a story on first date about her father’s strictness.

Pifanio–Intro of Pifanio and his father and family from 1870’s. Pifnaio breaks from family and meets his wife Delores.

Carlos and Felipa–Recount of first year or so of Carlos and Felipa’s marriage. Felipa resists Carlos and threatens to leave. Carlos takes care of her as she protests him and marriage.

Delores–Recount of Delores’ love before meeting Pifanio…

Pifanio and Felipa–Pifanio sleeps with Felipa and then regrets and agonizes over it because of respect for Carlos.

Pifanio’s Women–We learn of Pifanio’s many adulterous relationships. His wife Delores leaves and Pfianio chases after her to her Grandfather’s.

Carlos’ Breakdown at La Garita–Pifanio sends Carlos out of town for deliveries–the idea is so he can be with Felipa–and Carlos breaks down near church and has truckito and body and mental breakdown of sorts.

Felipa Pregnant–Felipa is pegnant and taking advice from visiting sister.

Carlos’ Unexplained Sighting–Carlos drinks more and more after pregnancy news and is picked up by police.

Carlos and the Sugar–Carlos’ drinking leads to diabetes and infected feet.

Felipa’s Pregnancy–Pregnant Felipa keeps Carlos awake yet he cares for her.

Carlos’ Foreclosure–Carlos goes to bank to deal with mortgage problems.

Carlos and Felipa’s Trip to the Market–Felipa and Carlos argue at market and Carlos meets old friend in parking lot.

Carlos and Juan Lee Drink in a Bar–Carlos has a drink with old friend and learns of Pifanio’s ways–hears story of Juan Lee in California.

Carlos Shoots at Pifanio–Carlos confronts Pifanio

Phone Call to Lena–After confronting PIfanio and losing work over it he calls Lena and promises child to oldest daughter, Lena.

The Daughter’s Trip Home–Lena rides to Monte after Bruna’s birth and Lena aggessively takes Bruna

Carlos Back in His Day–flashback to Carlos and his father pulling him from school in order to work.

Felipa Haunts Lena–Felipa takes trip to Huerfano County and checks up on Bruna; haunts and realizes Lena is older and better mother

Carlos Without Felipa–While Felipa is in city haunting Lena, Carlos is drinking and fading without Felipa–also his diabetes and infected feet and legs worsens.

Carlos’ Amputation–Felipa returns to find Carlos in hospital after double amputation surgery.

Carlos’ Wheeled Chair–Carlos comes to terms with loss of legs and is introduced to first wheel chair.

Lena’s Mother–flashback to the death of Lena’s mother and how Carlos gave her up to live with her Grandmother.

Carlos’ Spells–more flashback of young Lena and how drinking consumes Carlos

Lena Alone—Bruna is months old and Bruna must organize new home after boyfriend Jeri is not reliably present.

Lena Visits Felipa and Carlos—Bruna is 3 years old and Jeri returns with car and drives Lena to visit Carlos and Felipa who have moved to housing projects in Huerfano County after they lose house in San Luis Valley.

Bruna’s Home–Bruna fixes up home and Bruna is around ten or so.

Jeri’s Dream–Jeri argues with Lena and dreams of leaving to Denver in place of being Bruna’s father

Jeri’s Paintjob–purchases another car and foolishly paints it himself.

Jeri Brings Dogs–Jeri argues with Lena over many dogs he adopts for young Bruna

Jeri’s Girls–Jeri cheats on Lena and is attacked by Lena

Bruna’s Hell—Bruna is 12 years old and Jeri is gone; Lena parites with friends and Bruna is exposed to Lena’s work friends

Bruna’s Dilemma–Lena forces Bruna to find Jeri out at local bars and finally is forced to drive Jeri home at age of 16

Old Man Carlos and the Neighbors–Carlos around 70 or so in projects befriended by neighbors.

Felipa’s Letters–needs to be finished–Felipa writes to Bruna and Bruna types only one return letter

Carlos in Jail–Lena bails out Carlos after Felipa calls up and guilts her into it

Dental Visit–Lena takes Carlos to have teeth removed and have false teeth made

Carlos and Bruna Walk–Lena forces Bruna to spend timewith father and Bruna becomes more sympathetic to her father–Carlos implies he is not her father and ocnfused Bruna. Carlos Gone—-Carlos loses neihbor’s friendship and Felipa finds work and so Carlos has to wheel himself to local bars. Lena explains to Bruna about who her father is.

Carlos to Bed–Carlos again wanders through the park as Felipa moves to night shift. He finds way to Lena’s house and rests in his oldest daughter’s bed–he dies but i want to be subtle about it.

Bruna’s Boy–Jump ahead in time to Bruna coming to Lena’s with her son, Manito. Bruna is leaving Manito for Lena to raise…

ideas for new writing

In the middle of a free writing exercise with my students I jotted down some notes that occurred to me. I might have some ideas for a new writing project. I know I need to return to Monte Stories and revise and fill in the cracks with detail and embellish more of the relationships I suppose but I was pretty excited to know I have a new idea. The idea is to follow a sort of hypothetical story of John Relles’ life if he hadn’t died in the Huerfanos project. A son’s story about a lost father like in Diaz’ Drown. In that book the father is lost to New Jersey and in this story perhaps the father is lost to Colorado unemployment and then California and then Nevada. Mostly I want to follow him and Bruna as they look for work and family. Follow John Relles from hospital laundry room to fry cook and then on to California and his attempts at opening a business. I’ll cal them Relles Stories for now. Anyway, here’s the line I got down:

That night John Relles had the idea to escape from Colorado he had already been up past midnight for three hours spit shining his only shoes–his jungle boots and his Tio’s wing tips loafers.