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Neil Gaiman

Before I decided to discuss Key West, even before I knew what I was doing blogging in the first place, I spoke of Neil Gaiman.  I used one of his microfiction pieces in a class I offered; the notes for it can be found below, in 2008.

In any event, I have followed Neil Gaiman for years.  He is an imaginative author, but that’s easy to say about any author, really.  We’re a breed, writers, and imagination is one of our key tools.  Imagination and revision, the top two.  Neil Gaiman’s short stories rise and fall like tides, his novels draw you in, and his poems…well, his poems are auditory and visceral all at once.

But don’t just believe me.  Here, listen to the man himself.  He is reading his poem, “Instructions.”

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Tomorrow, 3/13/08, I will lead the ENG 306/406 (intermediate and advanced creative writing) workshops.  This is less work than it sounds; the classes meet at the same time and in the same room.

I’ve given the students one reading and one writing assignment: they must come to class having done both.

Reading:

Behind the Short Story: from First to Final Draft.  Ryan G. Van Cleave and Todd James Pierce, editors.  Section 8: The Short-Short Story, pages 289-296.

Writing:

One 500-word short story.  No specific prompt (I asked the class if they wanted one, they decided they didn’t), but the goal is to be as complete as possible.

Class Outline:

On the board, I am going to write the following piece of microfiction:

Nicholas was…

older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter.  He wanted to die.

The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.

Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night.  During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves’ invisible gifts by its bedside.  The children slept, frozen in time.

He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas.  His punishment was harsher.

Ho.

Ho.

Ho.

(Neil Gaiman, published in his collection Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions)
(more…)

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