Free Range Writer

That’s in my notes from my Advanced Novel Class this afternoon in Iowa City.

That, and that creative writing cannot really be taught. What can be taught is how to read your own work more critically.

And, that a good novel is like a continuing vivid dream.

I do love coming to Iowa City.

Poems displayed on a kiosk in downtown Iowa

Poems displayed on a kiosk in downtown Iowa

Shortly after I arrived, I felt like I was in over my head, only I didn’t feel bad. Maybe it was a feeling of being immersed like how it felt to be baptized.

Vonnegut quote: part of the literary walk

Vonnegut quote: part of the literary walk

My grandmother came running to me (funny, I never realized that she came running to me after I was baptized, but she did) to say that when she was young that they got baptized in the river in the spring when it was cold and no one ever caught pneumonia.

I was baptized in a steel tank filled with warm water. Above the tank was a painting of a meadow. The congregation sat in the pews vieiwing the baptism through a glassless window. The curtains were opened, I walked down into the baptismal where the minister waited in wading boots (I wore a white robe), I clasped my hands as if in prayer, and the minister held my back and covered my nose and tango dipped me into the water.

The fountain at the Ped Mall

The fountain at the Ped Mall

I came up dripping wet.

That was a big deal. Baptists got dunked. Catholics got sprinkled.

I was eleven.

The water was nice and warm. I knew that I had gone through some kind of rite of passage – though probably not the one my grandmother had.

Baptism by writing. That’s what this is. Immersing myself.

I’m not sure where the free range novelist reference came from. Josh Emmons, the teacher said the words ranging freely and free ranging novelist came to mind. No artificial hormones, No antibiotics. Just the authentic pursuit of getting the story and the words just right and then putting them in the order just right.

I do like being in Iowa City.DSCN0039

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