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Let’s not get emotional!

Some final thoughts.

I’ll leave a box outside of my office for you to turn in your portfolio if you haven’t yet. If you haven’t turned in your portfolio yet but plan to please email me and communicate when you plan to do that.

For everyone else, I’ll be passing back portfolios in my office next Monday from 12-1pm. They will contain your portfolio grade, your participation grade, and your final overall grade in the class. If you don’t come pick them up then, I’ll leave them in a box in the english department office, LA133 until the end of finals week.

After that, I will place all unreturned portfolios in a trashcan and then set the trashcan on fire. Heaven, take note.

It’s been a real pleasure. Feel free to keep in touch. If you want, I’ll be your facebook friend once grades are in. I love facebook so much.




Here are a few final things to think about when assembling your portfolio for class. Remember that they are due on Friday, May 6th.

  • Table of contents

This is your organizational key. Tell me what’s in the portfolio and give me their page numbers. You should “paginate continuously.” That means once you’ve compiled your whole portfolio, go through and number the pages by hand. Don’t worry if your original stories are numbered or not but make sure the whole portfolio has numbers. You should do the table of contents last, to avoid heartbreak.

  • An introductory letter

This should be 1/2 to 1 page, double spaced. Just tell me about your writing process/experience in the class and how it’s changed, and tell me about the different revisions you did. This shouldn’t be hard.

  • Assignment #1 – Flash Fiction
  • Assignment #2 – Famous First lines / Immediate Action
  • Assignment #3 – Dialogue
  • Assignment #4 – Character
  • Final Story (10-20 pages. negotiable.)
For all of the stories, please include both the rough draft I commented on and your clean copy. Don’t add a lot of extra stuff. (I don’t need all of your workshop comments, for example.)
  • A one page analysis of one of the stories we read
I’m going to read these closely. Remember what I said in class: don’t summarize the story, I’ve read it. Be sure to include quotations from the text and what it means. Tell me what you’ve learned from the story in terms of writing. Your emotional reaction. Etc. This is one page (it can be a little longer but not shorter) double spaced.
A few Miscellany:
  • Feel free to include other things you’ve worked on. If you include too much stuff I can’t promise I’ll read it all, but I would be happy to look at anything you have.
  • Be selective. Don’t just throw everything in. This is more a problem in WRIT101 I suspect.
  • Everything in college is always double spaced always and forever unless otherwise specified
  • Don’t forget to number your portfolio
  • I like pictures, good presentation, attention to detail. This is the culmination of all the work you’ve done in class and I want you to produce something you can be proud of.
  • The Portfolio is worth 50% of your grade. You will get a grade in this class.
  • Grading is based on completeness and attention to detail. I’m interested in effort. You will get a letter grade on your portfolio.
  • Late portfolios will go down a letter grade on monday, another on tuesday, and by wednesday, you’re doomed, unless you arrange a deal with me beforehand.

Here are the two extra credit stories I told you about. The first is called “Quiet Please,” by Aimee Bender.  I will warn you it’s pretty dirty, but excellent. I just read it and liked it a lot.

The other is an excerpt from Jennifer Egan’s recently pulitzer prize winning novel The Visit From the Good Squad, and this story is called “Ask Me if I Care.” I’ve only read part of this one so far but it seems good as well.

If you are wanting to read something fun or to get “extra credit” I recommend you read one or both of these stories, and leave a thoughtful comment/analysis/critique of the work as a comment. Try to quote from the text and tell me something meaningful about the work and how it might relate to your own writing.

For Monday and Wednesday of next week:

I want to do in class conferences with you, so that means I’ll be pulling you up individually and talking to you about your portfolios. I’ll look at your work with you and answer any questions you have. So please, it’s important you bring your work with you to class and come prepared to talk about it.

People I plan to conference with on Monday are those of you who’s stories I’ve already returned. Everyone else will get their stories back Monday so it’s important you come to class to get it. If I’ve forgotten someone, assume you will also conference with me on monday. You are:

Breanna, Bill, Erika, Tori, Sofi, Stephanie, Mike, Angela… 

Everyone else will be on Wednesday, and then remember that the portfolios are due on Friday of next week.

We are almost done, friends.

Bullet in the Brain – Tobias Wolff

the link is a pdf file, it should download onto your computer. don’t be alarmed. If you have any problems with it, just do a google search for the story. It should be around on the web. read and absorb. think about storytelling.

Please do not forget also that we’re workshopping Breanna’s story.

Hello cherubs.

I lectured all the wrong people on attendance in class yesterday, so let me restate briefly here the importance of coming to class. Remember what I said when we met in the beginning: a writing class is like a club, or if you prefer a more bellicose example, a war. It’s all about the man in the mud next to you. The writing is fine. Everyone is turning in great stuff and I’m looking forward to reading your final portfolios and I know that they will be excellent. But workshopping is an equal component of the class and I don’t want to see people start to slack off on this. Recall the thing I said about mud.

For the next couple of weeks that we have left together, I want you to make a commitment to be in class when your fellow students are being workshopped. If you missed any of your group workshops last week, read the stories you missed and get written comments to both them and me by the end of next week.

And finally, in an unrelated gesture, here are the three, count them, three stories we’ll read and workshop as a class tomorrow. make sure you bring a copy for the author. You can write them written comments on the page. I don’t need to see a copy of these if you are in class. Have a great weekend!

Erika – Bottle and a Gun

Breanna – The Dissonant Sound

Bill – Same Difference

P.S. It is my birthday. I’m 29. timeless elegance.

Two new announcements:

1. When you comment on this story, please don’t forget to reference examples from the text. Direct quotations to support your argument, at least once, please.

2. Did I say rough drafts are due this Friday? Let’s change that to Monday and make them less rough, eh?


Apologies for not getting this post up sooner. I forgot to hit “publish” yesterday afternoon. Woops! Please read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, and think about plot, narration, foreshadowing, setting, and how all of those things contribute to the overall effect of this piece. I pulled these questions from this study guide I found online that you might enjoy looking through.

Respond in the comments by answering one of these questions. Be sure to cite specific examples from the text to back up your claims and write a good healthy paragraph on it. I’d like these responses to be excellent since this is likely the last published story we’ll read as a class.  Try to get these up by Wednesday before class, Friday at the latest, and make sure that you have read the story by wednesday and are ready to discuss it.

1. If the old woman had kept her mouth shut, not revealing that she recognized The Misfit, would Bailey, his mother, his wife, and the children be alive at the end of the story? Or did The Misfit intend to kill all the family members when he pulled up alongside their wrecked car? Keep in mind that he and his companions exited their car with guns.
2. Does The Misfit’s conversation with Bailey’s mother alter his viewpoints in any way?
3. The Misfit says he kills for pleasure. Does he also kill to get even for what he perceives as society’s unjust treatment of him?
4. Analyze the psyche of Bailey’s mother or The Misfit.

If on Friday, one of you lends me a hard copy of the first Harry Potter book, I promise I’ll read it over spring break.

If you look at the workshop schedule you’ll see I’m some sort of prophet or Devil or something. I already had a make-up day scheduled for next week, and so it stands to reason that all of those scheduled to workshop on Wednesday will shift to Friday. This is our last week of workshopping so let’s continue to be excellent. Keep giving me your typed responses in class, and in addition, look at the reading I have scheduled in lieu of class this Wednesday.

Week 3: (emailed by Friday, March 25th)

Monday, March 28th

Wednesday, March 30th – We will not meet for class on Wednesday. Here’s what I want you to do instead:

we’re going to take a brief vacation into the world of Hooorrroor. I’d like you to please read at least one of these three classic Edgar Allen Poe stories:

The Black Cat
The Tell Tale Heart
The Cask of the Amontillado

Then I want you to definitely read this Joyce Carol Oates story, which is a more modern horror tale.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

On Friday, bring me a half page workshop treatment of everything you’ve read.

Friday, April 1st

ENCR Deadline Poster Fall 2011 Here’s the flyer for submitting to higher level workshops for the fall semester. The deadline is this friday, March 25th. There are boxes in the english department. Truth, I’ve seen them. I think the conventional advice is to submit to all the classes you might potentially want to take. Cast a wide net, as they say. Please don’t hesitate to email me/come see me during office hours if you want any help with your submission.

If your name is not yet hyper, please email me your story. And I apologize if this will be the third time you’ve emailed it – life’s bananas, what can I say. use molly.laich (at) gmail (dot) com.

Monday, March 21st

Erika – The Contest

Kari – Silent Streets

Tess – Unexpected Lover

Wednesday, March 23rd

Brooke – First Strike You’re Out

Jonathan/Tyler – Home Alone Ten

Torie – My Shadow

Friday, March 25th

Sofi – Sex and the Pity

Hannah – Secondhand Sweaters

Madison – Muddy Footprints

Update: Emily’s story should be good to go. Reminder to everyone being workshopped in week 2: be sure to email me your stories by this friday afternoon so I can get them up and operational on the site.

Also, not to condone this sort of behavior, but if you’re having printer problems, please just make sure you email both me and the author your workshop comments. Remember that this class is sort of a hippy collective, or a war, if you prefer a more bellicose example. It’s not about the grade or the over arching politics of this mad world; it’s about the guy in the mud next to you.


Please bring with you printed copies of these stories with typed comments for both me and the author.  And please do let me know if you have any trouble opening/downloading these. If yours doesn’t work you are likely not the only one.

For Wednesday: