Negotiating the Personal in Creative Writing
Author: Carl Vandermeulen
This book describes an alternative way to teach Creative Writing, one that replaces the silent writer taking criticism and advice from the teacher-led workshop with an active writer who reflects upon and publically questions the work-in-progress in order to solicit response, from a writers' group as well as from the teacher. Both accompany the writer, first as readers and fellow writers, only later as critics. Because writers ask, they listen, and dialogues with responders become an inner dialogue that guides later writing and revision. But when teachers accompany writers, teaching CW becomes even more a negotiation of the personal because this teacher who is listener and mentor is also a model for some students of the writer and even the person they would like to become - and still the Authority who gives the grades.
Negotiating the Personal in Creative Writing is a brave and far-reaching addition to the New Writing Viewpoints series. Carl Vandermeulen tackles some of the stickiest issues in creative writing pedagogy, including grading, the position of the self, and how sometimes the best of plans goes awry. Negotiating the Personal in Creative Writing thoughtfully posits who we think we are, what works in our undergraduate classrooms, and what we must reconsider. This book contains a wealth of honest experiences and useful ideas, from effective workshop questions to the three writing selves to writers' groups to solitude, research, and memorization.
Anna Leahy, editor of Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom
Carl Vandermeulen's Negotiating the Personal in Creative Writing is a sensible, useful synthesis of the last decade's meditations on how to teach creative writing. He offers real advice for teaching reflection, response, critique and mentorship, drawing on the collective expertise of many creative writing teachers. Any teacher of creative writing will recognize themselves in this book; any good teacher of creative writing will find something new to try in their own classrooms, and good reasons for doing so.
Robert E. Brooke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA
Throughout the chapters, Vandermeulen draws on published literature as well as the reflections of the teacher–respondents of his own research, and quotations from both types of sources are sprinkled liberally throughout the book and well-integrated with his overall discussion. This makes for an enjoyable journey through a book which is both original and strongly linked to theory and practice of creative writing pedagogy, and which promotes the idea that a good writing course is "a community in which provocative perspectives and dialogues about writing become internalized, developing in students a reflective capability that equips them to sustain a writing life" (p. 65, emphasis in original).
Carl Vandermeulen is a generalist whose teaching has included journalism, photography, publication design, literature, teacher education, composition, rhetoric, and creative writing. Similarly, his writing ranged from Photography for Student Publications to studies of literature, rhetoric, communications, and teaching. He did not plan to write a book on creative writing pedagogy, but after he was caught off-guard by a poetry class that he had expected to go well, he had to understand why the opposite occurred. That research led to an article, and then to a survey of 150 CW teachers and interviews with dozens of respondents that provided much of the material for this book.
Introduction: Negotiating the Personal and Interpersonal
1: Considering Where We're Coming From
2: The Workshop: "More or Less Unfortunate Misunderstandings"
3: Reflection and the Dialogic Self
4: Response in Writers' Groups
5: Teacher Response to Student Writing
6: Negotiating Authority as Teachers, Models, Mentors
7: Problems and Crises in Relationships
8: Resolving Dilemmas of Grading
9: Constructing the Practice and Identity of Writer