As the fall semester comes to a close, I reflect on how my first year in graduate school flew by and what I’ve learned as a writer and about myself.
First, updates! VONA (Voices of Our Nation) is the best workshop I had the pleasure of attending this past summer. I connected with wonderful writers of color and it rejuvenated me in ways I couldn’t even put into words. I now have another family that I will always be connected to until I die. It’s amazing, really.
Also, I will be a teaching assistant this spring for a professor I had the pleasure of visiting her class this past spring semester. She is the director of the Chican@-Latin@ Studies Program at my school and I’m going to be her TA! After VONA, I was inspired by my kinfolk and I have the drive to continue my studies further in Ethnic Studies, Latinx American Studies, or Chican@ Studies. I don’t know how I’ll make this work but with hard work, I’ve been able to achieve my goals so the “how” will be answered down the road.
Which brings me to my Aesthetic Manifesto. Last year, I wrote about having to write this assignment and email it to my instructor and classmates. Here’s what I came up with:
It’s taken a long time to figure out the kind of storyteller I wish to become. I’ve read the classics and the contemporaries. I’ve read poetry and graphic novels. I’ve even been inspired by art. I feel that the works of art (any genre or form) that has really resonated with me are laced with an underlying message or theme that involves gender, race/ethnicity, or how messed up the media can be.
My first novel is going to ooze me from head to toe and I relish that fact. There’ll be phrases, inflections, sayings, dialect (I enjoy writing dialogue a lot) that’ll come straight from my life although a fictional portrayal because the similarities to me and my characters will only be setting (my neighborhood), ethnicity, and gender. Everything else will be fabricated. So with that said, I’m actually talking about grief, guilt, alcoholism, infused with the nostalgia of my Brooklyn neighborhood as a background for all this shit going down for my protagonist.
As a storyteller, I want to be as authentic as I can be on the page without cheating, without trying so hard to be “writerly” or hyping up my characters and/or situations. I am striving for authenticity using all the conventions of narrative storytelling.
I read this now, a year later and realize that I’m still striving for authenticity and still on board with the themes for my work in progress. I feel very clear about the choices I’m making on the page and also, not as deterred by conflicting feedback. What’s constructive, I use, what isn’t, I discard. That’s become super easy now. What I still struggle with is time management. Full-time job and full-time school makes Rose a non-writing writer. On to making writing a priority in 2017!
What’s your Aesthetic Manifesto?