Week 3: Let the Games Begin...

Monday, September 6, 2010

...Not the Hunger Games--that was last week.  I'm still obsessing at least once a day over the series' ending and my newest literary crush, Peeta Mellark, but the games I'm referring to in the title are currently far more terrifying to me.  Comps.

I've been putting off studying for them for far too long, and now I'm running out of time. This week I finalized my exam dates and submitted my final lists and justification, so now it's all too real. In a little more than two months I'm going to sit down and write those three exams, and I've never felt less prepared for anything.

This is my fault, of course. I spent my long, glorious, unencumbered summer writing fiction and reading YA and contemporary novels--not reading all that dreary travel writing and literary theory. And now I'm going to pay for it. Although there are a few journal deadlines and contests coming up that I may submit to, for the most part I've got to give up creative writing for the semester and focus on these exams. Just the thought of reading all these books makes me want to stick forks in my eyes, so I've come up with a few things that made reading last week just a little more...bearable.

1)  My newest musical crush, Ezra Koenig, and the fabulous music of Vampire Weekend. Their latest album, Contra, has been on constant rotation on my laptop and iPod this past week, mostly because I love Koenig's voice and their music is so upbeat I can't be unhappy (nor do I feel inclined to stick forks in my eyes) when I'm listening to it. Music is a big part of my creative process, whether I'm writing, decorating, or editing photos, and songs like the one below can make even my worst day seem just a little bit brighter.

2)  New Media.  Arcade Fire.  And Arcade Fire’s use of new media to create an interactive version of the music video.  This is the future, people!  Seriously, when Victoria shared this link on Facebook, I was MIND.  BLOWN. If Vampire Weekend makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, Arcade Fire makes me feel nostalgic and introspective. And this new video for their song "We Used to Wait" is seriously the most creative and inspirational thing I've seen in a long time.  I love mixing artistic mediums, and it really makes we wish I knew more about graphic art and computers.  If you haven't experienced this video yet, you must click on the above link immediately. Note: You have to have Google Chrome to watch it. (Which you should have anyway because Chrome is totes awesome.)  

My postcard to my younger self.

3)  My awesome support system.  I got to spend the weekend with those I love the most, including T and my family and my lovely cousins Britt and Jess, which is always refreshing.  I got absolutely no work done during the past three days, but it was good just to get away for awhile and recharge my batteries.  Oh, and eat yummy seafood in Destin and a fabulous steak at Meritage Cafe in Columbus, which everyone in the Columbus/Auburn/Opelika area should visit immediately.  

4)  Blogging writers.  Even if I'm not allowing myself to work on The Novel right now, that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it all. the. time.  And a lot of what I'm thinking about is revision, even though I'm not finished with the first draft.  This is partly due to my terrible love/hate relationship (mostly hate) with outlines.  Sarah Frances Hardy and Katie Anderson have been running a series of posts on outlines this past week on their blog, and they have been tremendously helpful. If there's anyone out there writing a novel and struggling with outlines, I strongly suggest you check them out.

5)  Creative students.  This past week my literature students had to submit something I call the Encheiridion project (stolen from a similar project I did in undergrad)--a handbook on how to live a "good life" in the style of the Tao Te Ching, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, and Epictetus's The Encheiridion.  The handbook was supposed to be grounded in philosophy and written for a 21st-century audience using 21st-century means.  I was amazed by how intelligent, creative, and original the results were. Along with scrolls, fortune cookies (freshly baked!), Facebook posts, handmade books, PowerPoints, a scrapbook, and a craigslist forum, several of my students made blogs or websites, and I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites:  Living Life.  Simply, Roadmap to a Successful Life, and For the Love of a Break.


Monita B. September 7, 2010 at 5:54 PM  

Two questions: 1) what's the name of the song performed in the video you've embedded (I really like it! Did I miss the title somewhere here?) and 2) how did you get a video on your blog?! Please show me!

Lacy, you know you will get through this whole comps thing. It seems insurmountable now--and then you're going to pass them and move on with your life! I just know it. :-) I'm so glad you have awesome students too! Yay!

Lacy Marschalk September 7, 2010 at 6:10 PM  

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Mo! I know I'll finish, one way or another, but it is going to be a loooooong semester until then.

The song is called "Run." I can burn you a copy of Contra and their debut CD if you want. They are kind of all over the place--some of their music is straight indie rock, sometimes they have a real reggae vibe going, other times it's more folksy. But pretty much all of their music is upbeat and just makes you feel good.

I downloaded the video from YouTube to my computer, then uploaded it from there. Apparently when you add a video it has to be one from your comp, not just one from a web address.

Tawnysha Greene September 8, 2010 at 10:10 AM  

Good luck on your comps! I can totally relate, because I'm studying for mine as well....and it really does take away from writing time.

You will pass with flying colors and then, that will all be behind you!

American Puzzle September 13, 2010 at 9:17 PM  

Lacy, you will get through this phase and pass no problem, I'm sure. Your committee wouldn't let you take these tests if they weren't sure you could pass them. Be confident, woman! :)

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