Local revision and the final exam

Late next week we’ll move toward revision at the sentence level, but for now consider the Micro-edit Diagnostic Checklist from Susan Bell’s The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself.

Our final is inspired by the last few pages of Heather Sellers’ The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students. Sellers describes artist’s statements as “an extended piece of nonfiction where the writer explores process, inspiration, and artistic progress.” What she has in mind sounds similar to the “State of the Draft” emails you’ve sent me during the semester. Sellers usefully provides a series of questions to act as prompts. I’ve selectively quoted and altered the order of these questions:

  1. What’s the most important thing you have learned?
  2. What do you wish you had learned that you didn’t?
  3. What do you want to say about your work?
  4. What would you write if you had the time and talent to write anything?
  5. What have you learned about your writing habits?
  6. Do you see yourself as part of a writing community? Do you prefer to work in isolation, focusing on the work, and reading?
  7. What’s the most important thing you learned about getting and giving feedback about work in progress?
  8. What techniques, authors, or exercises have been most useful to you?
  9. What insights have you gained into the practice and art of creative writing?
  10. What authors do you want to read now (has that changed)? Do you have writer role models?
  11. Have your goals as a writer changed?

To this list I’ll add,

  1. List three tentative future goals (for either your draft, your writing more generally, your next project or each of these).
  2. What moment of revision are you most proud of? Why?

For our final, write a self-reflective artist’s statement. It should be influenced by four or five of the most interesting questions  above. While you might imply the questions, you don’t have to quote them directly. However, feel free to quote any of your work this semester. Think of yourself as joining the long tradition of excellent writing about writing.  No more than four double-spaced pages should be enough. Be sure to  submit your final electronically by the end of the 3420/4420 assigned  final exam period.

I’m looking forward to reading these. If you have any questions, please contact me.

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