• Alternative Approaches to Creative Writing: book in progress

    Alternative Approaches to Creative Writing:  a writer’s journeyOr, perhaps Alternative Text for Creative Writers: a university instructor’s curriculum, or perhaps any number of titles I’ve conjured.  For several years I’ve been asking the question what colorful writer has written a book about writing.  Recently I discovered Black Lightning:  poetry-in-Progress, edited by Eileen Tabios, an excellent anthology containing interviews of Asian American writers of poetry and working drafts of their poems.  My publisher was willing to, with permission, republish the now out-of-print anthology, but it would have been a tremendous undertaking in terms of practicality; instead, he said “write the book.”

    Anyone who knows me knows that anyone that says I can do something knows I am going to say, “But I can’t.” Self-deprecation.  “What do I know?”  But I clung to the idea. Recently I read Tiger Writing, by Gish Jen, but, even though I’m an academic, I felt I had to work too hard to make use of it.  I wanted a book about the craft of writing that was accessible, yet dispelled various myths of what it takes to be a creative writer, that could also be used as a classroom text book.

    Now that I’ve put it out into the world that I am going to write this book myself (though I hold my breath patiently knowing David Mura is working on a creative writing text that I know will make me weep with joy), a friend said that Jewel Parker Rhodes (Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons For Black Authors  and The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction and Walter Mosley, Black writers, have also written books about writing and their books are now on my wish list!   But, there’s room for many more creative writing texts, especially by writers of color and any writers who just might have “alternative” views about writing.

    I told my publisher “I can’t” until I decided one day that I could, inspired by thoughtful questions participants in the 2015-2016 Loft Mentorship Series asked me about my writing, that despite my initial hesitation and self-talk (what do I know, even about my own writing)I was able to answer with astounding confidence and credibility.  I told Victor, maybe I do know something.  He said, “It’s about time you acknowledge it. Write the book.”

    Afterword:  it’s been three months since my publisher, Victor Volkman, Modern History Press, said, “write it.”  For three months I’ve been mulling over a book title and chapter titles, and have written nothing.  But, as 2015 came to a close, a friend and former student and I discussed the book she’d been re-visioning for a number of years.  Our discussion motivated me to write what might be the last chapter, or not, in this book which for now will continue to be aka (also known as).  My friend, who actually named one of my earlier books, suggested The Problem with Convenience-which I love, and with a more specific subtitle just might work.

    To end this too lengthy introduction, my publisher and I agreed that posting chapters, as I write them, on my much too ignored, blog, http://blog.sherryquanlee.com, would be worthwhile.  In this regard, know that the chapters are drafts (grammar and punctuation are not necessarily skills honed by me and will take time to perfect).  But, eventually, my copyrighted posts will transform into a publishable book.  (By the way, I got this idea from a former student who has been blogging every day for several years and her blog posts became chapbooks published by Red Bird Chapbooks-http://pearl-whyyoulittle.blogspot.com/.  I’m a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, and acknowledge that I learn from my students, and I’m motivated by them.)

    ©Sherry Quan Lee, January 9, 2016