Saturday, November 10, 2007

Magister Class

At the invitation of Crispinus, I came to his class to speak to the students about my novel Pelzmantel. It was my first experience of the kind; I've spoken about my writing on panels at conferences, but never in front of students (except incidentally in my creative writing classes). So it was a nice ego-boost, as well as a paying gig (thanks!). I have been so busy that I didn't really have time to think about it, so I didn't bother getting nervous until fairly close to class time.

Beforehand we discussed the aim of the session and the fact that the students were supposed to be running the show (yay!) which took the pressure off me. I would only jump in if they seemed to run out of things to say. It was strange to be in a classroom without some plan, but I knew the topics they had been running with -- myth and fiction -- so I had touchstones that I knew would be familiar.

The odd thing is that it all seems so long ago: I wrote the novel while working on my dissertation. It came out four years ago, so I was glad they didn't ask anything too specific. I tried to get at the balance of inspiration and planning that is part of most writing projects; there are always things you intend to do and things that surprise you, the happy accidents. One of the students asked if I would sign his book (of course!) while others were interested in the publishing process itself, including whether the author has input on the cover art (not usually) and how much editors change a manuscript once it has been accepted (it varies).

Afterward we went out to Sushi Thai with the Crispinus clan and Dan's peer mentor for the course, Julia. Great food and highly entertaining conversation made for a terrific evening. We even stopped off at Ben & Jerry's at Kaitlin's suggestion (or was that begging?). Much fun -- and next week Gene will talk to the same class about comics, although I'll miss it because I'll be teaching. Pity. It would be fun!

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