Monday, February 18, 2013

On Presentations

For the class I'm taking, we have to write a research paper and present it the last week of the semester in a mini-conference.  No problem, except for the presentation part of it and the thing where extra faculty will be there to give us a verbal critique on the spot.  Yikes.

In my former job, I did plenty of presentations, often to hostile audiences, on the software I developed that would change the way they did their jobs (hence the hostility).  It's not that hard to take a verbal thrashing from people when you're slightly overpaid. 

But I'm not getting paid for this.  Quite the opposite. 

Here's the tricky thing:  if we are in the creative writing track (I am), we have the option of doing an 'annotated creative reading.'  What is that?  Apparently, we are to give the context leading up to the part of the work we are reading, read the excerpt, then follow with context (like what happens next).  

That's not that huge of a problem for me - I've read my work in public.  Once I cried.  Once I made the room laugh out loud.  Note to self to read something funny and not sad.  Very uncool to cry in class.

Many other students in class are equally terrified of reading in public.  At least I'm not alone.  I have the added benefit of being old enough to be their mom - I think age toughens us up a bit and gives us perspective.  I delivered a baby that was more than 10 pounds - nothing can really be more difficult than that, can it?  I've had a thyroid biopsy where a doctor warned me to hold my neck very still while he poked it repeatedly as if he were doing liposuction for thirty seconds and repeated it three times.  I'm due for another.  This little conference is nothing compared to that. 

One thing about the project I don't exactly get is how to do an annotated bibliography (or a bibliography at all) for creative writing - except for historical fiction, that I get completely.  I'm on my first draft of my first historical fiction piece, and I'm not ready to share it quite yet.  Plus, it's really dark and has the potential to make me cry - definitely a no for my first college reading.

If I pick something else, like my last novel, I don't see where the research element plays in.  My characters are generally mentally ill to one degree or another - maybe I'm supposed to research that sort of thing or the color and shape of the anti-depressant my MC takes or the details on the bottle of liquor she turns to when she decides to stop taking her meds.   Do I write an entry for my trip to the liquor store?

In addition to the bibliography, we have to turn in an abstract.   I'm guessing this will translate into a synopsis for creative writing, which is probably a good thing to practice doing.  Odd and sort of awkward to be graded on it.

*If you have experience writing annotated bibliographies for creative writing, please feel free to clue me in.  I'll even let you do a guest post if you want.*

I do intend to ask the professor if my assumptions are correct, but we don't have class until Saturday, where I have to present something else.  And in one week after that, we have to commit to our topic for our research paper/creative reading.

I feel compelled to take the easier route and just write a research paper on some aspect of the research I'm doing for my historical novel.  It would be much like writing here but with a stack of books next to my laptop instead of whatever random thoughts pop into my head.  I think I could write a paper today on stereotypes of Appalachians with a literature spin since, well, it's an English class and not a History class.

But I didn't sign up for this class to write a paper.  I didn't do it to get an A.  I did it to improve my fiction.

So I will suck it up and go for it.  I think I'll read the chapter where we learn my main character has stopped taking her meds at the same time her mother-in-law is ranting about what a 'dopehead' she is to anyone that will listen. 

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BTW, I am profoundly behind on my schoolwork and have a précis to write that I wanted to have done this past Saturday.  I'm kind of screwed.  I'm going to only post on Mondays for a while.  I'll check out your posts during the week as best I can.   Must remind myself I love literary theory:  I love literary theory.  I love literary theory.  I love it.  I love it....

32 comments:

  1. Just Mondays sound good.
    I'd be nervous speaking in front of the class, especially with additional people there to critique me. I'm sure you'll do much better.

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    1. Four of us in the class discussed the presentation issue - I actually have to present something different this Saturday. They all described the same thing I feel - as soon as our voices start quivering, our faces turn red, then we can't breathe, so it's harder to read, then it escalates from there. Good to know a good part of the class feels the same way.

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  2. You poor thing. I wished I could help. Its been ages since I've done and annotated yadi-yada-yada. Don't you have one of those AP and MA style manuals, It should tell you.

    And for reading out loud, you can do it. I know you can.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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    1. I do have an MLA book. I get the technical/formatting aspect. I'm just not sure of the purpose or the content for creative writing.

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  3. I hope the class does help improve your writing. Good luck!

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  4. I've never given birth, but yes, I think there are things that can be quite challenging in life. But if life doesn't challenge us, then we don't learn to appreciate the successes we have.

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    1. A little adversity does help to put things in perspective.

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  5. Just reading about the on-the-spot critique made my stomach do flip-flops. I'm terrified of public speaking and know I am totally irrational about it, but I seem to get worse about it the older I get.

    Good luck with your presentation, I'm sure you'll be great. :)

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  6. Public speaking can be the stuff of nightmares. But it's all part of an author's journey. I'm sure you'll do great!

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  7. An annotated bibliography for a piece of creative writing? That does make me scratch my head. Unless the professor wants a list of every website I visited, every map I looked at, every dictionary reference I looked up. Honestly, who makes a bibliography for a work of fiction unless (as you said) it's historical -- or maybe science fiction and you're documenting the science. Good luck!

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    1. I'm not sure if it's just because we have to complete the exercise of writing one as a requirement for the class and she's letting us modify it to work for creative writing or if this is something we'll have to do for the creative writing classes. I'm definitely going to ask.

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  8. Yeah, advice for presenting is easy... practice practice practice. But the bibliography for a creative work baffles me, too. I mean YES... the history... but are you supposed to be using references for writing techniques or something? I think the primary reference I use when writing is google maps and the name generators to get at various ethnicities or meanings...

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    1. Sometimes too much practice makes it worse for me. It builds the anxiety. I asked one of the other kids (yes, kids) in class who had taken workshops - she acted as if it was a normal thing to do. Maybe because it's academic they want us to take it a step further to justify getting an MA just for making shit up?

      I thought the final project, the alternative to the thesis, was a whole novel. It's only a part - like 20 or 25K words. Can it be that easy?

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  9. For the thesis project for my MFA we have to do a bibliography, but it says to follow the format for agent solicitation. I wonder if for fiction it's just a detailed synopsis. Although, I have a contemp romance on submission right now and one editor did contact me to see what research I had done.

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  10. Public speaking is the number one fear of most people. And I do see bibliographies at the backs of the historical fiction novels I read. I think it's just a way of supporting the research that's presented in the novel. And for further reading by people interested in the subject matter. I have on occasion looked up a book in the bibliography to learn more.

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    1. That makes sense, but they are asking for it even if you're writing non-historical fiction or even poetry. I dunno....

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  11. I don't mind speaking in public either, that doesn't mean that I do it well, but I don't mind. And a 10 pound baby, I would think you could wear that as t-shirt proudly. I mean, guys have those t-shirts that say '300 pound bench press club' and stuff like that. So, sure, I say make a t-shirt.

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    1. I definitely deserve a prize for that one. I'm barely over 5 foot tall. The only woman I know that had a bigger baby is a giant - almost 6 foot tall. My baby was fully cooked and could suck down a bottle and slept great. Maybe that was the prize. :)

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  12. Good luck! If you can deliver a ten pound baby, I believe you CAN do anything.

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  13. I got over my public speaking jitter for the most part. All those summer nights talking to people in the dark helped a lot and I practiced reading at library open mics for awhile.

    I loved my lit classes in college. I was really into the ancient stuff.

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    1. I think it will get better for me too.

      If I thought the world was going to end, I would absolutely reread me some Milton - I love Paradise Lost. :)

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  14. I would die on the spot if I had to speak in public. I had a 10 pound baby too and would rather deliver 10 more than to speak in public! Good luck, I'm sure you will do fine :)

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  15. I love that you're not taking the easier route. All the very best.

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  16. Good for you on taking the rougher road. And dang, I wouldn't know how to go about doing an annotated bibliography for creative writing either! What'dja find out about that? I'm super curious to know.

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