Getting schooled: Robert Olen Butler’s boot camp

So because insanity is my middle name (well, not really …) I’m taking a writing class. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Have you ever not taken a writing class?

Sadly, the truth is, I’m either taking a writing class or thinking about taking a writing class.

This particular class is based on Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction. Not only does the class come with reading and writing assignments, but a quiz! Each week! Dude. I had no idea.

So, I’m going to blog a bit about it here. You’re riveted, I know.

The first chapter is Boot Camp and it starts with this quote from Akira Kurosawa:

To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.

Quick! Look over there!

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Why is this chapter called Boot Camp? I think it’s for the following:

…. the great likelihood is that all of the fiction you’ve written is mortally flawed in terms of the essentials of process.

We’re not even off the first page yet.

What I have to say to you will indict virtually everything you’ve written.

Page two.

Are we having fun yet? Boot camp? Oh, yes. We’ve just tripped down the bus steps and met our drill sergeant. Next up, the YouTube of me deleting all the writing on my hard drive.

Actually, what Butler is driving at is the idea that we don’t write with our head. The story should come not from the mind, but from where you dream, from your unconscious.

This is great news for those of us who never felt quite smart enough to write in the first place.

Anyway, we’re just getting started with Mr. Butler. Next up: I over analyze stream-of-consciousness.


Filed under Getting Schooled, Writing

4 responses to “Getting schooled: Robert Olen Butler’s boot camp

  1. Oh man, this sounds harsh! But then I have to remind myself that you signed up to jump out of planes, too. Looking forward to hearing more of your adventures.

  2. Amy

    Do you drink? You might want to start… 🙂

    Here, have a bottle of wine (or six)…

  3. I’m thinking… um… yep — You’re out of your mind.


  4. There’s a cynical part of me, though, that wonders if many writing books contain these kinds of statements just to prove how much more they know than you do. It reminds me of my portfolio showings to get into the BFA programs that I wanted for college – the nastier folks got about my work, the more I was sure they had to teach me.

    I wasn’t always right.

    I’d love to hear how it goes, though.

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