Greetings from the waning days of residency, and the waning vestiges of my brain. Tomorrow is graduation and the final banquet. We’ve been through the typical stages of residency–first there’s the elation of coming, followed quickly by the abrupt reminder that you are in fact a raging introvert and don’t usually talk to this many people in a year, then settling in for the work ahead, then exhaustion, then raging paranoia and digestive issues. Now we’re getting ready to close up this wonderful shop for the summer–my roommate Claire already has her bags packed, which I’m pretty sure has something to do with me.
None of the faculty know how to use words anymore, but fortunately the students do. We had a couple great student lectures this morning. Chris Campbell talked about using fear in young adult fiction–what is your character afraid of? Will he be confronted with this thing immediately or is there anticipation? How does he delay confronting the thing he fears? Will he overcome his fear? It’s an intriguing way to think of character arcs. Then in “They Can Handle It,” Jamie Kaillo talked about some of the “rules” of YA writing–that it has to be a teen protagonist, that there can’t be too many plotlines, that it has to be under 300 pages, that it has to reflect the teen world. She urged us toward complexity in writing for teens, using The Book Thief and Octavian Nothing as examples. It’s interesting because these rules don’t really hold for fantasy. It’s a genre that demands complexity and asks a good deal from its readers. But the popularity of dystopian fiction has made fantasy more mainstream, so will the freer nature of the genre begin to infiltrate contemporary fiction or will fantasy become more rule-bound? And is me wondering this sort of thing aloud what drove Claire to pack her bags?
That’s the fear and complexity in the post’s title. I don’t really know what I mean by that last part. It sounds fancy. The sun streams in my window at 6am, so the metaphor doesn’t even make sense to me. Maybe I meant something about Batman.
It’s time to go to more lectures, and think about graduation and going home and anticipating when the cycle can start again. There’s a lot of elation, really. There’s a student who just started here who once approached me at a conference to ask me about Hamline. We were talking about this today and he said I told him, This program is the greatest thing I’ve ever been involved with in my life. This has nothing to do with anything, except sometimes our boss reads this blog.