All posts tagged: Languages

A Few Adjustments

Image: Molly Montgomery Last week in my writing workshop, my fiction professor drew a triangle on a whiteboard, which she sectioned off into levels, to represent a pyramid. On the bottom level, she wrote: clarity, meaning and sense. On the next level up, she placed character, dialogue, and setting, then further up, point of view and voice. She explained each level in turn, topping off the pyramid with symbol and theme. Often, she told us, novice writers find their intended message for the story and write from the top down, but that’s not how good storytelling works. You need to construct the story from the bottom up, and let the complexity of symbolism and thematic motifs develop organically from the foundations of your language, your characters, and your plot. Perhaps this seems like an obvious statement, but for me, it was a new way of thinking about writing. Writing has always been instinctive to me. In college, I took creative writing workshops and I thought about the craft of writing, but in those courses we …

The Writer of Color’s Agenda & How to Champion Your Otherness

You will get accepted into an MFA program. You might get accepted into several MFA programs. You have spent a lot of money on applications. It’s time you decide how to make this transition possible. With no money, so much is possible in the sphere of dreams. But you’re a writer of color. It has taken you so much effort to get here. You’re in debt. You’ve spent weeks, months, or years explaining to people in your community why you’ve decided to pursue this route. You have translated what an MFA means into Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Mandarin, Bengali, Arabic, Somali, Yoruba, and Private Language. The future will often appear bleak, like a crow that has to dream before it can fly. How many synonyms can you come up with to describe race politics, linguistic diversity, heteronormativity, public aid, or “I, too, have the right to be here”? You will either own a car or take public transportation. On the bus, you might learn more about yourself than if you spend that much time in …