I’m working on putting words to what, exactly, I’m working on. For me, answering the question suggests that I have a neatly bundled collection of interests and projects. It also implies a degree of imagined self-importance—one that, as of yet, makes me quite uncomfortable. I suppose you could say I’m working on that.
I write fiction. I’m working on writing stories that work; stories that begin with a glowing moment—a blind child laughing at his sister’s funeral, or a glowing object—a miniature beach populated with Barbies, and create a specific utterance. I wish my stories were connected by an ambitious theme, but they’re not. They’re connected in the same way the stuff of the quotidian is connected—which is to say, not at all—and completely. They’re all written in first person perspective, but this is not on purpose—rather, first person narration allows me to more easily inhabit a character’s mind. It’s a crutch. I’m working on shifting perspective.
I work in the Writing Center. I’m working to be a better consultant, and eventually, an effective teacher. Reading/writing, and by extension, the instructors who taught it, saved my life. I owe it to the field, and to the writers I work with, to do the best I can. I live for moments of connection—and that is what writing center consulting offers every day. It’s magical. I’m working on unpacking that into a coherent teaching philosophy—one that I can apply, next year, in my own classroom.
I’m working toward being a decent human being. Last week in my creative writing workshop we talked about the ability of writing—specifically fiction writing—to increase empathy in its readers. I’d like to give a description that sounds—better—in some way, about my current project. More focused. I’d like to sound as though I know what I’m doing. More than anything, though, I’m interested in positively participating. Right now this means not only reading, but striving to write stories that do the work of fiction. It means connecting.
Karley Miller is a first-year student in the MA program.