In Praise of Brevity: A Multi-Genre Workshop
In the best short-shorts the writer seems to have miraculously figured out a way to stage, in a very compressed space, his or her own metaphysic: Life feels like this. Or at least: Some aspect of life feels like this. In this workshop, we will work to unveil the visions of life in a page and a half or less. We will strive to create an explosion on every page, in every paragraph. When writing very short compositions, the writer has nowhere to hide. Critique can thus be much more effective. Through a series of 250-word assignments, we will explore the virtue of brevity, study key principles of literary composition and discover many gestures available to the contemporary writer. Our guiding text will be Life is Short – Art is Shorter (edited by David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman). Please read this book in its entirety (with writings by Jamaica Kincaid, Barry Lopez, Lydia Davis and James Tate, for example) as writing assignments will be prompted by the text. We will read aloud our work to each other and offer critique as we cultivate the art of brevity in our writing.
Please bring to workshop, five 250-word completed assignments (see writing assignment attachment) with copies for your classmates (number of copies announced two weeks prior to workshop start date).
David Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (NYT bestseller), Black Planet (finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award), and Other People (Knopf, 2017). James Franco’s film of I Think You’re Totally Wrong was also released in 2017. Shields’s work has been translated into two dozen languages.