Monday, March 4, 2013

Me and yo(u)ni:

Of all the schoolday feelings and memories, the one it seems I'll never outgrow is that thrilling sense of fresh, bright anticipation at the beginning of a new school year. I'm a dorky little nerd for admitting it, but one of the most exciting things about the new beginning was shopping for fresh school supplies. Brand new, whittled to a perfect point pencils. Notebooks fat with crisp unblemished paper. Erasers without grey smudges and the corners all worn off. Lunchboxes shiny, with no dings or revolting tattered name labels -- and all of it new, clean, and smelling good.

Don't judge me for this obsession; it is an inherited trait. My mother felt -- feels -- exactly the same way. And just as the feeling's never quite worn off for her, it's stayed with me, too. I can't help it. The start of school and the assortment of fresh supplies conjures up the same response as the first day of January, or the opening page of a blank journal. The possibilities! The newness!

I'm there again now at the beginning of semester 1, 2013. If all goes according to plan (and we all know that often it doesn't), I should be finishing my five years of tertiary education (I can't believe it's been that long) this time next year. It will be exciting to have it done, but I'm in no hurry because school still gives me that same giddy eight-year-old feeling. I'm taking the part-time route with my postgrad studies, doing two subjects a semester. I am subject-greedy and would love to do more, but if I put the recommended hours into each subject (again, how often does that happen?), then it's supposed to be a 24 to 30 hour a week investment, even with just two subjects. So I'd better stick with that, I think.

This semester, my classes are Critical & Creative Writing Through Literature and Contemporary Literature, both of which are fairly self-explanatory I think. The little pile of books there represents a handful of the set texts for these classes. There are more, but I am doling the buying out like a good little budgeting person. Mostly, I'm excited about them. I am frankly blah about the idea of reading The Turn of the Screw, since it's a ghost story/psychological mindmaze. But it's short, so I'll get it over and done with quickly, and I'll read carefully so I don't have to read it twice. I finished The Driver's Seat today, which left me with a disturbing but oddly mesmerising aftertaste. I can see why it was set as a text, but it definitely feels like the sort of thing I'd read only because Uni Made Me Do It. I am currently immersed in The Princess Bride, which is of course brilliant. I keep forgetting I am meant to actually be studying the book instead of just reading and laughing.

One of the assignments for the critical & creative writing class calls for students to do a 'textual intervention' on either The Princess Bride (yes) or The Turn of the Screw (no). Suggestions include (and I'm quoting here from the course in abridged form):
  1. Interviewing one or more minor characters from either novel, to gain their perspective on the events of the story.
  2. Explore how a changed setting would affect the narrative and style of the story—e.g. how would the fairy-tale elements of The Princess Bride work if set in Tasmania?
  3. Explore how changing characters would affect the story: imagine if in The Turn of the Screw, the governess was a male tutor, or the children were much older.
  4. Consider how you would transform a scene or two into a stage play. 
Isn't that the coolest essay prompt ever? I'm going to have fun with this one.

Enough about Danielle's Thrilling Postgrad Adventures. What about you? Whether formally or informally, what are you learning lately?

/nerd out.


  1. I too love new term merely for the sake of all the new writerly crafty stuff that comes out and appeals to my creative side.

    The Princess Bride in Tasmania would be interesting. (just got back from Tas) I vote using the Tasmazia Maze as the setting for the right hand/left hand sword fight scene. 8D

  2. :D nice post, Danielle! With what uni are you doing your post-grad studies? It sounds very intriguing - I have often considered the possibilities of what subject to study at uni. Do you feel that studying Creative Writing has aided you in your own novel writing?

  3. I was just about to write "Hey I did a unit called Critical and Creative Writing Through Literature in my degree - what a coincidence!" when I realised, hey, you're at MY uni so it's the same one! Pretty sure the assignments are cooler in the post grad version tho... :-) Enjoy!!
    PS. This post made me so jealous of your life and made me miss my uni days even more than I usually do.

  4. I am learning about slut-shaming (still), childbirth, praying 2 Corinthians 4:4, how to use a mac and different iPad apps, rejecting negative things in the spirit, renovating and how to decorate a church for a mother's day event.

  5. ...and I am equal parts delighted and depressed by your reading list. So much bias!

  6. The title of this post is my favourite.


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