It never fails. I could spend months preparing for a new course or doing major revisions to a course I have taught before, and the minute I put my final grades in for said course, I pick up a book that would have been perfect for the class. This time, it's Phillip Lopate's To Show and To Tell -- a guide that would have been excellent for my Advanced Prose class this past spring.
Still, not all is lost. Currently, I am wrapping up some of my own work through a WOW! Women on Writing workshop that focuses on flash creative nonfiction/memoir writing. The class, taught by the wonderful Melanie Faith, has really allowed me to focus on my own prose pieces. Lopate's words have echoed throughout my head as I have finished my final pieces for the workshop. His book explores the craft of creative nonfiction (or literary nonfiction) and offers a lot of insight about this fourth genre.
For me, the most intriguing chapter has been about the line between showing and telling. Show, Show, Show, is what I tell my students, when in back of my head, I know that I actually do too much showing in my own work. I tend to overload with images, so yes, my readers do get clear pictures in their heads of the story, characters, and setting -- they just don't know the purpose of these images! Between Lopate's advice and the feedback from the WOW class, I have officially been given more permission to tell, as well as show. Let's just hope that my new work isn't all about merely telling...
I am a poet and professor from rural Pennsylvania. This page is dedicated to my publishing news and events; for book reviews published online go to the Reviews tab above. For my own personal reviews, explore the Book Picks tab.