Updates & miscellaneous musings!

Friday, October 14, 2005

"This is some wild, deep, far out society." --My creative writing TA

Today a large portion of my Creative Writing section was devoted to people's responses to (most of) the first two chapters of Quamran, which I'd given to them last week to read.

It was really interesting to hear their reactions. They understood it a lot better than I feared and seemed to basically enjoy it (I worried the scifi would put off the indie folks, and the ambling dialogue would put off the geeks), but some of their reactions surprised me.

The TA thought Nei-Ly needed to be more emotive. I agree in some ways (his reaction to Anra being in his room is kind of ambiguous for example), but less so when she says, "I get that he's jealous of Jaril and dissapointed at not being picked. But he could be a little more dissapointed and jealous." Sure, he could, but he wouldn't be. I'm a lot more verbose and, um, emotionally open than he is, and I don't think I'd flat-out admit to being jealous.

I thought that people would find the beach scene cheesy and like the more naturalistic feel of the scene in Nei-Ly's room, but it was basically the opposite--they seemed captivated by Kri-Len ("You force the reader to make certain assumptions about the society, which are then subverted by Kri-Len" said one guy) and hated Anra), one person even going as far to suggest that she was a government spy (!).
I thought this was kind of funny because Anra is the only character (other than Nei-Ly obviously), who I would really identify with myself. She's not "brainwashed" (as the TA put it)--she's just pragmatic. If you had a friend who kept talking about how society sucks and people were jerks all the time, and was blatantly disregarding the feelings of your mutual friend, wouldn't you tell him to shut up after awhile? Obviously the story isn't coming out on her side, nor should it, but she's basically a decent person. If she's an antagonist at all, it's no fault of her own.

I think disliking Anra might come from the perception that Quamran is a dystopia, and since Anra seems to be endorsing it by discouraging Nei-Ly from complaining, they dislike her.
But while Quamran is far from a utopia, it's not supposed to be an oppressive hellhole either. One guy remarked that "there's no big brother" and their religion is "relatively harmless". And I think that sums it up well--Their religion, like any, can be good or bad. It becomes a reflection of the people who practice it as much as the converse.

One girl, Julie, compared Kri-Len to Clarice from Fahrenheit 451 (I find that title so hard to type post-Michael Moore), which didn't occur to me cause I haven't read it since 7th grade, but is a pretty good comparison. The fact that Nei-Ly lived in a numbered apartment reminded her of 1984, a comparison which makes less since to me, but whatever.

All around, I really liked what people said. I agreed with a lot of it, and when I didn't, it was intelligent enough to be informative. It made me feel encouraged about the accessibility and meaningfulness of the project.

I liked the way one guy (Steven "Jamie" Thompson) summed it up, "It's kind of an interesting concept: a society based upon faith, which in turns seems to be based upon technology and mathematics. Strange tension pulling there."

I'd say it's more based on political theory than technology (though math has played a role in waht we've seen), but I like that.
I just hope that tension will pay off into something satisfying. I've never written anything this long before, and the impression I've gotten from some people is that it's getting to the point where that build-up needs to pay off.

I'm doing my best folks!
And if you have any other critique or would like to weigh in on these comments, I'd love to hear it.


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Location: Oakland, CA, United States