So things happened today, but not until I woke up from my long sleep. I have been feeling very tired since the beginning of the conference; I have been staying up late and waking up early since I got here, so today I decided to sleep in past lunch. It was the best decision I have made since I got here. Only problem: things woke me up all morning: the towel people, the bedsheets people, the man with the walkie-talkie, the television in the social room beneath my room. I slept in past lunch, but felt harried.

What I missed during my sleepfest: another fellows reading and a craft lecture by Wyatt Prunty.

I skipped lunch also.

Schutt and Casey sort of changed up the workshop today, for which I was somewhat thankful. Until today, we had been following Casey's workshop structure: go around the table and tell what you think about the story and then let the workshop leaders tell what they think about the story. This has led to quite a lot of various comments but no real good discussion of what is most important for the story. Today, Schutt led the class with a lecture on stories' first lines and how that language should create 'story.' She used this as a way into the first workshop story, which we did not discuss. I think this is okay. I think that Schutt's lecture was more important for the author to hear than our lame discussion of what we thought her story was about (it was about nothing that I could tell, but the langauge was wonderful).

Schutt said: The first line of a story often establishes setting/point of view/characters/conflict/ and the language of the story. This first line often functions to orient the reader in the story. When writing first drafts, the author might consider looking at what he's written so far, selecting the sentence that contains the most elements of the above list and use that as a temporary first line. Secondly, authors might avoid adding additional elements to a story (more elements than first mention in the opening paragraph) and instead try to subtract from what they have so far. Look at what you've got, see the dents, the trends, what's being said, and figure out how you can turn away from that so as to create more tension. Schutt likes this idea of looking at the sentence you've just written and discovering a way to turn slightly away from what you've just written. So that eventually all of those turns will lead to a conclusion to the story in the same sort of area as the opening line. Thirdly, she talked about Ozicks' The Shawl and how the shawl was a sort of object in that story, but its meaning/function shifted with each character. She said that minimizing the amount of objects/characters in a story will allow you the most opportunities to expand upon those things. I like all of these ideas. I don't know if I follow them in my own writing, but I think they are similar to what I've seen in the work of Gary Lutz, Gordon Lish, Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Diane Williams, etc. I think this kind of writing, the turning away from the sentence, or, as Lutz says in that New York Tyrant interview, the placing between two words other words, is most attractive to me because it allows for extreme sorts of surprises to rise up in the langauge.

After workshop, Jim and I went to the Sewanee library to print of shit, and then we went to the gym to lift. This is the same gym in which I ran a record breaking 960m race in highschool - I miscounted laps around the 160m track during the 800m race, and when everyone finished, I accidentally ran a 6th lap; everyone laughed at me.

It rained also.

Then Tony Earley read from new work. Hooray.

Then drinks, then drinks at the French House. Then sleep.

Oh, thank you Mike for doing a bit of my laundry. Hooray.

Also, last night, I had a dream that I was in Tao Lin's apartment and he was making me a smoothie. I drank the smoothie and Kendra Grant Malone said something to me about lime yogurt. Blake Butler was there and he said something to me, but I don't know what. Maybe about spaceships? Tao Lin had put on a lot of weight in his face and did not look healthy. I tried to act cool, but I kept knocking over chairs, so Tao Lin kicked me out of his apartment. Sorry Tao Lin for doing that in my dream.