This week, we’re welcoming students from Wade Geary’s Creative Writing course at Amsterdam University College to our team. Wade’s students will read our submission queue and recommend their selections to our Fall Quarterly Guest Editor, Venita Blackburn, for final consideration. We talked to Wade about his students and what he hopes they will learn from this process.
We’re so excited to have your class read our submission queue this week! Can you tell us about your class and the students?
Thank you! I’m equally excited to be involved in the early stages of your journal’s publication process — and I believe the students are as well.
The class is an introductory Creative Writing course at Amsterdam University College, which is a liberal arts program in the Netherlands. Over the semester, the students learn about fundamental skills in the practice of writing. Then towards the end of the course, we hold writing workshops for the students, which allows them to appreciate and comment on the work of their peers as well as better understand how their own writing is received.
The students taking the course have a range of different backgrounds. Some of them come to this program from nearby villages within the Netherlands while others travel much larger distances to study here. The academic foci of the students is varied as well. The Creative Writing course is “housed” within the Humanities, so several studies majoring in the Humanities take the class. But the course attracts students studying in the Sciences and Social Sciences as well.
Are your students familiar with flash fiction?
They definitely are! One of the early activities in the course is to read and analyze a few pieces of flash fiction. The size of the pieces makes it much more manageable to have a productive conversation about how writers can create effect in a text, no matter the length. Additionally, it allows us to discuss elements of writing that are traditionally seen as belonging to either prose or poetry. So flash fiction pieces lend themselves well to early conversations about writing in general, without feeling like you need to focus solely on aspects of a certain genre.
What do you hope your students will learn from reading the “slush pile”?
I want them to learn several things — to think and learn more about writing by reading, to appreciate the large spectrum of writing styles, et cetera — but in the end I think the most important thing for them to learn is that publishing is not some abstract enterprise that only “serious” writers do. I feel like such a demarcation, between individuals who only write and individuals who write and publish, is unproductive, but it’s a line that’s difficult to deconstruct. Involving the students in such a behind-the-scenes exercise tends to instill confidence within them and allows them to envision their work as something that could be submitted some place as well.
Do you have a favorite flash fiction assignment you can share with us?
Early on in the semester, the student write a handful of six-word stories. Soon after, they must choose one of those six-word stories and transform it into a piece of flash fiction. I love seeing how the students interpret the writing exercise and the texts that come it. It’s a great writing prompt; I would highly recommend to anyone!
Wade Geary is a lecturer of academic writing, creative writing and literature at Amsterdam University College. Along with his teaching duties, he is also a tutor — he advises both traditional and exchange students at AUC — as well as the Capstone Coordinator. He earned his degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. After his studies, he taught composition, literature and fiction writing courses at the University of Northern Iowa for seven years. His recent academic interests lie mainly in literary adaptations.