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CW Tip: The First Day of Class.

You love roller coasters, especially the Flaming Death Nard. On the way to the amusement park, you stop to get gas and immediately win the lottery. You are worth 100 million dollars, you lucky fuck. You want to build your own roller coaster now, in your backyard. You pay to close the park and bring your friends and ride the Flaming Death Nard 10 times, 100 times, 1000 times in a row. Are you now ready to build your own roller coaster?


You need engineers, architects, you need blueprints and the correct materials (You don’t even know which ones…). You need wiring and concrete and stress tests and physics and electricity and magnets and on and on and on…You need knowledge, techniques, skills, materials, and mucho effort.

YOU NEED TO STOP THE ROLLER COASTER and rip it apart and study. After all of this, after days to months to years of study, you can now try to build your own roller coaster…

1.)    The roller coaster is a story, poem, or essay.

2.)    Riding the roller coaster is reading a story, poem, or essay—the fictional dream.

3.)    Building a roller coaster is writing your own story, poem, or essay.

“We are going to STOP the roller coaster the next few months. We are going to tear that fucker apart. We are going to try to build our own.”

I have just given you what you need to say to your students the first day of a creative writing class. Now you all know what you’re doing. Now they trust you. Now they know we aren’t here to “read” stories (ride roller coasters over and over). We are here to stop stories, and rip out their guts, and try to write our own.

If this lecture doesn’t work, bring donuts.

4 thoughts on “CW Tip: The First Day of Class.

  1. Nice advice, Sean. I might have to try this out for a workshop I’m scheduled to teach in August…

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