Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

(Nancy’s Critical Introduction for her Pacific MFA thesis)

First though, I’d like to make sure you all know how much I appreciate you: my advisors, workshop leaders, and the other faculty I never got to work with directly, for the knowledge and wisdom you pour into your craft talks and workshops. Shelley, Colleen and Tenley for your dedication and patience. My fellow students. Thank you all so much.

I originally titled this talk “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch,” because I had been pondering transitions in my work, experimenting with making them less and less explicit, especially after doing Pam’s famous writing exercise involving the three memories. At one point I shared with Kellie that this felt foreign to me, as I’d always been a “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch” sort of writer. And while this has been an important element in the novel, I’d like to officially change the title of this talk to A Tilted World, because I think it has a more overarching meaning.

It has been difficult to narrow down the sort of writing that resonates most with me, because my favorite works seem to have little in common. I love magical realism, Southern Gothic, metafiction, and works that exhibit a wry humor. My favorite writers have included such diverse people as Margaret Atwood, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Peter Taylor, and Carson McCullers.

Kellie used a fascinating phrase early last semester, as we were talking about genres: she spoke of writing that “tilts toward” the magical. I began to think about how the works I love don’t rebuild the world, but instead tilt it just a little through magic or humor, or the odd juxtaposition, all of which cause a sudden shift in understanding, a reframing.

(Continued on Nancy’s Author Page)


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