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Just Shy of Splitting Hairs

Just Shy of Splitting Hairs

By Joey Elizabeth, Bluegrass Writers Studio

     Having been accepted to the MFA program in creative writing, I am now learning the fine art of dissection.

     We have entire anthologies of specimens to choose from as well as our own creations. We are opening up each writing sample to determine what important piece is connected to another important part.

     We are asked to consider what is integral and how each element supports the whole.

     We must identify: Where is the heart?

     We are asked, in our dissection, to follow the path to see how this piece takes in air and then lets it go. We reveal a detail, and ask, “what comes next?" Reveal another detail, and the reader anxiously waits for the next “and then”….

     We are also challenged to identify what could just be a vestigial relic, like the little toe or the appendix that could be lost without sacrifice to form or function.

     We cut away the fat to find the structure and purpose. We place pins to identify the things that seem most necessary. We take off a layer to try to determine what is under the surface and what has real meaning. Sometimes it is necessary to remove a part to get a better view of something that has greater appeal. We dive right in with both scalpel and magnifying glass.

     The scientist in me wants to add lithium salts to some of the pieces to see if we can balance the mood or at the very least- lift the depression. Maybe we could add epinephrine to get some action out of this otherwise lifeless form. With epinephrine, even a dead frog will regain the ability to kick.

     This dissection class comes complete with new terms and definitions. I presume that the descriptions we use are part of some literary taxonomy and I just don't yet have the full chart that identifies the class, order, family, genus, and species. I'll get there.

     I suspect that my metaphors are what naturally happens when a Science Major tries to play in the same sand box with the English Majors. I thought I would be seen as an anomaly. But after meeting my fellow Bluegrass Writers, I have come to the conclusion that science geeks are often cleverly disguised as literary nerds.

Contact Information

Kristen Thompson

Published on February 19, 2015

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