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Byron Murphy

Self-reflective essay

In my academic journey through the creative writing program I faced many
challenges that I had to overcome to gain the valuable lessons that I learned.
At the beginning I had to deal with the loss of a member of my immediate family,
which was a devastating blow for me, and required months of recovery. This
certainly limited my writing voice. I spent a lot of time trying to use the creative
writing assignments to work through my pain, but found it too agonizing of a
pursuit. Instead I focused on more sterile things, anything to get my mind off of what
I was going through. This was a challenge for sure, but, surprisingly, I found that this
was a beneficial experience. The poetry module was particularly inspiring and
cathartic to process what I was going through. I went through many dozen drafts of
many different types of poems, and it allowed me to really explore all the
boundaries of the creative process of poetry. I thought it was a great overview,
exploring different poetic structures, and allowing for more loose interpretations
and personal explorations.

When spending countless hours on a project it can be frustrating, this was
compounded by my own learning disability of attention deficit disorder. In certain
subjects and processes of learning it is less demonstrable; though those tend to be
more staid or sterile, such as mathematics or chemistry. When there is a defined
structure it can be easier to know where the boundaries are. The limitlessness of
fiction can be a chaotic experience for those unaccustomed to such freedoms.

I had trouble dealing with the fiction aspect of the course as my imagination
was stunted by my fixation upon my own personal situation. I did appreciate the
discourse with the other students and that helped to see how the learning process
was taking place in their minds, which helped my own processes.
Generally I find that professors which assign their own reading material risk doing a
disservice to their pupils in the form of biasness. However, I was pleasantly
surprised at the poetry book, which was assigned. Especially a particular poem
entitled In The City Lights Bookstore. This poem brought a large sense of nostalgia to
me, which touched upon many aspects of my youth. Heironymous Boschs triptychs
and Neal Cassidys Sometimes a Great Notion were a large part of discovering the
curiosity, which lay within my young mind towards the aesthetic aspects of life.

I have improved my general sentiment towards fiction as a result of this
course. Previously I had a zero-sum outlook towards fiction and non-fiction, in the
sense that everything that was non-fiction could not be fiction and everything was
fiction could not be non-fiction. This, I have found, is too narrow of an outlook,
indeed aspects of both are found in both. Even the most fantastical and absurd
fictional story has a significant basis in the realities of the world in which we live. I
have found as well that the structure of non-fiction storytelling owes a lot to how
fiction is constructed; there is a lot to learn from both when pursuing one.

This leads me to contend that I will take a lot from this course in whatever
endeavor I continue in. Even though I may not be the next Neal Cassidy (thank god!),
appreciating, understanding and respecting the literary arts and the literary process
will carry me through many of the challenges that I will face in my professional and
personal life. Indeed those applying to law school are discouraged in studying pre-
law, as they want a well rounded, more holistically educated person. In this regard
creative writing, and the other humanities have real value in other discrete areas of
scholarship and occupation.

I found the format very confusing and difficult to operate properly, as this
was my first go around on distance learning it took a while to fully understand how
to operate all the aspects of the online structure. Perhaps there could be some
tutorial to prepare a future student for the various machinations of its learning.

The most important thing I will take from this course is not as quantifiable
more oblique in its benefits. Creative writing is more of an exploration of yourself
and your mind than anything else. This is a difficult thing for anyone to do,
intimidating, and at times self-effacing. Though ultimately it is something that can
teach you the importance of self-reflection, and self-critique.