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Breed: Six

11/08/15

  02:07:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 787 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Six

Rox watched the thin brunette instructor walk between desks. Her hair was tied into a tight bun, and her thick-rimmed glasses made her look like a librarian.
The bell had rung nearly a minute before, but she was still waiting. She glanced at her watch, ?missing one last person,? Cristobal walked in with his binder held tightly to his chest. He mouthed an apology and slid into a seat beside Rox.
?Welcome to the first day of class for the semester,? the instructor began. ?You can call me Anita, or Ms. Fessuns. As some of you may not know, your very first class has some special significance, because that instructor will be your mentor for the semester. It's basically an initiative to take some of the burden off the school counselors, while also building rapport with students. So if you have anything to ask me about, my office hours are on the syllabus online, or you can find me before or after class.
?But I'm far more eager to tell you about me. I kill people for a living. All writers do. They torture, maim, mutilate and murder their characters for the amusement of a not infrequently cold and jaded audience. It's actually kind of fun.
?But enough about me, you need to know about this course Many of my colleagues focus on the text as it exists. Since this is a literature class focused on composition, I'm far more fascinated with literature as it nearly was, or could have been, and exploring the reasons why it formed the way it did. A famous example is Ernest Hemingway, who wrote 47 different endings to A Farewell to Arms, though I find that misleading. He was reworking the wording, largely. It's not as though the endings fluctuated, so in one, everybody met a grisly, horror movie end, and in another they win the war by prematurely going to space and pushing asteroids down on the Central Powers.
?Perhaps a better example would be drawn from Poe. Clearly, his early orphaning, and the nature of the family that adopted him, shaped his fiction profoundly. But imagine a Poe instead adopted into a poor but loving family, denying him the extravagance that hastened his downfall, while providing the affection whose lack drove him to so many varied brinks. Or think more finitely. Without the European trips, what does a Poe who's never crossed the ocean do with Arthur Gordon Pym?
?The one area where this philosophy won't help you? Your own work. I'll be grading your assignments on the choices you do end up making with your fiction, not the the paths untaken. If you want a little advice? Writing is about finding the interesting in the midst of the mundane, or when that doesn't work, replacing the mundane with something that isn't. Beyond that, read the syllabus, get your texts and keep up with the reading, and I'm sure you'll have a good time.?
A hand went up at the back of the class. ?Go ahead,? she said, ?starting with your name.?
?Rui da Silva. I've heard that many of the instructors have special abilities of their own. Is that true, and if so, what's yours??
?I'll address your questions sequentially. Yes, many of the faculty have abilities, though it's a smaller percentage than the student body, as there are fewer older people with powers. We don't understand where most of these abilities come from, but it does seem clear that whatever the process is, it's accelerating.
?And you're clearly new, because you shouldn't ask that, especially not of teachers. It's like asking a professor their political affiliation. The polite thing is to wait until someone volunteers it, because it's personal, and can make some people either defensive or even hostile. But, as it's actually relevant to the course, in this case, and as it will come up, I don't see any harm in telling you. I can see different drafts of reality. As an example, in one of my 'other' classes, you were a girl, from birth, born with another x chromosome instead of a y; you made a very cute girl.
?Obviously, that ability has led to my personal fixation on alternate literature, and shaped the way I've designed this course. Your own abilities, as well as your own experiences, will likewise shape your own work, as well as how you respond to the work of others. Approach things with an open mind. A healthier Poe would largely have been a less interesting Poe, but the insights we missed out on might have led to a different understanding of our own humanity.
?It's only going to get stranger from here. Enjoy the ride, or find another roller coaster.?

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