Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What are you doing here, anyway?

I don't know if I've actually said anywhere on here what it is I'm doing in school. I mean, I've stated that I'm working on an MFA (in creative writing and publishing) but nothing more detailed than that.

I was just wading through my archives, as I'm wont to do from time to time, and noticing some holes in my life-story coverage. So:

I'm just about done with my second year here. Since I've only been taking classes part-time, I'm finishing in four years instead of the anticipated three. And while I thoroughly enjoy the program, I feel like a lot of the experiences and opportunities I've had outside of my classes have been what really makes this whole adventure worthwhile (apparently this is common). I've also pretty much decided that anytime I move to a new city, I need to go to school there, because that seems to be the best way to meet people and get involved in the city.

Anyway, some statistics: there are about 30 students admitted to the program each year; 10 each for poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. In my year, we had people from Michigan (me!), Indiana, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. It's a 48-credit program which requires us to complete an internship as well (something I've started thinking about but haven't pursued yet).

So far I've taken a couple of poetry workshops, a creativity class (called "ways of seeing"), a literature seminar, a typography class and a class detailing the methods and processes of getting published (sadly, I've forgotten most of what I learned in that class because I didn't have anything ready to send out for publication).

This semester, I'm taking an Experimental Forms class and a Literary Publications (Lit Pub) class. The latter is the one I'm making the ridiculous(ly awesome) piano books for.

The assignment is to make an unconventional book whose form somehow fits the content. The less traditionally book-shaped, the better. I sat and pondered ways to make a book shaped like a tree for awhile, but then while laying in my bed, looking around my room for some other form of inspiration, I spotted my keyboard, leaning against the wall near my closet. Stream of consciousness led me to grand piano, and thus my final idea was born.

My first mock-up

The lid of the piano opens up, revealing the pages of the book. I've written various poems and musings that somehow relate to music, so I pulled a few of those together for the content. I also made this nifty music note thing for the cover page (yet another example of my astounding progress in Illustrator):

My first mock-up, which is now largely disassembled, consisted mainly of cardboard from a Cheez-It box. The newer, more presentable versions are cut from book board and use far-superior cereal box cardboard (actually, the only advantage of the cereal box is that it's longer and thus requires me to cut fewer separate pieces). I'm using wire to bind the pages and tacky glue to hold everything else together.

I'm pretty proud of how well the design is working out so far (and of how good I'm getting with my box cutter). The only real issue I've had to work out is how to attach the legs to the bottom of the piano: attempts to nail them down ended up spltting the wooden legs apart. But I think I've arrived at a solution for that involving wood glue.

My progress as of a couple days ago: pianos in the front, in varying stages of completion; covers in the back left and pages in the back right.

We're supposed to create some type of display for them and mark them for sale (or with a sign that says, "Not for sale"). I'm not sure how I'm going to approach that yet.

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