A Very Scary Story

“As for my own point of view, I see creative writing not so much as a form of self-expression (or in the case of problem students, acting out), but of learning to express one’s ‘otherness,’ in the sense of being able to use one’s imagination to devise stories or poems out of, as Keats called it, one’s ‘negative capability.’ That is the ability not to be yourself and not to put your own limited self-interested point of view into one’s creative writing. And to hold contradictory emotions and ideas together in your mind at once without judgment. To be as Emily Dickinson called it ‘a nobody.’”



“In that sense, a threat of violence directed specifically toward a member of the university community in a creative writing class represents a student’s failure of imagination, and should be seen as cry for help or cry for attention,” [Alan] Soldofsky [director of creative writing at San Jose State] said… –A Very Scary Story (Inside Higher Ed)

It’s rare to find so much specialized language quoted in a publication with a general readership. I agree with his point, but even though the audience for Inside Higher Ed is more educated than the general reader, I were this reporter I’d have used a bit more summary as a buffer between shorter chunks from Soldofsky. (In passages near the beginning and end of the sequence that features Soldofsky, the reporter does summarize.)