I haven't written a real, big essay in a long time. (A few tiny example ones, for students.) We ask them to write them all the time, but...
Applying to a PhD program--maybe--so I need one. Don't have very many good ones sitting around. Have to start from scratch. And it is funny. I feel like Dostoyevsky and a genius, sitting there, working on Fiction / my novel. But scared a tiny bit about this.
Here's my two ideas !
A. Magical Realism thought to have Latin American origins [fine]. And it's fiction, right ? But, then, the brand of poetry I like best... [I mean, I can like different kinds. Maybe the most like what I write, most of time]: James Tate, Russell Edson, Mark Strand, Charles Simic, Billy Collins…Richard Garcia, Diana Hartog, Cynthia Rylant…Gerald Stern, Marvin Bell..."
Anyhow: oftentimes stuff like that called Neo-Surrealism, for example; but I don't think that's true. I think it's more like Magical Realism. So, the essay could be called "The Case for a Magical Realistic Poetry." I almost want to say "Magically Delicious"--like Lucky Charms. (Or: one time I thought up the name: "The Harlequin Romantics." Thought that was cute--and I don't use the word cute very often.)
B. Just to write something about Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games... -- what I'm into lately. (If I was accepted, I think I'd want to study where and if YA Fantasy & Magical Realism converge.)
Or just: why Harry Potter so successful, the others less so. Look at their influences, precursors: Charles Dickens, 1984, romance novels. (You know: Stephenie Meyer says Romeo & Juliet, Wuthering Heights...but I don't think so similar, in form. Maybe content, if lucky.)
And even stuff like Frankenstein or Bram Stoker's Dracula--but definitely watered down. Basically: giving us what a regular Hollywood movie would give us: a little action, romance, comedy--everything.
Then, that it's kind of formulaic.
That is the real thing I believe in lately -- even the experiment I'm trying to prove by writing a book myself. That it can be nailed down, duplicated. (And I usually say YA Fantasy, but... it's pretty big -- maybe more like Dostoyevsky, I wish.)
Even... I used to write poetry; then...took me a while to figure out: no one likes poetry. So, and I like Harry Potter, stuff like that. (And before that: Ray Bradbury. And, for example--w/ Magical Realism: love Haruki Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland at the End of the World--and Richard Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar...)
Anyhow... So I felt like I was slumming a tiny bit, or just going where the money is, when I started writing Fantasy. Even: made the comment one time: "Writing YA Fantasy is like shooting fish in a barrel." I'm not making fun of people -- b/c it is an art -- J.K. Rowling a genius -- but just that sometimes: Doesn't matter what the book's about. Just has to have some monster or bad guy in it. Something magical, some kids doing something, and they'll buy it, make a movie out of it. For example: Percy & the Lightning Thieves, Beautiful Creatures...
Then, not just A. that I'm trying to say "No, it's Magical Realism," but: B. Even though I'm writing something like YA Fantasy, I still come at it like I'm writing Dostoyevsky's The Idiot or Brothers Karamazov. Like: I want it to be a classic--and that well-written. Down to the smallest detail: obsessing over punctuation, dashes. (Did I mention I love dashes ?)
And I do think of Dostoyevsky as being the Master, incidentally. I used to idolize / love him, and hate Tolstoy. Tried to read Anna Corrine [spelling intentional] and War & Peace. Couldn't. Stopped after certain number of pages. (Just like with Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged: there, could read 2/3.)
Anyhow...Used to think: Dostoyevsky & Tolstoy living in exact same time period, but D. = funny / action-packed, deeply philosophical and T = just plain dull. But reading Anna Karenina now, for a book-club, and I guess I was wrong. Think a bang-up job of writing, and pretty deep, too. (Maybe: just so much about marriage / family / relationships -- and that not the first thing I look for, in writing.)
Anyhow, main point: I already said it. Trying to write something like YA Fantasy in the manner of Dostoyevsky. And been thinking about it lately: that explains why it's so long. I am a tiny bit self-conscious about that. 580 pp. -- and it's just the first half. But--recently read: J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings originally not a trilogy, but one book. So I'm not crazy. It's okay to be epic.
And if Peter Jackson can turn The Hobbit into not just two films, but two films, I can have my first book be huge times two. However, I guarantee: book two will be smaller. B/c it's a lot of work.
Okay / Sincerely !