Reflections on my first “book”

A Compilation of over 100 pages!

I just finished the last course for my creative writing emphasis at University of California, Irvine. I will be turning in a portfolio of all my works completed in all creative writing courses and a selected few I’ve written on my own outside the classroom. This portfolio is a collection of fiction pieces, poems, and essays on creative craft. Below is a list of my pieces:

Beginning Fiction/Spring 2013
“Weeds”
“Good Night Gravity”

Advanced Workshop in Fiction/Fall 2013
“Bleakly Effaced”
“Go to the Deuce”
“Insured”
“Fallen Trees”

Advanced Workshop in Fiction/Winter 2014
“Softly Searching”
“White Roses”

Craft of Fiction/Spring 2014
“The Red Man”
“Enclosing Distances: ‘Once in a Lifetime’”

Prose/Poetry of Home (Wr101)/Winter 2015
“Empty Shell”
“Offering”
“Flushing”
“Please Message, if Interested”
“Releasing Voices in Enclosed Spaces”
“Aunt Violet: A Primitive Angel Drifting”

Other
“Shrimps and Palliatives”
“Apples”
“Homeless. Homebound.”

Before coming into UCI, I never took any creative writing courses. I had only written on my free time throughout my elementary and secondary education. During elementary school, my first story was about two detectives solving a crime together and then marrying each other. Entering high school, my stories became darker—fantasy, murder, kidnapping. They were gruesome, full of teenage angst. Whenever I wrote a short chapter, I would send it to all my friends online. A couple of my friends would send me similar feedback: slow down, describe your settings. That’s when I noticed that my stories were action focused—I didn’t like spending time describing the characters’ traits or the physical environment. When I started taking Beginning Fiction, I was forced to slow down and flesh out my characters and settings—to really dig into the details I never cared to explain. In other words, to write a more character-driven story. “Weeds,” my first story at UCI, marked this turn. Then, I took this new skill and combined it with dark themes and fast-paced action into my second story, “Good Night Gravity,” a fantastical tragedy on Beauty and the Beast’s children. I filled this story with blood, pain, and death. However, I incorporated so many plot and character elements that some of my classmates were confused about the story. When I took Carlson and Latiolais’s advanced workshops, I learned to refine and organize multiple elements into my stories better.

Ron Carlson and Michelle Latiolais pushed me harder to write, to think more creatively, and dive into my characters’ minds more. Looking back at the pieces I wrote in these workshops, I discovered a pattern. My first stories in each workshop, “Insured” and “Softly Searching,” are slow-paced; I took the time to focus on the characters’ consciousnesses and interactions with the physical environments. These two stories, like “Weeds,” are grounded in reality—slice-of-life snippets. The second stories of the workshops, “Fallen Trees” and “White Roses,” are faster-paced, taking on darker themes of death and betrayal with varying twists and turns. In particular, I managed to balance my focuses on action (reality and fantasy elements), character, and setting the best in “White Roses.” When I wrote “White Roses,” I was also taking an English 101W class on the topic, “Female Gothic,” which influenced me to include fairytale-esque elements—bringing me back full circle to “Good Night Gravity.” In Writing 101W, “Please message, if Interested,” is combination of poetic prose in the form of a short, short story that is mainly grounded in reality, sprinkled with dark fantastical elements. As a whole, my portfolio pieces share a fascination with dark, gothic themes surrounding the brokenness of human souls in all kinds of relationships, and I believe my future works will always trail back to this. All the creative writing courses and my instructors, Eugenie Montague, Ron Carlson, Michelle Latiolais and Susan Davis, here at UCI have been extremely helpful in shaping my fiction craft. I would also like to give a shout out to The Exhibit magazine and Writer’s Circle—they have served as my peer support group throughout UCI. They all have been a great source of motivation for me to keep writing; without them, I would not have been able to challenge myself to explore different writing styles and learn crucial tips in shaping a narrative.

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