Author: Patrick Madden
In my pre-parental years, I was an excellent student. I never missed a reading assignment, handed things in on time, and usually had relevant things to add to class discussion. I haven't been a full-time student since before Bryce was born, so going back to class in two days (to teach and to learn) is going to be a new experience. I'm nervous. So I'm falling back on my old habits while I still can, and trying to prepare myself as well as I can. One of the ways I decided to prepare for my Creative Nonfiction workshop with Patrick Madden was to read his recently-released book of personal essays, Quotidiana. I figured that I'd get some insight into Madden's life and what he might want out of us for the course by reading his essays. It's kind of weird going into this class feeling like I know a lot about him, while he knows nothing at all about me.
After reading Quotidiana, I feel like the class is going to be more challenging than I expected, but also more interesting and rewarding. Madden, who studied physics at Notre Dame as an undergraduate, and who peppers his essays with quotations from famous essayists, Latin phrases, and mathematical equations, isn't writing in the "I'm trying to get out my feelings as a stay-at-home mom" vein that most of the work I've written, read and edited over the last few years comes from. Honestly, when I read Madden's essays closely they were brilliant and insightful and very roundabout (he'd throw something out there that seemed extraneous, then come back to it five pages later), but they required a lot more of me than I was prepared to give, reading them for fun and in a series in my bed on a Sunday morning. These essays are more like poetry-- they deserve to be read singly, with time to ponder them. But I'm accustomed to reading novels, and it's hard for me to take a break and think once I come to the end of a chapter/essay. In that regard, I feel like I have a lot to learn. I definitely know I'm going to be challenged by Patrick Madden this semester, but I also feel that I'll be a better writer for it.