I have a dilemma.
True, it’s a conundrum I don’t have to solve for another six months, but forgive me. Being here at my MFA residency on the campus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts is firing both my left and right brains, and that left brain is in deep planning mode for my final semester, which starts in December.
It seems there are two philosophies regarding a graduation lecture. You can identify a topic with which you struggle, and use the preparation for the lecture to learn more about the subject and, with luck and hard work, master it. Or you can choose an area with which you have some comfort going in, and focus on providing your own wisdom, supported by what else you learn, to your classmates.
With the former approach, the lecturing student learns a lot. I’m not sure how much the students in the audience learn, however, as the lecturer still is a bit of a novice in the subject. That tentativeness is readily apparent during Q&A.
With the latter approach, the lecturing student doesn’t learn as much, but has a greater chance of truly advancing the craft and knowledge of the lecture attendees, including going beyond the prepared remarks in Q&A.
Because doing so would make me feel guilty of intellectual laziness?
That said, I find myself imagining giving that “lazy” lecture, to a hall that would have far more students than the one with the lecture in which I would learn more. And I think about that extra time for creative writing, time that might help me move my travel memoir to completion.
I have six months to decide. But, dear readers, you probably already sense what direction I am moving. Now I am just asking myself permission.