Title

Cacophony

Award Date

5-1-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Douglas Unger

Second Committee Member

Maile Chapman

Third Committee Member

Beth Rosenberg

Fourth Committee Member

Rayme Cornell

Number of Pages

137

Abstract

When I began writing Cacophony, I was living in Cairo, Egypt. I had graduated with a double major in both Journalism and English and Comparative Literature and had worked as an editor/journalist at one of Egypt’s leading newspapers, Al-Ahram, under the Middle East Politics beat. To this day, working as a journalist is by far the worst experience of my life. I hated it. Not only because most of the news which fell under my beat was often incredibly grim, but because I felt I was being taught to strip the art out of language, to use language to just relay information. My aesthetic, as I discovered, what I truly wanted was to use language to craft worlds, give voice to characters, offer the reader a refuge as my favorite authors had done for me over the years. I don’t think, when I started writing Cacophony, that I ever imagined I would one day decide to flesh it out into a novel—it had simply been my way to reconnect with the richness of language I had so missed as a journalist.

In the following months, writing Cacophony took on a life of its own, and, also, became a catalyst. I spent just reading and writing, and it was then that I decided literature was what I wanted to do with my life. And, at the risk of sounding sappy and maudlin, I felt incredibly fulfilled. The fact remained, though, that I was a Middle Eastern woman in a Middle Eastern country, who was writing fiction and poetry in English, most of which was about topics and lifestyles considered taboo by Middle Eastern society. So, I began applying to Creative Writing MFA programs to find a venue to do what I loved, and to get better at it. I certainly never expected to get accepted, but I did. And, so, Cacophony lived on.

I didn’t really work on Cacophony much my first year in the program. Rather, it was a process of gestation, of marrying the two disparate worlds of Cairo and Las Vegas into a single, hybrid narrative. I wasn’t even sure Cacophony was necessarily the project I wanted to work on for my dissertation. But, then, I found that everything that I was writing—every short story, or possible start to a novella—I wrote in such a way that it could be used within character narratives in Cacophony. Every time I so much as completed an assignment, I was writing using a voice of some character or another from Cacophony. So, as my professors so often advised, I followed where my own narrative was taking me.

The process of writing Cacophony, however, turned out more challenging than I imagined. I felt (and still feel) like I couldn’t do the plot justice without having eight main characters and eight different points of view which weren’t necessarily in chronological order. This, I learned, was called collage form and, naturally, I devoted time to research the genre/narrative style. From there on, it was both a process of assimilation and of learning how to tell a story as though each word was a paint stroke, without being gratuitous (in my use of language.) Finally, what I found myself left with was what, exactly, it was that I wanted to say.

The manuscript I’m presenting to you here is only two-thirds of a novel, as opposed to a complete one, because I think it would be a disservice to the plot, my characters and Cacophony to try to provide an abrupt, ingenuine ending, instead of give it a little more time to become complete on its own. I definitely believe, at this point, that I know exactly where my work is headed and I hope that I have made that apparent here.

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing

Language

English

Available for download on Wednesday, May 15, 2024


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