WASHINGTON (Slushpile.net) — Elite commando units are poised to rescue a tortured author on Tuesday as the world focuses on the tense situation in a small town in northern California. White House spokesman F. Scott McClegald confirmed that members of the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force are in position to storm the University of California in Davis in order to free tormented author Lynn Freed.
“I think we all remember Ms. Freed’s plaintive cry in her essay Doing Time: My Years in the Creative-Writing Gulag,” McClegald said. “Here is a woman that wrote she did not want to teach. Not now, not ever. And yet as the Spring Quarter, 2006 begins today, she is being forced to exactly that very thing.”
UC Davis course listings reveal the horrible fate that awaits the sensitive author. Scheduled to teach ENL 290F Seminar in Creative Writing of Fiction, Freed will be expected to perform the very duties that she claimed she is incapable of doing. In Doing Time Freed writes, “despite all my years in creative-writing classroms, I still have no idea how to pretend to unravel the mystery… If there are teachers who know how to work from the abstract to the concrete, I am not one of them… The happiest teachers are, perhaps, those who are most comfortable in the role of parent or mentor. I am not.” The torture sessions are scheduled to occur one day a week and each session will last just under three hours.
Freed won the hearts of America’s literary world when she published her essay in the July 2005 issue of Harper’s. Her comments about needing money, her multiple references to her failed marriage, her avoidance of contemporary fiction, and her insinuations that doctors and lawyers have an easier time than creative writing teachers struck a chord in authors everywhere. “I stared at him, wondering what my writing life would have been like had I become a lawyer,” Freed writes. “Lawyers could certainly work part-time. As it was, my writing had come to a standstill.” In short, her essay galvanized the opinions of writers and literature lovers throughout the country.
Freed’s disdain for her students also garnered acclaim for the essay. “He is among the legions of students who are socially and conversationally tone-deaf,” she writes of one aspiring author. At other points, she refers to them as “the inmates” with “not a wealth of talent among them.”
The title of Freed’s essay was the most universally lauded part of the piece. “Everyone has days when they don’t like their job,” says author and former CEO Jack Kerowelch. “But to compare your university appointment to Soviet labor camps, that’s fantastic. Clearly, grading poor Raymond Carver imitations is far, far worse than being forced to meet a daily quota of 29,000 pounds of ore in a mining camp.”
However, this beloved title was actually not Freed’s choice. In an interview, Freed later said “the great shame is that most readers do not know that the writer has no control over subheadings. In fact, I fought that subtitle for weeks, not only because I considered it in poor taste, but because, generally, I loathe the misuse of words, any words, but especially words like gulag, holocaust, slavery, even terms like tragedy and travesty, etc. It drives me wild to see words misused as a matter of course, especially every day in the newspaper.” However, since her complaints focus on the sub-title that was foisted upon her, then clearly Freed deserves credit for the main title of Doing Time and its widely-understood and accepted reference to prison sentences.
All in all, the essay won fans from all walks of life. “We’ve all been there, maybe just having a bad day or maybe stuck in a job we hate,” said business mogul Donald Trumpner. “But to get paid for writing an article about being paid for a job you hate, that’s genius.”
A number of famous and influential people are rallying to Freed’s cause. State governor Arnold Schwarzheidegger said he welcomed military troops in California if a rescue is imminent. “It is important that we save Ms. Freed as soon as possible,” the governor said. “Time is of the essence. She wrote that ‘when I do return to the classroom, I am angry and full of blame.’ So the first classes will be the hardest on her. Those words are particularly meaningful because I feel the same way upon entering the Governor’s Mansion after a visit to Hollywood.”
White House spokesman McClegald described the deplorable conditions facing Freed. “She wrote in her essay about the prison sentence she received: ‘the job came with tenure, full benefits, and a proper salary to live on.’ How can anyone survive such torture?” he asked. “All that, for teaching one class is inhumane treatment, and as a civilized society, we cannot stand by and watch Ms. Freed be force-fed a salary for an entire quarter.”