As a writer, Erich Hintze is well-versed in his crafts most repeated advice – leave thy ego at the door, encourage positive criticism and be open to revision. Thats why this languages and literature instructor at the College of Southern Maryland is eager to embark on a 72-hour writing odyssey this summer in New York with famed author and fiction editor Gordon Lish. While there, Hintze hopes to not only fine-tune his writing but enhance the work of his students as well.
Between June and August, Hintze will participate in Lishs fiction writing workshop hosted by The Mercantile Library Center for Fiction. Lish was the founder and editor of The Quarterly, from 1986 to 1996, and is the author of numerous novels including Dear Mr. Capote, My Romance, Arcade and the short-story collection Mourner at the Door. An editor at Alfred A. Knopf from 1977 to 1995 and fiction editor at Esquire from 1969 to 1977, Lish championed the work of writers Don DeLillo, Cynthia Ozick, Amy Hempel, Anne Carson, Roy Blount and Raymond Carver.
Hintze has published poetry and short stories in many academic and peer-reviewed literary journals including The New York Tyrant, South Carolina Review, Amistad and The Wisconsin Review. In 2008, he was a finalist for the Wergle Flomp Award; and, his poem “Shopping” was nominated by Phantasmagoria for a Pushcart Prize.
Hintze has been teaching English composition, literature and poetry courses at CSM since the fall of 2001 and is the recipient of two CSM Innovator awards. Meeting students, teaching them, empowering them, seeing them so happy at graduation, and getting e-mails from them later are all very proud moments he describes from his career as a teacher. However, he treasures most the one-on-one moments, which he hopes to be able to encourage as a result of his participation in the Lish writing workshop.
I had a student [awhile back] who got a promotion at her job because her boss noticed the significant improvement in her writing. She told me, between opened sobs, her boss said she was worth it. It was obvious. This was the first time she ever heard she was worth it. [We] have to encourage those moments. Your time in college is the single most important investment you will ever make in you. Treat it as such, as importantly as you think you are, as you feel you are and as you believe you should be, said Hintze, who started his writing career in October, 1976.
My family moved from a trailer on cinderblocks to a house in the woods. I look back now and see I needed to make sense of the move, and those woods, all those trees and dark wood sounds, he said.
Selecting a topic to write about, whether it is recovering from a move or the image of a broken heel, is often the hardest task for writers, particularly student writers, according to Hintze. There is this struggle between picking a topic and writing. Because invention is part of the assignment in my courses, students get hamstrung on picking a great topic. It takes weeks to move the students towards the idea that great topics dont make great papers, great writing does, said Hintze, who encourages his students to embrace revision as part of the writing process.
You cannot replace the benefits gained by a close reading and students should have as many eyes as possible check it, and, specifically, submit it to our colleges free online tutoring. This could, and should, lead to rewriting and proofing all over again, he said. For those students who are unable to use this resource with regularity due to conflicting and busy school and work schedules, Hintze said, This is why our classes together become critical while our student success and support services become vital.
The students learn, often by learned wisdom, and when they do, watch out, said Hintze, who is excited about further honing his art with a master editor like Lish. A great teacher possesses expertise and achievement. There is no suitable replacement for expertise. There is no suitable replacement for achievement. These two things are not hand-in-hand, so when I find a teacher with both, like Lish, I find skyrockets, said Hintze, who hopes to offer his future students the same expertise and achievement with a large dose of cheeky humor.
The Mercantile Library Center for Fiction was founded in 1820 by merchants and clerks to promote the reading, writing and enjoyment of literature prior to the invention of libraries. The center acquires literary works to circulate among its members and produces workshops, discussions and programs of literary interest. In the last decade, the center has earned six grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to maintain its programs as well as a recognized collection of fiction in the United States.
A regionally accredited community college that provides programs and services with a special focus on local workforce development to maintain and grow a healthy economy and community, CSM is a two-time silver-level recipient of the Maryland Performance Excellence Award. CSM, founded in 1958, is the fifth largest community college in Maryland with campuses in Calvert, Charles and St. Marys counties. For information about CSM, call 301-934-7765 or 301-870-2309, 240-725-5499 or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7765 or visit www.csmd.edu.