Both of these stories were written in the fall of 1998, in a graduate-level fiction writing workshop. I wasn't entirely comfortable in the workshop in question, partly because writing fiction was never my strong point, and partly because I wasn't satisfied with the level of criticism in the classroom. I'd been hoping for a more rigorous experience, and, well, I kinda snapped.

"Is It Live, or is It Metafiction?" is, without question, the single most obnoxious piece I've ever written. It was designed to have lots of bits that seemed significant but actually went nowhere. It contains numerous allusions to works written by classmates earlier in the semester -- not all of which deserved this treatment -- and to the professor's assignments. It was, in short, a work expressing pure contempt for the class, wrapped in what one classmate referred to as a lot of verbal pyrotechnics.

Oddly enough, it seems to work anyway.

(Incidentally, the overall reaction from my classmates was threefold: they realized it was about them, they felt kinda alienated, and they liked it anyway. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere.)

"Fortress of Solitude" is the second story I wrote for the workshop, one which confirmed that my previous lashing out was at least partly due to my own discomfort with writing fiction. This one's more of an essay than a story, really.