Weekly Update – 8/16/17

Hello, Internet!

Less successes this week than last, unfortunately. Sometimes, I’m just too easily distracted by other, less-productive projects.

This week, I ended up spending much of my time on some materials for RuneQuest, a game I play with friends every Friday. It’s similar to Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a bunch of editions of RQ, but we play one of the older ones, from the mid-80’s (I believe).

Basically, I’ve been working on writing and illustrating a journal of my character’s adventures. Once I’ve got it looking nice-ish, odds are I’ll throw a few pictures up here or over on Twitter or Facebook. It’s a fun side project, but like all hobbies it can be time-consuming.

To fellow writers: if you haven’t tried any tabletop role-playing games before, I do recommend them. They’re fun, and can be a great opportunity to practice really getting yourself into the headspace of a character.

In a sense, RPGs are just another way to practice writing.


Reading

I’ve been working on a re-read of Plato’s Republic this week. I’m about halfway through the piece, on an estimate, and intend to keep reading it until Echo arrives. It’s likely that I’ll finish it before then, but not 100% certain; I’ve just reached the more difficult passages where he starts talking about the Forms.

I’ll not go into length on Plato’s metaphysics here (although I think it would be interesting to do some serious nonfiction work on it someday), since it’s a complicated topic – but I will indulge myself briefly on a Plato moment.

In Republic, Plato is presenting the creation of the ideal city – one which will embody the cardinal virtues of justice, courage, moderation/self-control (the Greek is sophrosune, and the concept doesn’t cleanly translate), and wisdom. This is framed by a conversation between Socrates and several interlocutors who wish to define “justice,” and to prove that the just life is the happy life.

It’s very important to note that the civic constitution of Republic isn’t the main goal. The pursuit and definition of justice and proving the worthiness of living a moral life are the goal.

During the creation of his city, Plato censors and exiles Homer, Hesiod, and the other poets from his ideal society. He does so because their stories are not appropriate for the education of the most virtuous citizens (even if their presentation of imperfect heroes creates better art).

Plato’s argument that we take stories into ourselves, and that they change our moral character is a strong and serious charge. I’m not going to go into further detail, but if you’re a fellow writer reading this, I suggest you should look at Republic, and think about what sorts of stories are the best.

(For the record, I do believe it’s okay to write and read about anti-heroes, villains, and so on. But it’s a topic worth thinking about and puzzling out a reply to yourself.)


Writing

As I mentioned above, I’ve not gotten a lot of writing done this week.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t reach my goal, but that’s okay. I’ll just have to keep working at it! Beating myself up over it will be counter-productive.

I have the next chapter of my second draft sketchily outlined (which is enough, I think), and I just need to get around to putting the chunks together. The process feels a bit like I’m zombifying my writing – I’m taking an early scene from the old chapter and shifting it late, there’s a much later battle section which is getting moved up to here, and there’s various sentences and paragraphs which I’m planning to keep, but rearrange around newly written portions.

Editing’s a messy process.

Additionally on the topic of writing: I’m considering signing up for an MA program in Writing or English or something like that. SNHU’s program online has caught my eye, though I intend to windowshop a bit.

Something I’ve realized while editing this is that I don’t have much explicit knowledge about plot and story structure. I have a lot of implicit knowledge from reading constantly, but it doesn’t feel as helpful.

In particular, I want to learn how to edit better. This year has made it clear and obvious to me that editing and revising is a real weakness for me. My hope (if I should begin taking online courses) is that I’ll be able to learn more of the writer’s craft than I can just by bumbling through story after story and novel after novel by myself.


In Review

Last Week: Begin reading some Plato, and revise the next chapter of The Rule of Iron. Not very successful; I got a bit of structuring done, but didn’t actually complete the chapter.

This Week: REVISE THAT DAMN CHAPTER. Also, keep reading Republic unless Echo arrives early. It’s release date is the 22nd, so I doubt that’ll be the case. I’m intending to read that the moment I receive it.

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