Weekly Update – 9/27/17

Hello, Internet!

How’s your week been? Good? (I can’t hear you, so I’m going to assume good.)

Mine’s been good too. I finished a short story, and I’m almost finished with the first class of my MFA program. Most of the courses are two months long, but a few are just a month (including this one). I like this in theory – since it makes school more modular, and hypothetically the classes more specialized – but we’ll have to see how it goes in practice.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be serious about writing. A common piece of advice bandied around concerning writer’s block is to “treat it like your job” – basically, even if things aren’t working do it anyway.

One way of quantifying this seriousness could be to aim for working 40 hours per week on writer-ey things. (I think it’s important that this be quantifiable, for the sake of personal accountability and the measurement of progress.) For me that could be anything from writing long-form fiction, to writing this, to classwork, even to reading.

Stephen King sets a good example in On Writing. When discussing his writing habits, he states that he writes in the morning, and reads in the afternoon. Both producing and consuming writing is important for being an author. I know I forgot to read for a few months this year – while trying to bull my way through revisions on Rule – and my work suffered.

Anyway, keeping track of my “40 hours” is just an interesting concept for the moment, although one I’m probably going to experiment with. If it’s helpful at encouraging me to achieve more writer-ey things, you’ll hear about it.


Reading

Not an awful lot to report here. I’ve continued to chip away at The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams over the last week, but haven’t made a whole lot of progress. I’m going to need to speed up my reading (or spend more time doing it) though, because Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson is coming out in November.

For those who don’t know, Oathbringer is the next book in the Stormlight Archive. The first two books each break 1,000 pages hardcover, and I think this one’s even longer. I’m a complete and total fanboy for the man’s work, and Stormlight is probably my favorite fantasy series currently being written. The raw size and scope of the story he tells is terrifying.

I’m a speedy reader – especially when re-reading fiction – but chunking through about 2,000 pages is still going to take me some time.


Writing

I finished writing a new short story this week, titled “An Early Harvest”. It went mostly as I suspected it would, although I felt forced to speed through and ‘tell’ segments in order to complete the story in time and page count to submit it for my class. Odds are I’ll toss it toward a few friends and see what they think before throwing it into the ‘revise this’ box next to “How the Thrun Earned His Wings”.

When thinking up and writing short stories, I’ve found myself discovery writing a lot more than I would have otherwise expected. I tend to think of myself as an outliner, but the process I’ve engaged in with short fiction (and to an extent with long, I suppose) has been more about discovering new connections than writing and describing what I’ve already developed in notes.

Mostly I’ve been discovering worldbuilding through short stories. I really enjoy doing this; it feels natural, and lets me practice writing fiction while also devising interesting portions of a storyworld.

Most of my writing time this upcoming week will be devoted to class. We’ve been assigned to workshop each other’s writing (the workshop is the graded part for this introductory class, not the actual writing) and also have a final analysis paper due Sunday.  It’s not meant to be terribly long (about 2,000 words) but will still require time.

I also need to start thinking about if I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I wrote a blog about it this week (mostly on impulse) but I’m still not sure if I’ll be participating myself. I’d like to, but with Oathbringer coming out and school continuing it’s difficult to say what my time will look like over the month.

That being said, I did scribble some notes for a story idea which could be fun to smash out over four to six weeks. More setting description than a story idea, really, although I do have the general shape of a first chapter in my mind.

Part of the allure here is just new project syndrome – Oh! Idea! Shiny! – but I did really enjoy NaNo last year, and I would enjoy participating again.


In Review

Last Week: School stuff, namely finishing “An Early Harvest”.

This Week: Write my final for class, and chip away at The Dragonbone Chair. I’m currently 109 pages into my 635 page copy, so I think reaching at least page 300 is a reasonable goal even with schoolwork. And, odds are if I get gripped into it hard enough I’ll blow right past that.

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