I find I’ve been somewhat unfocused this week. I’ve spent a lot more time reading than writing (or researching or pre-writing or whatever else falls under that loose heading). Finding a proper balance between the two is difficult, but necessary. This past summer I wasn’t reading much, and my work suffered. This past week I haven’t written much, and my work suffers.
I remember Stephen King describes his day in On Writing by writing in the morning – aiming to punch out 2,000 words, however long that takes – and reading in the afternoon, about four hours. Family in the evening. Altogether, an eight- or ten-hour day of writer-ey work.
While I’m more fortunate in my obligations and responsibilities than most aspiring authors (courtesy of night work), reaching THAT work ethic is a challenge, and shall remain a challenge. It’s a good example to aspire to.
I met my reading goals this week, and then some.
First, I finished re-reading Words of Radiance. While reading I mostly focused on how Sanderson uses foreshadowing and characterization across the novel. The viewpoint cast is united in the same location for most of this novel, and some of them don’t get along. In particular Kaladin – who I see as the main character of the series, much like Rand in Wheel of Time or Jon Snow in A Song of Ice and Fire – is presented in a more negative light by those around him. This makes him seem much more troubled and real. In The Way of Kings Kaladin is very infrequently engaged with another viewpoint character, and the reader never quite sees how other characters think about him.
One of the devices Sanderson uses in Stormlight – one which I love – is interludes between each major chunk of the story. Each interlude is a short story, often unconnected, which presents distant places within the world or already-known minor characters. It allows for worldbuilding and foreshadowing of things to come.
Of these interludes, one of the characters, a young girl named Lift, got her own novella, Edgedancer. It’s in the collection Arcanum Unbounded, which I recently received as a gift. It’s set between Words of Radiance and the upcoming Oathbringer, and I finally got to read it this week. It’s good (if long for a novella), and was a good example of an author using the character’s voice in 3rd Limited. Lift has a pretty distinct, bizarre way of looking at the world.
Finally, I’ve been browsing Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craft and Gaiman’s new Norse Mythology because I’m simply incapable of picking one book and settling with it. They’re both good, and odds are I’ll finish one of them next week if I have time.
Steering the Craft does a good job making funny examples out of technical mistakes. LeGuin’s remarks on passive voice were particularly amusing and edifying.
Norse Mythology is written in a delightfully simple, childlike way. I’m familiar with the stories of Odin, Thor, and Loki to varying degrees, but Gaiman’s retelling is definitely my favorite so far. I suspect this work will influence my own myth-making and retelling for years to come.
I’ve done little-to-no writing this week. About a hundred words on paper as the opening to a short story (based upon a practice prompt from Steering the Craft), odds and ends outlining my project for NaNoWriMo, and some other writing for school.
I need to re-balance my reading time and writing time in this upcoming week, with a focus upon my article about Alcibiades.
Last Week: Write up gaming material, keep reading Words of Radiance, and begin Alcibiades research. Partially complete; I had enough gaming material to work with for a session, I finished Words, but I didn’t get much research begun on Alcibiades.
This Week: My goal for the upcoming week is to dive down the history rabbit hole. I’ve got a little over two weeks until I owe something to my current writing class. So, I’m going to start with researching Alcibiades (in particular from Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War, Plato’s Symposium, and Plutarch’s Lives) and getting a better picture of him in my mind. Then (and this is probably a pipe dream), I’d like to have an outline or a rough draft of the article done by Wednesday next week, so that I can be prepared to edit and revise it in the week after.