This week’s been unproductive, though not necessarily difficult. I’m not sure why. Often, when I’m unproductive it means there’s something going on, but I’ve yet to puzzle it out. So, I’ll just go ahead with what did/didn’t get done, and see if something emerges as I go.
I’ve not gotten to read much this week. Class readings (we’ve been reading Billy Collins, a contemporary poet) and then chipping away a bit here and there at my omnibus Aristophanes. It’s possible that part of my inattentiveness to writing has been because I’ve not read much prose the last week or two (not since Oathbringer); that was a problem I stumbled into this past summer, while trying to edit The Rule of Iron. Yet, Aristophanes is still plenty fun, and read of my own volition.
My reading list is, as always, inordinately long. I’d like to start in on some fiction this week. I don’t know what it will be.
Writing’s been almost exclusively classwork this past week. We’re doing a seminar on poetry, and each student is to write a poem and critique some classmates’ work each week. I’m starting to get a rough idea on the critique end of things, but trying to intentionally write poetry in the mode and tradition of contemporary poetry (lacking strong end rhymes, doing odd things with rhythm and typography) feels weird to me, and I haven’t gotten the knack yet.
I briefly sat down with Wizard, my NaNo project, wrote one sentence, then for the life of me couldn’t figure out where the scene was going. I figure I’ll have to go back and re-read portions if I want to seriously jump back into that piece. (Which I do want to, if only so I can say “It’s done! Now get out.”)
What’s felt like the most productive work I’ve done this week has been chipping away at some worldbuilding and prewriting for Jiharel. It’s probably the oldest of my “Stories I’d like to Write” and I’ve got various ideas and things bouncing around in my head for history, mythology, geography, and a little bit of language, and more things show up as I start writing material down.
I think my big lesson from National Novel Writing Month this year was that if I want to write something good, I should prepare to write it.
In 2016, I had most of an outline, and a fairly good clue of where Rule would go. During Camp NaNo I went off half-cocked on Perseus from the Age of Heroes, got through the easy bits, then floundered at what to do next. (Hint: I ran out of outline.)
This past November I went to the keyboard with even fewer notes than I had during prior attempts at writing long form. While caught up in the creative process I was able to pound out material, but I became aware quickly that it was basically a dumpster fire. It had so many problems – problems summed up by “Plot this out!”
I’ve not yet tried the whole sit down, write, sketch, plan, outline, and then go to the keyboard thing. Rule is the closest I got, and that worked out pretty well. I sketched out a “moving forward” plan when I was halfway through “How the Thrun Earned his Wings” (short story), and I think that helped me get and stay on track.
So; if I want to continue Wizard, I should go back to the drawing board and outline where I’m at, then forward (and just keep writing from where I’m at, trying ever so hard not to rewrite and delete and revise before I’ve got a finished draft).
Presently, I’m enjoying the prewriting work on Jiharel, so I’m going to keep at that. I’d like my final product to be a smooth, full outline for the piece. The final thesis for my Master’s is a publishable-quality, full length manuscript (or portfolio of work). When I chose my program, writing Jiharel as that thesis project was my intent. I don’t formally start my thesis for months and months from now, but I see no reason not to start the slow, lazy work of building the world and its people.
Last Week: Acclimate to the poetry seminar, and begin work on an Oathbringer review or other things. Kind of complete? I feel like I’m not acclimated (and not likely to be, in a quick fashion), but I’ve started, and that I kind of worked on other things (Jiharel) but not what I’d intended. Looking back, maybe this week was less of a lazy than I had initially thought.
This Week: Well, priority #1 has gotta be schoolwork. I’ve let myself fall behind the last couple days, so step 1 this week is catch-up. Beyond that, I’d like to get a solid chunk of Aristophanes finished (maybe the whole thing, I’ve only two and a half plays to go I think) and keep working on Jiharel prewriting.