This week’s been alright. I’m feeling OK about how things have gone.
Before I dig too into it, though, I’d like to highlight a cool tool I found online – Inkarnate.com. It’s an in-browser program that lets you build nifty maps. It’s easy to use, and has a free version and a yearly subscription version. You need the paid version to be allowed to use the maps for commercial purposes (in addition to getting more tools), but the free version already feels super flexible. I made the above map of the Headwater Valley – a small corner of Akhelas I used when planning out a Pathfinder adventure a few weeks ago – in about an hour.
It’s a cool tool, and worth checking out!
This week, I finished reading Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion, and I’ve begun Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria.
I have a lot of buzzing thoughts about Greek Religion, but I don’t think there’s much for me to actually say. It was interesting, I really enjoyed it, and it gave me a ton of little idea seeds to grow into my own invented world. I don’t want to just create a facsimile of Greek traditions – or any other culture’s, for that matter – in my created world, but I really enjoy browsing nonfiction while keeping it in mind. Hopefully, the stuff I thought was weird or cool will peek through.
A Stranger in Olondria is a reading for my current class in my MFA program. We were given a list of books to consider, picking one (in addition to our other readings), so of course I went diving into the fantasy section. Olondria caught my eye because it’s basically doing what I like to try to do. It’s writing prettily about a secondary world.
So far, I’ve found the book enthralling. It feels a bit like LeGuin’s prose, in how Samatar is very florid and uses her main character’s voice to describe the familiar and the alien in how he sees it. She’s also very fond of repetition, making a writing style that almost feels like prose poetry, with the separate phrases flowing into and around one another.
Also, it’s about a kid from a non-literate culture learning to read and becoming a poetry nerd. Because of course.
I’m really liking the book so far, and finishing it will be my reading goal for this upcoming week.
My goal for this week was to work on revising a short story, “How the Thrun Earned His Wings,” for submission to my current writing workshop. I’ve made a bit of progress there – I’m about four or five pages in – but I’m still trying to figure out the most important bit of revision.
What to cut.
My first draft is just over five thousand words, and I honestly feel like that seems really long for a short story, especially one that doesn’t seem terribly complex or long in my mind. As I go, I’m hoping that I can trim it down, but I do have a bit of a history of making things longer in the past during revision. My piece is due on April 30th, so I’d like to be at least halfway through revising it by next week – preferably farther.
In addition, I also got back to work continuing another short story (one I’d been working on back in February or March, I think). I realized that I haven’t been doing much actual writing recently – just reading and revision – and decided to change that. It feels good to be working on new material again. However, I’m not going to set a goal for working on this story because “Thrun” really ought to be my focus right now.
Maybe I’ll shift to more actively writing this in the next week or two.
After the workshop, and probably another round or two of revising “Thrun,” my plan is to start submitting it to fiction magazines, like Strange Horizons or Clarkesworld. I doubt I’ll be accepted (first pieces submitted rarely are), but starting to submit, revise, write, repeat is a cycle I want to get into. Can’t get published if you don’t send it out there.
Last Week: Read from Greek Religion, Planet of Exile, and get to work revising “Thrun.” Pretty well complete, even if I did replace LeGuin with Samatar for the immediate future.
This Week: Keep reading Olondria (and other stuff for class), and get at least halfway through a revision of “Thrun.” Perhaps write a bit of other stuff, time allowing.