Weekly Update – 6/21/18

Hello, Internet!

Well, it’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks for me. Mostly for stuff popping up all at once in the current class I’m in (a workshop, toward my MFA); it turns out that when multiple projects need attention in a short time frame, I can’t really take a few hours aside to write up a blog. Gee, what a surprise. Still, while it’s been busy, it’s not all bad.


Reading

I’m still chipping away at Moby-Dick, as I believe I was last I posted. I’m around 500 pages in, and getting close to the end. (My volume is around 700 pages, but I think the last 50-ish is footnotes & commentary.) I’m still enjoying it, but I tend to find the book a bit difficult to talk about. It’s just this great big thing, a Leviathan in the form of paper and ink, and that makes it difficult for me to describe. I really like how it shifts from melodrama, to an actually tense moment of plot and action, to being nearly a documentary of 19th-century whaling.

In connection with this, it’s worth noting that Ishmael, Melville’s narrator, both elevates and reduces the whale, often from paragraph to paragraph, and tries to apply it to all forms of human experience. This is relevant in particular for me to mention, because I had a sort-of amusing experience of seeing whales in my own (terribly land-locked) life.

Now, as with any over-large and lumbering novel, as I’ve been reading Moby-Dick I’ve been living inside it a little, too. This is especially the case in novels with an overbearing narrator, again like Moby-Dick. So as I was walking home from the grocery store just the other day, it felt perfectly natural that, when I saw the down-turned frown of a red car passing by my immediate and nearly inevitable thought was “Ah, just like the mouth of a whale!”

At this point, I paused, and realized that it may be appropriate for me to take a break from Moby-Dick. I do not know the make of the car, though I recall that it was “normal,” a four-door sedan, and not of overlarge size. Its front, though, the radiator or grille or whatever you prefer to call it, it was shaped in a sort of curving, semi-circular way that it my whale-fevered brain had no choice, but to say “A-ha! ‘Tis a whale-grin!”

But no; I won’t be fleeing Moby-Dick sometime soon. My reading goal this week is to finish the novel, taking a bit of a break from all the revising I’ve done lately (and, alas, still need to do).


Writing

Speaking of revision, it feels as though I’ve done little but, the last few weeks.

As I mentioned in my last blog (I believe), I recently received a reply from a journal I’d queried some time ago, that they were indeed interested in a paper I’d written. So my first piece of revision was remastering that paper’s material, and then rewriting it.

Shortly after that, my professor posted our workshop schedule, and I was due to submit a novel excerpt or short story the following week (that is, this past Monday). That’s the piece I was revising last week, rather feverishly. The whole thing came out to about 30 pages, the prologue and most of chapter one of Jiharel. It might not be the best revision I’ve done, but I did get through it, and get the material submitted on time.

Following that, I finished a critique of a classmate’s submission (from the previous week), and read the novel A Pale View of Hills, by Kazuo Ishiguro, for an additional assignment–writing a creative response (read: fiction) to the novel. It was a quick read, and it was nice to get to do some actual writing (instead of revising), but I didn’t find the novel or my writing there to be anything super exciting to blog about.

(Yes, I know I just said that about a novel by a Nobel Prize winner. Hush.)

And now I’m finally done with revision, for the moment. I still want to get back to finishing the revision of my story about thruns, but right now? I really, really don’t want to. So I’m going to set a soft goal of working on that this week, but mostly just read and catch my breath. Maybe scribble a little of something, or tinker with my Jiharel outline.

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