Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quick Update

I finally managed to finish The Ambassadors for class--I have to start Edith Wharton's The Reef tomorrow. Before dinner, I picked up Anne Bishop's Shalador's Lady, which I've had for a while but haven't had the time to read. Spare minutes to read--unrelated to school--have been very rare, so I've been treasuring them over the last several days, not to mention treasuring the fact that I seem to have gotten over my reading slump that hit mid-May.

I won't go into a long review, but Shalador's Lady was excellent. I've always appreciated Bishop's world, which is a universe unto itself, and the novelty and detail does much to keep a reader's interest. It was definitely an A read. Checking out Anne Bishop's website, I discovered that she had just released Twilight's Dawn, another collection of novellas in the Black Jewels universe (following the first collection, Dreams Made Flesh).

And my brother had given me an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday....

So I ordered Twilight's Dawn and the first Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five novels, Gabriel's Ghost (as well as a cross-stitch pattern book, but that is neither here nor there). I could have bought Twilight's Dawn for my Kindle and saved two dollars, but to be honest, I didn't want to. Reading a real, physical book is so much better than an e-reader, and two dollars wasn't enough for me to give up the real book. So I'm looking forward to those being here in a few days.


In other news, I had been contemplating a long post about writing, in general, but the more I think about it, the more I draw back from writing about writing. Odd, I know, considering that I'm a writing teacher, but I wasn't planning on talking about academic writing--I was going to talk about fiction writing.

But I keep not writing about it. I suppose I should just make myself write about it--force myself to become more comfortable talking about my writing process...but I can't. Anyone else have this problem?


  1. My humble opinion - cos I know you asked for it! - is that talking about the writing process is a Fairly Bad Idea for anyone. Personally, I've come to really hate it. I think a lot of my problem has to do with the issue of permanence.

    When I sit down to write creatively - whether it's a play or prose - I do so in the knowledge that not only are things going to change, it's a *good* sign that things are changing in ways I don't expect. This is not diary writing, and it does not follow a set pattern of "First I got up, then I did this, and then I did that." It's not a recitation of facts, it's a story, and any good story must be built in uneven layers, like sediment. Give it long enough and you get a mountain - but there is very little judging what the mountain will be like beforehand.

    I hate talking about what I'm writing or the "process" of how I write because it doesn't follow a set process; it dribbles down in those sedimentary layers. I may have some small idea of where the dirt will settle - a crevice here, a small incline there - but if I try to force it into a certain shape, it will come out forced and artificial. So I really can't tell you "what I'm writing about" or "what happens next" or "what the end is like" because if I start trying to know those things, definitively, ahead of time, I will utterly ruin them. And somehow, I find, even speculating about them out loud makes them more permanent than they should be.

    I say: save the words for your writing.

  2. It hadn't been about anything in particular--I wasn't going to talk about a particular project, but mostly what feels like a lack of discipline on my part. I feel like I ought to be working harder on my writing, but that I'm letting it slip by the wayside in light of all of my other responsibilities. Like I ought to be setting aside an hour every day to write, or something like that, and while I know that's not really feasible, given grad school, I feel like I ought to be doing something.

    Something besides plotting, that is. I love plotting things out--but once I have it plotted out, I get lazy and don't actually want to write what I have planned. I suppose I ought to suck it up and channel Jim Butcher: "I don't have writer's block. I have a mortgage." In any case, thinking about this, and writing, and place, and all of that have been on my mind the last week or so, especially since the expatriates class started.

  3. That's why I don't plot things. Ever. If it's longer than a half a page of description, it's too tightly plotted upfront. ;)

    More seriously - I do upfront work on characters, setting, even "world rules" (bus routes, for instance, or wage scales). But I don't plot. I know it seems crazy, but that permanence thing shows up again. It just kills the momentum - it makes the act of writing too intentional.

    Of course, I've never outlined an academic paper, either, so perhaps I'm just crazy.

  4. I do general outlines for academic papers, especially now when they can run upwards of 25 pages. At the very least, I have an idea of where it's going.

    I can see how the permanence thing can be a problem, and I think that's why I've often been so reluctant to share my work (at least my original work--all those years of fanficcing should have made me more comfortable with sharing my work, but it didn't). I can count on one hand the people who have read *any* of my original work--my mother, my brother, my husband, and Snarky Writer. And I was freaking out when I let SW read what I was writing.

  5. I should add that doesn't include a creative writing class that I took as an undergrad, but I didn't consider any of that to be really the kind of writing I wanted to do. Stuff that truly, really mattered to me, I haven't shown.

    I loved the teacher for that class, but I absolutely hated the class. For as much as workshopping is stressed in the field of English, I hate it with a passion. I know that it works for my students, but I don't blame them for hating it. If I ever do publish a book, no one should ask me to teach a creative writing class, because it will be a complete and utter failure.