January wrap-up

I spent most of January a) not getting a job I wanted and thus applying to a lot more jobs; b) being really really ill, twice; c) starting the new semester (it’s a great semester: I’m teaching Medieval Islamic World, Medieval History Survey Part II, and I have grabbed a bunch of kids and conned them into thinking about Byzantine imperialism for a term — plus I’ve started a Greek workshop for baby medievalists!). So it’s been busy. And I haven’t yet made real progress on The Novel.

I did, however, do one of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Weekend Intensives, which was a very interesting experience. Mostly really fun! I wrote some things I liked! I took some interesting risks (I could write a post just on the reactions people had to my choice to casually use the singular ‘they’ as one of my character’s pronoun-of-choice)! And I learned a bunch of editing tricks and some interesting plot exercises. Plot continues to be desperately, painfully difficult for me, especially coming up with plot quickly. The plot homework nearly made me cry. I say this with all fondness. It’s kind of good for me to be deeply upset about my inability to do something and then do it anyway. And despite writing miserable emails to MRK at six in the morning, I did in fact do the plot homework, and had four workable plot sketches in an hour (and one disaster). So I can do it, at least.

I don’t think the workshop has solved my Plot Issues. At this point, I need to own up to the fact that nothing is going to fix my Plot Issues, there is no magic bullet, the problem I have with getting from concept + theme to events in sequence is just — a problem I have, it won’t get better in any way aside from me brute-forcing my way through enough times that it becomes more habitual. And one of the nice things I did get out of the workshop was proof that I can come up with coherent events-in-sequence if I absolutely have to. (Nothing like public failure to make one commit to practicing. Honestly it felt a bit like a lower-stakes version of my exams at Oxford for my Master’s degree. Possibly I am overly neurotic.)

I also got an entire short story! Starting from one of the plot sketches we workshopped, I’ve written “How The God Auzh-Aravik Brought Order To The World Outside The World”, complete in draft as of this morning at 2750 words.

Which puts me on schedule for one new short story a month in 2015.

Not bad at all, for a start.

Goals for February: revise “Auzh-Aravik” and send it out; finish “Delusions of Reference”, the film buff cyberpunk story; write 5000 words of The Novel; and, write at least 250 words every day of the month.

Let’s see if I can do that while giving public talks, teaching, writing an academic article on mediated experiences of Byzantine warfare, and going to Boskone. Forward momentum. 🙂


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