Where I’m At and Where I’m Going…

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Sometimes, you need to stop and take stock. Life happens, time catches you by surprise, change socks you in the jaw, and you just need to stop, look at your feet, look back, look around, and make a plan or two.

Where I’m At

Well, I’m drifting. Three months since my last blog post, two months after the one before that. Blogging isn’t my first priority, but neglecting a blog is certainly a sign—like the wind dropping just before a movie sailing ship falls into the doldrums.

Oh, there’s been some movement.

I’ve finished the first semester of my sociology honours year and taken a bit of a break. Recently, I’ve been in the data gathering phase of my thesis research. My topic ended up focused on relating identity theory to public punitiveness with the aim of improving the public’s satisfaction with criminal justice policy (reflecting my sociology/criminology double major). It’s my first original research, of course, and, though the scope of an honours thesis is limited, it’s been challenging.

I’ve written a couple of short stories and sent them around to the markets. One story was shortlisted at Andromeda Spaceways, but was ultimately rejected.

My social world has taken a bit of a hit, reminding me that nothing is permanent except change. And my self-image has stirred uncomfortably at the approach of a landmark birthday; there’s no pretending I’m permanent, either.

So… movement… but not much to show for a year, either.

Where I’m Going

Well, I sometimes wonder. But my plan necessarily focuses on study and writing.

I already have a substantial plan for study, as that’s a necessity if you hope to end an honours year with a thesis actually in hand. Let’s pretend study will take care of itself.

Writing is the thing. I continue to struggle to make time for it, to my ongoing and deep frustration. University must take precedence if I want all that hard work to pay off, but I do believe I can do better.

There have been two core frustrations:

  • I’ve not been writing enough to practice and improve my skill set, leaving me good enough to know I’m not particularly good, but not good enough to do anything about it.
  • I’ve been writing short stories despite wanting to write a novel, because short stories are bite-sized chunks that fit into narrow slices of available time. But neglecting what you want to do in pursuit of grim practicality is soul-destroying.

With change and mortality firmly in mind, I’m going to stop short stories for a while to focus on my first novel. Rather than dither and procrastinate, as I’ve too often been prone to do with writing, I’m drawing on my university skill set to pursue the novel as an organized project, no different from my thesis—planned, scheduled, actively pursued. I don’t know what the novel will be, yet, or if it will be any good. There may be false starts. But the goal is to produce a finished, novel-length work within eighteen months.

Accountability

To keep myself on track, I’ll be posting progress to the Townsville Spec Fic Facebook group.

And, I’ll blog the process here in, probably, terrifying detail. If the novel equates to my thesis, then this blog will represent my field notes. In the end, I hope to have mapped my own process in a way edifying to my future self and anyone else who chances to read it.

2 thoughts on “Where I’m At and Where I’m Going…

  1. All the best with the focus on novel-length work! I needed to do that this past year, myself, and it’s helped a lot in feeling like I’m on the track I ultimately want to be on. (Doing the whole Neil Gaiman “what is your mountain?” question is interesting, too, in focusing those energies on the long-term goals you’d like to attain.) And I suspect thesis writing is a little like having children underfoot too–lots to do, lots to distract, necessarily top priority–but I read that Ursula K. LeGuin found novel-writing more productive when she was being constantly interrupted–found the longer through-line easier play with in bits and chunks than trying to singularly corral the finite power a short story often requires. Perhaps a long-form work will be similarly forgiving as you work on your thesis, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Neil Gaiman’s advice about aiming for your mountain! I’ve got to admit, I am hopeful a novel will be easier to fit in than I’ve previously suspected. For a long time, I’ve just taken it for granted that shorter fiction must be simpler to cram into narrow cracks of time… but lately I’ve been noting the amount of pre-writing and post-writing work that goes into short stories, and suspecting that I’ve been horribly wrong. After all, while the pre-writing and eventual editing and submission on a novel are probably somewhat more involved, you only need do them once for a project that might span a year or two–so during a lot of that year or two you could just be writing, whenever you can. So I’m hopeful you’re right about a novel and my thesis comfortably co-existing!

    Like

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