Writing Studio!

I’ve been accepted to an advanced fiction studio at The Muse Writing Center down in Norfolk! While I’ve attended many one-off writing classes and workshops, this will be the first time I will be a part of an ongoing fiction studio, where fellow writers submit work to be critiqued regularly and study the writing techniques of various authors under the guidance of a professional instructor.

My goals are twofold:

  1. Level up my fiction writing chops, particular in the areas of character depth and weaving together multiple subplots within an overarching structure.
  2. Use the requirement to regularly submit new work to supplement my motivation for finishing the sequel to Red Soil Through Our Fingers. I’ve tentatively titled Book 2 When the Ground Beneath Us Shifted, and there is a loose plan for a third book as well.

Objective 2 is one that I’ve been struggling with for two years, as a glance back through my previous writing updates over this time will show. It’s been a tumultuous couple of years, professionally and personally. I’ve been keeping up momentum though, and project a completion of Draft Alpha (first complete draft + self-editing pass) by mid-May.

Normally, at that point, I would send Draft Alpha to my Writing Group, but alas the one that I had in Boston is, for various reasons, disbanded at the moment, with only vague possibilities of re-forming. So, perhaps a tertiary goal of the fiction studio (and getting involved with The Muse in general) will be to make connections with new writers in this area who may be interested in forming a new group.

Super ambitious, probably impossible goal, but one that I want to aim for anyway: a book launch party at RavenCon 15 in April 2020!

For now, I’ve got three writing submissions from my new classmates to read and critique by Monday… gotta get to it! Probably another update next week after the first class.

My Writing Process

Image credit: freeimagrs.com/spydermurp

Image credit: freeimagrs.com/spydermurp

I recently filled out an author interview at Smashwords, and one of the questions had to do with my approach to the writing process. I’m posting the answer to that question here on the blog, since there was some interest in the question after my commentary on the release of Draft Beta. I answer this and nine other questions in the full interview, so check it out!

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Emerging from Hibernation

When I logged into the blog this evening and saw all the red notifications, I thought yup, it’s been awhile. When I saw that the last post was dated September 30th, I actually laughed out loud. It’s a sad thing, but being a first year teacher in an urban public school really does suck the life out of you. I don’t think I’ve ever known levels of exhaustion like those I have experienced this year.

So, that’s what happened to my writing these last seven months.

The good news is that it’s getting better, and looks to stay that way. Next school year shouldn’t be nearly as bad, since I won’t be rolling so many lessons from scratch. And for now, it’s Spring Break, with summer hot on its heels, so I’m optimistic that the long winter of no writing is over.

On the front burner: I’ve got a short story in progress for the Ploughshares 2014 Emerging Writers Contest, which I also see as part of an identity novel that’s been percolating in my head for a few years now in various forms. This story marks the first actual prose that I’ve written on the theme of South Asian American identity, and so far it’s flowing well at about 3,000 words so far. I hope to have a draft of the story done by the end of the week for a writer’s group meeting on Friday, feedback from which I hope I can incorporate by the May 15th deadline.

Apropos of the writer group… it’s been great to make a few writer friends here in Boston. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I have been discovering that several friends are also writers, and on that basis forging closer friendships with them. Exciting news: my girlfriend and I, both writers, have made plans with another writer couple for our own little writer retreat up to Maine this summer! Details in a later post.

Vihara remains in progress, and I have vague plans of finishing it by the end of this summer. In terms of word count, its over two-thirds of the way toward my target, but there are much deeper problems than that. I’ve been finding that I really need to work on characterization.

I have plenty of premises, social systems, technologies, and such bouncing around in my head, and I don’t think my prose is too shabby. But almost universal feedback from submissions and friends is that, in general, my protagonists tend to feature too much narrative distance and not enough character arc to really be as meaningful as they could be. In response, I’ve been working hard on writing exercises and re-framing how I approach writing ideas. I hope it pays off!

Lastly, I want to congratulate a new lit mag I’ve been keeping an eye on.. Jaggery just released its second issue of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork by or about the South Asian homeland and diaspora. I’ve been intrigued by its content anyway, but especially now that I am starting to write more identity fiction, I want to keep tabs on the literary conversations running though this magazine.

That’s all for now! I hope to be better about updating this blog (and writing more fiction of course) over the next few months.