Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Monday, 25 June 2001

I only got a bit of writing done. The word count stands at 1280. I've been working on this story for days! Averaging only about 300 words a day is unsatisfactory. I'll have to pick up the pace by a good bit if I'm going to finish it this week.

Today was our first day of class with Pat Murphy. It went well. We mostly did critiques, after which she gave a short talk on setting. To provide examples for the discussion of setting, she used a couple of stories from previous critiques. One she picked was my story "Snare" that had been critiqued last week. She read the first four or five paragraphs aloud, then suggested a dozen or so things that I might have said that would have been more specific and painted a more vivid image. Most of them would also have clued people in as to the world and thereby served double duty. That was useful to hear.

My story "Political Science" was critiqued today. It was a really good critique. There are three or four easy changes I can make that will help a lot. There are a couple of more significant problems that I need to address that may involve more substantive changes. Like with my previous stories, I'll put this one aside until I get home, and then decide what the rewrite ought to be.

I also had my conference with Pat. That went well. She had done a critique of "Snare" as well as having used it as an example, so she had a couple of pages of comments on it.

I got a message board for my door a few days ago. (I should have gotten one earlier; it was just laziness that I hadn't.) People put up a list of things that should be done:

I got in a run in the early morning. It was a bit short, because my legs were sore from the previous days' runs. That's okay. Today was an easy day. If my legs are less sore tomorrow I'll run further.

I've been thinking a bit more about the phrase "local dexterity" that James Patrick Kelly used quite a few times. I thought I understood it at the time, but I find that I'm still struggling just a bit. I don't think it referred to the skills with the individual words, phrases, and sentences. It was one level up from that. After thinking about it for a while, I think it was more like the skills of putting together paragraphs into scenes that tell a piece of a story in an effective way. If you can string a few such scenes together, you can get something that's pretty compelling the first time you read it, but that doesn't necessarily hold together on a second reading. I think that's what Jim was talking about when he talked about the sort of story that you can sell, and then later wish that you hadn't.

Today's the first day that I felt like I was journaling when I should have been writing. I actually wasn't journaling exactly, I was writing a little essay on getting and using critiques, or more specifically Where you won't get critiques, and how not to use them. It was not how I should have been spending my time, but since I wasted my time that way, feel free to read it if you want.

Stayed up much too late watching "Evil Dead II" and the first third of "Army of Darkness." Gave up at that point so I could come sleep. Walked back with Susan (carrying a jug of distilled water and a stuffed fish) and Beth (carrying a bottle of whiskey and a yellow blankie).


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