This weeks topic is all about ‘finding the story’. Which is great, because after five weeks of looking through every nook and cranny in my mind, my intended story remains elusive. So I’m doing what every good amateur does when things get hard. I’m giving up. Not entirely, but I’m working to a deadline that is not conducive to procrastination and bashing my head against a brick wall. I’m not a fan of admitting to writer’s block, but on the other hand I’m not so prideful that I’ll keep pushing a story that I’m not ready to write yet.
So, rather than finding ‘the’ story, this week has been much about me finding ‘any’ story that I can get sorted (with space for some edits) before I have to turn it in. The deadline is technically not until October, but the draft is meant to be in an almost-complete state by the end of the first semester, leaving semester 2 to focus on the exegesis.
This has alleviated some of the pressure I’ve been heaping on myself, but as something of a glutton for punishment, in a hazy post-nightshift email I stupidly described the new story as Gideon the Ninth meets any of Sir (P)Terry Pratchett’s post-Light Fantastic Rincewind novels. So no pressure at all. . .
Journal – Week 5
My work this week has again been focusing on trying to find the story that fits the broad terms that I’ve tried to set. Thus far I’ve been able to work out what I want the story to do, but I’ve struggled to progress anywhere in what I want the story to be.
One method of dealing specifically with genre writing and struggling to write is to very specifically frame the parameters for the story, rather than trying to write ‘a whole . . . building, the sky and the street’ (Garbin 2016, p.81). Using this has helped in particular as I’m writing in first person and had previously been focused on the world rather than the character experience. By refocusing I’ve changed the story significantly, but enabled the first person element to reframe the bounds of what is expected and how mush of the worldbuilding can be cut due to not enhancing the story.
I’ve also refocused the parallel between cultural and personal identity. Certain events this week have highlighted the connection between identity and religion, both how individuals perceive the world through the lens of personal belief, and the expectations of an individual’s views must align to the hegemonic identity of that group (Bekerman 2012, p. 228).
Utilising a character that lives as an outsider to both culture and religion and forcing them to interact with both against their will builds a natural conflict and the absurdist nature of the situation allows for a levity that can be used to strengthen the and highlight the more serious themes (Duvezin-Caubet 2012). Whether or not it works remains to be seen, but the new direction on plot and tone enables some words to make it on to the page while remaining consistent in the theme and world.
Bekerman,, Z, 2012. Culture/Religion and Identity: Social Justice versus Recognition. Religious Education, 107(3), pp.225–229.
Duvezin-Caubet, C, 2016. Elephants and Light Fantasy: Humour in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Études britanniques contemporaines, online, vol 51, 13 December 2016.
Garbin, A. 2016, Blocked in Hollywood: A Phenomenological Study of Writer’s Block, Pacifica Graduate Institute.