Reading Log: 6/2020

A notebook with a simple notation for title of books and information about the books read.
Image Source: https://www.tinyrayofsunshine.com/blog/reading-log

Well, Covid-19 has affected many parts of the civilized world and forced changes to the way many of us live our lives and interact with one another. You might be asking what does that have to do with reading? Well, for me, quite lot actually. You see, where Corona virus has affect many people’s lives and social interactions, for me, it has greatly affected my reading life and the ways in which I read.

No (Physical) Library Spring/Summer 2020

Obviously, I’m a huge proponent of libraries in general, and my own in particular, having worked as a Library Assistant for 17 years and being an Language Arts Teacher (maintaining my own classroom library) for 3 years, including purchasing books with my own (limited) funds. Obviously, due to the pandemic, my local library has been closed (rightly so) to help prevent the spread of the virus. However, this has had the knock-on effect of curtailing my intention of renting more books from the library and purchasing less. I’d planned to get back to my monthly visits of the library as well, but alas, this won’t happen for a while.

Reading Took a Hit

Add to that the fact that I’ve been rereading books on my shelf and I hit Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings at that time. Now, I love Tolkien’s work, but it is dense. His writing style is not something that is made for light reading to escape–which is what I wanted right at the pandemic’s height. It took me a while of procrastinating, but I finally had to put this particular book aside and start on another one in order to get back into the reading life.

All that to say that my reading life, which you would think would have increased with the pandemic, actually was affected by it because the book I’d queued up to read wasn’t the one best suited for the time.

Mage: The Hero Discovered (Volume 3)

About the only (non-school) related book that I got through since the last reading log was the 3rd volume in the Mage: The Hero Discovered trilogy by Matt Wagner. This is probably my least favorite of the trilogy because 1) there’s quite a bit more dialogue in which the protagonist is having his “origin” explained to him rather than us seeing it organically, and 2) the protagonist goes from stubborn to obstinate, which requires the dialogue to get him to “move on.” Basically, it is the exposition of the story, just shifted to the end rather than coming at the beginning. A good story, but one that is dialogue heavy.

Lone Wolf & Choose Your Own Adventure

The only other things that I’ve gone through was to skim through all my old Lone Wolf books by Joe Deaver and Gary Chalk, and later with Ian Page and Joe Deaver, and other Choose Your Own Adventure books that I own. If I’m honest, I was mostly skimming them, looking for inspiration for new short stories, but I had so many that I have already on my “backlog” to get to that it seemed foolish to look for more. I may revisit this activity next summer if my well of stories begins to run dry, but right now, I have enough to work on for the next year or so (and that’s not even counting school-related writing), so I think for now, I’ll just make sure they’re reflected in my online catalogs (Goodreads & LibraryThing) and place them back on my bookshelf.

Well, that’s all I have for today–have a great weekend everyone!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (6/2020):

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Finished: Revision 1
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Wall” (Science Fiction Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft

New Pulp Sub-Genre

Four diverse book covers, each showcasing a different type of New Pulp hero: A Detective and fantasy cover are display prominently
Image Source: https://thepulp.net/the-hunt/new-pulp/

I just submitted an entry to a new directory that will be coming out that lists creators (writers, artists, editors, reviews, and publishers) of New Pulp stories. I didn’t really know that I was one until I published in Storyhack, but after researching more into this fairly new sub-genre, I think that many of my stories have, at least at their core, a New Pulp aesthetic that I may try to emphasize more.

So, What is New Pulp?

Great question that–to be honest, I had to do some digging on the web to really figure it out myself. I guess the easiest way to define it would be to give you a definition of “Old” Pulp and then tell how “New” Pulp is different.

Basically, these are the stories from the 1930s – 1950s that you hear so much about. These are sci-fi and adventure stories that cared far more for the flavor and zest of the story than actual realism or verisimilitude. These are the stories in which rocket-ships have fins, aliens live on Mars without vacuum suits, and hidden civilizations hide under the earth or in deep forests. Pulp was no so much interested in the “real world” effects of science, so long as the authors could use their imaginations and create stories that illustrated conflict.

New Pulp are stories that take the same action and adventure element, but which do not necessarily throw away realism or verisimilitude to achieve that adventure aesthetic. These are stories that have the adventure/action element at their core. Essentially, this is the “Action Movie” genre for fiction.

This is What I Like To Read

One of the reasons that I’m not as invested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy (in fiction) as much as I used to be is that the concept of a “hero” has pretty been dumped and the new concept is either “morally ambiguous” (aka “gray” characters) which basically just means the protagonist is either a “badass” that does things for his/her own self-interest (Pitch Black) or “mean people doing mean things to each other (Game of Thrones) or the idea of “literary” sci-fi (which is “character-driven”) which means little-to-no action. It’s all about the dialogue and the internal conflict.

I love characters and characterization, but I love characters doing something meaningful. That’s the type of fiction I like to read and write: characters who are engaged in an action or problem and seeing how that character will succeed or fail based on his/her personality traits or flaws. What happens when you’re an “ace” pilot, but the ship you’re piloting is a piece of junk? How do you survive on an alien world with just an umbrella when it’s raining lava, but you’ve seen Fred Astaire’s Singing in the Rain since you were two years old and know it by heart? New Pulp (or at least what I understand it to be) comes closest to this, and while I won’t always be writing/publishing in the New Pulp sub-genre, I can tell you that the aesthetic will always be there–I want my stories to be fun, adventurous, and exciting, which are (as I understand it) the very hallmarks of the New Pulp sub-genre.

Now, when I write, am I thinking about writing a “New Pulp” story? No, I’m thinking about writing a Science Fiction story or a Fantasy story, but I do so with a lot of action, and knowing about the New Pulp sub-genre gives me more places and opportunities to market my work. Hopefully, there will be fewer rejections than from tradition/literary markets who (by and large) don’t give a flip about the things that I like about the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, rich characterization AND really cool plot/action.

How Can I Find Out More About New Pulp?

Well here are a couple of websites that can help you out:

https://thepulp.net/the-hunt/new-pulp/

https://www.writermag.com/get-published/the-publishing-industry/pulp-fiction/

Also, here is a good publisher of Pulp/New Pulp (and full disclosure: the place where I sent my entry to be included in a directory of New Pulp creators that I mentioned in my introduction.)

Airship 27: http://www.airship27.com/

Well, that’s all I have time for today. Sorry this post is late, but between work and watching the Playstation 5 Reveal event, I’m behind in getting this one out. See you the next blog post.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




Currently Working On (6/2020):

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing: Revision 1
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2

Reading Log: Frankenstein and The Hunger Games

A journal with a stylized pen drawn banner with the words "Reading Log" on the left side and pen drawn books with titles written on the spine.
Image Source: https://allthehippieshit.com/bullet-journal-collection-2-reading-log/

So, I liked the way the blog post came together for my Writing Log post a couple of weeks back, so I think I”ll expand it so that I cover 4 or 5 different elements of my life in a “log” format and publish them (potentially) on Fridays–the day when I find it hardest to get blog posts done and out. I’m thinking it will follow writing, reading, video games, and some other fourth thing (not sure what that will be at the moment). Still, I really like the format, so look out for these on Fridays.

Now on to the log!

Frankenstein

This is a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I started it once before as I wanted to read it before watching Kenneth Branaugh’s movie adaptation of it. As I think I may have mentioned before on the blog at some point, I never got past the introduction/prologue of the tale and never watched the movie. However, my mentor professor, who is teaching a sci-fi literature course this semester, made it the beginning literary work to examine, so I read it along with the class and I enjoyed it. What I took most from it was how changed it is from the Boris Karloff movie. Now, I’ve not seen that one either, so one of these days, I really need to just go on a Frankenstein binge-fest, but I think I like the book’s quiet menace and contemplation on what it means to be different and hated. One could almost make a parallel between Frankenstein’s monster and racism based on the fact that the prejudice comes from the way the monster looks, not (initially) the way he acts. There is also something to be said about the nature vs nurture debate, in that things that happen later in the book are a direct result of how the creature was (not) nurtured rather than an product of its creation (birth). There is a lot to unpack in this novel, and one of the reasons that it is still such a classic even today. It makes me wonder why Branagh’s interpretation was so roundly disliked since it seemed to move back towards the book and be a much more faithful interpretation than than the Karloff story.

The Hunger Games

Like The Expanse, this is a book that I read at first and did NOT enjoy. While I liked the concept, I didn’t like (at the time) the way the characters were presented. It has been quite a few years since it first came out, and I think I read it–if not at the height of its popularity–quite close to it and I believe that it was probably “overhyped” in my mind and that helped to predispose me against it. I gave it 3 stars (out of 5) on Goodreads.

Rereading it, I’m able to appreciate it more. and I feel that it is a better book than I originally gave it credit for all those years ago. Another thing that I think helped is that understanding that I’m NOT the target audience for this book. No, I’m not talking about gender here or even YA, but rather, I’m not interested in the slightest in “Reality TV,” and that’s almost a requirement here. You have to be interested in the inside/outside machinations of that type of entertainment structure to really get into this book. In the intervening years, the “Battle Royal” subgenre has become a thing in video games, and while I’m not really big into that type of game, it is a reference point/touch point through which I can get into the story now–a book version of the “battle royal” genre.

I also liked the “Rue” subplot better this time around and the reaction to it really had the “weight” that I think it was supposed to have. As an African American, I may have been a bit miffed at the time at the outcry against Rue’s casting for the movie (and there was an outcry–I remember the news stories), and probably held that against the book–even though Rue is written in the book as a dark-skinned character. However, now that this controversy has faded, I was able to read the interaction as the author intended and found that it was a really captivating moment. Enough that I actually want to watch the movie. I even went back to Goodreads and gave it 4 stars (out 5).

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft
    Next: First Draft

I Would Rather Be a Reader, But . . .

Bookshelf in the MTSU Graduate Office_Oct. 2019 (Sidney Blaylock, Jr.)
Image Source: Bookshelf in the MTSU Graduate Office_Oct. 2019 (Sidney Blaylock, Jr.)

I would rather be a reader, but you can’t earn money from reading. Well, that’s not exactly true. There are “Readers,” people who earn money (salary) in Hollywood by reading scripts and passing them on (along with notes) to Hollywood executives who actually decide whether or not to purchase the scripts in question. There are also “Readers” who get paid to read stories on the “slush pile” (you know, those who aren’t written and submitted by “named” writers like Stephen King or George R.R. Martin–in other words, everyone else). Depending on the magazine, journal, or digital platform they may earn a salary, commission are paid by story (rarely), or may even volunteer their time.

However, the closest one can really come to getting paid for being a “Reader” is what I’m trying to do now which is earn a PhD and teach. Even that isn’t truly reading because, although you read and integrate the knowledge, you must then synthesize it and be able to successfully articulate what you’ve read (learned) back to the students in your class. Traditional lecture no longer works (if it ever did) and so not only must you find a way to articulate it back, you now have to find ever-more creative ways of getting that information back to the students (acting as a translator of sorts between the text and the students). Yet, it is only one of the truly acceptable ways in which one can make a living in which the majority of one’s “work” involves reading.

And So I Write . . .

I write because no one, at the moment, is writing what I want to read. Well, again, that’s not entirely true. There are still a couple (in this case three to five) authors that still write in the modes that I like to read. Most of the authors of the “older” generation have died or while they are still writing, their books are no longer considered relevant: David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and Robert Jordan are three that fall into the deceased categories. Each author’s books were bestsellers and were “big deals” when they were released. Now, however, they are considered “also rans.” The new generation writes in modes that simply don’t interest me as a reader. There’s nothing particularly impressive about George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire (especially when you know that it takes its ultimate inspiration from The War of the Roses. Hey, other fantasy authors out there: There’s also the 100 Years War, the 30 Years War, The War of 1812, the two World Wars (obviously), the Norman invasion of 1066, and Napoleanoic wars, and that’s just off the top of my head without any research. There you go, pick one of those, add in quite a bit of sex and a lot of head chopping (among other things), create unlikable characters screwing each other over (among “other” things) and you should be all set with your own (modern) fantasy opus.

The things that I write are simply the things that I like to read. I can’t put it any more plainly and simply than that. I like reading about interesting characters who struggle and overcome. They don’t have to be “heroes” per se, but they do have to actually try to overcome their problems rather than wallowing in them and making themselves and everyone else in the story miserable because of it.

For me, writing is something that I do because I can’t find authors (with the exception of a few select ones) who write fiction–fantasy or science fiction that actually matter. The new generation seems to find things like “dream-boat vampires” or anti-heroes that would spit on you just for daring to look at them as the epitome of characters, while sneering down their noses at characters who actually aspire to values (and stands up for the values even though it costs them to do so).

For me, authors like Brandon Sanderson, Elizabeth Moon, and Tad Williams are ones who write characters that I still enjoy reading about and hope to one day emulate. And I won’t lie, emulating their success would be nice as well. Other authors that I still read, although I haven’t read recently include: Kenneth Oppel and of course, Diane Duane, whose original “wizardly kids/teenagers” books never enjoyed the amazing world wide phenomenon that another “wizarding” series did years later.

I write, not be successful (although, I won’t lie, that is an important sub-goal). Mainly, I write because I can’t find anything to read, or rather, I can’t find anything worthy of reading anymore because everyone else’s definition of “what’s good” has changed.

So now I write to (ultimately) so that I have something good to read as well.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

2 Fast 2 Read

Book Cover: The Art of Slow Reading by Thomas Newkirk.
Image Source: https://www.slideshare.net/ChristineMSchmitt/the-art-of-slow-reading-presentation

I struggled with today’s blog post because I have so much to do, but I also have so much to talk about considering how many posts I’ve missed over the past few weeks while trying to catch up with school.

Right now, what’s worrying me is my Preliminary Exam on Oct. 25. The reading List for it is massive (over 100 books, plus Award winning journal articles, a list of several important articles in the field, and reading over several issues of major Rhetoric journals in the field, just to name a few. Last time I took the test, I got sick the week before and wasn’t able to put my best foot forward in terms of doing what I needed to do and structuring the essays (3 in a five (5) hour period) well enough to do as well as I wanted.

2 Fast Reader = 2 Little Information

So, how do you combat this? By being a quick reader, or more accurately, by skimming a lot of the material and remembering key points from the text. There are even students who don’t read the entire book, but are able to “B.S.” their way through based on summaries, abstracts, etc. (and here I’m speaking more about class than the Prelims, but it essentially works the same way).

My problem, as I’ve said before, is that when I read slowly, I retain much more of it for a longer time. The more I skim, the quicker I lose what I’m actually able to comprehend. The Preliminary Exam is a necessary step in the PhD process, but considering that I’m teaching, grading, taking a class (which means reading for the class and watching movies for the class), and generally surviving–paying bills, running errands, etc., it makes it incredibly difficult to go through the myriad of works that are asked of me by the exam.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race (or at least They’re Supposed To)

I’m much better when I get to read slowly and deeply. Right now, I’ve finished rereading 5-6 of my favorite novels just by reading a section (or chapter) or two at night. It depends on my mood: how late it is, how tired I am, what I have to do the next day, how early I need to get up, etc., but I usually average anywhere from 2-3 pages (the usual length of a section) to 10 -15 pages (usual length of a chapter). Over time, this really adds up.

I’ve tried to do this over the summer, but it has been difficult because academic reading requires a whole new set of muscles. To read academically, you have to stop and look for key terms and key points, you have read and engage with the text (usually with a highlighter or by underlining) which adds additional time. Then you also have to untangle the turgid writing of many scholars–again, scholars are in love with the language and many scholars seem to subscribe to the idea that being obtuse is the mark of “smart” person. Many arguments are so dense and the writing so turgid, that it takes so much more effort to untangle their meaning than it does for popular work, so slow and steady means double (sometimes triple) the time and even getting up early to read means that it may take two or three days to unravel a 25-30 page journal article, much less a 250-300 page academic work.

All this means that while I’ve read and been attentive to reading, I’ve read far less than I’m comfortable with for the test given that I really need to pass the test.

The Prelims favor one of two people: 1) those who can read fast (skim) and retain it or 2) those who have massive amounts of time and far fewer responsibilities in order maximize their time for reading. Neither of those are me: in the past two weeks, I have researched and done a presentation and spent the time grading (daily work & Project Proposals). Arrgh!

I can only hope that I might be able to do well on the test by having read the “right” things, but I’m still concerned with 3 weeks to go that I’ve spent far too much time on grading and teaching and not enough on reading for the Prelims–which is not a situation that I wanted to find myself in. Again. Snarf!

Well, thanks for listening to my rambling on about school–have a great day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

4 Days = 4 Chapters (Reading)

Word Cloud for Multimodal texts: Multimodal, learn, student, texts, create, words, knowledge, language, ideas, develop
Image Source: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/digital-writing-portfolio1/concept-2

So, I don’t have lot of time today, so this post will be on the shorter side. I didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday because I don’t have internet at my apartment anymore and since it rained and downpoured most of yesterday, I decided not to get out in the mucky weather since I didn’t have to do so.

Multimodal Composition: A Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte

I’m reading/rereading a book that I was given to help me with my Prelim exam–more on that at another date. The book in question is Claire Lutkewitte’s Multimodal Composition. Some of you with eagle eyes or elephant’s memories may notice that this book has been in my “currently reading” section down on the side of the blog for a long while now. I haven’t forgotten about that “widget,” but since I rarely log in to Goodreads nowadays (I just don’t have the time), I don’t really get a chance to update it like I should. Well, I told myself that once summer started, I would read a chapter a day from the books on the reading lists in order to be ready for the next preliminary exam and dissertation and so far, I’ve stuck to that plan. I’ve read 4 chapters from the book and will start on Chapter 5 on Monday. As there are 29 chapters total, I will be reading this book through the most of May.

Reading and Writing: Summer Edition

There are, of course a number of things that I want to read/write over the summer. I won’t take the time to enumerate them here, but as I start on them (and most importantly, finish them), I will most definitely list them here and do a small blog post about them. There are a ton of things that I hope to accomplish over the summer, but I know that if I start talking about them, so how they won’t get done, so it will probably be better for me to wait and talk about them once I’m deep into them, like I am with Claire Lutkewitte’s book. I need to remember what works for me, which is starting small and then working my way up to bigger and more extensive projects. Finishing a book may seem hard, but at a chapter a day, well, that’s not quite as hard and who knows, if I have extra time on the weekend, I may be able to squeeze out an extra chapter or two, meaning that I can finish sooner, and if not, then I’m still on schedule to finish by the end of the month. So my goal for this summer = break down as many projects as I can into smaller chunks and get as much down as possible (while still enjoying the summer sun)!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Gone Dark

Image Source: https://www.rhinohub.com/silence-is-golden/

So this is the first post that I’ve made in approximately two weeks (maybe 2 1 /2 – 3 weeks). I’ve attempted several posts (my “Drafts” folder in WordPress is up to 9 drafts–this one is actually up to 10–but after it gets published it will be back down to 9 again). It seems like I’m always apologizing for stepping away from the blog, but that’s just the way that my mind works. I have to have enough time to work on my projects, personal or school related. That’s what I discovered trying to write “piecemeal”; I can do it, but it isn’t very good–it also isn’t (for me) a very rewarding way to write. I also discovered that I need enough time to make the drafts come out the way that I want them. Without both of these elements–time enough to get through a complete section (as I define it), then the work isn’t as good or as fun. That’s why my “drafts” box is filled with partially completed drafts–it isn’t that the ideas behind them weren’t good, but rather, I didn’t have enough time when I started them to get them where I thought they needed to be to publish them to the blog. Now, I look at them, and the idea is still there, but I’ve lost the desire/impetus to actually work on them.

Coming Back to Life

This blog post represents a resurgence in my writing life. Primarily, this summer is a “reading” summer. I have quite a few things I need to do this summer and nearly everything has reading involved. I have a book that I’ve been trying to read for nearly a year and a half (Multimodal Composition: A Critical Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte) beside me right now and my goal is to read at least a chapter before I go home for lunch today. This is going to be much of my summer–read, read, read. Of course, writing go back to being a thing. I should be back to my daily blogging routine and I should put time on my writing projects daily. As long as I have enough time to complete some “section” (like the goal of reading one chapter today), I should hopefully find that by the end of summer, I’ve managed to be a successful reader and writer.

Seeing is Believing

I’ve seen quite a bit of media, but one of the most affecting things that I’ve seen is a YouTube video (TedTalk) that I really found powerful and helpful. I will link to it at a later date and create a blog topic about it, but I really thought that the message was one that I could follow as it talked about making marginal improvements in order to make life-altering improvements. This is something that I don’t mind doing–if something is broken, I want to fix it, but making changes for the sake of changes doesn’t really help me (and usually makes things worse in the long run). However, it I “tweak” things, so that the changes are small and meaningful, then things seem to work out better for me, for example, working on characters before I start to seriously draft the story which was a small change that I feel has paid dividends to my writing. This is something I will be working on all summer.

Well, I’ve nattered on for long enough–this chapter isn’t going to read itself. Hope to talk to you all much more this summer and hope not to “go dark” again any time soon.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Reading Fast and Slow & Writing Fast and Slow

https://litreactor.com/columns/fast-draft-hell-7-lessons-i-learned-almost-writing-a-novel-in-14-days

In some instances, I’m a very fast reader and in other instances, I’m a very slow reader. This also pertains to my writing in many ways to my writing. I’m trying to be more consistent in all areas, but I’ve noticed these two traits for a while.

Reading Fast and Slow

I read fiction much, much faster than I read non-fiction. I read quite a bit of non-fiction, but I don’t read it nearly as fast as I fiction. I think it has to do with the “mental stomp” that I use when I read non-fiction. The term “mental stomp” is from one of my favorite books as a kid, So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Nita, the protagonist of the books, uses this “mental stomp” to impress facts upon her mind when she wants to learn something. For me, non-fiction books mean learning, and it is very hard for me to retain information if I just skim the book (which is what a lot of grad students do in order to get through a ton of reading quickly). I can’t do that and its hurting me as I prepare for my upcoming Preliminary Exams. I have to read through the material or else I don’t really retain the information. However, as long as I’m engaged with the book, I can “zoom” through a novel. I routinely read Epic Fantasy (which is sometimes called “Doorstopper Novels” because they are generally so large and heavy that their weight is enough to stop a door from closing). I can routinely read a thousand page novel in under two weeks–and that’s pacing myself. However, I find that my bookshelf is piling up with unread books because of all the reading I have to do for class which leaves little time for reading other works.

Writing Fast and Slow

I tend to be exactly the opposite when writing. I’m a fairly fast writer when I’m writing essays for school, but I tend to be much, much slower, when I’m writing creatively (fiction). I’m not sure why, although I suspect it has something to do with the way my brain processes images. I can “see” the picture of the image in my mind and I’m looking for words to replicate the image that I see. In essays, however, once I have a structure (i.e., thesis and method of explaining that thesis), I “golden.” My mind just fills in the words and sources to explain my ideas. Much like a camera, however, my mind wants to use words to completely capture the scene in my mind for fiction, which often leads me to be far more detailed, in some stories, than I really need to be in most cases. However, even at my fastest, while I’m a touch typist, I still don’t type as fast as I think, so a lot of my issues with writing are the method of input. I don’t really dictate well, and long-hand is great for notes, or jotting down rough drafts where I’m just “sketching out” the action, so the keyboard still remains the best way of writing for me. Even at my best speed, I can only manage about 35-40 words per minute, probably less when you factor in mis-keying and correcting errors, so I probably average about 30 words a minute (which is on the low side for touch typists who can hit anywhere from 50-100 words per minute with training–I think my fingers are too long to be as nimble as they should, but that’s just a supposition on my part).

Anyway, this blog entry was more just establish the fact that sometimes I read really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why) and sometimes I write really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why). I hope it was at least a little bit interesting. Have a great day!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Starlight, Starbright (Sci-Fi Short-Story — 2nd Draft — “Opening Incident” (2/5 sections)
  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Bedtime Books: Legend of the Five Rings (RPG)

Legend_of_the_Five_Rings_Third_Edition_Revised_l5rWikia
Book Cover: Sword on Book cover, Image Source: L5R Wikia

When I was a child, I had a curfew of 10pm, which meant that I had to be in bed by that time.  Luckily, I didn’t have to actually be asleep by that time.  I couldn’t watch TV (not part of the curfew), but I could read.  And so, like any enterprising boy who didn’t really want to lie down and go to sleep, I read . . . and read . . . and read.  I usually read for about 45 minutes to an hour, though sometimes I stretched it a little.  I can only remember getting into trouble one time for staying up too late as my family was huge on reading.

I relate this story because I discovered that I don’t really read at night any more–haven’t for a while.  I had a reading light when I was a child, but the overhead ceiling lights aren’t really conducive to reading in preparation for bed.  Luckily, over the past year I found a nice lamp that doubles as a good reading light so, periodically, I’ve been experimenting with reading at night like I used to as a child.  I haven’t been able to find the right book . . . until now.  Most of the books that I read are novels and I tend to devour them, especially now that I have so little reading time.  I tend to read too long and  stay up too late reading.

However, after much trial and error, I’ve finally found (hopefully) a genre of books that seem to work as bedtime reading–not too boring that it will put me to sleep immediately and not too dramatic that I stay up too late reading: Role-playing Games (RPGs).  The one I’m reading now is called  Legend of the Five Rings and it is a Fantasy RPG that merges a fantasy land with martial arts and magic.  Right now I’m reading the “history” of the world, which is a fantasy mash-up of the long history of countries like China and Japan.  It is interesting enough as I’m a History minor and love the history behind the world, but not riveting enough to keep me from putting it down when I finally feel tired.  I’m able to get ideas for future stories while reading, but I’m also able to rest as well.  It will be quite a while before I finish it–it is after all a 338 page book with double columns, but hopefully it will help me both sleep and be productive with story ideas at the same time.

Sidney
Read Skin Deep for Free at Aurora Wolf
Read Childe Roland for Free at Electric Spec

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Dr. Eric Perry

Psychology to Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Diana Marin

Creative Writing, Poetry, Fine Art Photography, Art Reviews, & Essays

Luna

Pen to paper.

Brielle R Campos

With Great Power Comes Great Rhetoric

Ashley O'Melia, Author

A garden of wild thoughts in straight little rows

LAUREGALIE

BOOK REVIEWS

Pauls Pages Too

Extra Content from PaulsPages.com

DragOn Writing

Sci-Fi and Fantasy writer, dreamer and Netflix junkie

The Godly Chic Diaries

BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH

Learning to write

Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV

Memoir of a Writer

perfecting language on paper

the !n(tro)verted yogi

traveler. student. seeker. philosopher

unbolt me

the literary asylum

The Nerdy Lion

Lions can wear glasses too

Elan Mudrow

Smidgens

The Solivagant Writer

The world is my playground; the pen, my friend

Learn Fun Facts

An Archive of Curious Facts for the Curious

James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing

All Things Writing and Geek, in one neat little blog!