Strange Animals 02jun2019: Follow-Through

That’s five months down, and unlike last year, I seem to be (mostly?) on top of my goals for the year. It’s still difficult to switch perspectives between planning out a year vs. a month/a week/a day, especially since I’ve spent most of my years thus far entirely unplanned, but I’m now … well, I wouldn’t say getting the hang of it, just not fucking it up quite as badly as before.

I’m nowhere near starting a novel, let alone finishing one (instead I’m 5,000 words into a novelette I wasn’t supposed to write), and I think I’m going to end up at around 170 days of working out based on my current frequency, but the rest is solid. 2.5 out of 4 ain’t bad.

Anyway, onwards. I’m still tinkering with the format of this thing to get it just right (a likely prospect). Bear with me.

1. Weeknotes

I lettered 220 pages this week – quite a bit more than usual, but around 150 of those are for a ~350-page graphic novel (for the immensely talented Sloane Leong), and you tend to get into a groove with those things. There’ll be a longer-than-usual revision period once we’re done, so that should bring the average back down that week.

I wrote approximately 2,000 words of prose fiction. No comics.

This week saw a third printing of Little Bird #1 from Image Comics and the release of Punks Not Dead #4 from Black Crown.

2. Writing Longhand

I’ve started writing longhand last week. I have a bunch of very nice A5 notebooks, and some nice fountain pens, so I figured I’d try it out one more. (Like many kids, I started out writing longhand, then moved to computers. I switched back for a little while right before I took my long-ass break, but have been writing on computers since.)

I see three major advantages to this.

One is the lack of distraction. I can leave my phone at home or in another room, depending on where I’m writing, and I can then sink into the writing. (I was recently listening to a writer talk about how they day-dream being in their world as they write, and I realised I hadn’t done that in years, mainly because of the constant intrusion of the real world.)

The second is that I find writing longhand makes me waffle about less. I’m nearly done with a short story at the moment, which I originally thought was going to be 6,000 words, but ended up around 3,000 words in longhand. I read it over last night, and you know, it’s not actually missing anything. I might flesh it out a little bit when I type it in, but I don’t see it expanding by more than, say, 500 words. It’s so much tighter than it would have been if I was writing it on the computer.

The third advantage is how writing longhand is less pressure to be good. Unlike typed-out text, which feels like it is or should be ready to go, longhand is all rough work. So I feel I can work stuff out on paper that I might be more tense about if I were typing it in. Plus, you can delete entire sections in longhand and not feel too bad because a) it’s rough work and b) it’s all still there for you to look at and get the best bits out of.

That’s the theory, of course, but I’m starting to get comfortable with this.

I don’t think I could write a comic longhand – there’s a lot more assembly involved in a comic (at least for me), and I prefer doing my usual ramblers and then putting the comic together in a separate document.

But it seems to be working well enough for prose. I shall report.

3. Follow-Up

In , I talked about the question “To enjoy something, do you need to like all of it?” Reader Nandu (formerly of Twitter) wrote in with some points I hadn’t considered:

It struck me as I read that question that when I say I enjoyed something (a movie, a book, a play, etc.), I speak of what I felt when I experienced it, but the memory of my experience is very often not of the thing that is experienced; it is more about what I experienced when I experienced it. And my memory is always fragmented and subjective.

So I was wondering whether whenever someone says they love all of something we aren’t all just closing our eyes to the impossibility of that and instead playing along with the idea that the memory of an experience (seen through the mists of time as it were) might actually be commentary on the subject at all.

Also what if I watched a movie but didn’t notice the background music at all. Did I watch the same movie someone else did?

I love the idea of talking about something many people experience and in that achieving connections and broadening perspectives. It’s like the thing itself is the catalyst, but it’s often reviewed as a consumer good instead.

All of which makes a ton of sense to me.

4. Recommendation

I’ve been reading Letters from the Temporary State, which is the newsletter for a type foundry. The first entry I read, found via Robin Sloan’s newsletter, was a history of the italic in typography and how the foundry tried to create a new variation on it.

Another edition I thoroughly enjoyed (kind of obviously) was this one on monospace typefaces and kerning.

There are only four editions so far, but all of them well worth a read.

5. From the Commonplace Book

Kazuo Ishiguro on how he wrote The Unconsoled using dream techniques:

My wife pointed out that the language of dreams is a universal language. Everyone identifies with it, whichever culture they come from. In the weeks that followed, I started to ask myself, What is the grammar of dreams? Just now, the two of us are having this conversation in this room with nobody else in the house. A third person is introduced into this scene. In a conventional work, there would be a knock on the door and somebody would come in, and we would say hello. The dreaming mind is very impatient with this kind of thing. Typically what happens is we’ll be sitting here alone in this room, and suddenly we’ll become aware that a third person has been here all the time at my elbow. There might be a sense of mild surprise that we hadn’t been aware of this person up until this point, but we would just go straight into whatever point the person is raising. I thought this was quite interesting. And I started to see parallels between memory and dream, the way you manipulate both according to your emotional needs at the time. The language of dreams would also allow me to write a story that people would read as a metaphorical tale as opposed to a comment on a particular society. Over some months I built up a folder full of notes, and eventually I felt ready to write a novel.

Filed under #writing.