writing journal: july & august things

traveler's notebook

Things I’ve Been Writing

Coursework
My main focus has been on writing and recording the core lessons for How to be the Heroine of Your Own Story. These are now complete and if you’re a Lady Writers League member, you still have a few days to apply to beta test it for free.

There’s still a lot of material to create, but I’ve already begun planning the LWL world-building course, How to Lose Yourself in a World of Your Own Invention. Those titles keep getting longer! :)

Regency
While I await feedback on Heroine, I’m giving my full attention to revising The Female Correspondent. It’s taking some time, but I want to make it the best story that I can, even if it does end up as a freebie.

Things I’ve Been Reading

The Supporting Cast
More reading for How to be the Heroine of Your Own Story. While last month’s The One vs. The Many focused on realist works, this book explores modernists: Conrad, Forster and Woolf. It’s an earlier work and more structuralist, but has many interesting insights.

Dragonflight
Pern was one of my major fandoms as a teenager, and for some reason I felt like revisiting it, even though I still remember many scenes from this book word for word!

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight
I loved this, of course! This is Nabokov’s first English novel and I’m fascinated by how it presages his later work.

It has led me to theorise a few things about first novels vs. latter novels…

  1. First novels tend to be much shorter.
  2. First novels tend to feel a bit rushed, at least in comparison to later works.
  3. First novels tend to draw much more (or much more transparently) on the author’s life.
  4. First novels often include the germs of all of the ideas and themes that get expanded in later works.
  5. First novels often demonstrate the beginnings of the stylistic exploration of later novels.

The moral of the story, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to do it all in your first novel. You can cut yourself some slack, and use the story to “hold space” and “create space”. In other words, the first novel can be short, a bit superficial, and even somewhat haphazard. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be finished.

What do you think?

P.S. I admit I was surprised that there wasn’t more about chess in Sebastian Knight. However, I have to mention that I am SO SO SO excited I am about the upcoming Gary Kasparov Masterclass*!

The Odyssey
I can’t visit the Troad and not reread Homer. I’m still in T.E. Lawrence’s prose translation of The Odyssey while my Lattimores are sadly in storage. :(

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get through this. I can’t find anything interesting to latch onto. Sorry! :(

RELATED:  Ardour for Ada

Das entdeckte Geheimnis der Natur…by Christian Sprengel
I started reading this as research for The Female Correspondent, and because as far as I understand it’s still considered a seminal botanical text. Not to mention this is Charles Darwin’s edition with all his annotations. I love the internet. :)

Things I’ve Been Loving

Lust for Life
Summer wouldn’t feel like summer without Lana on repeat!

jinhao

Jinhao fountain pens
I ordered a few Jinhaos from Aliexpress: a 159, an x450, and an x750. All together they only cost about $9 and they are all fantastic! The 159 in particular writes very smoothly, and feels deliciously substantial. I highly recommend buying a bunch.

Habitica
I don’t tend to use any task management system for very long, but right now I’m really enjoying Habitica, which is an RPG-style habit tracker. You can immerse yourself even further in the game world by gamifying your task lists.

I have a daily #1k30min set up, in addition to my usual writing, so you might catch me word sprinting on MyWriteClub too!

Cicadas
I know posting cicada videos probably won’t earn me any followers on Instagram, but there’s something about these insects that really fascinates me. Maybe because they’re large enough to study, but still harmless. And maybe because I love the idea of metamorphosis. And maybe because I want to sing all summer too.

I keep finding these pale exuviae in the garden. Cicada live 5-7 years underground before they emerge and push out their wings, leaving their old ghostly selves behind. Isn’t that an even more disorienting metamorphosis than a caterpillar changing into a butterfly? It’s no wonder they feel like singing!

cicada exuviae

cicada

The Troad
It isn’t difficult to imagine the Northern Aegean as the cradle of Western literature. The warm climate, the cold cold springs, and the groves of argent olive trees are the stuff of poetry. And alas, touristry.

Nevertheless I enjoyed revisiting the Zeus Altar on Gargaros. It’s 1774m above sea level – much higher than Ben Nevis – but you can drive up most of the way, so a 10-minute stroll gives you magnificent views of Edremit bay and misty Lesbos. I don’t know which way the current archeological theories lean, but I certainly think it’s the perfect spot for a god to view the battle on the Trojan plain.

He came to Ida with all her springs, the mother of wild beasts,
to Gargaron, where was his holy ground and his smoking altar.

A post shared by Eva Deverell (@evadeverell) on

Lavender ice cream
I also had lavender ice cream for the first time. Mostly plain with just 4-5 buds, but the aftertaste was surprisingly pleasant. From now on I think I’ll keep some lavender on hand to sprinkle on ice cream or cereal.

lavender ice cream

Yum.