Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As a part of my upcoming creative writing class, I've undertaken a creative writing project of my own.  That is, I've begun to write a novel.

That's not entirely true.  So far I've begun to write character sketches and vague ideas for a setting (and even vaguer ideas for a plot).  The process of writing an actual novel, it seems to me, hinges much on creating these kind of component parts first, which presents an interesting challenge for me as a writer who tends to think and write in blog-post-sized increments.

More to the point, there's the challenge of writing fiction.  While I don't display it here, I do have an active imagination - it's a part of why I'm such an avid gamer - but actually tapping into that when I write is something I have never really tried to do.  Or, at least, I haven't done so since high school when I took creative writing myself.

Why this project, then, and why now?  For a couple reasons.  Firstly, I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to teach is to model learning.  By working on writing a novel of my own, I will certainly be learning and struggling and creating and all of the good things I want the students to be doing.  Secondly, as my world shifts to education research, my focus will be so much on academic things that I'm unlikely to be able to carve out the space necessary to work on such an ambitious creative project.  There are other reasons, but these two are the most pertinent.

As for the subject, well...  It's going to be a little esoteric, but that's only because I would rather write well about what I know than pretend to be able to write about things I do not.  My hope is that, though the setting and characters will be inspired by, if not drawn from, personal experience (which, I suppose, is true for all writers), the core of the story will extend beyond any narrow personal connections.  In short, I'll be struggling to walk the paradoxical line between personal and impersonal that marks good writing.

The subject, then, is the academic and romantic life of a "Barr College" (modeled after St. John's, of course) student by the name of Jonnathan Quinn.  Perhaps soon I'll post one of my early character sketches for Jonnathan and/or some of his classmates and teachers.  It will be some time before I can give more detail about the plot.  Nor can I say what strange twists I'll put into the style and the - for lack of a better word - design of the novel.  Needless to say, while I want to write something at least moderately accessible, I also am drawn to the fantastical and strange stylings of authors like Italo Calvino.

So, in short, this is an ambitious project that will happen - if it does - in stages.  Some pieces will undoubtedly appear on this blog.  The act of working on this project will likely curtail, at least somewhat, the regularity of my posting here.  In the meantime, wish me luck, and hopefully before the end of the year (that's my goal), I'll have at least a draft of my first novel.

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