Thursday, 23 September 2010

Narrative Class [2]

Our homework this week was to write twenty original story ideas and bring them to class. I didn’t spend hours developing my ideas, but I love the prospect of setting aside time to brainstorm. I don’t write on Sundays, so instead, I’m going to write down twenty ideas for potential shorts or longer works. Every Sunday. I’ll choose the best five and paste them on my wall for future reference. Ace beans.

Guest speaker was
Peter F. Hamilton. He writes those thick sci-fi tomes that weigh down bookshelves but he was an interesting speaker, and almost pulled off the waistcoat look. His methods for writing such complex books are as thorough and assiduous and you might expect. Eight months planning and a strict eight-hour writing regime for over a year and a half for each book. Yikes.

One thing he said struck me as odd. Apparently, he only reads 2-3 books a year. I was surprised at this. I expect all professional writers to be professional readers, so this knocked me. He spoke about his love for reading as a child, so it was doubly odd that he’d limit himself to such a tiny reading list as a grownup. Does the urge to read ebb away? Shouldn’t he be reading to fuel his inspiration as a writer? Even if you have the most hectic home life, surely you can squeeze in a little more than that?

Anyway. Of the ideas I wrote down, I think two or three have merit. It's very tricky to bottle a story into one tagline (or logline) sentence without making it sound crap. Such is the challenge this week.

On another topic, my cowboy trousers came out wrinkled in the wash. I would iron them, but I’m too busy modelling waistcoats.


  1. I think my reading is becoming more mechanical. I definitely don't enjoy it as much.

  2. You do more writerly reading instead of readerly reading? It can be overwhelming.

  3. I am always surprised by how much reading YOU do, but that is because you are a student. When I was a student there was so much reading I HAD to do, that fitting in pleasure reading was rarish (I typically read maybe 3-4 pleasure books during the school year, but then that many a MONTH in the summer.

    Now I am always reading something, but in the last month, 3 of the books I've read have been pre-published (2 for friends, one my own--preparing for edit) and then 2 published books. So if he doesn't count the beta reading... or if he is a selfish bastard and doesn't DO any beta reading... I definitely read more than 3-4 a YEAR, but 20 a year might not be off if I don't count those...

  4. That's wild you got to meet him! Maybe he reads fewer books because he's writing more? Good to know Hamilton places characters over world building, as the latter is something I continue to work on.

  5. Hart: Universities monopolise our reading. They dictate what we must read and mould us into drooling simulacra of one another until our insides are pie. I have no idea what I just typed there. I am on medication.

    Your beta reading amount is impressive!

    Alex: He said that, but two-three a year? What? Madness!

  6. The 2-3 books a year is shocking, but more shocking is the fact that you have cowboy trousers. What, and maybe I don't want to know, are cowboy trousers?

  7. They are, funnily enough, trousers in the cowboy style. Replete with gun holsters.