So far this month has been cruel to me.
It really has.
I have a fantastic story idea I really, really want to develop (It’s working title is CONSEQUENCE, though I fully expect to change that someday) but have I been able to find time for that? Hells no.
Between Giftmas stuff, having a life (*gasp* I know, right? But it’s true! I’ve actually even been out to three shows so far this month. Three. That’s like a record, I think), working on Niteblade and school–
Oh my goodness, school. Schoolwork has been kicking my butt far more than it should be. I don’t really get it, but there you have it. This month I have to do two assignments. The first is to write a research paper proposal, and the second is to write the paper I’ve proposed. I had *such* a difficult time picking a topic, first of all. All the ones suggested by the course made me roll my eyes, and none of the things I could think of that I wanted to write about could be imagined to fall within the guidelines. It was tricksy, but eventually I chose a topic, “Are North Americans eating healthier now than they were ten years ago?” (the answer, in case you were wondering, is a resounding no). Then I had to write a research paper proposal that included an outline of how I expected the paper to go. The notes in the coursework emphasize that we are not allowed to strongly deviate from that outline once our proposal is approved.
Let me let you in on a secret. I don’t outline. Okay, so that’s not a secret, but it’s true. This assignment forced me, someone who totally doesn’t outline. I discover the shapes of my stories (and essays) by writing them. By sticking my pen on the page and chaining one idea to another until it’s done. Trying to figure out how this essay was going to read was torture for me. It was cruel. Seriously.
I sincerely considered writing the paper and -then- doing the proposal once I knew how it was going to work. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that, if my professor insisted on any major changes from my proposal to the finished work I would potentially have to re-write the entire essay and I’m lazy. I didn’t want to do the assignment twice.
So I brooded about the outline for two days, then finally locked myself in my room and got it done. It hurt. It hurt more than going to the dentist, and I don’t mind telling you that the thought “I only need 50% to pass” occured to me more than once but I finished it and handed it in.
So yeah, forcing someone who doesn’t outline (I hate the word ‘pantser’, sorry.) to outline? That’s cruel. But I did it. Cause I’m awesome.
So that’s done, and handed in. Now I wait for feedback before writing my research paper. That can’t possibly hurt as much as the proposal. They can’t possibly make me outline it twice, right? Right?
My deadline for this course is the end of the month, which I’m eyeing with anticipation because that is when I’ll have some more time open up in my day and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to steal a week or two and lock myself away to work on Consequence. I’ve started it three times so far and haven’t liked any of them. I have a good idea for a fourth way to begin that I think might really work, but I won’t know for sure until I try. And that requires time. I feel like if I can hide from the world until I’ve written enough that I can see the shape the story is going to take I’ll be better equipped to make steady progress on it. We’ll see… we’ll see…