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The Sunday Serial, Issues 4 & 5

The Sunday Serial, 10 July 2016, Issues 4 & 5

Welcome to the Sunday Serial, Christopher’s weekly blog article, containing his reflections and observations on philosophy, literature, religion, and life, while also giving updates and announcements on his literary progress and process.

Personal Reflection:

With last weekend being that of the Fourth of July, I did not write an article, on account of festivities and time spent with family; thus, a whole week later, I have decided to consolidate Issues 4 & 5, for convenience’s sake. On that note, I pray each of my American readers that you all had a blessed, fruitful, and restful Independence Day weekend. And, although I have taken small break from writing, I am fairly certain this past week has been a mostly productive one. For, on Tuesday, I had the privilege of inspecting an apartment, which is the likely candidate for residence over the next couple of years, while I am finishing my undergraduate studies. Granted, this location is by no means a penthouse, and it does need a great amount of fixing-up, it is, however, well within mine and my future roommate’s budgets. Both of us were sincerely grateful and thankful that this apartment became available, and we are hopeful it will, indeed, happen that we will be living there. Apart from that, all week my car has been at the shop, being repaired, because of a minor traffic collision, having occurred a few weeks ago; so, I have been staying with my other set of grandparents, writing when I am able, and enjoying an even slower pace than to which I have become accustomed. On Friday, I registered a new domain name and ported it over to my current web hosting service; this purchase, I shall confess, was more or less an impulse buy, but I have in a mind a future project, and wished to reserve the url before someone else could. Furthermore, I became a member of a rather interesting looking forum board service; I will admit here, too, forums may typically use archaic technology, but I think they maintain a particular aesthetic, and are a vestige of the internet that will not soon disappear entirely. The last major accomplishment I made this week was in doing some philosophizing on beauty, and on literature. Therefore, for an unusually slow week, I must have worked harder than I want to give myself credit.

I read somewhere recently, and I believe the saying was intended to be taken somewhat tongue-in-cheek; I, nevertheless, think it to be entirely accurate. It read to this effect: “Even when a writer is not writing, he is thinking about writing.” This is especially relevant to me, as of present, because, though I have not written a substantial amount lately, I have been thinking about what I wish to say, and trying to come to as much clarity of thought on literary matters as possible. For truly, a writer’s mind should never cease to connect ideas between everyday life and his current authorial project(s). I know, personally, I am constantly running phrases through my head, hoping to discover a golden combination of words or ideas, that may make their way into the story. But often, the deepest insights are the ones that transpire the farthest away from the pen and legal pages, or even from consciously contemplating the opus: from the moments in one’s life of great import, to its mundanest trivialities. Yet, these are the things, which are the easiest to allow into the pages, if one allows them. Life is ripe with fresh creative material, and the artist must learn how to effectively synthesize these experiences into his work. So that, although, he is neither actively writing nor directly thinking about his art, he is indirectly conscious of his literature, because of the manner in which it is inextricably linked with who he is as an individual person.

Literary Update:

I already mentioned that I have not made any new leaps or bounds on the book; although, I did write several more pages in the draft, which is at least something (and something is always better than nothing). I am, as well, coming closer to having the draft to this first chapter written, so I am anticipating it will be ready, within the next few days; at which time, I shall be able to move on to the main narrative body. Tomorrow, however, I will have a time of jubilee, because that day, 11 July, will mark the one year anniversary of my having begun conceptualizing the novel. I have yet to decide on how I am to celebrate. It will, of course, be a small affair, but I fully intend to make some small token, in gesture, of all the work and effort that has been entered into the whole project, thus far; further, a recognition of everything that has occurred in my own life and in the lives of those closest to me should be in order as well. This is a great deal, and I am, quite frankly, pleased with myself that I have not given up on the project; therefore, I am anxious and excited to see where the rest of the book goes, and I am rather hopeful that the next year will be one of numerous blessings. All of my readers’ continued support is always welcomed, and please never hesitate to leave a comment on articles, or a message through the site’s contact page.

The Sunday Serial, Issue 3

The Sunday Serial, 26 June 2016, Issue 3

Welcome to the Sunday Serial, Christopher’s weekly blog article, containing his reflections and observations on philosophy, literature, religion, and life, while also giving updates and announcements on his literary progress and process.

Personal Reflection:

I am at a loss. I am at a loss, about what to write for today’s article. I do not believe it is for lack of material (there is always plenty of that), but rather for lack of inspiration (which seems to be in short supply lately). Therefore, I propose I will give a few suggestions, which may be helpful in relieving writer’s block, as I cope with my own. (Please note: this is not in any way meant to be an exhaustive list, merely a few brief recommendations.) First, simply rest; I think sometimes a writer may overextend himself into his work. While dedication, devotion, and passion are all inseparable from writing well, there comes a certain point where exhaustion has a tendency to set in; so, in this event, a good break may be both well deserved and much needed. That being the case, perhaps the writer’s best interest would lie in leaving the manuscript sitting idle, for an appropriate amount of time. On the other hand, depending on the particular situation and one’s own needs, the opposite of the first might be the best option: that is, entirely pouring one’s being into the project, trucking away until a moment of inspiration is hit, or a natural ending point is reached. I would not normally recommend this second option; however, I have occasionally surprised myself by writing straight through, even when I did not feel remotely like continuing.

In between these two extremes, though, there are plenty of other activities an author may pursue, while struggling to break free of a malady, at some point afflicting virtually every writer. One that comes immediately to mind is picking up another project that is unfinished as well; because, by laboring at writing basically anything, one has the potential of having some sort of epiphany or moment of inspiration that may aid in projecting the stuck project. (For this reason, among others, I will always suggest that a writer keep a journal.) If not writing, then, one ought to do whatever else it is, about which he is most passionate: sports, long walks, hobbies, mechanics, reading, spending time with friends, etc, etc. I have found that merely doing what I enjoy, often helps give me clarity of mind; for even though I may not actively be attempting to solve a specific literary quandary, I am healthily distracting myself, and with that a certain open mindedness and lucidity usually follows. Ultimately, of course, the individual must do what he feels best for himself, playing around with all sorts of methods and ideas, until he is remedied from the pains and evils of writer’s block. Or, perhaps, he is never able to adequately be cured, in which event he must simply move on to something else, and hope for the best. As for myself, tonight, I am going to rest, and make an effort to catch up on the sleep I am lacking. To that end, I do, however, apologize for the relative brevity of this Sunday’s post.

Literary Update:

Again, this is going to be a very brief update; for some reason tonight, I am not at all feeling like writing a long exposition on my progress. In a sentence: I did some rewriting and made a few additions to the the Prologue; I wrote a short essay on both of the two central characters; and gained some more ground, as far as structuring the novel as a whole goes. Next week, I very much to hope to have been able to make much more progress in actually writing, and to have posted a lengthier weekly post. At any rate, and on the bright side, at least I am not a day late on this week’s article.

The Sunday Serial, Issue 2

The Sunday Serial, 20 June 2016, Issue 2

(Monday Edition)

Welcome to The Sunday Serial, Christopher’s weekly blog article, containing his reflections and observations on philosophy, literature, religion, and life, while also giving updates and announcements on his literary progress and process.

Personal Reflection:

This is only the second issue of The Serial, and already am I a day behind; however, I do suppose that better late than never holds true. I should spare the reader from excuses, and I do apologize, as well as forewarn the reader this will occasionally happen; nevertheless, I will write that my weekend included an impromptu drive, and overnight stay in Dayton. For you see, on Saturday afternoon, one of my best friends invited me to his apartment, for dinner with him and his wife, that night. I ate with them, and took the prerogative to stay the night with another Daytonian friend of mine, instead of having to drive all the way home that late. Then, with yesterday being Father’s Day, I had dinner with one set of my grandparents; thus and finally, late yesterday evening, I arrived back at my summer residence. So, by the time I made it, I was thoroughly exhausted to the point I merely (and barely) mustered the energy to journal a few pages, before retiring for the evening. I, overall, did have a good weekend, even if unexpected; therefore, in that way, I do not feel all that bad for writing this post a day later than anticipated. Furthermore, I reckon, one should never need apologize for deferring certain activities, in favor of spending that time with family and friends.

In any event, in my experience, I have often noticed that traveling is one of the most important activities as a writer; for, when one travels, he accumulates a great many experiences, in a fairly short amount of time, while being able to traverse many interesting places. And, of course, the more experiences one has in his repertoire, the more frames of reference or categories has he, about to which to write. (In a separate article, I shall have to delineate each of the aspects I think are most beneficial and conducive to the whole authorial process.) I am both blessed and fortunate that I have been able to travel a great deal, in the past year: two road trips (one last Fall, and the other only a few weeks ago), and a school trip to England, at the beginning of January. Through these travels, I have met all manner of people, and visited just as diverse locations; I have stayed in both small towns, and major cities, and everywhere in between. It is for these reasons that I would recommend anyone who does already write, or wishes to write, to journey as much as possible, especially when able; because the opportunity to travel any distance may not soon again come. Anyways, these journeys are, I believe, but smaller, more condensed chapters, foreshadowing the greater odyssean narrative of one’s whole life.

Personally, I also find that moving in general, no matter for how long, helps me to think and to write; for some reason, throughout the years, I have discovered that I seem to do some of my best thinking while I am driving, or riding, or walking. I am unable to quite explain this particular phenomenon, but it causes me wonder what the connection between imagination and physical activity is. In fact, my family and friends have frequently pointed out that I am a chronic pacer, and I am fairly certain it has to do with this connection.

Literary Update:

Progress is going yet sluggishly; however, last week I made leaps and bounds, in comparison to where I had been. First, I created a fictional town, in my actual county, for this current story to be set, and with the intention for the town to be used as a setting in later works as well; further, I even went so far as to painstakingly spend hours pouring over maps of the county, attempting to find an ideal and viable physical location for the municipality. After having found a potential option, the next day I actually drove to that area, and it does seem as if it will serve rather well for my purposes. Secondly, it dawned on me a way to solve a minor plot hole, near to the outset of the novel; it is really a simple solution that made an epiphany on me, while I was drying myself from a shower. Thirdly, the major, most important, and celebratory achievement, this week, was that I actually began writing the first draft of my manuscript; I have only just started the prologue, having only written nine and half hundred words or so, but the manuscript is now a live document, as of Friday, 17 June 2016. It has tens of thousands of words to go, across at least two or three drafts, but the book-writing itself has commenced. Now it is a matter of writing every day, even if only a little, and keeping up the forward momentum, lest it be lost.

The Sunday Serial, Issue 1

The Sunday Serial, 12 June 2016, Issue 1

Welcome to the Sunday Serial, Christopher’s weekly blog article, containing his reflections and observations on philosophy, literature, religion, and life, while also giving updates and announcements on his literary progress and process.

Personal Reflection:

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made,” (Gen. 2:2, KJV).

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” (Exodus 20:8, KJV).

Sundays are supposed to be days for rest, days for reflection, for silence, for decompression from a stressful work week, for recreation, for church, for fellowship with family and friends. Often, though, it seems one never quite catches that much needed break; instead of a day of rest, one finds himself running to and fro, attempting to catch up on all manner of things, which time does not afford during the week itself. There is yard work, home repairs, laundry and dishes, errands to be run, take-home overtime work, and a myriad other things that frequently take precedence over worshipping, simply relaxing with a good book out on a porch on a warm early-summer afternoon, or playing a few sets of tennis with a close friend. The writing life is no different: I spend all week brainstorming, scribbling something akin to handwriting across poor yellow, legal pages, reading, researching, journaling, consuming copious amounts of coffee, and pulling late nights, for the project on which I am currently working. As a college student living with one set of my grandparents this summer, I decided to forgo a normal, conventional 8 to 5 day job, in favor of working on my novel full time, at least for the duration of the long break. And writing is a full time job, even the writer never seems to catch a break; on account, there is always some new task ahead of him to overcome: whether a bout of writer’s block, a plot which does not quite want to be stitched together, a lack of words, too many words, not the right word, etc., etc.

The writer also lives a life, from having to have his car repaired, to going into town, to spending time with family and friends, to organizing things for the next semester, to looking for an apartment, etc. And so, for this reason, he too often must either defer a portion of his writing work to the weekend, or do those other “real life” duties on the weekend, not leaving enough time for leisure and rest. This is where I have found myself for the past couple of Sundays, playing catch up on authorial tasks, and thinking harder than I know I should, on this the Lord’s day. Do not misunderstand me, I love what I do as an aspiring writer, but it does come with its own challenges, which are wont to be taxing. However, it is most likely not the best idea for me to spend the better part of a Sunday, after Mass, consumed with how I am to either avert a character from an existential crisis, or perhaps lead him straight into another one. The day is to be enjoyed, and it should be a time for me to take heart in the progress I have made in the past week, rather than dwelling on the work I know I must do. I will surely be doing more work on brainstorming, this Sunday afternoon, but I pray it will the kind in which I take extra enjoyment, and not the laborious, stuck-in-a-rut sort. God deigned that man should have a day of rest, as the Lord himself rested on the seventh day; so important is this dictate that it is one of the Ten Commandments. Man grows weary after a week of labor, and I think the Lord understood that mankind would need a break to rest his body and mind. Though, in all this–work or leisure–it must be given to the greater glory of God.

Literary Update:

The literary work is coming along slowly, more slowly than I would like anyways, but I do want to do a good, thorough, thoughtful job throughout the entire process. You see, I am even still only in the brainstorming phase: reading and researching as much as possible, and working on plot development have been my primary tasks over the past fortnight or so. My desk is cluttered with more than a dozen volumes, and littered with stray printoffs, copies, and handwritten pages. I read slower than I want, I often think slower than I want. Nevertheless, I have been working hard, and making small progress, even though it does not always feel like it. Just this week, I settled on a name for my protagonist, established a title for the book, and some headway was made in way of development. Yesterday, I also noticed, on the date stamp of the main file folder, that I had started working on the concept of the story eleven months ago to the day. The most basic premise has now been in my mind for eleven months and one day, and only now I am making any semblance of demonstrable progress. Yet I must remind myself that slow writing is the norm. It is as I read in one of my favorite books on writing (you will see me quote from this slim volume, time and time again), The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard:

If a full-time writer averages a book every five years, that makes seventy-three usable pages a year, or a usable fifth of a page a day. The years that biographers and other nonfiction writers spend amassing and mastering materials match the years novelists and short story writers spend fabricating solid worlds that answer to immaterial truths. On plenty of days the writer can write three or four pages, and on plenty of other days he concludes he must throw them away. These truths comfort the anguished. They do not mean, by any means, that faster-written books are worse books. They just mean that most writers might well stop berating themselves for writing at a normal, slow pace. (14-15)

It is as the old saying goes: “Slow and steady wins the race.” This adage appears not merely to be true in everyday life, but in writing as well.