Shunga-Satori: Open Book Exam

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-07-01 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

The air conditioning in my house has konked out, so I'm sitting here surrounded by fans while typing this. It's not so much the heat as the humidity, as the saying goes. That and don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone. Anyway:

I got to about the two-thirds mark on the first draft of Shunga-Satori, and my goal is to have the whole first draft done by the end of July or mid-August or so. There's are a lot else going on in my life right now that may prevent this, but that's the plan. Another thing I've noticed during this process, and across the last couple of projects, is how messy my note-taking can be on my projects. 

I wrote a program called Folio to help me manage and track notes about my writing, although I find I don't always put into it the details I need to track unless I go through the text and force myself to do it. Too often I rely on the idea that the text is the authoritative source of information for the book. That's laziness and I know it, and I have to muster an effort to fight it.

Actually, now that I think about it, it's not laziness so much as impatience — the (misguided) idea that I don't need to muck around with note-taking and management, because that takes time away from actually writing the thing and getting it done and out of the way. Life may be short, but it's most likely not that short, not so short that taking some time here and there to have an organized bible about my work isn't worth it.

I still deal with vestiges of an old idea that caused me a lot of harm. I used to think any story I couldn't hold in my head all at once, holographically, was not worth writing. Then I saw Dostoevsky's notebooks and realized the whole reason he was able to write those sprawling narratives at all was because he took copious notes. The obverse of this is not also automatically true, either — that the only stories worth writing, or the best stories, are the ones with such a wealth of complexity that they can only be tracked on paper.

Another thing I still resist — again, maybe in an overcompensatory way — is the temptation to have the support notes for the story become their own encyclopedia. I'm not here to write a game supplement or a concordance, but tell a story. And I know there was a time in my life when I could easily have let the note-taking part of the storytelling become an all-consuming obsession. Maybe I pushed back against it a little too hard, but I've had trouble finding a good balance since.

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