Friday, April 18, 2008

On the beginnings of a doctorate...

I'm looking at doing a novel for my PhD. I know. I must first get past my degree, then into a year of honors, and after that, if my work is seen as good enough, only then will I be accepted into a PhD. But I've always believed in looking ahead, something like five years ahead in his instance. It's good to keep perspective.

And so I have a novel in mind. It's a novel which has been bouncing around in my head, on and off, since I was about 16. Of course, at 16, my writing was terrible. But there was a lot of thought that went into that terrible writing, so that now, at 24, I think I'm starting to build enough world understanding, and writing experience, and together, combined, I might actually be able to make something truly magnificent out of this story.

Or maybe I'm fooling myself, but it might be an interesting discovery to document in the world of blogging either way.

On Wednesday this week, I sat down to my computer, ignored my internet connection for a couple of hours, and set about just writing one scene of, what I hope might end up, my proposed doctorate. It went well.

The scene that I wrote encompassed a lot of backstory that was drawn from a bit of context that I know about the world from having written in it for the last eight years. Making the realisation that the "plot" starts about half way through the original "story" means that I need to contextualise things slightly different. For example, the cities that this story unfolds within. There are three of them: the first city, which has just come out from under the thumb of a dictatorship; the second city, which was destroyed in a magical war several generations before my narrative starts up, and the third city, one built with water, and trade in mind in the foremost.

I think that the main moment I expressed, when getting this one scene down this week, was a feeling of understanding the wider scope of what does and does not, what has and has not, made cities in various agricultural areas work over the span of our history. I am currently enrolled in a Liberal Arts course, and that's got everything you're ever going to need to get into second year at university. It has your history, your literature, sociology, politics, etc, and then, of course, it goes into how all of these disciplines interconnect with each other. Now my novel is an alternative history, fantasy novel, but I think that some of the same rules do apply. A city that is built with a coast of water on most sides should prosper. But if it is far away from the two first cities, and is the last to come into its own, then that gives explanation as to why it is only the third, and presumedly least important, of the three cities.

The scene that I got written was more than 2,000 words, which is good for me, as I too often have a tendency to write shorter scenes than I would like. It's something I'm working on. But perhaps, if this rule to only write one scene in a sitting, for this novel, takes hold, then I'll find a lot more writing being put into each scene.

Anyway, I like the idea of keeping track of my progress, so that means you all will get to too.

Happy weekend!

Nikki Watson.