It’s been tough building a reading guide, but I’ve finally settled on 5 categories drawn from the 10 modules of the licentiate, such that I will now spend each morning reading three texts, one of which – the literary text — I’ll read every day and reread in the afternoon. The other two will alternate between four titles. Thus, from this mark, I will carry on reading Canterbury Tales first thing each morning, then reread the same section chapter or section straight after lunch. At the same time, I will alternate between Bennett & Royle’s An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (Routledge, 2016) with Constance Hale’s Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing (Norton, 2013), and Lila Abu-Lughod’s Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (Harvard University Press, 2015) with A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (Penguin, 1929/2002), insha’Allah.
Compared to keeping a journal, creative writing is slow and intense, although the most time-consuming part of the process is revision. I find it impossible to pen more than 500 words of creative prose a day, working 6-8 hours. On that basis, a first draft for a novel should take around 6 months to complete. I don’t know how long I will then need for revision, but I would imagine no more than half that time again, bringing the time needed to finish a novel about one year when planning is included. How, then, can I study and write proper at the same time? The truth it, I can’t, but I don’t feel I can write before I have a better sense of my craft. One possible solution might be to devote 12 months to reading intensively across the piste: historical, thematically, and in terms of genre, taking in both literary texts, literary theory, and books on writing skills. That sounds like a plan.