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A rough start, but a start.

Reading is easier than writing. Kinda like how appreciating a piece of art is easier (and quicker) than reading. Even if artists take just as much time to produce a work as a writer would—and they often do—the human brain is optimized for the visual in its nature. Not a lot of dangers in the wild shaped like letters.

My journey for 1000 Days to an MFA has started off slow, disappointingly so at times.

But I knew this going in. It’s going to take time to develop the routine. It’s also going to take time for the kids to grow up just a little bit more so they aren’t so dependent on me (or the wife) for constant attention.

I’ve found that pulling out an Kindle on the couch and reading to be a much more tolerable, and doable, experience while the kids are in the living room, than slapping a computer on my lap and banging away at the keyboard. Even going back to my analog roots with pen and paper tends to draw them to me like bugs to a light source.

Not that I don’t mind them being interested in writing. This weird thing daddy is doing, where strokes of a pen on paper make funny shapes, like the ones on their wooden blocks, is fascinating, but it’s simply not productive or even mentally helpful. And so reading it is, for now.

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Book List

As part of the 1000 Days to an MFA program I’ve developed this book list. Feel free to read along with me and please recommend new titles, in the comments, that may not be on the list. My preferred genres are science fiction, fantasy, and anything really good. Thank you.

I have included links to all these titles. Where possible I’ve included free versions (Project Gutenberg) of the books, otherwise assume they are Amazon Affiliate links.

If you know of a legitimate free source for any title send it to me and I’ll update the link.

Crafting Book – Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (My post about this book.)
Classic – Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (PG) (Did not finish. Couldn’t get into it. Wasn’t interesting to me.)

Novel – Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Read. Decent pop-corn fiction. 3/5 stars.)

Crafting Book – Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
Classic – A Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Novel – Consider Phlebas – Iain M. Banks

Crafting Book –The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (My post about this book.)
Classic – Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Novel – Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Crafting Book – Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Classic – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Novel – All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Crafting Book – How to Read Literature Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster
Classic – Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany

Novel – To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Crafting Book – TBD
Classic – Neuromancer by William Gibson

Novel – Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Extra Titles (if time or next year)
Novel – Exo by Fonda Lee
Novel – Recursion: A Novel by Blake Crouch
Novel – Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Novel – Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Novel – We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
Novel – City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams
Novel – Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga) by Miles Vorsokigan
Classic – The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Classic – Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

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1000 Days to an MFA

“People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.”

Ray Bradbury, Beyond 1984: The People Machines, 1979

I also want better. Not just for the world around us, but also myself. Can I be a Bradbury, Asimov, Bester, PKD, Le Guin? What hubris to even think it?

While, these are fantastic role models for a writer (writing craft only, not their personal lives), I’m reminded of the affirmation, “The only person you should compare yourself to is your former self.” Well, I’m okay, but there’s room for improvement. 8^)

In our first writing group meeting of the year we did an informal discussion, and some light-hearted ribbing, on our plans and ever extending deadlines for this year.

One of our members mentioned they were doing a program first promoted by Ray Bradbury on how to improve your writing – 1000 Days to an MFA. There are daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

Over the years I have fallen behind on things I love to do. The evening isn’t getting any longer.

Taking inspiration from giants of the past and the friends of the present, I’m going to work on my future.

And so. The plan:

– 10 mins of free-writing
– 60 mins of writing (editing, outlining, or writing)
– 30 mins of drafting (new)
– One (1) short story, or poem.

– Finish One(1) short story (bi-monthly)
– One(1) blog post on website
READING: (Book List)
– Read one(1) craft book (bi-monthly)
– Read at least one novel

– Drafted one(1) short story or
one(1) deep character profile
– Read one(1) article on writing

– 12+ short stories (zero draft or better)
– 12+ blog posts
– 365+ short stories/poems
– 52+ articles on writing
– 6+ books on the craft of writing
– 12+ novels

This may be overly ambitious; I work full-time. It may be a setup for failure; I have two kids under four whose priorities come first. But it’s a start that’s been a long time coming.

Here’s to renewed endeavors. After all, I published two short stories last year! Keep the momentum going. Build healthy habits. Writing habits. Every day. Every week. Every month.

What plans do you have for the year and beyond?


“The most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

Randy Komisar, The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur
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I am very excited to have this site online, even more so to be able to offer my stories to you. While writing is not a full time job, it is a life-long endeavor.

Now that the site is live, I’m looking forward to getting back to writing. My writing group will be happy for something to do, for sure. I have several stories in the works so if you’d like to be notified when they are available consider signing up to the newsletter. (Your email will only be used for this purpose.)

If you are looking for artwork for your own projects, check out the Artist page for the talented people I commissioned to create art for my stories.

Enjoy and welcome to my corner of the internet.

-Malcolm Sterling

PS (Be sure to write a review if you are so inclined. I’d love the feedback.)