Last year in English class, we spent an entire day each week working on a project of our own choosing that addressed or remedied a modern social issue. We called it a 20% Time Project. I used writing my story as my project, and through it I wove the issue of the social class split, saying I was “addressing the issue.”
However, I regret to inform you, English teachers, but that social issue was far from my main priority. I was really just using every Thursday to write my book.
(It wasn’t pointless, though. The medieval class-split became a delicious little subplot, thanks to my research. I just was not intending to make a statement to the wider community about it. Sorry.)
This year, we’re bringing the 20 Time project back. I still wanted to incorporate my story into it, but I really do want to try to work in a social issue this time around.
Our teacher helped me find my new project. Our class did a “bad idea generator” exercise, where we wrote down the worst or most boring options for a 20 Time project. One of my ideas was to job-shadow an economist or someone who works for the stock market (because both, for me, are the dullest conceivable occupations I know of).
Then we were told to take one of our bad ideas and flip it around, turning it into a good idea. Immediately, I saw potential in the stock market one.
In a job shadow, you learn all about the career. I found that I would be able to stomach learning about economics if I could tie it to my story.
And so, for my 2017 20% Time project, I plan on gathering information on things like economics, government, foreign diplomacy, etc. through either straight-up research or by talking to people in my community. I will then take that information and use it in my story to make the governments of the kingdoms more realistic. I’ll learn the little isms that make or break a diplomatic discussion, or what exactly a country could do about a rogue neighbor without actually fighting against them. And who knows? I could find a really helpful tidbit and build a whole subplot off of it.
I’m planning on doing my research, and at every checkpoint, I will create a scene or two that highlights what I learned. I’ll describe an alliance delegation, or show dialogue between to characters complaining about what exactly is wrong with the kingdom’s economy, or something like that. Those few pages of scenes each checkpoint will be my physical manifestation of what I’ve learned.
To make my 20 Time project have a larger impact on my community, I also plan on looking into reading those passages at a bookstore or library or literary group, to get feedback and show off my writing to people other than my close friends and family.
In marching band, there’s a saying with regards to judging a performance – “Anyone from over thirty miles away is an expert.” That would apply here. Doing a public reading will give me advice from people who have no pretext or bias about me or my writing, so I can count on getting a more honest response.
I’ll be posting updates on how the project is going. I’m looking forward to it.