One of the reasons I started my blog is that I have this fantasy about being an author. I love to read so why not write? Well, writing is not for everyone, but I read that blogging is a good way to hone one’s writing skills so here I am.
I’m not the most devoted writer. I get distracted by work, family, Netflix, shopping, severe bouts of depression, and life in general. All of those things are probably happening right now as you read this. I’m an unstoppable whirlwind of sad, lazy American-with-no-PTO.
I’ve been stocking up ideas for years and I started worldbuilding this fall. I bought some nonfiction, visited some museums, and raked through old CDs and sketchbooks. One image I have for my main character is one I started drawing when I was about eleven.
Here is the problem of why I might be a very good author but I might be a terrible one: I have a dialogue inside by head for EVERYTHING. And I’ve always been that way. Sometimes it lies to me and tells me I’m unsuccessful and not living up to my potential and then I get depressed. But SOMETIMES it is like reading a book and loose stories and characters unfold as I do other things like drawing or driving or baking cookies. I constantly have ideas. It’s hard to organize, but it is sort of like an old card catalog at the library – if you are interested in STARS you should check out the cards on HOLLYWOOD and ASTRONOMY. It just goes on and on and on, one topic melting into another until I need to focus on something for real.
This is me getting real. I entered NaNoWriMo and have a goal of having a rough draft by December. A whole rough draft. I just switched to a job with a lighter schedule because I really doubt I’ll ever get somewhere without more education and I start school again in January. So with a little time on my hands this is a perfect opportunity to really do something different. Like I need another hobby. Ugh.
I admit to not having an outline for my novel (though I do have an outline for my prologue that I wrote several years ago) and I don’t even remotely know how my main character is getting to the end of her story. I do, however, have some research and some inspiration.
I love fantasy and maps but get very tired of European-inspired maps and cultures in every. single. book. I. read. So sometimes I break off and read dystopian fiction, which is barely a scootch away from my preferred genre, epic high fantasy. I’m not sure if it’s white guilt or boredom or something else, but no matter how much I love these books and settings I can’t be the only one thinking “this is the same damn thing.”
Don’t get me wrong – the monomyth is fantastic and continuity is what makes it work. We know that Frodo, Jesus, and Luke Skywalker are going to win and we still watch or read to the end. Knowing the ending and getting there are two different things. Plus there is something very peaceful in the hero winning and the bad guy getting what he deserves. It’s psychologically soothing (if a little delusional) to see the little guy get the gold or the girl or wheatever. But the MAPS…. Let me show you what I mean.
This is Gwynnedd, home of Saint Camber, created by author Katherine Kurtz.
This is a man’s stuttering fantasy about polyamory.
This is Middle Earth, thank you Tolkien.
This is the Seven Kingdoms, where everyone is dead, damn you George R. R. Martin.
Yes, I wrote on the pictures of the books. I own the books. I took the pictures. And before you start suing me, Estate of Robert Jordan, know that it took me seven damn books for me to realize I really hate your protagonist and you wasted my time by reiterating the whole story thus far in each book. Also know that I learned a word in my Honors Art class from my crazy art teacher. It’s something called APPROPRIATION and it’s when you plagiarize something and remake it into your own art. Since it’s art it’s not illegal. That’s all I’m doing. AND SO ARE YOU.
Each map is Europe. I’m so tired of it. The protagonist is always English. Maybe Ned Stark is from Manchester. I don’t know. I still love it but I’m never surprised anymore.
So I collected a group of books that inspired me to think outside the box (or circular journey) of the monomyth:
Now look at this map! It’s actually technically science fiction but it has monomyth qualities as well. It’s a whole planet. Without England.
This is the planet Pern, where there are dragons and weird burny mold spores that fall from the sky.
In fact Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” also has a map like this. A whole planet, no England. That’s a TV show and I don’t have a map but if you never watched it, It’s on Netflix.
Okay to wrap this all together, I will tell you that I am working on a novel. I want to have a rough draft done by the end of December. I can’t wait for the next Song of Fire and Ice book to come out, but I also think that since I’ve never been to England I probably shouldn’t pretend I know much about it or write about it. I love maps and geography and I’m appropriating “New World” geography into my story. I really drew a picture of my protagonist when I was a kid. I have collected books and visited museums and made photocopies and I watched the Voyage of the Mimi 2 and I dreamed and ruminated and it is time to spit it out. There is so much more I can say but it will just have to wait for another post.
There is a quote attributed to John Steinbeck that goes
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
Damn. I’m doomed.