So it’s finally February, and i’ve started going over the stories I went over while I was writing my first novel last year. I am surprised to see that there are nearly 60k worth of stories in various forms of completion and quality, not to mention the stories written down in journals and books. the best part of all of this its like going over everything for the first time all over again, and some of it’s pretty good.
I am a human being, so try in my own unique way to put down my abilities and progression, but it’s really reassuring to find all sorts of stories on garbagemen heroes, tribes in fantasy worlds, stories about God’s imaginary friend, and the beginning of what is the origin of my next novel.
2016 was for me both a difficult time, and a really functional one, filled with a finished novel, half a finished second one, about 10k words for a 1920’s detective horror game, work on a boardgame, SCI-FI card game, and about 20 or so short stories. I don’t quite know how I managed to keep a straight face when I would tell myself I wasn’t working hard enough.
I think we are all involved with this sort of game at some point or another, pushing ourselves into a corner where the only options are to be slogged down or to claw our way out, I recommend the second one. I think the biggest misconception about writing or creating art in general is that there are specific times and moments you should wait for but if you’re really interested in becoming an artist you have to do it all of the time, and not just the good days.
That being said it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you’re not really going anywhere, but if you just pick up your creative tools and get to work a little bit all of the time you will pause and look back at everything, and suddenly it will all add together and you can take one of those rare little moments filled with smug glee.
I am definitely a worrier by nature, but i’m also a plunger, which together force me into these moods where I feel anxious because i’m not doing enough and pushing myself further. I get days where I just don’t want to do anything, my tank is empty, and a slight breeze would knock me over. Then there are those days where everything just comes together and I wonder how I managed to spend so much time not writing in my life.
I was thinking a lot about my past, wondering about the creativity and literary pull that must have existed at an early age, but seems to have stopped somewhere a long the way. It’s mad because I have one of those memories where I can remember what type of smudge there was on the bus window when my partner was talking to me about the type of music we would expect at a club.
I have the privilege of being one of those children far too smart for their own good, with a flair for poetry and magic that landed me a few publications in poetic books. I grew up in a book reading household, and my Dad was heavily involved in roleplaying games, but not the fetish stuff (he kept that out of the kitchen).
I remember thinking it was the coolest thing in the world, watching from the stairs, while him and his friends sat down and hallucinated for a few hours while they tossed bits of odd-shaped plastic, and did silly voices. It seemed like some sort of rite of manhood, especially as my Father had always stressed the importance of reading and imagination.
I was 15 when he invited me to play with them, and I remember thinking in the same way adolescent tribesmen must have felt when they were invited to be whipped with nettles, and their penis bashed with a rock to banish foul spirits. I was nervous, but extremely proud, and I still remember how much I sucked when I first begun to role play, and the disappointed looks my Dad would give me when I said or did something stupid.
I read a lot of sword and sorcery books because they were the sorts of things my Dad really liked, I still remember finishing Druss the Legend for the first time and it completely changing my outlook on good and evil, and what constituted as a good story. I can’t really tell when I became obsessed with the murkier side of fantasy, but Gemmel was definitely up there as one of the founding fathers.
Raistlin was perhaps my favourite character as a teenager, a moody outsider, who relies on his brain to show the world that he’s not just a weakling. I remember feeling drawn to him reading the Legend trilogy, both disgusted with his actions, but glad that I could experience it all with him without having to pay the way he had in the end.
I have written all sorts of strange things growing up, even then thinking that I didn’t just want to be a specific writer. I remember being 15 and looking over a Warhammer 40k Codex, and saying that I wanted to make a new race for GW. I had no idea how to do this, so I looked at the layout and started to copy out the stuff that was in each codex, and coming up with a new and exciting race.
The biggest problem I had writing when I was younger was that I loved to start things, but really struggled to finish them. I loved story telling though, and would often find myself in trouble for getting to school with my little brother so late, despite leaving over an hour before and only living twenty minutes from school.
I would try and explain to my Mum that we were on a quest, and the reason my little brothers coat was always full of dirt and grass was because we had to hide from trolls and goblins. She tried to look serious, but I was a smart kid and could tell she was repressing a smirk. It’s basically all my parents fault, and i’d often find myself having to explain that fact to the world.
I spent Six years pursuing education through animal biology and behaviour, which mixed my love of animals with discovery and science, and as little work as possible. I think I started my first novel then, a mix between Lord of the Rings and Never Ending Story, full of malignant Red Caps and a demonic dog called Demorg.
The story started with an evil wizard in his impenetrable tower, where he was trying to create new life, and in his success animated a skeleton, the only problem was the skeleton was really friendly and didn’t want to hurt anyone. There were all of these undead creatures who just wanted to be allowed to do as they pleased, and not have to be anyones slave. The first skeleton was named Bonesy, and had a personality as bright and endearing as his permanent smile.
The rest followed the hellhound pursuing this angry Gandalf character, and these goblin-like Red Caps having to wear iron shoes so they didn’t accidentally go too fast and fall down the chasms to their death. It was all very weird, and i’d like to see where that goes one day, maybe it could be its own little story.
I hope whatever it is that you’re interested in you at least give it a go. Start it, finish it, then get someone to look at it, then you can decide how you feel about it. I think we like to trick ourselves into thinking nobody is interested when creating gets difficult, so we stop somewhere before the halfway point, so we don’t have to face facts that even the things we really want to do can be hard sometimes. Just do it anyway, it’s best kind of work, and you don’t care as much when people don’t like it.