Intro to Lessons: Book I
If you haven’t already gathered, the blog is going to consist of two types of articles. The first type is going to be content that is theological/philosophical in nature. I’ve hit the ground running already by posting the preface and two chapters of a book I’ve worked on this last year, during the in-between time of editing Book I.
The other articles/content will be chiefly devoted to what I’ve learned thus far while writing Book I. I originally wanted to have two separate blogs, but despite being a millennial I couldn’t figure out how to do that, so I will probably separate them with different tags or something. Theological content will be titled something along the lines of “Deep Think” or something like that… and content about my book will be “Lessons: Book I.”
It is my opinion that there is great wealth to be had in reflecting on ones own creative process, and the process of others. The chief recipient to these rewards will be me, as I externally process how I came to where I am now, but I also think there may be wealth to be had by you the reader. Some of you may be writers yourselves, or maybe you are just curious about my world (Nishtar). Whatever the case, I plan to make it interesting, and I hope you come along for the ride.
I have no real rubric or structure to all this. My head is just too disorganized, my thoughts too tertiarily connected, my ideas too sprawling to try to make a map of them. Leave it to say that I will probably just be posting on this or that facet of my process as they arise, and I will try to entrench myself in my former self‘s thought processes as I do so, putting myself in my own shoes. The process of writing Book I has been one of momentous, invariable amounts of change… to even begin to try and capture the breadth of this is beyond me. But hopefully I can chip away at it as I focus in on narrow windows of my creative growth as I reflect on the last five years.
So, without more bloviating, here’s how things rumbled into a beginning.
It really all began at a local diner in Redding, Ca. As I’ve said before, I have ample amounts of free time when off work. I work three 12-hour shifts, and have 4 days off each week. At the time I had no kid, and my wife works as a teacher, so I had nothing but laundry, dishes (both of which I neglected), and time on my hands. It is hard for me to crystalize how the initial thoughts constellated in my head, but at some point I remember drawing a rough map of my world. It wasn’t even the whole of Nishtar, but just a row of mountains that centered the continent. I remember making three of the mountains distinctly larger, with the idea of having these mountains being kingdoms or centers of civilization.
From this point I created some rough characters to populate the kingdoms. I made up several kings, and added some wizards and schools of magic and young pulling-themselves-up-by-their-bootstraps protagonists. I threw a hodgepodge of ideas against the wall–most of them clichés–hoping that anything would stick. These clichés and random, haphazardly thrown together ideas were much like the situation a man in the wilderness is faced with who only has wet kindling, and meager, city-born sensibilities. It isn’t to say that I hadn’t engrossed myself in the world of fantasy and fiction for almost my entire life, but it was to say that in the cognitive realm of my creativity, that I had no sensible compass about which to turn these ideas into meaningful story elements.
This isn’t to say however that there weren’t forerunner ideas I’d pinned down in my head years back. I’d originally written a couple journals’ full of a rough narrative in my teen years. Stuff with dragons and elves and orcs. Stuff heavily derivative of the fantasy series I’d been reading at the time.
Then my work paused, for almost a decade, and when I finally came back to it, all I know was the name of my world–Nishtar–and the name of my protagonist–Crim Storne. These were the lone bits of the story. That, and that I knew I wanted some combination of Gandalf/Dumbledore to permeate one of my characters. These two mentors and elders of their respective series have always left indelible impressions on me, to the point where I hold them in the highest regard for what makes a protagonists’ mentor. There are themes of these two characters in my story as well, footprints in the sand if you will. Originally when I picked Nisthar back up, I’d intended to make Blindigon the mentor. And I very well mean to tell you that this is still the case, but as I penned Book I, Blindigon’s story arc necessitated that he take a more leading role, and also that the turmoil swirling in his psyche and soul take more center stage. This is something which is I feel distinctly different from Blindigon compared to Gandalf and Dumbledore. We only ever get narrow glimpses of the troubles rebounding in these two men’s heads, whereas in Book I, such struggles make up a sizeable portion of the book. There’s a sort of regal, detached elegance that I get from both of these men as well, which as I wrote Blindigon, I realized was difficult to upkeep if I was also to engross the reader in his struggle.
But I digress. Back in the diners and coffee shops, sometime in late 2016 or early 2017, I was hammering away, pounding a sword into a shape I wasn’t sure of. There are early notes I have, early narratives penned with story elements and characters and plots that leave me frowning in embarrassment. In the beginning I was doing everything to get some wet kindling to spark, and in looking at the notes of my story in its infancy, it is truly cringeworthy, but I still see pieces of the narrative that were there in embryonic form. To slowly arise from the friction and smoke hazing around in my head, and to be a fire to burn a story down on the page. Blindigon and Crim were two of these early flames. That, and the themes of Light and Darkness. Themes that pervade the fantasy genre, but which are too primordial and innate to the cosmic, good and evil struggles of the genre to deny.
I believe that these themes and the other early ones that survived the haphazard beginning of Book I are not exempt from the difficulty in attaining the air of novelty, but hopefully I’ve flipped the script enough with them to bring them fresh vigor and a new viewpoint, things hard to do with some of the crustier, tried-and-true themes of the genre, but something I’ve worked to fashion these last years as I’ve molded the book into form.
Whether I’ve done so or not remains to be seen though, so… keep reading and judge for yourself!