30 Day Book Challenge – Day 28
Last book you read
Well, I’m not going to mention the She-God of writing again, because that would just make me sound like a crazy stalker person…which I’m not, by the way. If you want to check out the *actual* last book I read you can go to Day 24 of the book challenge, where I talked about my favourite scene in a book (watch out for the spoiler!).
Meanwhile, I’d like to mention the last book I read from today. Fair? I thought so.
Today, in a moment of sheer insanity and after several months of giving the WNIP (Work Not In Progress) the cold shoulder, I spent roughly half an hour writing up a plot summary with, believe it or not, actual plots (note: plural!). Hoorah! I’ve mentioned before that I had an idea for a novel but was struggling to begin without knowing where the story was heading and what the protagonist’s purpose was. Some suggested to just start writing anyway, others insisted that some idea of the plot was necessary, others just told me to stop procrastinating and get on with it (hello again unfriendly but straightforward voice in my head!).
Try as I may, I could not face writing it without the plot to guide me and so, in frustration and disappointment at being unsuccessful in my plot making endeavors, I paralysed myself into a novel hating lull. I didn’t want to think about it, look at it or talk about it with anyone. Something just wasn’t working, and I didn’t know how to fix it.
Today, like a sign from the heavens, I received a well needed shove to get the motors going again (thank you She-God!). I opened up Scrivener and started to write. Half an hour and approximately 1000 words later I had an idea that I was excited about, with plot twists, drama and conflict! All the things I had been struggling to establish with my original idea, finally coming to life!
So what changed, you ask? What changed, my friends, was the story. Like, the whole thing. About the only thing I kept was my character’s name. I still love the original idea, but have come to the conclusion that it’s just not ready to be written yet.
So, back to the purpose of this post, that being the last book I read, or in this case, the last book I picked up. In my plot writing frenzy, I started getting curious about how the big boys of epic fantasy built their worlds and created their creatures. Who to look to in such a moment of need? The master of fantasy himself, of course: J R R Tolkien.
During my teenage years when I was obsessed with the LOTRs, my parents bought me Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia by David Day; a comprehensive guide to everything you’d ever want to know about Middle Earth, the Undying Lands, the creatures, the characters, the geography, the history. This book is pretty spectacular.
Now, it has to be said that when I began flicking through the pages today, I started to panic. That little voice in my head started having a go with his usual taunts; “Don’t be an idiot Katy. You could never create anything as comprehensive as the world of Tolkien. Look at all the research! It’s far beyond your inferior intellect.”
That little voice is a real asshole sometimes. As has happened many a time before, my confidence in my abilities started waning and I could almost see that small spark of creativity threatening to die a slow death in the depths of my brain. Bummer, right?
Well, it would have been if I hadn’t come across what I can only guess was intended to be a funny look on how to write fantasy fiction. It read:
Researching mythologies, legends, and history on your own is a complete waste of time — real authors don’t worry about that kind of thing. It’s fantasy; they just make stuff up off the tops of their heads!
Now, I realise research can be more than important when writing. I for one can’t write without a fast internet connection for all the Googling I do while I’m ‘in the mode’. And yet despite this, it sort of reminded me that my greatest tool is my imagination. If I want to, I really can just ‘make it up off the top of my head’. For some time I have been crippling myself with the idea that I simply don’t know enough to start, or continue, especially with world building. But really I don’t need to ‘know’ anything. I just need to create it.
Ideally, of course, I would like to have my world reflect a reality readers can relate to. Power structures, heirarchy, economy and commerce are all things that make a world run, for better or worse. They may not need to be identified, but the reader needs to know they’re there.
But I digress. The point of the story is that today was a good day. Tolkien both helped and scared me out of inertia and some funny person on the internet reminded me not to take it all so seriously, because my mind is quite capable of filling in the gaps.
As for the asshole in my head? He’s still there, but he’s unlikely to resurface again today.
Katy 1 – Asshole 0