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Since making my declaration about getting back into The Mariner Sequence, specifically Ravens and Roses, I haven’t actually written anything. And yet I feel like my mind is more in “writer mode” than it has been in a while.
Looking back over the last two weeks, it doesn’t seem like I’ve been writing, yet two morning walks spent talking to myself have solved some major plot problems that had troubled me for years. It just goes to show that, while a writer may not always be putting words on a page, when we have a goal in mind, we can feed everything we do into the compost of our subconscious and see what happens. It’s a weird and diverse process, one that is nonlinear and sporadic. Many of the things don’t seem to relate to writing. After all, what do the following contribute to the writing process?
- Listening to the audiobook of The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman
- Playing Diablo III on the Xbox 360 until the wee hours of the morning
- Watching the 2019 biopic Tolkien
- Reading The Fighting Man: An Illustrated History of the World’s Greatest Fighting Forces Through the Ages by Jack Coggins
- Going to the Maryland Iron Festival
Some of these may seem more relevant than others. A couple probably look more like ways to procrastinate from writing rather than encouraging it. But I promise you that all of these are actually helping me stay (more or less) on track with Ravens. Even when I’m “taking a break,” part of my brain is still writing. Usually I can’t trace it back so clearly, but I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to how my creative process manifests, how the bits and pieces of media I consume, both deliberately and passively, contribute to my writing.
- Iron plays a massive role in Ravens and Roses, so learning more about the process of forging at the Iron Festival was important for maintaining authenticity.
- Reading about elite fighting units through history is helping me flesh out the Ravens Company, to explain how they fight and what makes them different or special compared to the rest of the Mariner army.
- Tolkien’s love of language connects me to Finnish, which plays a role in my construction of the Vuorien and names in Marina just as it influenced Tolkien’s construction of Elvish.
- Ravens and Roses was originally conceived from a dream based on an Original Xbox game called Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes, so going on a fantasy-themed dungeon crawler like Diablo III gets me back to the roots of my story.
- And listening to Neil Gaiman read just makes me feel calm. Hearing him talk about writing and reading and being an author makes me feel like I can be an author too. It brings back the sense of joy and reminds me why I starting writing in the first place: because there are stories I want to tell and no one else can tell them but me.
See? Not such a waste of time after all. 😉
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Now, here’s a challenge for you: If you’re working on something, try to track where the inspiration is coming from. If you make a breakthrough on your story, look back to see what you’ve been reading, watching, listening to, playing, or events you’ve attended and see if any of the threads connect. No need to force it, as not everything will have a direct correlation, and some things will meld and merge together from myriad inspirations. But it’s nice to see how real life and virtual life and life on the page and in your mind form this hybrid we call “art.”