Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Stories Moving Forward II - A World in 30 Days?

Last week I finished the 30 day World Building exercise that I took on to help me get "started" on my short stories writing project. The goal was to use the exercise to build a deeper background world around the land of the "Bewildering Pine" and starting to collect ideas and outlines for the place, the people/folk who populate it and the myriad of details that, hopefully, will make it rich and inviting to readers.

The results were, to put it mildly, overwhelming.

When it comes to writing I have always enjoyed telling little tales. It's been a part of me since childhood too. And, as I get older, I want to create something that will be left behind in written form. More than just little tales for the items I make and sell but stand alone tales of a place that, at least half of my waking hours, I am immersed in.

And yet,  every time I have tried to get started, I seem to fall short and the momentum and enthusiasm stalls out.

I am going to write about this a few times in the coming month because it is truly too much to try and share in one post. So I will keep this short and we will call this entry, "the outline".

Now, if you had told me before I started the thirty day project, that I would spend about 15 hours in one month on my stories,  I would have told you that sounds great. . . but I am not sure where I'll find the time to do that.

Well, let me say that I did indeed spend between 15 and 20 hours last month writing. First thing each day, 30 days in a row, I sat down and tackled that days world building assignment while having coffee and morning pastry.

Each day is supposed to be just 15 minutes of writing but, some of the exercises were things I had already thought quite a bit about but had never written down. And each of those led, it seems, to deeper and more extensive thoughts about everything from geography and climate to the people, commerce, animals and societal rules etc etc. I spent up to an hour some days, just writing. Moe thinking n top of that.

So much so that I am going through another list of world building questions and expanding the world even more!

The best thing to come out of it all is this.

When I began, the project was going to be a series of short stories, "The Ledgerkeepers" many of which I hoped to illustrate and then make little "zines" from that I could self publish and sell thru my shop. Stories that would appeal to any age or delight anyone with an interest fairies/elves etc and their world. Then, when I had enough stories, to produce a collected, printed book of them to offer as well.

What has come from the last month's work though is a far deeper story that I think is the bones for a longer book. Dare I say. . . a full or mini novel? And the bones of that story. . . the darker, unexpected plot line, characters, the Pine history and lineage and all the details and plot twists, so much of it never existed at all before I did this 30 day exercise.

All of that. . . in roughly 15 hours. . . that I would have sworn I could not have found in my days.

I can look back now and honestly say that I just never had the discipline to do it but also, I simply did not know where to begin.

And that is the thing I want to convey here. I will never let that happen again. I know it's an age old line but it's the journey, not the destination that is the key. Getting from point A to point B is always overwhelming until we take those first small steps.   And I know very well that an organized or structured framework, preferably daily and in small increments, is how we always manage to get there.

I did it with my Etsy shops, making new things every single day to improve my skills (I still do this 6 years later!) and I did it with learning to write music. . . or even running coffeehouses and cafe's. Just do this one little thing, then the next, then the next. . . little small building blocks to get where we want to be. Like so many, I can give up n things because that end goal seems so far of.  It seems to be the same for people with exercise plans, diets, career goals etc etc. Point B can seem so far away. . .

I think most new things seem overwhelming until you get in and wade thru those dark waters of uncertainty and self doubt.

So, I hope to share some of the deeper details with what I have been working on with you soon but let me leave you with just this one little aspect of my world that I just came up with in the last day or two of the exercise.

I knew that I wanted a "sport" for my world since games and sports were such a huge part of my childhood. But I also made up so many of my own variations back then. . . so I wanted something more personal than just a simple twist on a current "Earth sport".   Nothing close to what we know as being sports in the here and now. Nothing violent, nothing requiring extreme physical skill or physique. In fact, the long lithe elf would be a better suited candidate than the big strong ogre. lol But still, something that could be played by any creature. Elf, Hob, Dryad, etc etc with an equal chance for success.

That "sport", still unnamed as of now, is a combination of Hopscotch and Hackey Sack. I envision it being played on a huge, elaborately tiled mosaic version of the French hopscotch layout which is a winding snail shape play area ( in researching hopscotch, I learned that in France they call the game Escargot for the shape of the playing field!!) with, in my game's case, 21 numbered spaces leading to a gold circle in the center. The game I've invented is played with two teams of two defenders, one pitcher (a position that requires only tossing accuracy so any age folk could be this player!) and one sacker (that's the person who tries to score) on the game field simultaneously. Each little village has it's own "Shtyri" (a Pine term, from the "old language" for the four player team) and it's a dream of a number of the folk in the Pine, young or old, male or female, to become part of their town's team.  Young elves all over play it on dirt fields, adults at picnics, traders on leave. . . etc etc

Anyway, that's too much fun! I'll probably make a scale model of the playing field in the future too. I've come a cross some wonderful "villager" elf 1:72 scale figurines that I could create it around.

So, more on the world building to come!

For now, here are a few little creations to share this week. . .

Have a lovely week dear ones! MAKE MAGIC!!!



  1. Nicolas, wonderful to read your writing journey and although you feel you're struggling getting started with actually writing your book, don't be so hard on yourself. You've accomplished a lot these past 30 days, conducting research, etc. THAT alone plays a big part in writing any sort of book. Inspiration will come along in the most unexpected way/time...and then run with it! :)

    1. Alexandra. . . thank you! Your blog and Sunday sketches have been an inspiring, creative discovery! I plan to participate once i get back into sketching for the stories too. And yes, the research I enjoy immensely. Any opportunity to read about early Earth civilizations or fantasy creatures, myths, maps etc etc. It's all so fun to dive into. I think I am cured of the feeling of struggle for now. . . the exercise showed me that it's just one little step at a time. :) And to enjoy those steps as they lead somewhere. . .

  2. Your creations are amazing and deeply beautiful. I look forward to seeing more of your magical world and all that you share. Lovely to meet you!

    1. Victoria, Thank you SO much for dropping by and commenting! I am so glad to meet you too! Your blog is a delight and a journey in beautiful images and words. I am inspired by it immensely! Looking forward to taking some rainy day time to going thru your past entries and discovering the world that awaits there. . .

    2. Happy to meet you too, love your world! Thanks for leaving such kind words on my blog today, deep appreciation.
      Have a beautiful day

  3. So excited for you! Sounds like it really is all coming together. Smalls steps is good advice... Just which way to step? Hmmm, so many directions, i am glad you found yours! And i love the hopscotch, mosaic game idea!

    1. LOL. . . Andrea, that IS the question! It's funny but I find that I can't really retrace the steps to this point. The small steps that it. I suppose in the back of my mind, I know I have wanted to write forever. . . I want to tell some of those childhood stories but was never comfortable doing it in a memoir or straight fiction style. I mean, I am a kid who loves reading juvenile fiction, fantasy and children's books as much as adult books. And I love fantasy kitsch. . . I'd rather watch reruns of Xena than Game of Thrones. lol

      It's been so much fun fleshing out parts of the story and details like the game. . . but I have to be careful not to get too caught up in that too. So story collecting-writing-editing begins June 1st! Have to have a limit for myself or I could get lost in this world. . .

  4. Little, by little everything will come together with your writing! I am so excited for you Nicolas! Love your new magical creations!

    1. Thank you Stacy! I am just trying to stay focused on what is right in front of me. Each day. new details and world-building without getting lost in the shuffle of it all. :)

  5. Eons ago, when I was little, we had one of those snaily hopscotch thingies on our school playground. Honest to betsy, none us knew what the heck it was for. I can't believe it's taken 3 decades to find out! lol I'm thinking I might try this world building exercise for myself.

  6. Nichola! Well growing up we had just the old tried and true straight hopscotch and nothing else so I was beyond tickled to discover the snail! I did, as a child, try to enlarge the game to encompass whole squares of sidewalk but it never took. lol

    Originally the "game" I was thinking of here was going to be a jousty-staff wielding-battle sort of affair played on parallel game boards but then the snail game area came into my periphery and then an old ancient Japanese version of hacky-sack I had been reading about too, played in the elaborate, colorful formal dress of the day. . . ta-da!

    If you need a link or two to the world building exercises let me know! :)

    As always, thank you for dropping by!!

  7. This all sounds so exciting, Nicolas! I agree with Alexandra, a well-researched novel is necessity and it certainly sounds like you have put a lot of effort in there. The world building exercise sounds very helpful indeed. I'll look forward to hearing more as you continue on this journey.

    Your work is truly beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much Serena! I am looking forward to sharing more as it all falls into place. . .