Tag Archives: worldbuilding

My 100th Post: The Best Of Blog Tour

This is my 100th post, and so I have decided to try and get 100 views to my blog today!  I have been failing to have much traffic lately, barely a handful of viewers per post, which means that even my dear friends and family may not be reading anymore.  It’s ok, I still love you – but I want you back!

The goal of 100 views is perhaps a too high, since so far the only post of mine which has gotten close to that was my Eurovision post on Conchita Wurst, and that got 90 views that day.  And that was only because of random people who had searched for the busty Polish girls and instead got my post.  Sorry, fellas.

So I’m going to have to try really hard to get people interested in the nonsense I spew forth from my keyboard.  Let’s just consider this post a Best Of Blog tour, in the hopes that at least some of what I write is appealing to the general public.

Every post you read gets me one step closer to 100!  So click away!!  Read, enjoy, or roll your eyes and look at pictures of hilarious animals instead.  Just do it after you click.

So perhaps you’re reading this because you like writing, and that is what this blog is supposed to be about.  Maybe you want to read topical posts like Worldbuilding with my discussion of Ursula Le Guin’s awesomeness or The Mirror of Fantastic Vanity in which I call out Neil Gaiman.

Or maybe you, like myself, struggle with finger-stalling brain-demons and would appreciate Mental Bran Flakes.

Perhaps, instead, you’re only here because I have Facebook press-ganged you into it, or a friend of a friend has posted this link.  In that case, maybe you’d rather read something random and potentially humourous like The Spider and the Flute: a sleep-deprivation-inspired tale of arachnid tragedy about which critics, by which I mean the only person who commented (looking at you, md456), have proclaimed: “I have not felt this sympathetic for a spider since Charlotte’s Web.” Or maybe Hobbies, or “the tale of the boob coaster” where I had an R-rated yarn-craft disaster.

Are you one of my falconry friends?  Or have a passing interest in things raptorial?  How about A Falconry Rant where I bitch about the ignorant masses at my old job as a display falconer, The Austringer’s Lament where I wax lyrically about the hunt, or There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question – No Wait, There is where I give up on people in general as having common sense at all.

Maybe you’ve read all these before because you’re my mother and read everything I ever post (I love you!), or maybe you’ve never read any of them and have a new-found appreciation or concern for my mental state.  Whatever the case, thank you for taking the time to read what I write.

This will also be a test of how far this platform reaches.  I have decided that the avenue of self-publishing is the only way for a new writer to break into the industry currently, as much as I long to one day hold one of my books in solid printed paper.  So without the weight of a traditional publisher behind me I will be needing to do all my own marketing and advertising, and that’s the real reason I created this blog.  An author needs to be in charge of her own online presence and so this kind of self-advertisement, however uncomfortable it makes me, is part of the game.

So read, my pretties, read!

Hipster Collie Approves

And Now, Back to the Topic at Hand


About that.

I’m currently being shouted at by a teething infant, so this may be short.  However, I’ve been working steadily on worldbuilding and that’s all fabulous.  I’ve chosen not to write about it much in here while that’s going on because this blog sometimes feels like homework I have to do, while I feel guilty neglecting it I also don’t want to be beholden to it.  And ultimately, if I’m busy writing I don’t want to stop to then come here and write about writing.  The whole point of this thing is to ensure that I do write, not stop me from that very goal!

While working on my world, it’s made me realise how poorly I’ve done in the past in this respect.  I think that this stems from the fact that my own world was very small when I was younger, so when I tried to invent new worlds it was very shortsighted.  Now that I’m older (not sure about wiser, honestly) my understanding of my own world has broadened, both by having developed an interest in what’s happening outside of my own teenaged bellybutton and having moved abroad.

So when I first started writing this novel my world was mostly vague, like a grey mist with a couple of key streets picked out in detail.  I had a vague academic system, a vague religion, a vague idea of where things were in relation to each other.  It was a whole vague mess.  Some things were also arbitrary, decided on a whim.  Things that were important just were, for no good reason.  Why were Geologists being pit against Botanists?  They just were, and that’s not good enough.  Throw that kind of carelessness into the mix of vague wishy-washy nonsense and you get a pretty poor world that I can barely make sense of, let alone anyone else.  I’m sorry, world.  I was lazy, and naive.  I thought the details would work themselves out in the writing, without realising that even if they did, it would mean a whole pile of editing hell at the end of the thing.  But I promise to do better this time.

And it is better.  I’m really enjoying it as well.  I love the sudden eureka moments of, “oh, so that’s why” as I piece this all together.  I wasn’t totally wrong in my thinking that a lot of it would fall into place in my subconscious, I was just wrong about letting that whole process take place during the writing stage.  Implementing key elements while in the middle of chapter twelve means I either have to revise chapters one through eleven, or just hope no one notices the glaring omission.  And that’s just bad writing.  Some of it will happen while I’m in the flow of writing, it’s inevitable, but all the big things need to be known and decided.

I’m also getting better at multitasking.  I can type with one hand, spoon feed a baby some yoghurt with another, and then use my mental third hand to plot mountains and railway line in my mental world map.  I can sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for the 848th time while ruminating on the importance of infrastructure in a capitalist economy.  I can keep a seven month old from drowning in the bath while considering how magic can function in a post-magic world.

So if you don’t hear from me every day, it’s because I’m just a bit busy.


Today I have mostly been making a world.

In writing fantasy, as I do (kind of, my current novel is more post-fantasy than fantasy), that’s the most important part.  If you can’t write a believable world, then all the rest of your work, however imaginative and inspiring, will be dancing around in front of one of those green-screen sets that used to be prevalent in old movies, and as easy to see through.

As my hero Ursula Le Guin (who I shall continue to quote for a while yet) says of fantasy which utilises unbelievable fakery in its worldbuilding and a noncommittal writing style, in her essay From Elfland to Poughkeepsie:

“It is a fake plainness.  It is not really simple, but flat.  It is not really clear, but inexact.  Its directness is specious.  Its sensory clues – extremely important in imaginative writing – are vague and generalised; the rocks, the wind, the trees are not there, are not felt; the scenery is cardboard, or plastic.”

Real directness, and simplicity, however, I think is vital to a believable world of one’s own making.  As in my previous post, this is a world that you know full well isn’t real.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be believable.  It also doesn’t mean that it can’t be a true story.

In Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?, Ursula Le Guin writes:

“For fantasy is true, of course.  It isn’t factual, but it is true.  Children know that.  Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy.  They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living.  They are afraid of dragons because they are afraid of freedom.”

So I’ve been spending all my spare time today working on this world, because this world needs to be true, and believable, an engaging backdrop to a story which I’ve been working on for half a decade and fighting with for just as long.  I’m hoping this will be the final editing phase required of it so I can make it at least somewhat close to the shining thing I made up in my head.  It’s incredibly hard to express these things and tell the truth of what I’ve seen and felt, because it never comes out quite the same as it is when you’re thinking it.

Again, because she can express this far better than I’ve been able to, from yet another essay, Talking About Writing:

“The writer’s job, as I see it, is to tell the truth.  The writers truth – nobody else’s.  It is not an easy job.  One of the biggest implied lies going around at present is the one that hides in phrases like ‘self-expression’ or ‘telling it like it is’ – as if it were that easy, anybody could do it if they just let the words pour out and didn’t get fancy.  The ‘I am a camera’ business again.  Well it just doesn’t work that way.  You know how are it is to say to somebody, just somebody you know, how you really feel, what you really think – with complete honesty?  You have to trust them, and you have to know yourself, before you can say anything anywhere near the truth.  And it’s hard.  It takes a lot out of you.

You multiply that by thousands; you replace the listener, the live flesh-and-blood friend you trust, with a faceless unknown audience of people who may possibly not even exist; and you try to write the truth to them, you try to draw them a map of your innermost mind and feelings, hiding nothing and trying to keep all the distances straight and the altitudes right and the emotions honest. . . And you never succeed.  The map is never complete, or even accurate.  You read it over and it may be beautiful but you realize that you have fudged here, and smeared there, and left this out, and put in  some stuff that isn’t really there at all, and so on – and there is nothing to do then but say OK; that’s done; now I come back and start a new map, and try to do it better, more truthfully.  And all of this, every time, you do alone – absolutely alone.  The only questions that matter are the ones you ask yourself.”

She paints a rather dismal picture of the writing process, but an honest one.

Writing is hard.

But in how many other careers/callings can you say: “I spent today mostly making a world, completely out of nothing but my mind and a feeling I had once”?