“Creating is living doubly.” ~ Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
I said in my very first post that my blog would not just be made up of my thoughts and feelings on topics, but of insights into my creative process and tit bits about the Origin universe in anticipation of my first release.
Today, I hit a significant marker in my own creative process, and it was in my excitement to share it with MB that I realised I’ve done very little sharing here. These are the sorts of things that I get excited about when I read the blogs of my favourite authors, so I thought I would write about the creation of the Origin universe before I explain what I achieved today.
Books have been an enormous part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom, Jayne, read to me every night from a baby and we regularly went through books that were well above my reading age. I recall us reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit together when I was very young, which quickly gave birth to a love and fascination of magic, of make-believe, and of monsters. To this day, it remains one of my favourite books to devour in front of a warm fire with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.
Far beyond just reading however, as a kid I wasn’t content with only drawing or creating pictures, I had to provide a context. More often than not, my infant artwork became illustrations for short stories. Sometimes they would be the escapades of my friends and I, sometimes they would be fantastical myths about witches and haunted houses and vampires. Whatever caught my imagination was turned to prose and my love of the written word has never diminished.
It was the 2001 release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that fully ignited my passion for writing. Despite my love of The Hobbit, at 14 I had not yet discovered the wider joys of Middle Earth, and so after seeing the film for the first time (of very many!) I returned home and asked my mom if she had the book. My response to her answer tells you everything you need to know about me.
“Yes, I’ve got a copy on the bookshelf, but you won’t be able to finish it. I never could. It’s too descriptive.”
Oh really? Cue three weeks of hibernation and barely a word from my lips as I spent every waking moment absorbed in the world-renowned tome. Despite it being the most difficult book I’d ever read by that age, my stubbornness prevailed and I persevered to the end.
The film and the books alone weren’t enough to satiate my need and with the internet rapidly becoming an excellent resource for quick and easy information, I accidentally stumbled upon the world of fanfiction in my own quest to learn as much as I could. For those of you not familiar with this subdivision of writing, fanfiction is where you take elements of an existing book, tv show, film, etc. but you make changes to the author’s original narrative. Mostly commonly, this involves introducing your own characters into the plot and changing the dynamics between original characters, but using any element of another’s published work counts as fanfiction. At the time I was writing, it was largely 14-year old girls like me creating characters based on themselves and making Legolas (or A. N. Other hunky male lead from your chosen genre) fall in love with them…
I had a close group of friends at school who were equally as obsessed with Middle Earth as I was and though only three of us set about writing our own fanfictions, the others avidly indulged our daily discussions and readthroughs without complaint. It was during one of our regular soundboard chats that one of the girls announced plans for a new plot that would bring together some of the characters we’d individually created, but she also wanted us to create a modern day version of those characters. She tasked us with writing out the appearance and qualities of an entirely original character, who had no influence or setting in any existing universe.
And so Blaise was born.
I never intended Blaise to become someone significant. I never intended Blaise to become anyone, other than to play out her part in my friend’s story, to one day be another name on a long list of forgotten creatures. For this reason, I didn’t commit a huge amount of time or energy into her characterisation. She was linked to a fully formed character I’d already created so I had the basis to start from and, in truth, the rest was just a list of traits I believed I didn’t have but wished I could, both in body and mind.
As soon as those initial words were written down though, she was there, lingering, waiting for her next instruction. She stayed with me in a way none of my characters ever had before, despite her limited concept. She followed my every thought, glowered at me when I would write about anything other than her, kept me awake at night with her lack of resolution. She filled my mind day and night as though she were flesh and blood, as though she’d always been a part of my life, and I was doing her a disservice by ignoring her.
It would take weeks for me to finally succumb to her persistence and begin penning her story, and when I did it gathered momentum quickly. As with most of my writing, I didn’t fully know where it was going to go in the beginning and I even surprised myself with the dark turn some of my writing took. I eventually finished her tale of woe, saved her to my impressive collection of floppy discs, posted her in my writing account and left her alone. Occasionally I would be driven to write short one-off stories about her for my own amusement, but her main story had been told and I could finally let her rest.
Fast forward 7-8 years to the beginning of my relationship with MB. Singing and performing had become the most important things in my life and it had been years since I’d put pen to paper. When it came up in conversation that I used to write, MB begged me to let her read some of my old work. Though I resisted initially, I eventually relented and let her read Blaise’s story, cringing the entire time, begging her in return not to say anything about it. I knew it was bad. She knew it was bad. Just leave it at that.
Imagine my surprise when she actually enjoyed it!
True enough, the quality of my writing left a lot to be desired, I was no child prodigy naturally gifted with poetic verse, but she loved my characters and the concept, so she encouraged me to do some work on it, make it something I could be proud of.
The seed was planted, and on and off for the coming few years, I would dip in and out of Blaise’s story, tweaking, adapting, improving. I reinvented most of my characters with new names, back stories, and subtle changes to their appearance where it felt appropriate to do so; some were removed entirely. Even as I did, I never had anything serious in mind. I did it to appease my love of writing and to ensure the character that had once meant so much to me was given the credit she deserved. Through doing so, one of the new characters I introduced became an important piece of the much wider jigsaw I’d failed to see when I was young…
Over time, I realised how much more there was to Blaise’s story, until finally I understood its evolution. What started life as a 14-year old’s fantastical ramblings was in fact the draft version of the first instalment of a saga I was merely scratching the surface of. The more time I invested in improving my writing, the deeper I fell in love with the world of my own creation until I could no longer keep away thoughts of having my work published.
Fast forward to 2019 and here I am writing a blog ahead of my work, hopefully soon, being released to the world; such a far cry from its humble beginnings!
So what’s this milestone you’ve hit today, Loz? I hear you cry.
Well, as mentioned, Origin has undergone a significant transformation and I already have a publisher awaiting my manuscript when it’s ready. I made a pivotal decision a couple of years ago to completely rewrite the beginning of my book because it was the part that had seen the least revision and no longer worked the rest of the story. This has caused a significant delay to me finishing my book, but it’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. My publisher has been really patient with me on this, for which I’m so grateful.
When I’m ready to submit, I have to do so as one document, but I’ve been in the habit of saving my work in separate documents for as long as I’ve been writing on a computer. When uploading onto the fanfiction websites, the chapters had to be split apart from one another and this was a practice that I continued even when I was no longer sharing my work as a means to protect myself against any accidental losses.
I told myself some time ago that merging my many saves into one was something I would only do when I was close to marrying up my new beginning with the right point of the remaining story. I wanted to acknowledge the moment where old and new came together and today was that day!
Although there is still a large amount of editing and fixing to do, after what feels like months of stagnation, I feel like I’ve taken an enormous leap forward in my progress today. I’m now staring at one enormous document that will, in the foreseeable future, represent my first novel. I’ve never been more excited to finalise my labour of love and introduce the world of Crecita to those that wish to lose themselves in it!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for indulging me on a trip down memory lane and I hope you found it interesting. I’ll try not to leave it so long next time.
Love and light,