A while back I took an art/drawing class. For our last project we were to create something that “embodied” us in some way. After 50+ hours I made the above picture from pencil, pen, charcoal, and paint.
It’s difficult to see on this (since the picture is iPhone quality) but each section is crafted with a bit of all four mediums. I did this because I felt the best things in life are made with many different things combined with great love and attention. Cheesy, I know, but I worked hard on it, and I can honestly saw it embodies everything I feel is important to writing.
Hence, if it took me a few days to make that you could imagine what goes into my writing.
Fire & Stone, my first attempt at a long formatted story, is about ten years in the making. Now, before I let that sound too impressive, I should note the story itself did not take me ten years to write. Rather, the story itself was crafted from a short story I wrote ten years ago.
In that short story, called An Unexpected Friendship, a boy made of stone and a girl made of fire met each other after some people left a campsite. After overcoming their initial shyness they talk and find they had much in common. Soon after they became friends and their lives were better for it. That story came out to be around 5 pages and was written in 2003. Back then I never heard of “data saving” or a “flash drive” so any copies were lost to a Windows 95 computer that was probably recycled into someone’s car.
Nevertheless, the idea of a boy made of stone, and a girl made of fire, was never far from my creative process. Often I thought about redoing their story, so when the time came for me to write my Senior Project I figured, “eh, why the heck not.”
Eventually the story took on a form of it’s own. The campsite that from my first story became a massive forest surrounded by a thick mist. The campfire became the cities of Al-Hascio and Romanica. Eventually, the boy made of stone became Elhove, and the girl made of fire became Nijam. Soon enough the stage gained a few locales, such as the Ivory Tower and the Central Mining Quarry, and the cast quintupled.
Research, as you could imagine, was as varied as the subject material I wrote. I tore through books on psychology (namely those of abuse, neglect, and bereavement), anthropology (mostly on stone and iron age societies), and history (mostly that of Indian and Middle-Eastern societies). Honestly nothing was off limits, as I found researching geology and alchemy aided my endeavors (to varying degrees, i.e. there is no alchemy in this story).
As my friends and family knew, writing this story took a lot out of me, but the end result was well worth it: One shitty first draft, complete with all the tools and tell-tale signs needed to make it better.
After my time at Denver I plan to put a little more information regarding this story, and maybe even post a few excerpts. Until then I hope these last few entries have given you some insight into my current project.
So do you all have something in the works? Any stories where research came to you at a weird time? Do you write when you’re “inspired” or do you just write and hope something sticks?
Until next time.