For a bit of a change I thought I’d give you a little play-by-play of how my thought process works while brainstorming for inspiration. This is due to a rather productive—and unexpected—train of thought last night.
I haven’t written anything story-related in at least two weeks (January 25th). Given this is what I’ve always wanted to have as my career, this is very frustrating and depressing. I either couldn’t come up with anything to write, or made excuses not to write.
I was thinking the excuses and lack of inspiration over last night after some personal devotions and prayer (another New Year’s resolution was to get that back on track), talking to my boyfriend over IMer, and watching a Halo walkthrough trying to garner some sort of inspiration, but it was about 1am and I was getting tired from anticipation of having to get up this morning and work at the barn in the cold and mud. I turned off the lights and shut my computer down after saying goodnight to Dan, threw my cat out (new record for wanting out: less than a second after lights-out), and burrowed into my nest of bedding (including my warm electric blanket).
What I do as a general habit is, while I try to drift off to sleep (given I’m an insomniac this takes a long time, so I can get a lot of “work” in) is turn my imagination loose and try to envision ongoing scenes to stimulate new pieces of story. I’ve been doing this since I was little. Sometimes it results in dreams that become scenes in a particular story I’m trying to write. Lately, it hasn’t been working.
Since none of the usual stories I think back over were generating any ideas, my mind began to mull over some of my work I hadn’t touched in a while, and stories I’ve written of very little. I especially tried to get Kett to talk to me, as I get a lot of my best work from him, but he’s still off somewhere mad about something—I’ve no idea what has him ticked off now.
Inevitably, when my sci-fi stories don’t generate anything useful, I turn to my fantasy. Fantasy is easier for me to envision. It doesn’t feel so restrained by technical or mechanical issues (meaning ship or weapons specs, that sort of thing). And, as frequently happens, my thoughts went to my Jemspur stories in my Dragonsword Saga work. I’ve gotten a lot of good stuff from the characters in Jemspur: Firstborn, the story of the Jemspur leader’s firstborn son, Avalan, Mirinia Dragon-Child, and her mercenaries (including Andur). Andur seems to enjoy talking to me, but even he was quiet last night. Since Avalan is firstborn, that should clue you into the fact that he has siblings. He actually has twelve younger brothers and sisters (over the span of at least 100 years; the Creator granted the Jemspur immortality to guard the old fortress Mil’vaac from the Dark One’s attempts at reoccupation after the first war). Of these, the only other sibling I’ve written any separate story about is his second-born brother, Diomel, also called the Wolfbrother for his affinity with the animals. And, being a sibling myself (although I’m the elder), I felt a little twinge of guilt that I’ve done less with him than Avalan. I knew I wanted to redo his story.
And to do that, I needed to decide where to start. It was all a matter of choosing just how far back to begin the thing.
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, Diomel is in the same story as my Minotaur and the half-elf orphan girl raised by them: Danthia. What came to mind as I lay there feeling guilty about the neglect and puzzling over how to rectify it was a deep forest scene where old, partially arthritic Berun of the Minotaur comes across an abandoned baby. Berun let me feel his emotions shift from surprise, to befuddlement, to outright puzzlement over what to do about a definitely-not-Minotaur infant. Then I got his determination and resignation as he accepted responsibility and guardianship of her. He also gave me another, later scene of her as a young child asking him questions, since she’s obviously not Minotaur and is being raised by one. I was just puzzling out what to make her clothes of when she became adolescent and started to mature, since I don’t think cow-leather would be particularly popular among Berun’s kind. I didn’t finish that musing. I fell asleep.
So as part of my goals today, I’m going to try to get down those scenes (they are actually the prologue), crammed in on top of job search, cleaning my fish tank, finishing up my room, and polishing off the last bit of Halo: Evolutions I so I can start on another book.