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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Merlin

Merlin doesn’t actually come into the Arthur story until the 12th Century–about 700 years after any actual, historical Arthur would have lived. Geoffrey of Monmouth made him up out of two other Welsh characters. One was a bard and mad prophet named Myrddin Wyllt. The other consists of parts of the story of Emrys Wledig. (Yeah, I don’t know how the Welsh pronounce that last one, either.) Although Emrys Wledig is associated with Ambrosius Aurelianus, who was supposed to be a great warrior, which Merlin isn’t, really. Ambrosius, when he’s mentioned in Arthur stories, usually gets named as Arthur’s uncle. Though Mary Stewart made Ambrosius Merlin’s father in her Arthurian series, starting with THE CRYSTAL CAVE. (I have those books, come to think of it. I may just have to re-read them. I’m confident my story will be completely different from hers.)

This late introduction to the Arthur story is something I am definitely going to ignore–especially since my story idea started with Merlin. Although definitely not Geoffrey’s Merlin. Mine isn’t going to be a wizard (though he will be magical), but he’s also not going to be either a bard or a prophet.

Merlin will be the main protagonist, at least behind the scenes. Arthur–and various other characters–will do most of the heavy lifting, though.

I’m seriously thinking of starting Merlin’s first chapter soon.

 

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Well, last week went and got crazy on me, so I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped.

Fire Dragon 2

Still, I did make some progress.

  • I reviewed the part of the Mabinogion pertaining to Bran the Blessed. I’m going to have to put some thought into how this meshes with the rest of the story I want to tell. (Bran’s story is already loosely connected to Arthur’s in the Mabinogion.) Of course, there’s no more reason I have to stick strictly to the original of Bran’s story than that I need to hold to the usual version of Arthur’s.
  • I watched again the historical lecture on . . . well, not Arthur, but what was happening in Britain at the time when Arthur would have to have been active. (Around the end of the 5th Century.) And what little contemporary or near-contemporary evidence we have of an actual Arthur-like figure, which is scant but not non-existent.
  • And I read a little more in that book about breaking out of writer’s block. (Not as helpful as I’d hoped, but not without some useful points.)

Next, I believe I will study up on the way the Arthur legend grew over the centuries–which parts are oldest and which were added later. (Hint: Lancelot is never mentioned until Chretien de Troyes in the 12th Century.) I’ll use the course guidebook, though, rather than re-watch all the lectures. It’ll be quicker.

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Tiny ones. Still concrete goals are the first step to actually getting where you want to go.

The “secret history” idea I’ve been playing with is taking clearer and clearer shape. It’s almost certainly going to start not so much with history as with legend–which might, or might not, be based in actual history. In this case, likely some of the older parts of the stories about King Arthur.

But, actually, it probably starts a bit earlier than that, with a very small part of the Welsh stories about Bran the Blessed, because that story is sometimes connected to Arthur’s–or to something inadvisable that a young Arthur does.

Of course, there’ll be a pretty big twist on these stories. (Hint: dragons will be important.)

celtic dragon_46947764

So, back to concrete steps. I need to review some of the recent things I’ve read–and watched through The Great Courses Plus–about Arthur. I’ll also review at least part of the Mabinogion to refresh my memory about Bran’s story.

And also continue the Great Courses Plus course I’m currently watching. A

And then, just maybe, I’ll be ready to start writing.

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No, I haven’t actually started writing, yet. But I have made some progress. The Great Courses Plus lectures have sparked some new ideas. I’ve done a bit of research. I’ve even started gathering potential cover art.

Gold Flame Dragon

This isn’t one of them. 😀 (That’s from the cover of BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC.)

And I’ve begun to imagine what an opening scene might be like.

That’s progress.

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So much for the last year. It’s on the way out, along with a whole decade. Time to look ahead and choose how to go forward. I have several plans, now. Hopefully some of them will actually pan out. Note, they are plans, not goals. This is going to be a process, but starting it is the first important thing. Then, of course, staying with it.

First: I believe part of the problem is that I haven’t been doing enough to refill my creative well. I’ve let myself fall into a rut. I even keep re-reading the same books a good portion of the time–the books I know won’t let me down. Well, I’m not going to stop re-reading my old friends from time to time, but I am going to make more effort to read new things, too–new authors, new stories from authors I love, second chances, perhaps, for some authors who I felt let me down. But that’s not enough. I need to move out of my comfort zone more. I’m going to make an effort to go to new places, too. Maybe even meet new people (which, as a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, is not the easiest thing for me to do). Also, most likely, a new fitness routine. I need to make some changes there, too. Process. Baby steps.

Second: Creativity thrives on the new. New experiences, yes. (See above.) But also new learning. I’ve lined up several lecture series on The Great Courses Plus. The first up align quite nicely with that secret history/alternate history idea I’ve been playing around with for years. (Right now, I’m leaning toward an alternate history, which would allow me to keep names and places, but not worry too much about the details of daily life, etc. If dragons have been influencing humanity for centuries . . . well, a lot of things might well be different and I don’t have to bog myself down with research into the details. The broad courses of history and pivotal events–and people–could still stay the same . . . more or less.) There’s also a lecture series on writing that I started but haven’t finished. And . . . well, there are a lot of things available there. Who knows what will spark an idea? Maybe for another story altogether.

Third: Breaking through writer’s block. I’ve bought and started reading one e-book on the subject. Not everything in it will work for me, of course. You can’t expect that. Every writer’s process is different. But picking up some ideas is a good start. There’s another book by a different author I may try after this one.

Fourth: Maybe try joining another writer’s group. Not that I’m going to leave any of the ones I’m in, but it could be something to try. Still thinking about this one.

Fifth:  Clean my desk.

Messy Desk

Right now, I don’t blame the muse for refusing to visit. Step one, taking down the office Christmas tree,

WireTree2019

is complete. Now I have some room to sort things into better order.

Sixth: Get back to a regular writing routine. Maybe not the same one as before, but something I can maintain–something that meshes with breaking out of my rut. This is only sixth because the first requirement is a story I’m excited to tell (right now, that secret history) that is ready to be told. Secret history is not quite ripe yet, though it’s getting close, I think.

That should do for getting started, anyway. Hopefully.

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Well, it’s that time of year again, to look back at the goals I set at the beginning of the year and assess how I did. I know the answer already. I didn’t accomplish any of my goals. Not one. In fact, I’ve done very little writing of any kind this year. Not much to report, but it’s certainly worth reflecting on why–and what I might do about fixing that situation.

So, here they are:

First Goal: Complete the rewrite of MAGE STORM and publish it.

Mage Storm

Yeah, this is the one that seems to have derailed the whole year. My enthusiasm for this project just faded to nothing. There may be a couple of reasons for this. First, I’d already written at least two versions of this story. Now, that’s not fatal. I’d written two versions of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE before the final one, too.

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But when I did that, I truly started over and rewrote the story–not without any reference to the earlier versions, but a true rewrite. I tried to take a short cut with MAGE STORM and just revise the existing portions and add new material. And, yeah, revisions are not the part of the writing process which really generate a lot of enthusiasm. When I tackle this one again, it’s going to have to be a ground-up rewrite, I think.

Second Goal: Begin work on the second book, tentatively titled ROGUE MAGE. (But see above backup goal.)

Yes, well, having failed to get very far with the first book, it’s not a big surprise that I didn’t accomplish this either. Although, I did, at one desperate point, try to start this one in a vain attempt to generate that lost enthusiasm.

Third Goal: Housekeeping-type things:

  • Do some work on this website and on my Facebook Author Page to make them more appealing and more professional.
  • Establish some kind of regular promotions.

Now, this one I might have done. But, I didn’t.

Fourth Goal: Continue learning and improving:

  • Continue reading and learning about other aspects of the craft, chiefly marketing/promotion and better launch strategies for new books.

Well, alone on this list, this one might not be a total washout. I have done some reading about these and other aspects of the craft. And thinking. Also, there are other things to learn outside the craft that could spark ideas–and I have done a little of that, too.

And, finally, the back-burner list. Things I am not, at this moment, ready to write, but need that final inspiration or two that pulls them out of the pile and makes them irresistible.

One or more sequels to DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

No, but I did try to shoe-horn my idea for a Cinderella retelling into this world. That didn’t work, either.

  • Fairy tale retellings, including MEADOWSWEET.

MEADOWSWEET, which was meant to be a retelling of “Little Furball” is probably permanently off the table. The version of “Little Furball” I grew up with was a considerably sanitized one. Doing more research into that fairy tale pretty well killed any interest I had in it. And ruined one of the favorite stories of my childhood. Oh, well.

  • My much-neglected weird Oz story.

Nothing started. Nothing really planned in the short term. Maybe I’ll get in some more reading of the original Oz stories–which are not much like the Judy Garland movie–not even the first story. Baum had a truly . . . unique . . . imagination.

Nope.

The final book in the CHIMERIA series.ChimeriaBox

Again, nope.

  • And that Arthurian-legend, secret-history idea I’ve been playing with off and on.

Now, here’s one, finally, that has some possibilities. I said there were other things to learn besides craft. A couple of courses on The Great Course Plus and a quick survey of some English history have given me some ideas in this regard. I may choose to do it as a second-world fantasy rather than be bound by trying to stay true to all of the historical details–not just of events, but the ways people lived, etc. Over at least four centuries–possible more, depending on where I choose to start–that could be just another way to not writewhich is not what I’m looking for. Either way, I still have some thought to put into world building. The magic system would probably be minimal in this one, but I do need something important enough for two groups to fight over and continue to fight over for generations. What so desperately needs to be defended? Why do the opposition want it so badly? Until I have that worked out, this will still be in the planning stages. But at least I have started thinking about it.

  • I’m sure others will raise their heads as I go along. In my experience, there’s nothing like writing one idea to cause others to spring up along my path like bunny rabbits.

Well, yes. Starting to write again would probably help with this, wouldn’t it?

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The last couple of weeks have been too busy with other things for me to get anywhere with MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

But, with most of that behind me–at least for the moment–it’s time to get back to building up momentum again.

And I am. I’ve started on the next chapter, writing a new beginning to that scene. And making a note for something I want to add to part of what I’d already written. (Not going back, though. First drafts go only forward. This is just a little detail–a paragraph or two–I can easily add in the revisions. So, just a couple of sentences to remind me when I–eventually–get to that.)

Forward, once again. Hopefully with better speed.

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