My hope for this website is for it to serve two primary purposes: as an outlet for writing, and a place to explore ideas about storytelling. Getting to this point has been a somewhat roundabout journey.
It started a few years ago when I experienced a lightning flash of inspiration for an idea for a book that ingrained itself into my mind. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about that original idea in some way. After I worked out most of the major details of that original idea, I hit a wall. I write often, but almost never fiction. Transferring story from mind to paper (or computer screen) seemed a daunting task, and I had no idea where to start. So I continued to work out the details of the setting, plot, characters, and all of the world-building stuff without ever getting around to actually writing the damn thing. Perhaps the biggest hurdle was the fact that this book relied on obscure concepts and direct human experiences that are simply not available with current technology. I knew it wasn’t impossible to write these things in a compelling way, but how was I, someone with no experience writing fiction (let alone a book), accomplish that?
Along the way, I had several other quick and unexpected flashes of inspiration for ideas that felt more manageable. I decided that these ideas were meant to be brought to life first so that I could practice for “the big one.” There was a sense of relief, but also more anxiety; now I had multiple books I had to write. And I do feel that I have to do it, or at least try. They are truly a part of my daily consciousness, sneaking in at all times of the day, asking to be worked on and brought into this world.
Eventually, a couple years after that first flash of lightning, I finally mustered the motivation to just sit down and write. It was then that I truly realized how little I knew about writing fiction. I was so lost and frustrated that after a few days of floundering, I simply couldn’t continue. In attempting to diagnose the problem I discovered that one key issue was my lack of a reading habit (at least with fiction). I’m quite a slow reader, so reading has always felt like a time-consuming burden to me—which is a shame, because I do love to read. But as a turtle-paced reader there always seemed to be a better and more efficient use of my time.
I set out to remedy that by intentionally setting aside a good portion of my free time for reading fiction, which I still do. Stephen King says in On Writing that reading is like the gym for the writer—you just have to put in your time. And I see why this is true.
Of course, part of me felt like I was just fabricating reasons to not write and delaying the actual hard work of putting ideas into action. To prove to myself that I could actually write, I participated in (and “won”) NaNoWriMo in 2016, writing my first real book. It wasn’t based on any of the ideas I had previously because I knew that it wasn’t going to be a good book. I had no delusions about this first book being anything but practice, and that’s what it was. I was happy with the story, but the writing was rough. However, it was noticeable how I improved from beginning to end of the book, validating the idea that writing is a skill that must be practiced in order to become proficient.
That’s one reason for this website, simply having a place to share things that I write in some semi-public way. I plan on putting both fiction and non-fiction on here, the goal simply being to write consistently to keep those muscles working. My hope is to be able to keep up with writing on this website along with work on the books at the same time so that eventually I’ll feel that I have some sort of online presence through which I can share the work.
As for the other purpose of this site: when I started a dedicated reading habit, it got the gears turning in my head as I analyzed the stories and tried to pick out what made them good or bad. I became fascinated with the reasons why I liked something. What made certain story elements compelling? Why do structures and themes recur in so many stories? Where are the boundaries of comfort for audiences, and what creates mass appeal? I’m sure than people much more intelligent than me have spent lifetimes addressing these questions in some way, but I found a sort of thrill in trying to use my own mind to find some answers. This started a habit of really thinking hard about any story, book or otherwise, that I found compelling. It’s a bit navel-gazey, but it’s been quite an interesting journey into the depths of my mind.
So the other my reason for creating a website is to just write down these explorations to help crystalize them for myself and maybe offer something interesting or entertaining for someone else. I don’t mistake myself for any sort of expert in this area. Whatever I write on this website is intended to be only the most amateur of amateur explorations of the art of storytelling. I’m somewhat intentionally ignorant of any academic or expert analysis of stories beyond what I’ve read casually out of interest. My opinions and thoughts come from a beginner mind and I expect I’ll probably say some pretty dumb and uninformed stuff. This exploration is primarily for myself, to help me understand how stories interface and interact with my own mind, in order to inform my own storytelling.
To any who may be reading this, I don’t make any claims as to the quality or intelligence of what I write. I offer it without expectation, though obviously with some small hope that it finds an audience somewhere out there.
I will tackle anything and everything that moves me, from reviewing and analyzing books, movies, TV shows, video games, and other types of stories, along with writing essays, articles, and short stories. To help maintain a regular reading and writing practice, I’ll be doing scheduled “Book Clubs” in which I read through a book on a schedule and write my thoughts at various parts of the journey. Maybe someday there will be a more interactive aspect with others joining in, but it will obviously start as a solo journey that is more indicative of a vanity project.
I don’t know where any of this will go, but if you’re reading this at any point, thank you for joining me.