Writing somebody else’s world

I began a story for a particular call out for submissions. In a keenly felt tragedy of non-epic proportions I lost what I wrote in the first draft mid way through. I managed to start again and finished it. Mind you, I wasn’t going to, but the ideas for this project kept percolating. What I had written I had liked, which was a rare first off. And of course the primary inspiration already existed in an established and developing world. Thus, in a way, the hard work was done. Through gritted teeth then, I returned to the blank document and thus summer was spent, in part, re/writing this one story that would only fit as part of this larger existing world. It felt, at times, like I was betting all on black.

A writer can hide from ideas, but like hungry puppies, they will track you down until they become stories.

A writer can hide from ideas, but like hungry puppies, they will track you down until they become stories.

I listened recently to an interview with the filmmaker of Winter At Westbeth, a documentary about the elderly residents of a long-established artist’s colony in New York. The interviewer spoke about the importance of collaboration and support for creativity. In suburban Melbourne, I don’t have a rent controlled subsidised artist’s place to live (gimme please), with a bunch of like-minded folk. What I do have though, is the internet (just – it’s a whole big story, suffice it to say BUFFERING EVERY 20 SECONDS FOR VIDEOS SUCKS!).

Embracing the tedium of rewriting

Rewriting can feel like…but not this time. 

Anyway, back to my point. Via this internet, I found this existing and currently expanding world in progress and it’s publisher. With an introduction to push me in the right direction, plus additional guidelines and a wiki in place, this was like an invitation and permission to play in another person’s playground where I didn’t have to build a swing first or pack up afterwards. Thus, adding to this growing realm constructed through the imaginative efforts of a few contributors felt constructive and instructive. With each writer building upon the other it was kinda like a community. It isn’t quite a Westbeth, I felt more like each member of this loose but inspired group of contributors is providing a personalised piece for a distant but Gothic and phantasmagorical castellated Lego construction where each plastic bespoke doodad is honed to perfection so the overall design is coherent and lyrical.

But yeah, I’ll take it.

Glad I took a change and rewrote my story.

The will to rewrite and keep going? Still got it.

The will to rewrite & keep going? Still got it.

Somewhat reminiscent of the vast ornately works of China Mieville, such as Perdido Street Station, but definitely its own thing, this world is the kind of creation that attracts me as a reader and a writer.

As a writer, what was provided was scaffold to build upon, with just enough in terms of both inspiration and the very important boundaries for imagination that help in creativity. As a reader, I could already see the city and its inhabitants, all I had to do was introduce something to it from me – my story. Turns out I could and it was welcomed and will be published. This is a source of joy in itself as the story would have taken a bit of work to make it useful for anything else;)

This was more calculated too. I have all manner of projects that need my attention, but this one had those helpful particular word count and rules for the world. It helped that I had an idea that I kept returning to, and which grew and crystallised the more I pursued it. Also, I felt my style for this was a good fit, even though I’ve not had much fantasy published before. Plus, this is a paying gig, which adds further spice to the motivation. All this will make sense when you see this world, which I am loath to publicly reveal here until this is ready to read.

Stay tuned.

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