We all know the feeling. You are sitting at your desk, compelled to write but not driven by any of your current ideas. Sure, you could write that mystery, but all you have is one cool scene in your head and a generic villain to drive the plot. Don’t get me wrong, the scene is probably awesome, but one scene is not the makings of a novel. It’s one singular idea.
The purpose of this post is not to bash anyone who starts with an idea and expands the writing from there. I used to do it all the time when I was first starting out and trying not to blatantly knock off better executed stories and movies I had encountered. Problem was, after I finished writing out the scene in my head, I had nowhere to go. If I forced myself to keep fleshing out the story that didn’t yet exist, I went like a sailing ship with no wind. There was potential in each failed novel I produced (and there were many, believe me), but they lacked the spark.
Every once in a while, however, I stumbled on a gem. Something that got my creative forces working in unison. I could see the first scene of the book, and the next, and the next. Almost always, the story involves something I already love: the ocean, seabirds, Loch Ness, history (WWII in particular), the paranormal. These also happened to be things I already knew a good deal about, and the inspiration combined to make something not just exciting in my head (as the first writing expeditions were), but real. Tangible. Concrete.
I know, with a title like that, I better have a good explanation for where I’ve been all these months. Well, the truth is what you loyal readers have become accustomed to at this point: life got in the way. I know, it happens to the best of us. First, it was my job as a student journalist eating up my spare time, then the end of the semester. And then my laptop died.
At first, I thought that was the death knell of the blog. Only after it had happened, hindsight informed me that I had never actually thought to write down the password to my WordPress account on anything but the piece of paper that I first came up with the idea for TFWOA on. Of course, the paper vanished the moment I scrambled to find it. For a couple weeks, I didn’t even have a computer to write on. After the browsing data was lost with the old machine, I thought that was the end of my one and a half year writing odyssey.
At this point in the dry spell, some of you were breathing sighs of relief, I’m sure. “That crazy Leftist and animal fiction writer finally got picked up by the State Department.” Sorry to disappoint, but I’m still a rogue on the Internet, and now I have my microphone back.
I wrote this short story for a class project on fiction with nature themes. The feedback I received from my peers was positive enough that I thought it was worth sharing with you fine writers and readers. Feel free to toss any comments or critiques you have in the comments! Any and all are appreciated.
I chunked up the story due to its length (14 Microsoft Word pages). In total, I’m planning on uploading it in five parts. This first section represents the exposition.
Descent into the Forgotten
The sun bore down on Korren’s back as he glided over the pockmarked beach. Basking in the light, the tan sand radiated heat. Gray mounds beyond the shore brooded in the heat, throwing their dark shade upon the black plains. The wind carried the crisp smell of salt, keeping his senses sharp as he glided off the drafts from the raised ledges that extended into the ocean.
His feathers shone in the noon rays; he had spent all morning preening them. If his beak wasn’t grooming, it was conversing. Even when he had none to speak to, his mind overflowed with thoughts and ideas.
Nature does not hide Her fury,
The wind shrieks and slices
The wave roars and crashes
The cold blasts and bites
The rain pounds and slashes
Before Her unwavering might,
Man is another lowly creature,
Trying, as taught, to conceal his fright,
But She does not disdain in her anger.
Let’s be honest. I founded this article series on the belief that I could incite a populist movement to bring enlightenment and success to the downtrodden masses of starting writers, combined with a dash of charming Marxist rhetoric. Debatable as the likelihoods of that hope are, if you are a follower of the revolution, then we’ll all find ourselves at this point.
Define success however you like: a print publication; the first time you hear “Hey, that was pretty good”; a large blog following; or the completed novel you’ve been pounding away at for months. The reason we hold these dreams as such far off, climactic culminations is because we understand there’s going to be a good deal of work between now and that day, whenever it may come. We’re all going to have to deal with a lot of blood, sweat, and a few tears in our future. But with that struggle will come small victories, sign posts that say we’re growing closer to that high-vaulted goal.
Savoring the Small Victories
Anyone can (and should) learn this skill. Even if you’ve already hit the big time, a published novel, unless you plan on retiring and pursuing nothing ever again, there’ll be many more projects in your future. And for us at the bottom, my fellow revolutionaries and writers, we’re just beginning the long path to victory. By taking a moment to pat ourselves on the back every now and again, we can make the journey that much easier on ourselves, and that much more meaningful.
I wrote this poem as an attempt to explore the antagonists of my first novel (and sequels in the works). Many of the best works are those that can paint the picture of an entire immersive, fascinating world. So I asked myself, what would the soldiers sing as they pillage and destroy?
Hymn of the Descendants
Over water and earth,
Across the seas to all shores,
Everywhere it shall be known,
The divine song of our lords.
Through fire and death,
We do our righteous deeds,
Those who follow the Creeds,
Know no true end.
Our talons liberate their souls,
Our beaks cleanse their minds,
The weak will cower at the call,
The strong shall rise.
We are the holy, the elite,
Soldiers and Zealots of the Empire,
Following our Master’s decree,
The tainted shall burn on the pyre.