It’s quiet in my house. my parents are at church, and so I have the place to myself. A clock on the mantle over the fireplace ticks steadily, barely audible over the tumble and sloshing of the washing machine in the laundry room. Tyra, the shepherd/pit mutt we got from a rescue sulks on her bed in front of the cold hearth. She is mom’s dog. I might as well not exist, she is too wrapped up in her sadness at mom abandoning her again. All will be forgive when mom gets home.
I’m on the couch, steadfastly reading through Out of the Abyss and wearily realizing that it will take more than even a dedicated day to get through it all. After three hours of reading I have sloughed through 27 pages, roughly 1/8th of what I need to read. Instead I have decided to split it into chapters. I have already read today the 2 chapters needed to see me through the next couple of D&D sessions. Now, with ten chapters left I will read at least one chapter a day, perhaps more.
Reading is not all however, I must also make changes to fix some mistakes I made through ignorance in the beginning. I must also weave extra story in to help ground the players and give them personal motivations and encounters. But reading and finishing the book is the first step of that process.
I woke this morning with a hunger for creativity. Though I have read the chapters I need to read, I will probably continue reading after taking this respite to write a blog, and get another couple of chapters in. I hope to finish the book before the session next Tuesday (not this coming one).
I have other ventures I wish to work on as well. I wanted to draw everyone’s character, and design custom character sheets for them to use. I also had ambition to sculpt their minis as well, but I have lost the desire to do the work. Since the failure and destruction of my last attempt at a mini all desire to sculpt has fled from me. I may abandon sculpting altogether and focus on writing and drawing. But we shall see. I’ve felt this same lack of desire for both writing and drawing in the past, and I always return to them.
Recently I came upon the idea to create a dwarven bard character. The idea came about when I was on the D&D beyond forums, asking a question about what people felt were “hidden gems” when it came to classes. Classes and their sub-classes (such as circle of life Druid or pact of the chain Warlock) that are often overlooked or underplayed that they’ve found to actually be very interesting. The conversation went in a different direction however, and began discussing races and classes that went primarily unplayed. One person mentioned that everyone played humans and elves, no one ever played the shorter classes. Another said they had seen almost no bards or rangers. From these comments I began thinking of my own group. True, humans and elves and half-elves were plentiful, and many a gnome and halfling had been played, but I had yet to see a dwarf, or a bard.
Normally in situations like this my desire to play a little-played class and/or race is from just a desire to be unique and different. But the character of Freidha Bergström took form in my mind, a hardy and adventurous dwarven battle-bard. I saw her, standing in the midst of battle, her instrument in her hands (and undefined shape that switched from lute to shawm to drum in my mind) as her voice raised in a war chant, giving those around her resolve and courage. I saw her set aside her instrument and draw out a heavy hammer when enemies approached her, swinging it back and forward with a mighty crunch into an enemy’s skull.
Since that moment this character has taken over my mind. I’ve wanted to draw her, to make her the main character of a novel, to flesh out her story and her background and her world, but not knowing where to begin. I feel that her character and her presence is strong enough in my mind that she cannot be just a D&D character that vanishes once the story is done. She will be the main character of the novel I write, and now I need to set about the task of defining her world and her story. It is a daunting endeavor and I know not where to begin. All I know is that at some point I shall write a scene where she stands in the midst of battle, her valiant war chants giving hope and strength to her allies, and giving her enemies pause, as battle rages around her and fires burn and the sky rolls with clouds and thunder and crackling lightning.
And she will have a beard.
And it will not be a comedy.
I can feel the desire to create growing inside me. Something still holds me back, some insubstantial thing that causes me to lounge in bed watching YouTube or Hulu or Amazon Prime instead of sitting on my desk, pencil in hand. Recently my therapy sessions and my own self-evaluations and introspections have caused me to realize and accept certain truths and to understand certain things. I have lost (I believe) all fear of confronting the things I don’t want to admit. And yet the reasoning behind this resistance still eludes me. I know now that it is not simply that I do not actually want to draw or write or read or be creative. I know that I do want to do these things. But a cannot get a hold of whatever is keeping me from acting on that desire, to inspect it and overcome it.
Is it a matter of just doing? Like with losing weight…agonizing over it and making excuses didn’t stop until I just chose to stop, until I chose to start doing what needed to be done and stopped bitching about it. Is this the same thing? Do I just need to tell my mind to shut up and go sit and my desk and pick up a pencil? It says so easy to say, so why is it so hard to do? What is hiding in my mind and making it so hard?
What even insubstantial thing is causing this, I can feel it at war with my desire to create. It is almost as if Freidha stands in my mind, banging her drum and chanting her chant, fighting the darkness in my mind that holds me back from being creative and demanding I bring her to life, demanding I tell her story, give her a voice, and a purpose. She wades through the lethargy in my mind, like Atreyu in the Swamps of Sadness, fighting for survival.
So much tumbles about in my mind. My desires and wants and thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams and desires. Images of tiny houses and old antique pick-up trucks and of my current room in my parents house re-arranged into some mystical feng shu masterpiece that unlocks the floodgates of my creative mind. Images of myself bent over my iPad as I am now, typing frantically as I breathe life into a story, or bent over a table pencil in hand as I sketch out characters and races and settings and maps.
And yet part of me knows that I will hit publish on this blog, go into my room, look around with the desire to get started, and instead crawl into bed, fire up Hulu and watch some random show or doze off instead. The frustration that builds inside me and screams “why? Why? WHY!?” Inside my head is hard to reconcile. If I feel so strong about my desire to create then why do I like this lethargy win? I’m sure those who may not have this problem may just read this and think “if you want to do it just do it.” And to that I might say “you don’t understand, you can’t understand, how do I describe this to you? I can’t. You have to feel it to know.”
But then a small voice inside me says “maybe they are right.” Maybe I just need to do it. Maybe I am making it harder than it needs to be. But how do I convince myself of that?