A while back I posted the picture here and commented on how I took it. The person who posted it read it metaphorically, with the same meaning as the phrase “first day of the rest of your life.”
It’s meant to convey that tomorrow is a new day, that it can be the start of a new chapter, that anything can begin. It’s inspiring to people who want to improve, to lead better lives, to start something new.
To me it said: if I write just one page every day I’ll have a 365 page book by the end of the year.
I didn’t write a page a day. I didn’t write at all. If I had, I could be a hundred or so pages into my book by now. But something continues to hold me back. That something is fear.
Those of you who have read my blogs for a while now know that I struggle with my own self image. I have very little self esteem, and often feel not good enough for just about anything. Not pretty enough to go swimming in a public pool, or generally be seen in public. Not good enough to be an artist, or a writer. Not good enough to sell my clay sculptures for more than the cost of materials, if that. Not good enough by many faults to be someone’s significant other. Not good enough for much of anything really, and certainly not good enough to write a novel people would read.
This has caused me to can several ideas over the years the second someone speaks even the slightest negative comment. The worst ones that always irked me was when someone likened my idea to something else. “Oh, that sounds like this TV show I like…” or “Oh like so-and-so’s book such-and-such.” I craved originality. I wanted my book to stand out, to be nothing like any other book.
I probably needn’t tell you that is rare. Perhaps even impossible.
Take Harry Potter for instance. It seems very original, with it’s strange names of Hogwarts and Diagon Ally and Olivander, and it’s creative use of halloween themes of black cauldrons and black cats and pumpkin flavored everything.
And yet at it’s core, it is a coming of age story. It is a story like so many others where a young and relate-able boy who is average by all accounts is thrust into a world of magic and adventure and forced to fight a battle against a villain of some sort bent on destruction and oppression.
Harry is Frodo, and Voldemort is Sauron thought to be defeated but in truth returning, and thwarted along the way by the unlikely hero and his allies, set in a school rather than a medieval fantasy land. Harry Potter is fantastic, the writing is the kind you can just sink into and enjoy, the story is enchanting, and J.K. does a great job of creating characters we love, and we love to hate. But it’s backbone is one that has been written time and time again, since David slew Goliath, of the underdog rising up to do great deeds and defeat the seemingly more powerful foe.
Wheel of Time, another favorite series of mine, is rich in lore and history, the different societies are interesting and exotic in some cases, from the dessert dwelling Aiel to the traveling Tinkers. And the magic system, Saidin and Saidar, two sides, male and female, of the One Power, channeled through Aes Sedai and woven in elemental threads in patterns to create effects. I love the series, it’s rich description of peoples and cultures and it’s unique magic system are what draw me in.
And yet even this, the story itself is the same story as Harry Potter. One boy, a normal, average boy, if charming and with a few skills to help him, is part of a prophecy to defeat the main villain, an evil and powerful bad guy intend on chaos and destruction. It is a story told a thousand times in a thousand different ways. It’s told with boys, with men, with girls and women as the main protagonists, it’s told with hobbits and with elves, with humans and with fairies. And no one seems to be bothered that they read the same story over and over just with different skin, because that skin is what makes a book.
My book will not be any different. The main character will be a woman, a dwarven bard named Freidha. The villain she fights will be an oppressive elvish regime, and her weapon will be knowledge, history, and maybe an enchanted musical instrument. But the story will be the same. A simple, relate-able, average person rising up against a much greater foe. My skin will be a more technologically advanced world than the average medieval, though maybe not any specific time period as marked by Earth, perhaps a bit of futuristic, with a dash of renaissance and a pinch of Victorian, I’m not quite sure yet.
I also haven’t decided if I want to try to come up with my own magical system. I like the idea, and I love the unique and creative magic systems I’ve seen in other works, but I am not entirely sure I could come up with something. I’ll give it a shot. I do know I want her songs and music to have power to them, that can work as spells. I also think I want Elves to perhaps have quarantined all non-elves who possessed magic in an attempt to let magic in other races die out, and so by the time of our story only elves can use magic (or so they think).
I realize that the story I am working on is not entirely unique. I realize that it will be similar to many other stories. It may end up having an almost steam-punk theme, or not. It will be a simple everywoman type character fulfilling an epic destiny thrust upon them by fate and circumstance. But it will be my story.
I want the world to be rich, to have history, and though it will have elves and dwarves, goblins and orcs, I want them to have their own flavor, a slight spin on them that makes my elves a bit different than Tolkien elves, or Forgotten Realms elves. I want the setting to be rich enough and vibrant enough that other authors could carve out a piece for themselves if they so chose, and that it would serve to be the setting for an RPG campaign, a homebrew I hope to run someday.
My first step, however, is to begin. To start gathering my ideas into a world. It isn’t going to create itself. Every now and then I get a little jolt of inspiration, and those little pieces are coming together nicely. But I need to set proverbial pen to page and start writing, start fleshing out my world.
I’ve always had a fear of sharing all my ideas outright someplace online where some thief could decide to take my idea and run with it. I had it happen in the past, though only once and it was with a fantasy text-based RPG guild I had created. Not that I think any of you readers are thieves of course! And that is the thing, I think anyone passionate about writing a novel would want to write it themselves, and anyone who would take someone else’s idea probably doesn’t have the ambition to actually write an entire novel (even with a stolen idea) and attempt to get it published.
So I may choose to overcome my fear of sharing my ideas outright, and post my brainstorming more thoroughly here. Or I may seek to start a writing group, or join one if maybe there is one in my area. Someplace where I might get feedback, if I feel I can handle the critical feedback.
Whatever I choose to do, I need to get started.