James’s Writing Journey: Part 1
Now, the date is a bit of a guess to be honest (I don’t have diary records going back that far. In fact, I don’t have diary records at all!) but for the purposes of this blog, it makes a point – it was quite a long time ago. So what is that in numbers?
- 14 years have passed;
- 737 weeks have passed; or
- 5,160 days have passed!
When I look at it like that, it is terrifying. What on earth have I been doing all that time?
Here’s a brief run-down of other life events that have occurred (a roll-call of excuses, if you will):
- A degree certificate came my way (c. 593 days);
- I spent two hazy years as a publican (730 days and nights);
- I earned two professional qualifications (many many hours);
- Lots of time sat in an office (2,386 days + many nights);
- I got married;
- A child came along;
- Lots of ‘living’ – after all, that’s what it’s all about.
But I digress (which is easily done). The point is that I know exactly where my fascination with writing came from, and it wasn’t from writing at all. It was from a film. That sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it?
Well, not really. I read quite a lot as a youngster (a lot of factual books and also a fair amount of fiction), but my reading tailed off somewhat in my adolescence as I discovered more immediate pass-times: beer and girls (or beer and dreaming of girls). So it wasn’t until I watched Lord of the Rings that I really became re-engaged with fiction, and specifically fantasy fiction. And wow! What did I do after watching the film? Consumed all three books, plus the Hobbit, and then moved swiftly onto the Silmarillion. And it was actually the unlikely Silmarillion which left the biggest mark on me.
It is a work like no other, and quite a challenging read as I recall (I’ve just made a mental note to re-read and review). As a story, with the usual arcs and plots, it is a strange beast, but that is not the point. What it actually is is a collection of short stories, written in chronological order, and spanning a period from mythology to the ancient past. It is a bit like the bible in its breadth and target, and the concept of anyone being able to conjure such a work (and the world to which the work relates) blew my mind. My immediate reaction – wouldn’t it be cool if I could do something like this? I’ve always been one for realistic goals…
So, reading the Silmarillion gave me a thirst for fantasy world-building. But that is not enough. You need a story too, and this is where my daydreaming comes in. It has always been a feature of my person that I am able to switch almost entirely off when walking about town, but it works best when I have music screaming in my ears. In fact, quite often, I have been so switched off that I actually miss people jumping around on the other side of the road trying to catch my attention. That’s how well I can daydream. And given the right flavour of music, which I find serves to influence the flow of my daydreams (and fundamentally, the shape of the story) I can get some great imagining done on my walks to and fro. So that is where the story started: on a walk back from one of my rare university lectures (sadly it was my attendance which was rare), on a dark night, in the depths of a British winter, walking through Clifton village, listening to (and I remember this vividly) the Chemical Brothers; the Test, from the fantastic album Come with Us. When I set out on that half hour journey, I had nothing. But when I got home, I had the end sequence for a story. Brilliant!
That end sequence remains fairly true to its roots even today (14 years later), and it is the end sequence of the Age of Ku trilogy.
So there we have it. This is my inspiration: reading great fantasy (the Lord of the Rings) gave me an appetite for world-building, and listening to great music (Chemical Brothers) gave me the bones of a story. The natural extension of this was to turn it into a book. How hard could it be?
How naïve was I? Suffice to say, I have not been twiddling my thumbs for the last 14 years, but we’ll get onto that later. For now, let’s just revel in the concept of an idea, and the dream of its transformation into a story that will excite and influence. That’s the dream I have been reaching for ever since that walk home(to greater and lesser degrees over the years), and regardless of where I get to, it’s been an incredible journey.
Tell me about your inspiration, either by commenting below this blog, or by getting in touch with me any other way.