Toby’s Update – January 2019 – A year writing

Hello again! It is hard for me to look back and say I wrote every single day of this year, but I do believe this was the first year in many years of attempting to write that I managed to stay consistent and write almost daily, whatever the circumstances in my life.

In 2017 – I still have the notes ! – I set myself certain goals to write a certain amount of words, and attempt to publish at least a short story. Many things materialized but nothing worth turning into a novel. I am still working on those goals though!

Already the year before that, in 2016, I had drafted perhaps two stories in the world of Ealisia, a world I imagined back in 2013. A world that grows richer and fuller with every word, paragraph, scene, act and story written. I spend countless moments – perhaps hours when you add them all up – daydreaming about my characters, their adventures and how the world they live in came to be.

It is a wonderful experience, one I would encourage anyone to engage with. One way or another, we all live in our own version of this world. Some healthy fantasy and imagination is a great addition.

The last five months were perhaps the most productive. That first story materialized! I still cannot really believe it, but it is there. Thirty-six thousand words on paper, with at least two characters who make the story worth reading.

Let’s not beat around the bush. Anybody who writes or edits knows that such a story is far from done. Anybody who writes or edits also knows that the hard work lies in the rewrites and restructuring of such a manuscript. The joy for me lies in the discovery of my process. With all the difficulties – I do not like being confronted with my shortcomings in characterization, structure and foreshadowing to name but a few, yet there is great joy as now scene by scene and chapter by chapter the story emerges like a statue cut from marble.

Although I have always been a teller of stories, it took Robert McKee’s Story, which I have read and listened to more often than I can count to refill my passion for the craft of storytelling. Stephen King’s On Writing, as well as Larry Phillips’ book Ernest Hemingway On Writing taught me that I should just write. Then this year I was lucky enough to discover Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!, the book which helped me structure my story from beginning to end, because I always struggle with the second half. Then came Sol Stein’s On Writing – which you may also have noticed seems to be a good title for a book on writing. It is simply an ongoing inspiration for the craft. As I listen to it over and over again, my mind edits, cuts and tweaks my story and each time I see it transform from words on a page to, as Robert McKee puts it, a good story well told.

My tale of writing would be incomplete without mentioning two other sources of inspiration. Pivotal this year for me was the discovery of Critical Role, the master storyteller Matt Mercer who drew me into a world I knew existed but had never dared to enter. I tumbled into it like Alice fell into Wonderland, and the tale of the Mighty Nein has been my constant companion since August of this year. At the same time, I ordered my Dungeon Master’s guide and wrote my first Dungeon’s and Dragon’s adventure. That was truly the first swords & sorcery adventure I wrote from beginning to end. And it was the last push I needed, because it was this story that was the ember underneath the firewood of Ealisia, which by this time had been piled so high it eagerly and willingly burned.

For me, the lesson has been that inspiration comes from consistently working at the craft as much as it does come from daily experiences and random encounters. There is great joy in this process and it is my sincere hope that some day a reader will pick up this story and enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

For now I wish you all a good start of the new year. May you end 2018 well and start 2019 with a clean sheet of vellum, a full ink-jar and a fresh quill. Fill those pages, even if only for your own pleasure. I know I will.

Sincerely,

Toby

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