So often it seems the blog posts I draft lead one to the next in a logical sequence. Kind of sounds like a book. This week is no exception. Last week I related my struggles and varied interests in school along with my ongoing efforts to overcome self-doubt. As it turns out, in my case, worldbuilding and writing are helping me to overcome both issues.
One, as it turns out, helps the other.
I’ll begin with school where I excelled in history, but floundered in other classes despite a keen interest because my imagination got in the way. I was interested in, well, most everything. Even after school, I was often paralyzed, unwilling to surrender pursuing my varied interests.
For me, the solution was writing, but, like so many, in high school I ran into soul-breaking advice: You’ll never earn a living doing that. Pursue schooling that’ll lead to money.
Thus dooming me to pursue one despised avenue after another while simultaneously recoiling at the realization I was sacrificing one interest or another. There I was, pursuing paths I dreaded while clinging to an assortment of others. College added more interests while intensifying writing’s pull.
What a mess.
Were I a character in my own fantasy world, a ghost would’ve stepped out of the shadows to impart wisdom upon my shaking self…
Christina, what the heck are you doing? Just devote yourself to writing. You can channel your other interests into worldbuilding. Writing will even help heal the PTSD. Write! You are, to be honest, a bit of a disaster when it comes to most everything else.
Obviously, my ghost would be rather blunt.
When I didn’t listen, my ghost would give me a hard slap like life eventually did. There’s nothing like almost dying to reset priorities.
Finally, I caught up with what my subconscious always knew. I only excel at writing. I write otherworld historical fantasy fiction. All my interests not directly tied to that are best poured into my worldbuilding.
Sure sounds simple now.
I don’t love math, my arch nemesis, but—wait for it—I recognized ways where my imagination could use numbers (Case of the Deadly Stroll) or symbols (Stealing Light).
To an extent, geography is that place where history and science went when they eloped. It also combines my love for travel and recalling images. I can still identify the 50 US states by shape (not Colorado and Wyoming without context). It isn’t surprising I love maps.
I was an english disaster until I began writing fiction at age fifteen, yet I’ve developed an ora’ean language called Old Elf. I use it to flavor stories as needed. Related to it is Shadow Language, which is used for certain spells.
Looking back, I always had a fascination with english as symbols. Even in elementary school, my interest was keen. I wanted to know more about how the various letters and numbers evolved. Alas, they instead drilled me with memorization and rules.
Last, but oh so not least, is science.
Ontyre remains closer to its last ice age so brokenhearted Christina could revive her favorite extinct creatures like the woolly mammoth and saber-tooth cat. In Pannulus, I resurrected my beloved pterosaurs and adapted them for a northern climate.
There’s an entire herd of mammoths in So Others Might Remember. Saber-tooth cats became cirque cats and more resemble a Canadian Lynx with long canines. One plays a big part in Riparia’s series.
Besides fauna, there are unique flora. My entire magic system has close ties to science and I’ve amended the periodic table, adding gases and metals. I’ve had to learn enough about engines to operate them under my magic system. That’s led to mysquanmic (magic) magnetics and and airship navigation systems that compensate for mysquanmic vortexes.
The fact that I don’t want to shut up about all this is proof of how writing has allowed me to pull in all my interests.
I must not, though, downplay storytelling, for it’s what most fills my heart. That’s why worldbuilding, as much as I love it, only serves as background.
Between my childhood home life, often floundering in school, and dealing with intense personal issues, life pummeled my self-esteem into submission. Worldbuilding and storytelling create the whole that is the World Of Ontyre. As its grown and deepened its given me more confidence. That, in turn, has chipped away at self-doubt.
Scars remain, but each is manageable. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s good. That isn’t to say it’s been easy. I’ve worked hard to put myself back together and learn to manage my weaknesses. Likewise, I’ve worked hard to build the world and stories of Ontyre.
The crux, in many ways, is believing in oneself. Part of that flows from meditation, mindfulness, walking, and yoga. As of late, I’ve added affirmations. That’s one side.
The other side is Ontyre. I look at the maps, stories, and world and think, I did that! No one can take it away. People will read the stories or they won’t, but the creation remains.
It has been a labor of love, and writing has paid me back in kind.