Mushrooms, wrestling, and a few glimpses into my work in progress.
I don’t write about my life as such, but that doesn’t stop little bits of it sneaking into my novels.
When I was ten and started writing my first novel it was autumn and field mushrooms were popping up everywhere in the garden. I don’t like eating mushrooms, but I love the idea of finding food in the corner of the lawn.
For a whole book my characters ate nothing but mushrooms.
They probably didn’t have much choice because they were seven years old and lived in the middle of nowhere with no parents or other means of support.
Not that they minded. In fact, I think they were pretty happy about their situation.
And did I mention there were golden horses?
Fast forward to the first novel I actually finished, cough-cough years later.
I was obsessively training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) when I started writing it, and I made “wrestling”–closely fashioned on BJJ–one of the national arts of the empire where the story was set.
My manuscript was filled with way-too-technical descriptions of wrestling matches.
Fortunately or not, that wasn’t the only problem with it. It was also 200k words long and the story, such as it was, didn’t appear until after the 60k word mark.
Only one person ever read it. She said the first part, before the story appeared, was her favourite section.
To make matters worse, the book started with the birth of the MC and a prophecy about her life (because how else are you supposed to know the story’s going to interesting?).
Some years later I contemplated rewriting that book–maybe turning it into an actual story–and, having not trained in BJJ since study took over my life, I realised I’d lost the knowledge to do it right.
It was probably for the best.
Then there’s my current work in progress. When I started writing it flying trapeze was very much on my mind.
Flying. Not me.
My writing had increased in subtlety so (fortunately) I didn’t literally include characters doing flying trapeze.
(It’s a fantasy set in a pseudo-medieval world, so it would have been a stretch to fit it in, though I’m sure I could have managed.)
What I did try to capture and use as inspiration was the physicality of flying. Flying makes you strong. It makes you wield your body rather than lugging it around.
My main character in this book is an arena fighter–inspired by gladiators except not Roman–and my experience with flying helped motivate the way she feels about her body and fighting.
She’s also fifteen years old, and while she may be clueless about life outside the arena, her fighting is god-touched. Perhaps even literally.
I would never say my writing is realistic, but I do try to have some grounding in reality for most aspects, even my dragons. (Though I don’t always succeed.)
Hence the second inspiration for my MC: Olympic gymnasts.
People in fantasy do incredible things. But so do people in real life.
How does real life influence your writing?
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12 thoughts on “The physical inspiration for my WIP”
Interesting peek into your creative process. Do I have to ask again? When do we get to read this long-awaited masterpiece? 😉
Um, when it’s perfect? 😉 I really am making progress… kind of.
That whooshing sound you hear? That’s me, waving my hand, hoping you’ll pick me as a beta reader. Just sayin’. As an aside, I have nothing but good things to say about seven year olds who subsist on mushrooms and hang out with golden horses.
Aw, so kind of you to offer! I’d love you to beta read my book… when it’s ready for human consumption. 🙂
My seven-year-olds are delighted you approve of them. Thinking about it, that book even had a plot. I’m quite surprised. Bad guys want to claim horses, children rescue them and go to live somewhere safe with them (i.e. in a field with flowers). I mean, I’m not saying the plot made a lot of sense, but at least there was a story goal.
I have read literary oeuvres with far less narrative logic. Living in a safe flowery field with golden horses? Sounds like a HEA to me. Also might provide a break from the mushrooms.
I’ve always been a sucker for a good HEA. 🙂
It’s funny you ask, because I always say you can tell what was going on in my life by reading what I wrote at that time. Year I learned how to knit, so did my character. My sisters cat had kittens, boom! Kittens in book.
This year, the subject matter (mental illness) means there’s a little more of me than usual. I’ve also appropriated a friend’s cat for one character. Another is writing fanfic for an imaginary tv show.
It’s fun to see bits of myself and my life in characters that are SO DIFFERENT from me.
Knitting and kittens. Love it! And this exactly how it happens for me. 🙂
I feel like I’ve tried to include some of my own interests in my stories before, and yeah, too much knowledge leads to way too many details. I also always wanted to write a main character with a dog companion, then I tried it, and it gets really annoying. You essentially have to include them as a mute character who can only make noises and expressions. So now none of my main characters have pets.
Still, having a varied set of interests and skillsets is always helpful because you can always use it in a side character or something without having to do a lot of research. I have to research urban exploration for one of my side characters and that might actually take a bit of effort. Still, good excuse to learn things.
I’m not sure it’s too much knowledge that’s the issue, but too much knowledge combined with too little judgment about how to use it. 😉
Funny you mention trouble writing dogs. My characters don’t have dogs as pets, but one does have what’s basically a very small dragon. It’s a major player in the plot, though as you say it’s a mute animal. My only reader so far really liked it, so I hope it isn’t annoying. Time and betas will tell.
Hey, 200k at the age of ten is quite the accomplishment! And of course there had to be a prophecy 🙂
Still, I love the idea of how flight makes you respect your body. How it works. And that it is more than vessel for consciousness.
Actually, the 200k was some time later. I did write a lot when I was 10, but not quite that much. 🙂
Thanks – I love it too. Not that it’s the only thing that does that.
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