The release of my newest E-Book, The Shade's Tale, has brought a flurry of questions about the power underlying The Cosmos about which I write. I take for granted the power of ideas because that has been the basis for the power structure of my universe for so many decades and is the way I think about reality. I forget my readers are new to my notions of power. With that in mind, now seems to be the appropriate time to explain some of my thinking about ideas and power.
To get a full grasp on what I'm talking about and a true understanding of my thought process, you need to rethink the way in which you view ideas. To me, concepts are so much more than a dictionary definition. Ideas have a life all to their own and are all but tangible to me. They are completely substantial to the characters I write about in my stories. Thus, the fantasy aspect of my work.
I begin with the dictionary definition of any given idea. Then, I think and go broader. I let the concept rumble through my mind without any preconceived notions of where the idea should go, or how it should move about within my cerebral space. I ask myself a series of questions.
What are the ramifications of the given idea? How does the notion move through reality? Does it sashay, or does it flit about? What does the concept feel, and how does it do that? With what other notions does the idea associate or struggle against? How would it feel to reach out and touch the idea? Would it feel hot, cold, sharp, soft, or like something else? If it could talk, what would the concept say, and how would it communicate? What does the idea look and smell like? What is the notion's connection and importance to The Cosmos? Is it central, peripheral to existence, or does it have some other relationship?
If you think about these questions and allow your mind to wander as you read my stories, you will become immersed within a fantasy world full of characters you will come to adore and others you will love to hate. It will be an experience unlike any other. At some point you will wonder why other authors haven't treated ideas in this manner. Fantasy will never be the same for you. That will be the moment the penny will drop, and your understanding of my work will have fully materialized.
My friends and family have long thought my personification of ideas to be strange, maybe even a bit bizarre. This manner of perceiving concepts is what has made me successful with every endeavor I've ever undertaken. It's what has made my role-playing games different, and the reason behind the unique quality of my stories. I see no point in writing about what has already been written. My brand of dark fantasy goes where no other writer has dared or seen fit to tread.
Not all ideas are equal. Some concepts are wild, unruly, and simply out of this world, while others are simple and down to earth. The juxtaposition of ideas is where the true conflict within my stories reside. Characters wield concepts to get their desired results. Their very existences are notions unto themselves, as are the physical properties that surround the characters. They combine ideas to express their intent and accomplish feats, some of which are simple and straightforward, while others are beyond the pale.
My characters imaginations are their only limitations. Even The Cosmos is an idea to contend with in the scope of my stories. The resolution of the butting of heads when ideas collide is where the meat of my tales reside. If this point is all you come away with at this moment in time, then you are a long way toward understanding my creative process and most importantly, my story arcs.
Hopefully, this post answers most of your questions. If not, check out some of the posts within my Thought Train. Many of those posts expound upon some of the big ideas found within my stories. Until next time, keep it dark and fantastical and remember, ideas are more powerful than the pen, which are mightier than the sword!
My, how time flies! The last time I posted to this blog was before Thanksgiving. I apologize for my absence and hope you'll be understanding on that account. So much has happened since my last post.
The most exciting event was the release of Book One of my first trilogy, THE SHADE'S TALE. That story went live as an E-Book just before the New Year. Being my longest work yet, at around 126,000 words, it was a monster to edit and format. Finally, it's up and running. Yippeekiyay!
I poured so much creative energy into THE SHADE'S TALE over these past weeks and thus, the reason for my lack of posts. I believe this story is my best work to date, but I always think that. I do love all of my babies. Each one has something different to adore!
Christmas was as festive as ever. There is nothing about the holiday I don't relish. Shopping with my wife, daughter, and best friend went off without a hitch. As we enjoyed the decorations, lights, and spirit of the whole affair, lots of goodies were found by all of us. My wife and I drove around at night on a couple of occasions and devoured with our eyes the twinkling light displays on and around the houses we passed. We didn't have a white Christmas, but we didn't have a blue one either.
Our time in Vermont between Christmas and New Years, put the cherry on top of our Christmas cake. On New Year's Eve, fire dancers and fireworks made for a fabulous evening. We rocked in The New Year with the jolly and enthusiasm usually reserved for the man in the red suit. Rain didn't dampen our spirits one bit!
As I write this post, snowflakes are falling from the sky. It's beginning to look like a winter wonderland out there. Would've been nice for Christmas, but as they say, better late than never!
Well, I think I've brought you up to date on everything that's fit to print. I'm going to smoke a stogie and watch the snow blanket the world with a white quilt. Until the next time we meet, enjoy the winter revelry that is hopefully blanketing your neck of the woods!
Recently, a fan of mine messaged me and asked why my stories are filled with bizarre ideas and obscure words. I was taken aback by that question. I don't think of the ideas I write about or the words I choose to tell my stories as being strange or arcane. Concepts and words flow naturally from my thoughts onto my pads of paper and eventually into my computer. Still, the inquiry caused a flurry of musings.
The themes of which I scribble are the things I've thought about from my first memories. The dictionary was the first reference book I read from cover to cover. The Bible was the second. Now, I might have been a peculiar child, but my daughter followed my path pretty near. Either both of us are odd ducks(which I'll admit, the jury's still out on that issue) or there is something universally absorbing and instructive about ideas that draw those curious enough to examine them in a common direction.
My life's trajectory has centered around attempting to understand the universe in which I live. To that end, I've embraced a life of study. Reading the work of great thinkers has been a major component of my studies. Early on, my reading focused on nonfiction, particularly philosophy and history. Later on, I broadened the scope of my education to include fiction in which the authors played and sometimes even toyed with my beloved ideas.
Because there is so much information to absorb, at an early age I discovered it easier to remember what I had read by organizing the data in my mind by idea or concept. There are far fewer ideas to keep track of than permutations of them. Some concepts like momentum are huge, while others like soft are much smaller. Every piece of data boils down to an idea or a series of concepts. Memory is all about context. Concepts became the framework around which I hung the knowledge I collected from my reading and observations. This is the matrix of understanding and retention I use to this very day.
By the time I discovered the magical world of role playing games, I had a plethora of ideas under my belt, and in retrospect, a rudimentary understanding of those notions and their connections to one another. It seemed natural to apply my knowledge to fantasy gaming. At first, many of my friends resisted the notion The True Power within The Cosmos were ideas. Over the years, they came to embrace my idea of gaming that involved wielding concepts rather than looking up minutia within the various handbooks and using that random data to solve problems.
I tell you this because my gaming world is the point of departure for my stories. The characters within my tales wield concepts to find solutions to their perceived problems. Some just do it better and more efficiently than others.
If you think about it, everything can be perceived and understood as an idea or series of concepts. For instance, something as simple as a tree can be broken down to concepts of life, being an integral part of the ecosystem, a delivery system for sustenance, a provider of shade, material(wood and sap), and shelter(for squirrels, insects, and the like), an anchor into the earth in which it stands as well as a bounty of wisdom(what might a hundred year old tree have witnessed or heard over its lifetime?). I find this understanding more useful than defining a tree in terms of a series of roots, branches, and leaves or needles, centered around a trunk.
Once you embrace this notion of ideas, your perceptions of the world in which you live are irretrievably altered. A tree is no longer simply a tree, but so much more. Take this far enough, and you might discover as I have you can all but touch the concepts embedded in all things. Ideas become dynamic and almost tangible.
In the end, yes, Virginia, ideas do matter! I hope this sheds some light on my fan's question and gives the rest of you a measure of food for thought. Until we meet again, may the sun not oppress you and have a tremendous weekend filled with whatever trips your trigger!