For nearly 18 years, Tolkien has been my literary idol. His words are lyrical and intellectual and as poetic as prose can be with neither rhyme nor meter. His stories are epic and astounding, digging deep into the nature of temptation and good and evil and capturing the heart and hardships of medieval adventure, swords and sorcery. His trilogy has become the standard by which all fantasy trilogies are judged, and it’s to his level of exquisite storytelling that I have long since aspired to achieve.
And I’ve realized now that while his tales may stand the test of time, and may be the most classic of all fantasy stories, not all within his tomes should live so long.
I kept thinking, after I wrote about my doubts in writing the sequel to Starfall, and I decided finally to go for it: On November 1, I began writing. And even with a couple days encumbered by sour and bitter feelings, I’ve written a few thousand words every day since. In fact, I expect I’ll hit 50,000 words today–but the story is still far from complete, and as I predicted back in 2012, it’ll need a third book to finish this tale.
(What can I say? Tolkien made trilogies fashionable.)
And then, just a few days ago, I decided to try my hand at mapping out the world–and my first attempt came out pretty well, if horribly off scale (catch it after the jump).
Then I realized: once you have a map, you’ve gotta start naming things.
I fell headfirst from the pages of my linear algebra textbook into another classroom. It reminded me of calculus, but was of no building I’ve ever stepped foot in: the walls were white and discolored at the edges, darker greys and burnt yellows that made the corners stretch into oblivion. Low white tables sat in clusters of four or five around the room, but I was the only student held between its four walls. And hanging at its front, two large projector screens hung, covered in a PowerPoint slide as simple as text and a link.
But I said I dreamed of fantasy, and here the portal lay.
Sometimes I wonder what damage those fairytales we were told as children left imprinted in our psyches. Forget the idealized yet ignorant gender norms portrayed in every romance. Forget the blind hopefulness of always waiting for a happy ending. Forget the unbridled belief in magic and myth and mystery.
Maybe there’s a deeper damage to all those Disney dreams.
Some things we can’t choose–our skin color, our parents, our aptitude for eyesight and how soon we need glasses, or perhaps how soon we lose our hair, or perhaps how long it takes us to remember what we were doing before we completely forget it. But some things we can choose–what we consume, how we spend our time, what we study.
This isn’t a list about choices. This is a list about all those things chosen for me–things that maybe I would’ve done differently had I the foresight to know better, the insight into my own destiny as the world shaped it for me.
Being in college is awesome. Not only do you learn a lot of cool things, you also get a lot of free stuff: Free food. Free transportation. Free t-shirts. Free reusable plastic cups. Free frisbees. Free computer labs, library resources, and wi-fi. Free clubs and free leadership training.
Free. Free. Free.
(Okay, so I know it’s not really free–that’s what your tuition and fees go toward–but since I’m not paying out of pocket each time they toss something in my general direction, it feels free. That’s good enough.)
One of the best things, though, hasn’t been free at all: the Campus Cinema. Over the past month, for less than I would’ve spent to see one new release at any other theater, I’ve seen four films–and they’ve all been so great collectively, I’d like to share my experiences with you.
It begins with a fairytale, and in the end, everybody dies.
You liked it. I loved it. And here I’m giving it to you again.
This time around, I’ll be highlighting the beginnings of three more of my stories, providing commentary about why they were good, and why they weren’t as good as they could have been. I won’t go too much into the types of beginnings there are or the processes used to get there–you can read back a few posts in my “Writing” category for all that–so this time around, it’s all pro-tip facts and critical fiction.
The light’s on. It tells my mind it’s still daytime. It makes me think I’m supposed to be awake. I lie down and see the street lights shining in bars through my window blinds. I see the rise and fall of my laptop’s power light pulsing.
By now my light’s off. By now it’s other things on my mind than bright lights and daydreams. Something’s running through my veins like adrenalin, call it what you will. There’s longing, and worry, and fantasy…