How appropriate that this has happened to me on May Day ^_^ The new work I’ve been developing, that was tentatively titled “Nephalim”, has been gathering momentum – working away in the back of my mind, springing ideas on me as I read, cleaned the house, walked to the shops, chatted to Superman about other things entirely… These are the signs that, at last, I may have found my next project – one which should be a stayer. You’ll have picked up the qualifications there and they are deliberate because there was still one thing missing: my premise. The moment I discovered my premise for Shadowkeeper was the moment I became capable of finishing it. I discovered for myself what Lisa Dethridge had taught in her wonderful classes at RMIT: that the premise is not just some lofty, over-arching statement of purpose (as against outcome) for a work – it is the axis upon which it turns. Whenever you have a question about story or structure, the premise is your guide. Like a blues harp in the right key, when creativity is lacking your premise will always give you something you can write about till you find the creative angle again (even if you trash what you’ve written to get you there lol.) When you’re totally lost and doubting your skill and why you even started writing this thing and who would care anyway… your premise tells you why.
Today, I found my premise.
How I came to find my premise is worth writing about here because, as my writing friends know, lately I have been exploring the creative process behind how people choose which project to work on. I’ve asked writer-friends and scoured blogs and sooo many writers, it turns out, do what I do: let the ideas take us as far as they are willing, file that away then work on the next till that runs out, then pick up either the next or return to a previous one and so on, until one idea has developed far enough to become dominant (I’ve described above how I know that has happened.) And here is why I’m calling this an epiphany – what I have realised today is that this idea actually pulls together many, many of those embryonic, under-cooked ideas in my box files – going back so far that I feel that I may have been working on this all my life.
When I was about 15, I was lying in bed in the dark looking up at the moon when a huge black cloud drifted across the sky, obscuring my view – at that moment a title came into my mind, fully formed “The War of Wind and Moon”. I turned on my lamp and began to pen what I thought should be an epic poem (obsessed with Vikings as I was at the time.) I wrote two stanzas about the wind deliberately but somewhat impotently obscuring our view of the powerful moon with clouds … but I had nothing except a vague sense that it was “really deep” but beyond my understanding at the time. The title stuck with me for years and every now and then I would ask myself if I was ever going to write it and wonder at the mystery of it … then, one day several years ago (in a screenwriting class actually), I decided that it was just a damn good title and I had just been another teenage writer with a title and no story lol!
Well… today, as I was putting away the shopping at the same time as preparing lunch (for which Superman returns home each day now – sooo cool!), my mind wandered again to the question of why I was embarking on a story set in the mythology of the Christian world when I had spent my life researching so many other mythologies. Why was I putting my protagonist into a story in which she discovers angels and god and demons are real? Was I just trying to undermine my own spiritual exploration? Where do all the other mythologies fit in the story I’m writing? I thought about the other snippets of stories involving spirituality that I have in my box files. I thought about how, in exploring religions and spiritualities (including Christianity) I’d found that they all come back to the same ineffable “Source/Love” whatever the many faces of “gods” and “angels” the mythologies offered … and suddenly everything pulled together and the title came back to me with bright, full understanding.
“The War of Wind and Moon” is the eternal struggle between trusting in that ineffable “Source”, the ‘connection’ to which is so elusive and heavy with personal responsibility, and the desire to pour devotion onto something solid and seen in return for rules and rituals which allow us to avoid that responsibility. And that, my friends who have been wanting details about the new project, is the axis around which this novel will turn. The actual story? Well, there are angels and ‘gods’ and demons at war for the hearts of humans and a young half-human woman struggling with the responsibilities that great power brings.
Now I’m off to write and find out more ^_^