We’re starting this off right: loud, proud, and with something Leigh Bardugo told me. It was at the Los Angeles stop of the King of Scars tour; I was in the middle of creative crisis, working at a bloodthirsty office, and losing sight of who I really was. I felt beaten down, dragged out, and left out to dry.
A quick rewind: the year before, I had attended a special event in Los Angeles for The Language of Thorns. There, I told Leigh how Nina was my favorite character in the Grishaverse – but in a state of panic I said something along the lines of, “It’s nice to see a character who loves to eat waffles as much as I do!” She smiled, asked if I would like a Nina quote in my copy of Six of Crows, and happily obliged when I stammered out a weak affirmative.
To put it mildly, I was mortified at myself. Waffles, really? I mean, I’m big boned and soft all around and it was nice to see a badass like Nina happily thinking about food and indulging in it on page. But the reason I loved Nina was because she was unashamed of who she was; she was loud, proud, and stubborn – and she owned it. My whole life I had always been told I’m too loud, too stubborn, too intimidating; I’ve been told I need to stop being so passionate when I argue; I’ve been told by countless people I’d never meet a guy who wants to marry me because I’m of all the things that scare them.
Let’s ignore the many issues with that last statement and just focus on the being told the traits are undesirable my entire life part. So imagine how I felt when I got Nina, who’s everything I am and not only proud of it but loved for it. So of course I loved her immediately. And I don’t know how Leigh knew after my major stumble, but she wrote, “Be too much.” I cried in my car.
Back to the King of Scars tour stop. I’m gearing myself up for this, knowing I need to do three things without losing my nerve:
- Tell Leigh Bardugo, an icon, that I, an adult woman, blurted out that I loved her character because of a shared love of waffles but that was not what I had meant.
- Tell Leigh Bardugo, an icon, the real reason I love Nina is for her passion and her absolute no apologies given attitude.
- Tell Leigh Bardugo, an icon, that I had clung to that little phrase and it was one of the few things still holding me together in the mess of a life I found myself in.
I regularly joke I paid tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree in how to talk to people and I still can’t do it right. But this time I was pretty dang proud of myself. That’s when Leigh said to me, “You have to be. Be too much. Don’t let them tear you down,” and I almost started crying again. Because I realized in the months I’d been where I was, I had let them all tear me down. I needed to take back what I lost – especially creatively. Which meant doing some cleaning of my social media, turning my spaces into more personal ones, and really thinking about what I wanted. I realized I had, at some point, let what others expected of me dictate my entire presence.
So we’re here now with that mantra still beating loudly in my mind.
Ink & Illusion has been cleared of all previous posts and is going in a new direction. And if you’d like, you’re welcome to come along for the ride.
Here’s what’s happening. Ink & Illusion will no longer be a book review blog. It’s going to function, primarily, as a creative outlet. On Twitter I’ve talked pretty extensively about the fact that I got my start creating on Neopets.com and by role playing. I still role play and regularly create things with absolutely no intention of getting them published professionally in any way. But that doesn’t mean my personal works get any less effort. So I’m turning Ink & Illusion into a bit of a passion project host. There will be art! There will be writing! There will be a lot of me yelling at nonexistent people because I, their creator, made them act a certain way!
I have a large collection of world, story, and character ideas just itching to have some actual development. I’m going to tackle them one at a time here, and each one is going to be part of a set of posts. A set will include:
- An introduction post. This will discuss character sketches, the basic idea, and a look into the genre(s) the idea is based in. It’s also going to preview the five pieces of media I’ll be analyzing as I work to develop it.
- Five pieces of media that I analyze in their own posts. These pieces will include books, video games, graphic novels, and maybe even anime and film. The main point of this is I’m going to be analyzing works that I have found to be excellent examples of worldbuilding and character development. Series (e.g., a book trilogy) will be counted as one piece of media.
- A “final findings” sort of post. Where I hopefully wrap up what I’ve found in these last five posts in a way that actually sounds somewhat coherent.
- The final post, which is where I review the basic idea, and then present the final project. This includes completed characters, the world I’ve built, major plot points and/or the story’s timeline (if applicable), and maybe some fun things like moodboards.
The point of this is to get myself to do some work, but I also hope it introduces others to the finer points of worldbuilding. It’s an incredibly difficult process and I’m by no means a master at it, but it’s a huge passion I’ve held for years. I’ve been creating entire worlds from scratch since I was in elementary school, and a lot of times I feel like a lot of the amazing, intricate work that goes into it gets overlooked. Maybe by sharing my journey, other creators will be able to learn something of the art of it too.
And hopefully some of you will hold me accountable and start bugging me if I start to lag.
Please. I have… so many things to work on…