Processing

Sometimes inspiration comes from dark places.

As I imagine many writers–especially writers of speculative fiction–do, often I use my writing as a tool to process and cope with things in the world beyond my control. As a trained social scientist with degrees in history, anthropology, and political science, I view the world through a unique lens, one even further shaped and refracted by my identity as a writer, by my gender and my sexuality, by my sociopolitical and spiritual beliefs, by my morality and my upbringing. Each of us carry these things as we approach the world.

I’m going to talk about Skypoint here, but there are themes woven into most of what I’ve written that draw from my perception of and reaction to the world around me. In a lot of scenarios, some of those themes are not terribly hard to find and in others they’re more subtle.

Skypoint, as I am currently envisioning it as I work through the writing of the first draft, is one of those works that draws on a lot of darker inspirations. Spoiler warning, if you don’t want to know what I’m planning for the book in either vague or precise terminology, stop now and move on.

Still here? Okay.

Skypoint delves into themes around bodily autonomy, secrets, conspiracy, and war–it addresses the lengths governments will go to to protect secrets and to gain the upper hand in conflict, the lies that are sometimes told to justify actions, and who has the right to do certain things. In the book as I’m writing it now, and the wider world surrounding it (currently planned to adjust some of the history of Legacies of the Lost Earth while telling at least part of the story of how Earth was lost in the first place), there’s a question of who has the right to make decisions for another individual about their mind and health, about their very bodily autonomy and agency. This is mostly depicted through the handling of people with psychic gifts (a theme that I obviously play with fairly often), but anyone who’s read the Legacies so far knows that it goes further and deeper than that–Alana Chase of the Legacies being a prime example. David L├ęsarte and Hunter Drake are further examples in Skypoint, as both were offered very limited options when it came to their futures–at varying points in their lives, both before and after we meet them in the story.

So, too, does the question of justification for war and how they happen come up in the world. Sometimes there are secrets that are kept so conflict can continue to be justified–and sometimes, as a pretext for conflict in the first place. Admittedly, when I began working on Skypoint, there 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia hadn’t started, though there was still the memory of 2014 and Crimea. Neither of these were on my mind at the time, though, but simmering geopolitical tensions certainly were, as was my own memory of the events that led up to the US-led invasion of Iraq two decades ago. These are the things that inspire and the things that you wrestle with and sometimes, they become useful inspiration and the act of writing becomes cathartic and a mechanism of processing all of the craziness of the world.

Works like Skypoint and the Legacies and all of my other projects have a hint of this to it, except for maybe Magic Crystal Justice Squad which is definitely half tumblr-born dare and maybe half escapism born of a global pandemic.

So I guess, in a way, even that’s a coping mechanism.

Inspiration can come from dark places and dark things, but harnessing that inspiration can help a writer–or any artist–produce something beautiful and lasting, in spite of or perhaps because of its roots. Every work is the product of the time, circumstances, and influences of its creation.

Especially mine.

Editing copy – Lost and Found

330 pages, about 91500 words.
12 point font, double spaced, 1 inch margins

Edits and changes got lighter the deeper into the draft I got.

No, I did not do all of the edits in one sitting.

Because pens?

I wasn’t actually intending to write this, but I’ve been going on and on about this pen and ink for at least two hours, so I figured maybe it was something that was worth writing a little bit about here–in part because I am at least at the moment mildly obsessed.

So, here’s the story.

For the last few weeks as I’ve been browsing Facebook, I’ve been seeing ads for a fountain pen subscription service. Now let’s be honest, Facebook doesn’t always have the best algorithm when it comes to me, but I kept tripping over this ad enough to be at least a little intrigued. So I clicked, I looked, and got a little curious. This particular company (Truphae, for those curious) is a business that apparently started from the husband’s fascination with fountain pens and he and his wife leveraged it into a really neat business model. They’ve got a few levels on their subscription boxes. On that initial visit, I browsed the site, was like ‘huh, that’s cool,’ and moved on, not ready to take the plunge yet.

Then, last week, I happened to see the ad again. They were running a special on the subscription service so I was finally “well, why not?” and took the plunge. The option I picked includes a budget-level fountain pen and a full pot of ink. What’s the harm, right? I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d get but it was worth a try for a couple months to see how I felt about it.Holy crap, let me tell you, this was better than I expected on so many levels.

When you hear “budget fountain pen” I’m sure you’re thinking like I did: “something super lightweight and super inexpensive as fountain pens go.” Well, the last part was fairly on point (the pen I got in my box retails under $25 most places as a basic cartridge pen, anyway – this one is modified so you can easily refill it from ink bottles) but the quality on this pen is much more than I expected. The casing is all metal and it’s a heavy pen–heavy to the point that I set the cap aside when I’m using it instead of letting it perch on the back of the pen like you usually would. It was extremely easy to fill (after a couple of YouTube tutorials for a fountain pen beginning like me – all of my previous fountain pens have been cartridge pens which are also great) and writes beautifully.

Then there’s the ink. The ink pot I got is a pretty big (60ml) and the color is beautiful. I love colored inks–looking at my notebooks and planners definitely bears this out. It retails for about $15 across the board at that size and my biggest problem right now is figuring out where I’m going to store the bottle safely because it is definitely still full even after filling the pen. It’s definitely a green ink (looks very dark in the bottle – you can only tell what color it really is around the edges of it) but once it’s down on paper it’s this beautiful green with a blue undertone to it. I am admittedly in love and am really, really excited to see what my box next month brings me. I can’t seem to stop using this pen and ink.

Guess we’ll see what happens…