New to Writing


Near the end of my science degree, I discovered the genre Fantasy. It was amazing. I found the language, concepts, and deep meanings (themes) very appealing. And, I was sick of science research. Why? Long story.

What I find ironic is, as a science student in research, I gained exposure to writing. Of course, it wasn’t fantasy, it was scientific writing. But it definitely stimulated writing circuits in my brain. I learned to analyze text in a way I never before had. And as a science student, my whole life had been science and math. I understood it, so I liked it. Whereas English class was always tougher. Mostly because I never found the books interesting enough to read… Nor did I try reading until the last minute (ha). Regardless, I was more mature and tired of science… Being restricted by the data. I always thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if the data showed ‘X’ instead of ‘Y’?” Obviously, I couldn’t alter my scientific data–that is strictly forbidden. I humbly followed the rules and got through. But in my free time, I was free to wonder these thoughts. Not saying data interpretation doesn’t require creativity, but it restricts you to the plane of reality. My creativity led to thoughts beyond that line.

Pen to paper. Hands on desk. I dropped the pen and picked up my phone, opened the Notes app. There, I unleashed the demons in my mind. Hurricane after hurricane, I finally did it. I created a short story. It was crap. But in the following weeks, I kept going back. Minor adjustments, rewriting, adding new things, foreshadowing, and strengthening connections. There it was, something I was proud of. It was satisfying enough that I decided to expand the story further. I started working on other characters and writing chapters. The prose was very satisfying, it all rhymed, just the way I like writing. But, creativity is like a vine. It breaks through the seed shell, trudge through the earth ahead, and reach the air. Above the vine, the sky. Sun shining, clouds dancing, wind blowing. Like the vine, your creativity shoots for the sun. It reaches further and further up. Once it arrives at a certain point, the vine realizes it’s not alone. Each character of your story is a vine. Each vine has branches. Upon realization, these branches swing toward each other. Then, out of nowhere, gravity pulls at them a bit too hard. They fall.

A jumbled mess. How do these vines get back up? How do they reach the sun? That was my roadblock. Although my prose, character sympathy, and a number of things were good, when I took a step back for a month and returned to my writing, something was missing. Plot. Without a plot, I couldn’t foreshadow and I struggled with creating a deep, complex world. My science degree with its short bursts of writing spread over three years hadn’t prepared me for writing fantasy. What was I thinking even trying?

Well, my science degree taught me how to solve problems… And how to learn a dense material in short periods! Thus, I did all I possibly could to learn about writing. I read more fantasy novels, looked through some ‘How to Write’ books, and watched many YouTube videos. I found Brandon Sanderson’s videos extremely helpful. I learned so much watching them, but still have much more to learn. Six months after ‘learing to write,’ I finally returned to my novel. Now, I have a fencing upon which my jumbled vines can grow. I’m currently in the process of taking each vine and branch, dragging them closer to the sun, and tying knots. I’m breaking down the components of my book–culture, characters, history, dragons, etc–and reworking them around my skeletal story, weaving together everything. It’s taking much longer than expected, but I really want to craft something good. To be satisfied with my new hobby.

Although I felt sick and tired with science near the end of my degree, I have to be realistic–I need a viable job that would allow me to write on the side. Well, I’ve chosen such a career, but it’s still related to science. Scientific thinking is my nature, after all. But to connect my new hobby/obsession with my previous hobby/obsession, I’ll treat writing as an experiment, and this blog will be my log book. Thus, the question of my experiment is, “Can a–totally left brained–BSc graduate successfully 1) complete a fantasy novel, 2) undergo the editing process, and 3) successeed in traditional- or self-publishing (i.e. have ‘some’ sales)?

Science. It’s what I’m instinctively good at. Ironic, isn’t it? Science got me in to fantasy writing, and at a time when I could’ve given up, Science helped me stick to fantasy writing.

‘Til next time,
Thomas J. Benedict
Note: I wrote this without editing. It’s late, please excuse unexpected edits, spelling and grammar mistakes.

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