On Worldbuilding 1/?

Something completely unique in humans is this gravitation to create alternate worlds. In our childhoods, all of us were able to fabricate (complexly, at that) entirely separate realms that existed vividly—a way of constructing that came effortlessly. We created entire storylines and characters, fleshed out intricate scenes, and fought through the created conflict in a way that felt real in totality. Is this a way of reigning control within the real world—which we are quick to learn complete control over is impossible—or is it simply a kind of creativity that we are born with? Defense mechanism, or a natural, inevitable creative instinct?

In “Building Imaginary Worlds” by Mark J.P. Wolf, it is stated that “more energy gets put into mapping the world than inhabiting it,” and for me, this is the foundation of the purpose of worldbuilding. There is needed, in all stories, an idea of a complexity beyond what a reader can see—there needs to be more out there than what can be fully accessed. This can be reflected as a need for the realistic—as in the real-world, one always knows that there are sights out-of-reach—but I choose to think that it reflects the need for the possibility of more adventure. And this is what drives the childhood tendency to plunge into a created world: the adventure of it all. An adventure means escape, in an infinite number of senses, whether it is an escape from boredom or problems or life in general. It is important and essential to make the world of your story something that is so lush and so lucid it seems and feels real, because as writers, we owe it to our readers to construct their means of escape. We owe it to the world we’re creating to make it rich enough that it can hold a proper adventure.

Some News…

I cannot believe I am finally able to say this, but The Secret™ is Out: I’m going to be a published author!!! It’s been a long, nerve-racking, heart-wrenching journey, not yet over, but another step closer. My science fiction debut, GEARBREAKERS, my absolute heart, will be out 2021 with Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan. Get ready for skyscraper mechas, cyberpunk weaponry, cyborg sword fights, and angry girls ⚔️⚔️⚔️

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When Writing Isn’t Your Life

This week started off the spring quarter at UW, and my schedule consists of all English classes, which makes me both excited and exhausted. Mostly because last quarter, I wrote around 60k words, which would normally be cause for celebration—if ~49k of those words weren’t attributed to my schoolwork. And this was only with a single English class.

11k words in three months.

11k words in three months—three months: how long it took for me to finish the 125k words of the first draft of (what I hope will be) my debut, this time last year.

And yes, school is extremely important to me, both socially and academically, but it’s hard not to think that I’m waning when I compare the numbers. I have so many ideas and all I want to do is write all day, to live and breathe that cliche dream of sitting by a big window with lots of pillows, feet kicked up with socks engaged, laptop growing warm on my lap as my tea steams on the sill beside me. I can see a distant point in the future where writing is my life, but realistically at this moment, that’s just not possible. I have school and I have the constant, still fairly new press of being a ‘real’ adult, and finding out how to take care of myself in more ways than one.

Burned out at 18, says a voice in my head, and then another a moment later, much louder, YOU ARE BEING SO DAMN DRAMATIC AGAIN AND FOR WHAT REASON???

Spring break arrived as a saving grace. I wrote ~10k words over that week and a half, and devised a plan for this quarter, to weave through the writing assignments I will no doubt have for my English classes: creating a schedule for my WIPs—a very Adult thing to do. And then drown my insecurities with logic:

I was editing for most of winter quarter. That counts as work.

I was working on synopses revisions. Conceptual strengthening is just as important as the novel it guides.

I broke 70k on my WIP. That’s progress.

I like to think that that’s how to achieve a balance of this: to grab the words when I can and avoid agonizing over the ones I can’t, and to savor what I can do instead of kicking myself whenever my priorities have to be shifted. I feel guilty when life gets in the way of my writing, and this derives from the frustration that comes with writing not being my entire life, and therein the problem lies: I want to jump to this point in my future that needs to gradually click into place. I need to be patient with my life and maybe relax a little in the way it seems to creep forward slowly now, and have trust in myself that the work I do will land me exactly where I want to be. After all, all good stories have good pacing.

Writers Don’t Eat Cake

It’s been around two months since I signed with my wonderful literary agent, Weronika Janczuk of D4EO Literary Agency. In that time, I:

1. Moved away from home

2. Entered my first year at UW

3. Gutted and edited a significant chunk of my manuscript

4. Wrote the full synopses for the following two books

5. Wrote a very short bio in accordance to my semi-short existence

6. Survived midterms (amid #3-5)

7. Got really homesick

8. Got almost over it

9. Received a handful of rejections from agents I had queried over the summer (post signing my AA). Those taught me a lesson I had previously been stubbornly skeptical of.

In my vast amounts of query research—which involved reading blogs of successful writers and fantasying about, one day, claiming that same kind of blissful happiness they seemed to pour into each “How I Got My Agent” post—a single phrase was repeated in nearly every single instance, a phrase that over the months would both haunt me, and, as time went on, drop me deeper and deeper into various pits of disbelief and/or irritation:

The industry is subjective.

I despised those four words.

As the rejections came rolling in, I—in a half-stressed / half-teen angst haze—figured that the phrase was pretty much a literary equivalent of “Let them eat cake.” Because, with almost every inbox ping signifying yet another rejection, it must mean that this whole business actually boiled down to a very simple equation:

Agent A Rejection = Agents B-Z Rejections

Then, another ping.

Weronika’s email sitting on my inbox—would I be available for a chat over the phone?

Months of “I’m not quite the right fit for your project” torn away in a few words.

My agency agreement was the first document I signed as a legal adult.

Another query rejection came a week afterward. And suddenly, every writer online wasn’t some elite, Marie Antoinette-figure, blind to the struggles of the common querier. They’d all gone through it, too.

The industry is subjective.

The phrase offers more comfort now.

Because, really and truly, it’s nothing but a good thing for those querying—you want an agent with your specific brand of taste, because that’s the person who is going to be in your corner. Fight for your work so you can find someone who will fight for it, too.