Hiya-!! How was your weekend-? Σ(￣。￣ﾉ)ﾉ
Can’t say I did too much, but I did revisit a local mall I frequent for various reasons~ and while I was there, a certain kind of nostalgia just wafted into me…
I’ll preface this by warning you: this entire post is blatantly unorganised!
Maybe “Midnight Musings” is a good monicker for this kind of rant—lots of things creative, lots of things personal, and absolutely none of it fact- so if you’re still around, then I hope you can find something worthwhile! (=^▽^)σ
So, walking through the mall’s basement level, I passed by a restaurant that I’d eaten at only once, back on March 27th of this year, but that day’s one that I remember fondly: I’d spent the whole day prior setting up an outline for a new novel idea I had, and that day was the first I spent trying to turn it into something tangible!
(~I’ll include some AI-generated shots of the mall in question, all based on actual images of it~)
I glanced at the exact table I sat at that day, and as those memories returned, I realised one thing: it had been a while since I felt that eager to write… anything, really.
I thought about like this: was there something about fresh, new ideas that enticed me far more than just continuing or reusing an old one?
Because, at the end of the day, love for a book has to go both ways, doesn’t it~?
Question for my fellow writers first, maybe hobbyists, maybe professionals: do you often find yourself googling questions on what makes aspects of a book good?
I used to do that a lot, and every now and then I still do, but I noticed I’ve been doing it less since I first took this craft seriously around 2019…
Maybe it’s overconfidence? Maybe it’s some arrogance in me telling me that I’ve outgrown the need to listen to top 10 lists?
Whatever the case… Finding lists on what makes ideas good is pretty easy (*´∀｀*)
A lot of the top results I see give the same aspects but with differing advice, so among the things is young authors are coached to focus on, people often include:
- Memorable Characters
- Well-defined Setting
- Developed Themes
- Strong Plot
- Coherent Structure
And all of these are, I think for the most part, definitely things we all have to remember—no argument here-!
But I have an interesting story about one of these five…
I never used to think about it, but nowadays? I really feel like it’s made all difference for me in terms of my motivation to write~!
My relationship with story themes…
…was basically non-existent for almost two years-!
In my two previous posts regarding my very first attempts at novels, I never really talked about a central theme of sorts—and that’s because I never had one.
Not for those two books, not for the one after, not even for the novella that followed… (-.-)y-., o O
I just didn’t think at the time that a theme was all too necessary!
In my ever-enlightening erudition, I thought back then that themes were pretentious-!
So what we’re thinking right now: how could you believe that when basically everything popular media from the East to the West incorporates those?
…I don’t actually know if you’re thinking that, but past me’s answer was always gonna be: I’m different!
I’m so different and special that I can write what I what, make several million yuen, get all my books shipped to the west, get a Wikipedia article—What could possibly go wrong?
I-I’m gonna stop this here I already wanna bash my head just writing this…
In short, I didn’t think I needed to have a theme because I thought my ideas were just that good-!
I wanna know here: is that a thought that’s normal for all of us starting out?
Perhaps my friends were more humble—they definitely didn’t think that way when they began—but I remember seeing other younger authors describe very similar delusions…
Because, despite what I’ll say soon, I was definitely still very motivated to write these stories-!
But that bliss had to come to an end eventually…
Long story short, writing became a chore for a while, and I couldn’t really figure out what it was that burned me out so fast!
Was it my schedule? Was it my circumstances at the time? Was it some other internal problem?
I don’t know, honestly, and the whole story behind this lull’s best saved for a different time…
But I can tell you what helped pull me out of it all!
That book I had been writing from March 27th onwards is currently in its second draft, and I’ve thankfully found a beta reader or two to check it out for my next series of revisions, but one thing I wrote into this project that was absent from my previous works? Themes.
Three words: Identity, Mortality, and Memory.
At my time and place, these three were easily among the concepts that spoke to me the most personally…
This book itself has the following premise~
A 12,000 year old deity awakens in the human world with only two memories: their name, and the fact that they are not a mortal. Will they find a way to return to godhood, or remain and adapt to the world they once held influence over, but has now forgotten them entirely?
Now I didn’t put it here, but most of the book also revolves around this deity meeting and befriending a mortal human, and later on, as this person teaches the immortal more about emotions and culture, they come to the realisation that they will outlive their only true friend, and will likely forget them completely several millennia from now!
I did have a bit of unconscious inspiration writing that—Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, for anyone else who’s a fan of that~!
That series had a very similar conflict early on: this dragon that could live for thousands of years befriends a normal human and is faced with having to accept that, while she will live on, their one human friend won’t be around for long.
To be perfectly honest, I basically took the same solution that franchise ran with: to just enjoy the present and accept the inevitable, because how can you really find time to relax if you concern yourself so much with a fate that we can’t avoid?
Writing about these themes changed a lot about how I saw this hobby in general…
In a way, I guess it became therapeutic.
Like a way for me to materialise and realise my anxieties through the lens of someone else…
Is anything I wrote grounded in reality? A bit of it, but overall, this book reflects a challenge I’ve set for myself in my writing:
Can I write a character who is completely different from the average reader, but is still relatable?
Without giving too much away, I wrote the main protagonist, the fallen deity, as essentially a shapeshifting immortal being, yet now that they’ve found themselves in this new life in the mortal world, they begin struggling with a sense of identity as they become more and more humanised, soon becoming conflicted as to whether they still consider themselves a god.
That struggle with identity is what I feel tethers me, as the author, to this character! They may be almost-entirely unlike me, but thanks to this conflict we share in essence, writing their inner thoughts and their arc was a lot easier to work through!
But that does bring up another question, right?
How distant should an author ideally be from their characters?
A distance I’ve yet to measure…
When I walked by where I sat writing this book on March 27th, I was paralysed by a wave of nostalgia, but it wasn’t just this yearning for a time when I was having lots of fun…
To me, it was also a yearning to relive an adventure I was never a part of: the actual events of that book!
In my case with identity… I suppose you can say I’ve found myself trapped with individualistic ideals in a collectivist society (´；ω；`)
I’ve used those terms a fair few times, but I’m at a point where I still don’t value stability—I have a constant thirst of sorts for some sorts of change, and I feel a need to keep on moving, even when all of this puts me at odds with what’s expected of me here.
And I can’t really say I have an answer or anything to this—I feel like that’s something that’ll come with time and age, so instead of marching out to look for it, I’ll wait for it to come to me when I need it~
But that’s different from what my protagonist feels on this topic: they actively seek acceptance and ways to grapple with human mortality instead of waiting for it all to come.
We differ in that regard—but it doesn’t make me any less emotionally-attached to them as if they were a friend from a different reality!
But is that a healthy mindset?
Writing this protagonist and their friend has been the single most enjoyable bit of my journey so far—in all these four, maybe five years, it’s the first time I’ve landed on a dynamic with this mix of sweetness, comedy, and conflict that I’ve always loved to see in media!
And that’s really down to how attached I feel to them: the fact that I can imagine these two as if they were present with me makes it so much easier to let their interactions flow~
Maybe that closeness reflects more about me than I either realise or am willing to admit… but in that case, then maybe it’s a part of our writing journey, isn’t it?
I once read a joke question that asked:
Who understands people better? A psychologist or a writer?
Personally, I’m giving it 100% to the psychologist, but I feel like it presents an interesting thought: as writers, how compatible is our understanding of our characters with how psychologists understand humans.
I like to believe I write mostly in-line with accepted and proven psychological theories, but there are probably writers out there who have a very different concept on humans, yeah?
Any chance that writer could be you?
Heh—I guess it’s mostly a rhetorical question~
Just like the rest of this, really-! Midnight musings that came to me as I tried to make sense of a very minute moment of my life…
I’d love to talk more about this book in the future though—I guess I’ll have to think of the best way to do so without spoiling anything, but hopefully I can catch you again next time for something more structured!
In the meantime, all the more love to ‘ya!