Friday, May 11, 2012

Sword & Sorcery: Culture Shock

My friend Charles Rutledge, who currently knows more about my work in progress than anyone else because we tend to talk shop when we get together for dinner once a week, has also been gracious enough to work as my first reader in Seven Forges (or whatever I end up calling it).  While we were doing that dinner thing--and between discussions of several different movies, comic titles and the occasional mutual acquaintances who have turned their lives into train wrecks--he pointed out that a lot of what Seven Forges deals with is culture shock, at least so far. That's true to a certain extent. Actually, to a very substantial extent if I have to be honest.

That's because I have dealt with that to some extent, I suppose. When I was younger my family moved around a lot. A lot. To the tune of seventeen different schools in my 12 years of schooling, said schools being spread out from Georgia to Colorado, California, Louisiana and Maryland. Not surprisingly, I dealt with a little culture shock along the way.

I bring this up solely because I am often fascinated by how much our lives impact our writing, even on an unconscious level. It's almost never something that I'm conscious of at the time of the writing, but is instead something I notice months or years later when I'm thinking back on the various novels and stories I've written. Back in my earliest days as a writer I had several subplots that dealt with father versus son in different conflicts. Now I could look at that and say I was dealing with issues that have swept back to ancient mythologies, where one band of powerful beings usurped power from their predecessors as was the case with the Greek pantheon of gods taking the place of the Titans as an example. I probably would;t be wring, either. I could also acknowledge that when I was younger I was still dealing with the fact that my father left before I was born and that one of the main reasons I went to seventeen different schools was because the man never paid penny one of child support or even sent a Christmas card during my formative years.

I don't think either would be wrong. At the end of the day does that matter very much? I honestly don't know. Listen I know plenty of writers who work in the same genres as me who were raised by both parents and had a nice, stable childhood. I know others who make my colorful childhood look like I was raised on a steady diet of Disney movies and apple pie. I tend to think that some people are just wired the way they are. I also acknowledge that some people are very heavily impacted by the life they are planted in when they are born. Genetics and environment both play their part I suspect.

At any rate, Charles is right. Seven Forges has a lot to do with culture shock.

Of course it also has to do with brutal conflicts, beasties the size of rabid polar bears (but with less cheery dispositions) and several individuals who are really very proficient with a large variety of bladed weapons. So far I'm enjoying the heck out of learning more about the rather large cast and I am currently right at 45,000 words into their story. One of our intrepid heroes is traveling with ten strangers. He's there to observe. They're there to meet with several very large groups of armed solders and to whittle the numbers down. If this goes half as well as it's playing out in my mind, it'll be a blast.


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