Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Worldbuilding and I have always had a hate relationship. Lots of hate. With chainsaws. And blowtorches. And our conflicts have always ended the same way: I lose and abandon a high fantasy idea to go write realistic fiction or urban fantasy while high fantasy laughs in my face and taunts me from afar. With cookies.

And then I befriended a coworker, and everything changed. She invents worlds and draws her own maps for fun, and I'm sitting there in slack-jawed awe as she shows me graph paper covered in sketches depicting the land mass of islands, population numbers, seasonal weather patterns, and cultural traditions. She knows what kind of food would be available in the area, what would need to be imported, what trades would be practiced, and what kind of government would reign. I ask her how she manages something so monumental--how she battles her way through the chainsaws and blowtorches--and she says just four simple words: "I think it's cool."

I have never once thought worldbuilding was cool--not when I do it, anyway. Other people make cool worlds, and that's cool. But to me worldbuilding is like washing the dishes. It's a necessary, gross evil that gets your hands soggy and your mood irritated, and no matter how long you stand there scrubbing, you'll always find out thirty seconds after you "finish" that you missed three cups and a pot and you're not done after all and you'll never be done because someone is definitely conspiring against you. And I had always thought that in order to win the battle of worldbuilding (or dish-washing, for that matter), I would have to become a great researcher, or a great historian, or a great something-I'm-not-and-dread-to-think-of-the-work-required-to-become. It wasn't until that conversation with my coworker that I realized the only change necessary is not one of vocation, but one of attitude.

I enjoy what I do--writing, I mean. I think it's cool. I think it's hard. I think it's awesome. My problem with worldbuilding stems from the fact that I have never seen it as part of writing; I've always seen it as the mud I have to slough through in order to get to the actual writing.

Now I don't think that way. Now I think it's cool.

(I'll conquer my attitude about dishes another day. With chainsaws. And blowtorches.)