That changed this last fall. Before, I considered my story ideas to be pretty amateur. I'm not sure what the catalyst was, but sometime this past fall the story in my head began to develop into something bigger and brighter than it had ever been before. I conceived what I like to think is a fairly brilliant story idea. Everything had been vague concepts and images floating around in my head before, but now! Now it began to take on shape and life. Now I thought I had something that I wanted to share with the world.
Having played around with blogging through LOTRO for about a year previous, I decided right away to jump into blogging again and chronicle my journey as a writer and I began first the long but exhilarating task of worldbuilding. You see, I'm an epic fantasy reader/writer through and through and the secondary world where my stories happen is very important to me.
But while exploring the writing blogosphere and learning more about publication one message hit me over and over: Write! Write! WRITE! Get that story down on paper! Now! Get it published! Now! You're not a writer unless you're writing!
Sad to say, I took it to heart and ever since I've been making blundering attempts to get my story written before it's too late. To be a writer. And it hasn't been working. The story just isn't coming together.
But I've realized something. I don't want to be a writer. I don't want to be one of those authors who are oft quoted because of their skill at putting words together in meaningful ways. I don't care to be one of those authors who are remembered for their poetic or sharp or efficient prose or anything to do with prose. I don't even want to be known for brilliant characterization or exhilarating plots or complex structure or stirring description or genuine dialogue or any other literary technique. I don't care are about literary technique.
Let's be honest here. J.R.R. Tolkien was the father of modern fantasy and his books are among the most popular in the world. But is he known for any of the above things? Is he remembered for his technique? I'll admit that there are very few lines I can quote out of his books considering how much I love them. No. What Tolkien is remembered for is his sub-creation. He created a secondary world so detailed and so complex and so real that people can't forget it. People spend their lives wishing they could live in Middle-earth. People spend hours upon hours playing and MMORPG set in Middle-earth pretending they are Elves and Hobbits to get that feeling. Middle-earth is what endures. Middle-earth and its peoples and places and its languages and history. But always, always, Middle-earth.
That is what I want to achieve. Oh, I don't fool myself that I can ever be a worldbuilder on the scale of Tolkien. I have no gift for languages. But still I strive to create a world as real and complex and enduring as his. I want to fill it with wondrous places and fascinating people. I want to tell its compelling history.
And so, right now the worldbuilding is more important than the writing. Only once I have my secondary world fully fleshed out, once I know the intricacies of how it works and am acquainted with all its diverse societies and peoples and creatures... then I can write my tales. I already have a list of several different stories taking place in different parts of the world that I want to tell. But I must know the world to know how the stories unfold.
So for now I will not give in to the pressure to write my stories before I am ready. I will still write. I will write vignettes and short tales and character building exercises and the like. I will practice my story telling technique. But only once my sub-creation is ready will I write its history.
And then, oh then! I will be a storyteller, and not a writer.