Where do tales come from? Usually it begins with a single image and maybe a couple of words, full of emotion and tension. Other times it’s a song. Or a clever concept, buzzing around your head.
And the rest is a ton of hard work, that makes you wonder if perhaps you should have taken up mushroom farming as a hobby.
The truth is, of course, writing is not a hobby. It’s something you have to do, to get rid of all the stories in your head. The funny thing is, sometimes you realize what really inspired you to tell a story after you’re finished with it. Sure, the images and the songs and the emotions are a starting point, but as you play with them, other things rush into the page: things you really, deeply care about. Just never thought you would write about all that, till your fingers start doing their own thing on the keyboard. And that can be a bit embarrassing, but it should never stop you.
I teach creative writing at Tales of the Wyrd in Greece. We focus a lot on technique, avoiding clichés, having an eye for details. However, one of the most precious things I’ve learned and hope to transfer to students is this: the sooner you realize what story you really want to tell, the better. Writing is hard, sometimes harder than it is joyful, and perfecting your craft is time-consuming. It’s a pity to waste all this effort on something you don’t really, deeply care about.
So tell the story you really want to tell. Reveal yourself. Go for the jugular. It’s a long process, but the end result will be well worth it.
Dimitra Nikolaidou is a Greek author. Having discovered the 36-hour day, she also researches RPGs and speculative fiction at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, acts as head editor at Archetypo Publications, and is the co-founder of Tales of the Wyrd, which organizes creative writing workshops and seminars. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Metaphorosis, See the Elephant, Starship Sofa, and Gallery of Curiosities as well as in several published and upcoming anthologies (After the Happily Ever After, Retellings of the Inland Seas, Nova Hellas and more). Her non-fiction work has been published in Cracked.com, Atlas Obscura, and Future Skies as well as in several Greek magazines and history anthologies. Rumors of her radicalizing fairies in her spare time have been greatly exaggerated.