A Bitter Pill

Hello and welcome to a post-hiatus, another-one-of-those edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Well, let’s get right into it yall. It’s no secret that, thanks to my lack of active project to work on plus the new content schedule for the blog, I’ve done a lot more reading than I’ve done writing of late. It should come as no surprise that this has been a great way to refill my creative well, and as such, I am starting to feel the itch to get back to writing. But this time, the itch has come with a difficult realization.

When I shelved Border Towns while I mulled a major revision, I was still sold on the concept and the core story arc. I was convinced that, though un-fantasyish in many ways, it was a fantasy story that I would want to read and if I wanted to read it, surely there would be others out there who would love it as well.

I started really devoting mental energy to developing that revision this week, and, as it so often happens, I got a bolt from the blue whilst lying in bed.

Border Towns, in its current conceptual form, is a bad book in which so little happens over the course of its 120k plus words it would laughable, if I wasn’t so horrified and embarrassed.

I touched on this 9 months ago when I ruminated if my fantasy was fantasy enough. Though my conclusion was in the negative, I was still enamored enough with my own story to believe that… it was still good enough to write anyway. I balked at the idea of adding elements that I had not originally planned on including.

Some significant distance has changed my mind on that, to say the least. Not only am I okay with changing the complexion of that original idea, I think it’s actually necessary if this novel ever wants to see the light of day. I can’t say I’m super thrilled about it, really, but the more and more I read, the more I have come to realize that my story idea, the one I have committed two drafts and a couple hundred thousand words (and countless untold hours not only writing, but brainstorming, worldbuilding, and obsessing over) just isn’t adequate as it stands today.

So I’m going back to the drawing board in an even bigger way than I thought. I don’t know if I’m excited. Resigned a little, I guess. Relieved, as always, to come to a decision. Daunted by task and doubtful of being equal to it. Hopeful that I’ve finally gotten over the hump that has held Border Towns back all this time.

We’ll see.


This week’s Short But Sweet prompt (but for really real this time):

Damnation, such obsessed faith and flawed education!


This kind of reads dark, but I’m honestly not that down on myself or even Border Towns in general. I think this is the most clear eyed I’ve been about the subject. And without a timeline to hold myself to, I don’t feel panicked or rushed into making a decision I’m not comfortable with. I’m going to let my muse supply me with ideas as they come and actively brainstorm when she doesn’t. I’m gonna get it figured out, with the help of some good books and the knowledge that my struggles have all been had before, by people way more talented than me. They’ve been through it, and now so have I. And that gives me hope for the future of this stupid book.

Oops I got introspective again. Okay I’m really done now. Until next time, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Easing Back In the Hard Way

Here’s the only thing I will say about the last two months: my family and I, while safe and employed, have had a stressful spring for many of the same reasons as… well, the rest of the world. For me, during this time of uncertainty, self-care was spending my leisure time not writing.

But I feel almost ready to create again, as evidenced by the return of an epic fantasy idea I had put in the percolator over a year ago. I thought for sure that it wouldn’t be ready for development for at least a few more years, but it kept pestering me all these long weeks whilst I was doing my best to keep my brainspace engaged elsewhere. So, I figured since I wasn’t quite ready to dive back into my actual WIP (I still haven’t given up on Border Towns honestly), why not indulge my worst impulse:

Worldbuilding.

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Okay, I’m actually really bad at worldbuilding. I find the process to be kind of tedious and my best ideas tend to come when I’m mid-draft. But… unlike most of my other project ideas, this Epic Fantasy will not make it to draft without doing a lot of heavy lifting beforehand. I know this. That’s why I left it alone in the back of my mind as a seed, hoping the ideas would flower in my subconscious on their own.

But here we are.

So, how does someone who doesn’t know how to worldbuild worldbuild?

I started with Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator. I plugged in some few parameters I felt certain I wanted and clicked new map. Then I clicked it again. And again. And again. You get the idea. After about two hours of playing with the settings and saving a few images that I liked, I generated a map that immediately spoke to me. An island off to the west of the main continent was controlled by two major nations. The borders made it look like the larger was a monster that was eating the smaller.

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It fit perfectly with a conflict that would serve as one of the POV character’s arcs. I knew this map would be the perfect springboard. I took a long hard look at the map as a whole and wrote down any idea that came to me. That day was the most I’d felt creative since my state shut down in March.

A few days later, I was sitting at my desk at my day job when I realized THIS CERTAIN THING would be the perfect theme or at least a cool bit of flavor to tie my story around. Again, I pulled out my notebook and furiously scribbled notes.

Not long after that I was looking at a wikipedia page of cryptids and read about one I’d never heard of. Then A BOLT OF LIGHTNING. The lore inspired me to create an entire humanoid race based on it. And then… why not do another based on this other one? And another? Once more I made sure I preserved my ideas for posterity in my trusty notebook.

Now here’s a cold hard truth: 90% of these ideas will never get used. Either they are blatant rip offs of other media, they don’t jive with each other or the story I’m trying to tell, or they just flat out suck. But that’s okay. For every bad idea that I write down I’m allowing myself to explore an avenue of thought I hadn’t before, and though it may eventually get rejected, it might open up new lines of thinking. In this way I can generate new ideas in the same way I do when I am drafting.

This epic fantasy, which I have code named Minor Arcana, still has a long ass way to go before I’m ready to outline. I mean… probably a year or more of worldbuilding and percolating. But for the first time I’m actually enjoying this process. Without the (admittedly, entirely internal) pressure of actually getting started on the writing to weigh on me, I can take my time to develop crap ideas and not feel like a total failure about them.


That’s all from me this week. As, I’m sure, we all are, I am still adjusting to the “new normal” around here, so while I can’t promise weekly blog posts I can say that I will try. 

Until next time, friends. May your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

The One Where I Use the Word “Fantasy” A Lot

Well. 2020 didn’t get off at all how I expected. The world is on fire, figuratively and literally, there have been earthquakes and plane crashes and the threat of war, and how in the actual hell does one keep their head down and write their silly little fantasy book with all this going on?

It’s overwhelming, to say the least.

But, I keep on trucking. That’s all I can do, really.


My partner and I recently sat down and consumed Netflix’s The Witcher, as I’m sure so many of you did as well, and I, for one, quite enjoyed it. While I understand the criticism of the interweaving timelines not being properly denoted, I actually found that to be my favorite part. I didn’t particularly want my hand held and I liked that the showrunners knew I would be smart enough to piece it together without their help.

You and me both, bro.

Afterward, I was basking in the glow of a good fantasy, when I made the fatal error of turning my thoughts inward toward my WIP, Border Towns.

I’ve always described Border Towns as a political fantasy, one that heavily favored the political aspect and left the fantasy as sort of a backdrop. There’s no elves or dwarves, there’s no angels, demons, zombies, dragons, there’s not even magic. I’ve always been fine with this, happy to assume it would occupy a cozy little niche in the fantasy market, should it ever have the good fortune of seeing the light of day.

But, after The Witcher, I started to panic. Was my political fantasy fantasy enough?

I posed this conundrum to my excellent partner, listing all the things typical and, perhaps, expected of fantasy books that did not feature in my novel. I love him with all my heart, I do, but he looked at me dead on and said, “Well, then what makes it a fantasy?”

And then I really started to panic.

I spent the next few days in fervent worldbuilding mode, trying to figure out a way to inject some kind of magic system to shore up my fantasy bona fides, without disrupting the story I actually wanted to tell. And here’s another potential shameful confession for an aspiring fantasy writer: I hate worldbuilding.

I do. My roots are in fanfiction, and as such I’ve always been a heavily character driven kind of writer. I could very easily describe my first draft of Border Towns as just a series of conversations with some light context thrown in. I always think I want to worldbuild, but then I get bogged down in it and never start actually writing. Worldbuilding, I feel quite certain, is the leading cause of my previous WIP, that I labored over for almost 10 years without getting more than 10k words into, being on the shelf at the moment. 

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Live shot of my previous WIP.

Needless to say, I was miserable. I came up with some ideas, some that might even add some interesting plot points, but eventually I just sat back and asked myself, “Why am I doing this?”

I didn’t want to have magic in this story. If I did, I would have included it in the first place. So what’s more important? Living up to some preconceived idea of what makes fantasy fantasy or writing the story I actually want to write.

The latter won out. As it always should do.

I went back to some old scenes I hadn’t gotten to transcribe during NaNo and found one I had really enjoyed writing, and weirdly enough, it’s still good! Maybe, just maybe, I can do this after all.

Write the story you want to write, folks. It makes a world of difference.


That’s all from me this week. Next week’s blog post will be about writing thin. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles few!

Kerry Share

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