Saturday, July 10, 2010


It seems appropriate for the first writing-related post here at Second Star should be about beginnings, so I though I would share a bit about the origins of my major work-in-progress, "Sword of Glass".

Let me describe my mind-set at the time this was born, so you can get an understanding of how important this work has come to be.

Early in 2009, I was in a very desperate place. My ex-wife had moved out a little bit over a year before. I will not use this space to vilify anyone, but you need to know at least one thing: I made her leave because I had caught her cheating for the third and final time. Again, I'm not using this space to go into any of that; you just need to know that, even after a year, the pain of that betrayal was still eating away at me.

I was trapped in a job that I wasn't well-suited for merely to pay the bills and struggle to keep and maintain a house that I was desperately unhappy in. Though I still had the shining stars of my children to keep me going, everything else was pain and desperation.

Then one night, I had a dream.

In this dream, I stood on a shattered hill scarred by a long-ago decimation. A sea of dark, writhing shapes surrounded the hill, creeping up all sides to the pinnacle, where I stood watching them.

I knew that if this teeming horde reached me, I would be consumed, forever lost. I felt the darkest fear I have ever known, dreaming or awake, as I watched them gain inch after inch, knowing that my end crept with them.

Then I realized that in my hand, I held a sword.

A sword made of obsidian.

I felt a surge of hope as I knew that I had a weapon with which to defend myself. A weapon that would cut sharper than steel, but was also fragile, and would be shattered if each stroke and thrust were not carried out precisely.

The dark glass in my hand thirsted for the blood of the creatures approaching me, and as the first one reached the crest of the hill, the sword itself guided my hand to the perfect thrust against the beast, and it burned as the blade pierced whatever form of a heart beat within it.

More of these creatures gained the top of the hill, and each one fell as the sword and I moved as one, slicing, thrusting, and burning.

As the creatures burned away to ash around me, I realized what they were: demons.

My demons.

Each one had a name, and I knew it as it fell.

Fear. Doubt. Anger. Hate. Loneliness. Despair.

Each one seeking to devour, to drag me into the abyss in which it lived, and each one burning away at the touch of my dark sword of glass.

I awoke from this dream, and for the first time in over a year, I felt alive. I felt as though I had hope, and I knew that I certainly had an idea.

I wrote down what I could remember, though most of the details didn't come back to me til later, when I began crafting it into story. What I wrote, what still exists in my tattered notebook that I keep by my bedside, is this:

Wounded man stands atop shattered rock, slicing despair with a sword of glass.

And so it began.

The wounded man became The Raggedy Man, haunted by his past, desperately trying to find peace while still mourning what he has lost, what was taken from him. On his journey toward reclamation, he battles some of those same demons that accosted me on that shattered hill of my mind.

I discovered that as I wrote his story, he was helping me to battle the demons that still tried to gain hold in me.

The story, like me, is still very much a work in progress. I have been and continue to be on a very personal journey with The Raggedy Man and Sera, a similarly wounded woman who is quite literally pulled into his life. Their struggles become mine, and mine theirs.

So the genesis of "Sword and Glass" was very real pain, and a dream in which I was able to fight that pain.

And now, I'm curious.

What's the genesis of some of your work? Where did your idea come from?



  1. Wow, what a powerful post. A really really great start to this blog.

    I gotta say you also made my day because you understand what obsidian is and how it works. You get my geology stamp of approval :p

    The start of my long work just came from a picture in my head I had of a city where people wore jeweled masks. Well..the upper class did. It's been evolving from there!

  2. Hmmmm...Well, now I'm intrigued. It's a great tease - sort of like the book jacket. Hope I get to read the whole story someday.

  3. wow. That's amazing, Brad.

    I understand, by the way. After a..traumatic experience of my own, I have one story that I've worked on off and on for years, and I'm still not comfortable sharing it on the forum or anything. Too close to my heart, I suppose.

    So far as the creation of some of my stories...different things. One of my favorites, and one you'd be familiar with. Phoenix.

    Created by a writing exercise (take two unrelated characters, put them in a scene, and have them talk) And I ended up with a bounty hunter with questionable morals whose dialogue was peppered with slang, tied up back to back with an alien that could not lie, nor used contractions/slang.

    The two argued like brothers, but they were awesome to listen to. And Phoenix was born. :)

  4. Wow. Your dreams are way cool.

    I got the idea for the story I'm working on now, when my daughter pointed out that our pet duck looked a lot like a dragon.

  5. A well told story, Brad. Dreams play a strong role in helping our subconscious to reach our conscious thoughts. I'm glad that is not only helped you work through your personal conflict, but that it gave you the seed of a story.

    Dreams have played a strong genesis with my writing though without the direct correlation to my waking life. I'd already begun dabbling with writing, thanks to roleplaying games, when I had this vivid dream of the aftermath of a big battle in a castle's Great Hall. The characters and dialogue had been so vivid, I had to discover what had led to the that scene. Thus Jana's Story/Meridia was born. I'm still struggling with it about 5 years later, but it got me moving toward more dedication and less dabbling with my writing.

    Broken was another dream inspired story. The dream plot didn't make much sense once I woke up, but the emotions and concept of the girl creeping around in fear of being found was so compelling, I made up a different setting and reasons for it happening. I wrote it up, intending it to be a flash fiction piece, and called it Broken. It passed the 1k mark by a few hundred words, but when I shared it on our writing forum intending on getting help to shrink it down somehow, I got many requests to keep going instead. They were eager to know what was going to happen next. Now it is being combined with a couple of my husband's stories to form the basis of a novel.

    But dreams haven't been my sole source of inspiration. One is based on a roleplaying character's back history, and I've also used the challenges of our for-fun writing contests on the SF/F crit forum at WD. Never would have imagined myself writing a zombie story (eww), but I gave it shot for the challenge. It still isn't finished, long past the original contest and well over the length requirement, but my crit group has been enjoying my installments and bugging me for more.

    You never know how or where an idea may come from.

  6. Where to look for ideas? The usual. Gambling, sex, violence, humor, and aliens.

    I've posted sample chapters on my website for America's Galactic Foreign Legion.