Let's Talk About Ambition...
Updated: Jan 8
When I started writing all those years ago, I never imagined I'd want to take on such a massive project. Truth be told, trying to aspire to the depth and prestige of any of the great writers I love so much felt and still feels a lot like imposter syndrome...who am I to even aspire to such heights? To create entire worlds, spin tales of unique and compelling characters? To become a fantasy author? I really think this is classic of writers though. We just feel unoriginal sometimes, or like what we're offering might not be useful to anyone. And while I'm certain I'll never come close to the writers I admire, there's still something to be said about inspiration and ambition.
Antique Typewriter on Dark Wood by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
My First Book Series
I'm currently writing my first book, called The Lanse of Heaven. It's part of a series called The Eatherstrider Series, and while I'm not certain how many books this series will be, what I do know is that it's only a small part of an overarching series that spans thousands of years of history in my world, which I've called Irzirdra. I want to start in the world's "classical age" and write stories spanning all the way to the world's sci-fi age.
I want readers to find the connections between each book, explore the magic system that slowly goes from a soft system to a hard magic system over the course of thousands of years, as scientists discover that it's just a force of nature. I want readers to pour over my worldbuilding, lose themselves in the endless possibilities, and appreciate a truly expansive world. More expansive than any I've yet seen. That means hundreds of characters, places, events, and possibly millions of words. Something only the greatest fantasy authors have really accomplished.
I didn't know this project would be that large when I started. Hell, I'd just spent the last four years putting hours into a jumbled mess of about 100,000 words that I can't do anything with. That was my first attempt at this book and series, and little did I know, those four years were a learning experience more than anything else. I laid the foundations for my world and story, but most of all, I spent that time also learning what a compelling character looks like, what a good narrative looks like, and why stories matter.
I consider that my education, and while others might view spending four years on a 100,000-word manuscript of random scenes and characters as a waste, I consider it a crucial element in both my confidence to write this series and my growing ability as a writer.
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I have a running joke with a friend of mine, who helps keep me accountable. We both want to finish a book, so I playfully ask, "Where book?" all the time. It's mean to be playful, but I think it helps both he and I to remember that there is actually a goal we're working on, and someone is awaiting the outcome. That accountability and gentle reminder actually does more than I ever thought it would on my end.
I'm by no means an expert on any of these subjects. I may even be a mediocre writer at best, but I think ambition is half the battle. I recently had someone say to me "Start with something smaller. That's too ambitious. It won't get published." And you know what? It stung for a minute. Then, I opened my writing software and started putting words on the page. Because even if they're right and this is too ambitious of a project for a first-time author, and I'll never finish it, I'll be damned if I'm not going to at least try.
Anyway, rant aside, I think it's important to remember sometimes that people aren't always going to support what you want to do. We've been kind of taught to aim small, haven't we? How many times have you talked yourself out of doing something that might enjoy or apply some talent you have, only to be reminded not only by your subconscious, but probably your friends and family, that it's "too big" for you? Or that you couldn't possibly do that, because that falls outside the realm of...well, possibility.
Drowning other people's ambition in crippling practical advice seems to be the norm, at least in my experience trying to be writer. It seems those folks never once stop to think that anyone who's ever been successful in writing started in the exact same place, probably with the exact same problems and advice from the people around them. The first thing they all did was finish a first draft.
What's your point?
My point? Write that too big, too ambitious book. Do that project that everyone says you won't finish. Why not? And this isn't me trying to be one of those, "If you want your dreams, you gotta get no sleep, grind all day, and live, eat, and sh*t success" types. Don't burn yourself out along the way, like those "success" gurus will tell you, but take it at your own pace.
Look at me, giving advice, as if I'm already there. I'm not there yet, but I sure won't get there if I don't take that chance and let my ambition, not the skepticism of a few strangers, push me. Back to writing!
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