I’m suuuper excited to share something with you guys today! A good friend of mine and fellow writer/reader/lover-of-all-things-geeky just launched his blog!!!
I first got to know Josiah Dyck via Tracey Dyck (because yes, they’re siblings…if it isn’t obvious *grins*) and we clicked via our mutual interests in writing and geeky things.
Well, now Josiah has a blog himself, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I have no doubt he’s going to fill the blogosphere with epic and hilarious posts.
But enough of my babbling. You probably want to know how to get to said awesome new blog. Ahem.
Annnnd, to kickoff his grand entrance into the blogging world, I have Josiah himself here today at Musings of an Elf for a fun interview all about his writing life!
Josiah Dyck is an enthusiastic writer who dreams of penning stories as a career. He's written several stories over the course of his life, such as a couple of fairy tale retellings, fanfiction, and other various stories. In a flash fiction contest he entered two years ago that received nearly a thousand entries, he was one of the ten nominees. He loves collecting LEGO and soundtrack music. You can find him chilling at home with his family, going on walks, or working at a local gas station. Or online, if you're into that sort of thing.
1.) What first inspired you to start writing? Was there a moment in your life that made you decide to keep at it?
Funny story: I used to hate writing as a kid. Whenever there'd be a short story writing project in school, I lapsed into a pool of overdramatic despair . . . or something of the sort. I still have some of those old stories. *shudders*
Then, when I was 12 or 13, my oldest sister began penning her first novel. Somewhere along the line, I had a brilliant thought: "If she can do it, then so can I!" So I set to work crafting an epic—albeit violent—tale about three soldiers who cross over into a strange world and join the fight to stop an overwhelming evil. Needless to say, it was very rough, though it had some good concepts. I plan on one day revamping the story into a much better series. I also plan on posting about this old story and poking fun at some of the ridiculous things I wrote.
While this story was fun to write and happened to bring me closer to my sister, I eventually stopped sometime after passing the 150 page mark. You must remember, this was all hand-written, so that's fairly impressive. However, when tests at the end of the school year (not sure which year, since I never dated my story) arose from the darkest depths, I put the story aside . . . and I didn't get back into it. I entered a writing slump. Around this time, I may have written short LEGO stories, but that was it. Then the fateful moment came.
In October of 2012, I randomly started writing a Marvel/DC crossover titled The Attack on Gotham. What was different this time was that I posted it on a public site known as the LEGO Message Boards. It was the positive feedback that truly told me, "You were made to be a writer." And so I haven't stopped. Have I had long breaks of writing? Yep, but I always go back to it, and I always will.
2.) Give us a quick rundown of your typical writing process, from the first spark of the story to the end. Or does it vary from story to story?
Well, I'm not sure if I have one formula, but there are some consistencies. I get sparks of ideas from a lot of places. It could be anything from toying with an interesting concept to something that someone says. Heck, I even got an idea for a story from a piece of music. I'd been listening to the track "Mermaids" from the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides soundtrack, and I had a scene randomly appear in my mind. It was of a samurai warrior running away from a dragon similar to the Chinese ones.
I secretly hoped Rooglewood's next fairy tale retelling contest would be Sleeping Beauty. What do you know, that's exactly what happened. Funny coincidence, if I do say so myself. That's how Darkened Slumber was born.
Often, what happens after the birth of the idea is I'll let it simmer. Once I have some bearing on the plot, or sometimes even before the plot is decided, soundtrack music will inspire scenes that I love and incorporate into the story. My abovementioned sister insists that I need to write down all of these ideas, but even though I have dozens of scenes for multiple stories swirling in my head, I don't forget them—95% of the time. If the scene was tied to a piece of music, and I listen to that song, I can remember the scene quite well. I'm a bit weird that way. I don't outline like normal people do, either. That's all in my noggin.
Then comes the writing. This part usually takes longer because I now have to extract those scenes from my head and put them into words. It can also take longer because I'm either lazy or I have multiple projects, kinda like I have five different projects going on right now. But I do enjoy the process.
Here comes the dreaded word: editing. Hide your children! Grab only your most beloved possessions! Nowhere you go is safe! Darkened Slumber was my first real editing project, since my oldest sister usually did that beforehand. That task is in my hands now, and while I don't love it as much as other parts of the process, I don't actually hate it either.
As for what's after that . . . well, I haven't really gotten to that chapter of my writing project. Looking back at my answer, I guess I do have my own strange process of doing things.
3.) What part of the writing process is your favorite (first draft, editing, polishing, being done and celebrating with cake, etc.)?
Celebrating with cake sounds deliciously fantastic, though I have actually never done this. I think the answer to this is twofold. I'd first say that my favorite part is when I come up with a really great scene, and am deeply satisfied after writing it and listening to its designated track. The same goes for when I write characters that I love, and they truly come alive both on the page and in my mind. Those moments are always awesome.
The second part is when I get feedback—both compliments and constructive criticism—from readers. I truly love knowing that people appreciate my work, and that all the time and energy I put into it is worthwhile. Plus, one of my top two love languages is words, so that definitely factors in.
4.) Which is your least favorite?
My least favorite part is once again a twofold answer. Firstly, when you hit a roadblock in your story and you just can't seem to get past it, referred to by most as writer's block . . . well, that can be frustrating. But I think it's also good to evaluate yourself and your story to find the creative solution. These kinds of problems can actually be beneficial to you.
Secondly, when I haven't written in a long time and begin to enter a feeling of purposelessness, then I encounter one of my least favorite parts of writing. Yet that's not really the story's fault. It just means I've gotten sidetracked and forgotten to do what I consider to be my life's calling. What I don't like is the feeling itself. Or if the story's public and I haven't written more in a while, then I feel like I've let people down. Don't enjoy that feeling either.
5.) How do you keep inspiration going? Any specific books/movies/music/activities/etc.?
Well, if I'm in a creative slump, I often devour books with an insatiable appetite. I find that most of the time, I'm writing and not reading, or reading and not writing. It's a pattern that can, but doesn't always, occur frequently in my life. Reading books is like eating food. You can go work, but you'll eventually need to refuel. That's what books do in my writing journey.
As I mentioned before, music—especially instrumental music—influences and inspires my writing heavily. I'm not sure what I'd do without it. It's like the blood of my writing body.
Another thing that helps get my creative juices going. But the funny thing is, while any walk can do this, there are a few specific kinds that really pump me up for writing. I love to walk when it's either raining or snowing, and when I do, my writerly brain kicks in a lot higher than normal. There've been days at work when it's overcast and rainy, and in my mind I'm growling, "Let me go home and write!"
6.) Do you have a particularly favorite character you've written? If so, why is he/she a favorite?
You want me to pick one favorite character? That's like asking for me to pick my favorite child! (Yes, my characters are my children, and I'm their very proud and protective dad.) There's everybody from the honorable Prince Takeshi and the pain-ridden Captain Byron to the goofy Mark and the psychopath Cheatcodes. But if I must choose one, I'd choose Kayne from my LEGO Ninjago fanfiction, The Tournament of Convicts.
Why do I love this character so much? Because he's similar to me. I identify with him as he struggles to deal with dreams that haven't come to pass and as he feels alone in a spiteful world that seems to want to tear him to shreds. He's an exaggeration of me, and I love him with all my heart. He doesn't necessarily want to be a hero who saves the world. He just wants to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in his life. He wants friends he can hang out and joke with; he wants a girl who will love him just as much as he loves her, and who will spend the rest of her days with him. He feels very down-to-earth and imperfect, and that makes me love him even more.
Another character that does come to mind when I'm asked this question is tentatively named Captain Brixton. Leader of a six-man band of treasure hunters, he becomes enraptured with an exquisite diamond and steals it. From that point on, he becomes an exaggerated opposite of me, which makes him fun to write. He eventually realizes through disastrous events that he was in the wrong, and I look forward to writing his change to being a hero.
7.) Say you had the chance to grab a slice of pizza with any author in the world (living or dead), who would you choose?
Boy, this one's a tough question as well. I'm going to cheat and say I'd like to meet with Paul (as in, the apostle), J.R.R. Tolkien, and Andrew Klavan. It also wouldn't hurt to meet Bryan Davis again. I feel I would learn a lot from these four authors.
8.) What is your preferred genre to write? Is there a genre (or three) you can never see yourself writing?
YA fantasy, no question about it. I think this'll be the main genre I write in during my career. There's just so much freedom in fantasy to unleash your imagination and do whatever you want. As for genres I wouldn't write, I was initially going to say romance, but it's too late for that. Putting any inappropriate genres aside, I probably wouldn't write horror (I'd sooner do a creepy thriller), self-help (or pretty much any sort of nonfiction), or a tragicomedy (because if I'm going to write a serious story, it's going to have a serious mood with a serious ending).
9.) If you could have any fantasy creature at all as a writing secretary, what type would you choose and why?
I was going to say a griffin, but then I thought about it more and realized it'd be a illogical choice. Maybe one of Tolkien's elves, since they have the benefit of living forever. Then I'd also have a bodyguard, so two birds with one stone. Or, if I could turn it good, I'd have a phantom like the one in Darkened Slumber. Because that'd just be cool. Or maybe a displacer from the Beyonders trilogy by Brandon Mull. I mean, it's a handy feature to be able to take apart your own body and still live, right? Or . . . you know, I'll stop there.
10.) Lastly, would you give us a snippet from something you've written? It can be from anything at all!
This is the hardest question, hands-down. *scrambles around, looking for one of my favorite writing pieces* It was really hard, but I chose a snippet from Darkened Slumber, because that's one of my favorite stories that I've written.
“Finally, it was Samrid’s turn. He completed the water procedure and bowed. “I bless you with the wit worthy of a fairy. May the Life-Breather make it so. My gift to you is a quarter of our province’s finest jewels that we’ve mined in the past five years.” He kissed Emiko’s hand and moved back into the row.
“And now, for the final blessing . . .” Alaric smiled at Takeshi.
Before Takeshi could step forward, an eloquent voice rang out, causing the orchestra to halt awkwardly. “The final blessing? Have you become senile in your old age, Your Majesty? For I count twelve princes.” The stranger stepped into the light. “And there are thirteen provinces.” He removed his hat, exposing his scarred, but otherwise flawless, face.
“Karnu,” Alaric said, his voice steady. “You are not welcome here. You are a ronin, not a samurai.”
“Who was it that stripped me of my position?” Karnu strode down the path in the middle of the courtyard, fixating his eyes on Alaric. “Certainly not you.”
“I saw your corruption. You would rule harshly and infect your province. That is why it is no more.”
“You took everything from me.” Karnu’s voice was calm, but the undercurrents of rage were evident. Soldiers marched toward him, but Alaric held up his hand. “You allowed my land to fall to ruin and become stomping grounds for ogres.”
“Your mountainous province contained barely any inhabitable land, with no resources to speak of. It had nothing to offer.”
Karnu’s eyes glimmered dangerously, sending a shiver through Takeshi’s body. “Oh, but it does now: a blessing for the princess.” He brandished a magnificent sword.
Alaric gasped, as did the shoguns. “The Eldspin!”
“How clever you must think you are for hiding it in my own province.” Karnu lifted the Eldspin, and the blade began to glow.
Takeshi tried to look away, to find a weapon so he could attack the ronin. But his efforts were to no avail. He couldn’t peel his eyes away; neither could anyone else. He’s entranced us all.
With his free hand, Karnu performed the water ritual, but he did not bow. “I bless you with a darkened slumber that will last as long as the sun shines on Yashan. I will make it so. My gift to you is a lifetime of sorrow for your father as he watches his precious daughter sleep for an eternity.”
A cruel grin twisted Karnu’s lips as he pointed the sword at Emiko. As if against her will, she slowly lifted her right hand, forefinger outstretched. Em! Takeshi cried out in his mind.
Blade and flesh kissed.
Emiko’s hand dropped, and she slumped in her throne.
Well, thanks for the interview, Christine! I enjoyed answering these great questions, and I'm honored to be on your blog. Until next time, may the writing force be with you!
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Thank you, Josiah! It was a thrill to have you over today!
Don’t forget to check out Josiah’s Blog!!!
Share with us your thoughts, Readers! Do you have any questions or comments for Josiah? How do you feel about writing playlists? And can we just flail over that snippet? Because epicnessss!