While I was gone, I spent sixteen days in London and Paris. While I was there I saw all kinds of historical sites, museums full of some of the most important art in the world, went to a Star Wars convention, and even got to have a birthday dinner at Disneyland Paris.
It was a great time and creatively recharging for all the right reasons. For one, I had sixteen uninterrupted days where I didn't have to go into my day job, which has been increasingly draining this year. I was able to see real castles and histories of those castles. I got to see Roman artifacts left over from the founding of London. I got to see sculptures from the Parthenon. I saw paintings of Caravaggio and Rubens and Warhol and Van Gogh in person. I got to walk in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper. I was moved almost to tears at the tomb of Sir Laurence Olivier in Westminster Abbey, sitting just below the monument to Shakespeare in Poet's Corner. I stood in the subterranean network of rooms where Winston Churchill commanded World War II. I explored the grounds of the Bedlam asylum, now a museum dedicated to the World Wars. I even stood in the room where Richard III allegedly killed the princes in the Bloody Tower.
It was a trip that expanded my mind and showed me new things and gave me constant tingles from all the new things I saw and learned.
It's important to take trips like this. It's fun going to conventions, but the experience is dedicated to someone else's property. Only by going outside those things can you learn enough to make your own things. Vonnegut once said that "Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak." I think this applies to any form of storytelling you consume. I'm into Star Wars. But if the only storytelling I consumed was Star Wars, I think my writing ability would atrophy considerably. I think that's the same of any genre or group of things. Sure, I read a bunch of fantasy books when I was gearing up to write my own foray into that genre, but I was also reading history books, classic literature, books on politics, as well as things like Star Wars books and the like. I was also consuming a wide array of movies from different eras.
Add to that all of my travels and you get an idea of where I cull the inspiration for my ideas.
The best, most recent example I could give is the short story I wrote for my Patreon patrons last month. If you contribute for $1, you can get the story itself, but for the $5 per story tier, you can get a director's commentary that traces my exact influences and how it came to form that one story. I wrote it mostly in Paris, but finished it up on the train from Paris to London.
As for my writing, I've been doing my damnedest to keep up on things since I've been back. The hardest part about leaving is coming back and realizing how far behind you really are.
I've had quite a bit come out since I was gone.
I covered Star Wars Celebration pretty extensively for StarWars.Com and Howstuff Works, so here is a list of those pieces:
- The Star Wars Insider Panel Live Blog
- The Freemaker Adventures Panel Live Blog
- The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Panel Live Blog
- What We Learned From the Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Panel
- 7 Things We Learned About Rogue One At Celebration
- 5 Things We Learned About the Future of Star Wars
And then, my regular weekly StarWars.Com columns continued:
- The Playlist: Boba Fett
- The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Saving Private Ryan
- The Playlist: Lando Calrissian
- The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Joss Whedon
Obviously, my new short story, "Midnight's Treasure" went live on Patreon. I'm pretty proud of it and can't wait to get next month's story done.
I also launched the first episode of my new podcast with Holly Frey (of Stuff You Missed in History fame). It's called Fauxthentic History and it's a scripted fictional history show, set in all of your favorite geek worlds. Our first episode breaks down the battle of Hoth from a historical perspective.
As a reminder: You can join my short story Patreon here.
The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.
Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process.
As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you.