The Problem of Starting a New World

Or, Do Other People Also Get Imposter Worldbuilder Syndrome?

So I’m busy pottering away at Porselein, which is set in a world very much unlike The Ruon Chronicles, and I’m struggling like mad to get anywhere with the worldbuilding when it hits me.

I’m afraid.

Afraid of failing in making this world as believable (even to myself) as Airtha-Eyrassa. For goodness’ sake! I chide myself. The world doesn’t even have a name yet! At the same time, I know that this is silly, as I’ve written in various other worlds while being busy with Airtha-Eyrassa. But — and here’s the big but — nothing on this scale.

My other stories usually take place in the space of a thousand — or a couple of thousand — words. But, suddenly, a whole new book of at least 50 000 words are staring me straight in the eye. I’m also sure that it’s holding a taser just in case I write something crappy.

It’s not that I’m not excited about the world in which Porselein takes place — quite the contrary. It’s more a case of being afraid of people really really disliking the whole concept. Which I’ve kind of gotten over with The Ruon Chronicles as I’ve had guys tell me that they’re excited to read it and, I mean, it’s got quite a bit of Embroidery ‘n Usually Womenly Work Stuff in it. Yes, I know there are awesome male knitters like BrooklynBoyKnits and awesome male crocheters like KnotBad, and also awesome male embroiderers, but seeing as how a lot of fantasy readers are still in the mindset that women can’t even write fantasy *rolls eyes* I do sometimes worry that people won’t give Ruon Chronicles a chance because of the Women’s Work.

However, now I suddenly have to make a mind-switch to research Other Stuff like how porcelain is made. And it’s like I forget that I wrote a Googleplex of pages on Norse myth in Afrikaans and Dutch literature and I actually know how to do research. Ok, it was like 200 pages, but it still feels a lot more.

Anyway, the point is that it’s so easy to forget what you’re actually capable of when you go into a stress spiral of everyone-is-going-to-hate-what-I-write-so-why-am-I-even-doing-it. Because, honestly, even if people hate Ruon Chronicles, for instance, I’ll still write it simply to a) find out what happens and b) because I want to write it and it makes me happy, that’s why.

And maybe I should try to take that stance with Porselein as well even though it’s still in its infancy. At least, next to the world of Airtha-Eyrassa it feels like Porselein is still in its infancy!

After all, if I’m not going to write it, it’s hardly going to get written, now is it?

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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