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Writing Rienspel (Warning! *Contains Spoilers*)

Thanks to my wife Steph's urging, I might try to start writing the much anticipated follow up to Rienspel: The Grey King. I'm not sure how to do it, though... Writing Rienspel was magical. It was personal and real - it throbbed and beat with exactly what I needed at the time. How do you just start again? Sure, I've grown as a writer since then, both in style and technique... but there's something which neither finesse or skill have... and I don't know what it is... but it's something. Writing Rienspel took what I think many new, young writers do - put a version of themselves into a new literary world - and go on adventures. I traveled alongside Rien from Nyrgen to Firehall. I faced the undead and examined my own past. I came to grips with what it means to grow up - to both put childish ways aside, all the while become more childlike. I watched part of who I was die, and be reborn. In the movie Gladiator, in the end the question is asked, Is Rome worth one good man's life? This morning, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was on, and we talked about how because Lily sacrificed herself for her son, Harry, that by taking his place, a powerful spell of protection was placed on him. Evil (initially, anyways) couldn't touch him. I want The Grey King to be about Death and Life... all so often, I think many stories cheapen Death, by either simply resurrecting the character or by misunderstanding what Death is. One of my favorite fantasy authors of all time, George MacDonald, was wrote that 'Death is simply more Life'. And in fact that we often misunderstand what Life is because we do not die because of Death, we die because of lack of Life. Life is more than what your heart and lungs do - it's more than an ability to articulate higher brain function... It hints on what CS Lewis wrote, "You don't have a soul, you are a soul: you have a body." One of the things I do with my fantasy writing, is actually use it as a vehicle to explore real questions I have about life, the universe, and everything. What sort of realms untold lay waiting just beyond the Pale for us? Who/what are we, really? What if our existence is much more than we scarcely can imagine, even at our best? Now, I'm no Great mind. I'm no Lewis or MacDonald... or anyone else for that matter. I'm just me. When it comes to writing well, I still feel like a lost beggar wandering on the fringe of Faerie... with Rienspel, I was given by luck, chance, or design, the faintest of glimpses inside its depths - and for that, I'm extremely grateful. While writing Rienspel, I learned the hard way just how much obsession can cost you... I've seen the Shadow on the wall, and done my best to not horde the writer's manna lest it rot. I've learned to accept what you are given, take what is needful for today only... I know, I know... I'm probably going off on tangents here. I let me mind wander and this is where it leads me... I worry about being good enough - writing enchanting stories which slip inside the back doors of your minds and hearts. Life goes on... I get farther away from The Great Forest as the years crawl on. But I don't forget. I can't. Part of me is still there - wandering the woods... Except now I've found myself outside, wondering how to get back in... and at the same time, worrying about how I also need to continue going, too. How does one continue going? I remember those long silent Saturdays I would spend, tucked away in the Library at Central Christian College... as the snows fell... and I would dream and write... I remember the dorms - with our laptops and coffee... writing on - invincible in our ignorance, impetuous in our youth. There is this place I have inside, from which my stories flow. It's my heart, I think... because I feel my best writing is when I sit down and bleed - and it comes out as words on the page. I've read books on disciplining one's love for writing into a honed craft... I've read Stephen King and Ursula LeGuin. There's this simplicity and purity to writing - just like there is this equally simple and pure way of living which springs from it. We write from our Living. We take what has been filtered through our hearts like a french press brews rich coffee - and then we pour it out onto our pages and screens, and wonder if it's good enough. Maybe what makes it 'good enough' isn't an arbitrary list of marks to hit... but if our stories in turn are worked again into the good earth of others' lives? That's it. And in season, we allow ourselves to see the garden of light and color flourish around us. I'm still not sure how to keep writing The Grey King... but I'm sure it'll come when it does. (Thanks for listening) - Ryan

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