When I got the confirmation message from the Jim Henson Company (and it’s very cool to have a message from the Jim Henson company in your inbox), I almost filed it in the “success!” folder in my email, even though I usually reserve that folder for clients obtained or pieces published. But no matter what happens now, I proved to myself that I could write fiction on assignment, so the learning experience was definitely a success. (But I ended up taking the conservative route and filing the confirmation message in my plain ol’ “submissions” folder instead.)
I’ve been meaning to write for a while about how I finally came up with the idea for my Dark Crystal story, which was definitely a challenge. I watched the movie twice in two days, as well as all the extra features on the DVD, taking notes as I went. I pored over www.darkcrystal.com. I got copies of the Creation Myths graphic novels and the TokyoPop graphic novels. I interlibrary loaned “The World of the Dark Crystal” four times. I made notes all along, but couldn’t find that seed I needed to start building a story. I knew that all I needed was one character, one question to explore, and that the rest would come to me as I wrote. But while I remained fascinated by the themes and the world of The Dark Crystal, possible characters and plot points stayed elusive.
Despite my attempts to immerse myself in Dark Crystal lore and research, my breakthrough came when I was reading a completely unrelated memoir–a memoir that I didn’t even enjoy all that much. But one characteristic of the author made me wonder: how would a situation like this play out in the world of the Dark Crystal?
It was that question seed that I needed, and I started to build my story around it. Characters and plot points expanded as I did so, as I knew they would. I was off. (After winners are selected, I’ll go into more detail about this question and how I explored it.)
People who are single and waiting to find “the one” are often told that “it happens when you stop looking.” It seems the same thing is true for writing. I “primed” my mind with all the Dark Crystal research I immersed myself in, but none of the Dark Crystal canon gave me that final push into story territory. It was only when I took a break from it–and not consciously–that that final piece fell into place.