How to Create a World

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

You start with nothing.

You’re sitting alone in the dark, thinking. Then out of nowhere comes a blinding flash of interior light, a searing white-hot fire that consumes thought and vision.

You have an idea.

Everything your world is and everything it will become is locked up inside of it, an infinitely hot, infinitely dense point of creative energy waiting to be released. There’s a crack of mental thunder. A flash of lightning. For one brief instant, an entire universe that has yet to exist is laid bare before you, and you scramble to remember as much of the prophetic vision as you can before the flash winks out and the future goes dark. It’s a foretelling, a far-off plea from the denizens of your future world, crying out for you to grant them what only you can provide: existence.

You scratch your head. A little while later, you bang your head against a wall. What do you do with your idea? You’ve just seen an entire cosmos in the span of a heartbeat. Your chest begins to ache with creative agony, and you realize that you won’t be able to rest again until you’ve heeded its lofty call.

You have a mission.

You didn’t ask for it, and you have no idea how you’re going to fulfill it. But you ponder the people of your world and their desire for life. You reflect on your responsibility as a storyteller and you realize you have no choice but to buckle down and get to work.

You’re not really sure where to start. Your new world is a big place. You scramble to remember everything. You obsess over every detail. You worry that even marginal deviations will irreparably alter the fates of millions of fictional lives, or worse, that your world will destabilize and collapse, crushed by the combined weight of inconsistencies, ambiguities and indecision.

You learn that perfection is impossible.

You aim for it anyway, not because the ideal can actually be reached but because trying will propel you further than you ever thought you could go. You shoot for perfection; you embrace imperfection.

Wielding paper and pen, you lay the foundation of your world, one word at a time, a cosmic web spun from the fibers of your imagination. Sometimes, you look back and cringe at what you’ve constructed. But you know you can’t stop, that you have to press on, that you can’t rest until your world has at last crossed over the threshold into reality.

You continue to put one word after the other.

You work feverishly for days, weeks, months, years. The process is often painful. An entire world is erupting, a volcanic blast of newly formed material, coalescing from the ether of your mind.

You catch glimpses of your initial vision in the fallout, but you realize that your world has assumed a life of its own, that it’s destiny is only partially determined by what you’d forseen so long ago. You discover the truth, that the prophecy was not a vision of what must be but what could be, a glimpse into one of an infinite number of possible worlds. You realize that your universe and the people in it are substantially more complex, versatile and adaptable to change than you ever could have imagined.

When you least expect it, you look back and discover that you’ve finished.

One day, without ever having realized how close you were, you set the final word down in ink, the lifeblood of creation. You blink down at the final page with disbelief. Surely, you must have forgotten something. You go back to the beginning. You review your work. You go back to the beginning and review your work again. Eventually you realize that yes, you’ve done it after all, and just like that your world is alive.

You gaze at it with wonder, a product as much of divine mandate as it is of your imagination, and like an Old Testament god enamored with creation, you can finally look upon your newly minted world and proclaim, “it is good.”

Enter your email address and click "Submit" to subscribe and receive The Sign.

Find More Of My Work On Tumblr

Hey guys! This past week at work has been extraordinarily hectic, so unfortunately I haven’t had time to write a full-length blog. But I did want to tell you about my new Tumblr account, as well as what you’ll find there.

For the past six or seven months, I’ve been toting a small leather-bound notebook, jotting down thoughts and ideas as they come. It’s full of writing fragments, freewrites and other personal thoughts. It’s a significant chunk of the raw source material I’ve been drawing on when constructing my blogs, short stories and books. I thought it might be fun to share some of these ideas with others, so I decided to start posting selections from the notebook online.

I considered placing them here, but quickly realized that doing so would significantly deviate from the theme I’ve been cultivating for the blog since last October. I thought about my options and decided that Tumblr, the popular micro-blogging platform, is perfect for what I want to do. I started an account and will now be posting at least one random selection from the notebook everyday.

It’s a chance to see what kinds of thoughts flit about in this crazy head of mine, to explore a few of my imagination’s raw unedited seeds that may or may not germinate and grow into full-length pieces. If you’re into that sort of thing, you can find me at http://jeffcolemanwrites.tumblr.com. You’ll also notice that there’s a widget on the right side of my blog that displays the ten most recent posts.

Check it out, follow me if you feel so inclined and let me know what you think. This is going to be a lot of fun! 🙂

Enter your email address and click "Submit" to subscribe and receive The Sign.

What should I do? I need your help!

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

Right. So here’s the deal.

Since October of last year, due to full-time work, my writing and other obligations, I’ve only managed to post one blog per week. For now and the fore-seeable future, I’ll have to stick with that schedule, but I’d like to experiment by trying out other smaller activities throughout the week.

That’s where you come in.

What would you like to see? This blog is as much about you as it is about me. I’m open to pretty much anything; I want this to be a time of exploration, of experimentation and creativity. I’ve got a few ideas of my own (some of which I’ll share in the comments if we can get a conversation going.)

Let’s see what we can come up with together!

Enter your email address and click "Submit" to subscribe and receive The Sign.