Tag Archives: reflection

Vironevaeh: 19 years of love

Like so many of us sci-fi-ers, I grew up on science fiction television. I remember watching Star Trek Next Generation in a high chair, and later I watched Babylon 5 and Voyager. I feared the space under the bed because my brother told me it contained a black hole. I drew aliens, made up planets, and wrote in codes. Once a friend cut the bridge of my nose with a hardcover book during horseplay, and I was delighted to declare myself Bajoran.

In 5th grade, we had the city project; we had to invent a city, describe its economy, design a model of it, and write a small essay. It was my catalyst. I created a city called Vironevaeh, set on a distant planet, colonized by humans from Earth in the distant future. My languages, my maps, my characters, my aliens now had a focal point.

That was 19 years ago. Once a year, I like to look back and celebrate all the fun I’ve had since. Dreaming about world building made me look at our own world in odd ways.

For now, Vironevaeh is just my little place. Maybe someday it will be something different, but more than anything, I love the journey.

Trips down memory lane

Below are a pair of landscapes, one from years ago and one from last year. My longing to depict Vironevaeh forced me to draw for a purpose. The pencil drawings was one of my first landscapes ever. The poster was an homage, and and another experiment in new territory: art nouveau and posters.

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Maps

Maps are a simple staple of scifi and fantasy, but drawing maps made me ask a lot of questions. What kinds of geology could happen on a planet that could still sustain humanoid life? Or non-humanoid? Where should lakes, mountains, deserts, and oceans be in a realistic environment? What kinds of names would places have? What names would be linguistically compatible? What kind of linguistic range could I expect on a planet–how much would it vary in a place with a global culture versus one with regional cultures? What kind of stories would I tell about the people on such planets based on the map, and for the people whose stories I had already imagined, what kinds of maps would that require? Maps seem dry and factual on the surface, but I found myself asking a million such second-level questions. I love maps.

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Storytelling

Vironevaeh filled me with stories, but I struggled to express them as I felt them. I have written my stories so many ways. Nowhere is that more rapidly evident than in my portraits. Below are four portraits of a character over six or so years. I had to learn to get the details right and be honest with myself where it wasn’t right. As ever, it’s a work in progress.

Places for the people

Maps and people weren’t the end, I wanted to know how the streets looked. That’s really hard! There’s architecture and materials, and then there’s imagining the landscape and how such things would fit in. I studied pictures of streets from around the world. I find this aspect the most challenging, but maybe also the most rewarding.

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Stories of a new world

As I told stories about a new world, I wondered about their stories. And when I told them, I found that they fit everywhere. How many references to the garden of Gethsemane exist in western literature? A new place would have new Gethsemanes. Below are two images from mythology about a mouse, and new people finding that mouse in new constellations.

It’s never the end. Next year I’ll have new thoughts to share. Every year I am a new person, and Vironevaeh is a new place.

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Happy 17th Anniversary, Vironevaeh!

Tomorrow is April 15th, 17 years since I did a project about a city named Vironevaeh, chock full of V’s and vowels, because why not? Somehow it never went away, and seventeen years later, it’s hard to imagine life without it. When people ask me what color the sky is in my world, I say purple; it used to be turquoise, but I thought that a white sun was more likely to diffract into the purple frequency range. That’s… usually where those conversations end.

Since the 16th anniversary, I’ve earned my PhD. I’ve started another Vironevaehn history project, and I’ve published my first story set in the Vironevaehn universe. I’ve written drafts for two different novels set in the universe.

But today, I thought I’d post a blast from years farther past. In 8th grade, I wrote my first Vironevaehn book. It was just by hand, and without much planning or forethought, half of it scribbled down during orchestra while my friends patiently ignored my rantings. But I filled a whole notebook with it. 14 years later, that book is one of my most valued possessions. Here I am with it today, and there I was with it 14 years ago, in a Polaroid taken as just another offhand idea.

comparison

 

Create something today, even if it’s silly. The only folly is not trying.

One year, 125 posts, and beyond

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of this blog, which I started as a way to improve my writing, to document things that interest me, and to put myself out there. As of this, my 125th (!) post, I have written 18 posts about specific science topics, 7 science fiction book reviews, 5 writing prompts, and a bevy of posts about artists, methods and photography. I wrote an 82,000 word novel draft in April and May (editing pending the completion of my PhD). I’ve written maybe a dozen short stories, and pushed myself to be a hard self editor. I’ve joined writing forums and critique groups like critters.org and youwriteon.com.

I think the results show, at least in the form of determination, which is needed as much as talent in writing. Since I started keeping track in  June, I’ve submitted stories 21 times to 18 venues, many of which I found through the submission grinder, which I describe here. I’ve been rejected 15 times (ouch!) but after months of very little traction, I now have 2 stories in the second rounds of consideration at paying venues. A third story, which has been rejected 5 times, has been called a “good story” by two rejections. Having seen enough rejections, I now know that’s a nice compliment!

Before this last year, I worked on improving my writing, but in aimless, unsystematic ways. Now, in spite of major distractions like finishing up a PhD, I am seeing more progress than ever.  I wonder what I’ll be up to this time next year; I know with the efforts I’ve put forth in the last year, and those I plan to put forth this year, the future will be exciting.

Happy 16th Anniversary, Vironevaeh!

Sixteen years ago I first started writing about Vironevaeh, the extraterrestrial city that is the namesake for this website. In middle school I was that kid– I told everyone who would listen that I was an alien. I was so bizarre kids didn’t know how to bully me, not that they didn’t try. I happily kept inventing my world.

In high school I started to read the classics of sci-fi (my top 20 scifi books). Before that, I think Vironevaeh was an alter-ego–I had a different identity there, and knew different people. Advanced having of imaginary friends. The classics gave me a different perspective, the perspective of world-building. I’ve been slowly plugging away ever since. There’s a spreadsheet with a thousand years of history, some more densely detailed than others. There’s a list of the 1027 first Vironevaeh. There’s a ton of pointless info, as there is so much pointless info in life. But all of it was a labor of love, through all the years of perplexed looks.

For your delight, some of the works from over the years. It is good to pause at times and review the path. I’ve posted a lot more recent works on this blog; here are some oldies. Drawing for Vironevaeh forced me to push myself. (Many other illustrations are also available in Vironevaeh: Science Fiction Fairy Tales, which is free on the iPad.) Some things are worth the long-haul.

Jainus Aillette Torwin Trarce at beach_marker

My alter-ego, Jainus. From 2004.

Vironevaeh relief map 800pix

Map of the island of Vironevaeh, from 2004 or before.

building Palace_at_Vironevaeh_Proper

Palace, 2003.

clothing1 v2

Clothing from one historical period, 2007.

ChibiTempest

One of Jainus’ sisters, 2001.

Torwin Trarce chibi pencil tablet

Jainus and her 11 siblings, 2004.

Kolo Kolo Whit in Color

Kolo, a notorious political traitor, 2004.

wormhole invention

Wormholes!, 2011.

Jait Anda Torwin_psd

One of the first Vironevaehns, 2004.

 

 

50 posts, and 50 countries

This post is my 50th post. Huzzah! Coincidentally, exactly 50 countries have now visited this blog as well.

I worried that posting might become a chore, but it’s been fun to document the little things that delight me from week to week. From Russian Xmas Cards, to synchronization, to fractals, to birds in Florida, to bookbinding, to pop-up books, and of course all my own hair-brained-but-exciting projects.

Thanks so much to those who have visited. Drop me a note and let me know what you think. I’ve also enjoyed visiting the blogs of those I’ve met on WordPress (I will compile my favorites in a future post). I look forward to our mutual pending posts and interactions.

To 50 more! (and more!)

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