I turned to surrealism to break out of writer’s block

I was tired from wrestling with getting the Hacker of Guantanamo Bay ready to be sent out.  Writing can be hard when you’re tired, and that novel took a lot out of me.  It is a good story that I believe very strongly in, but in it are things that I find reprehensible.

I wanted to work on Absinthe and Alchemy next, I knew what I wanted to write, or so I thought I did, but every time I sat down to write, I found my mind wandering.

Realizing I needed to let my mind wander, I figured I would write surrealy. I would use almost “automatic” writing, writing what ever came to mind, letting my mind wander, not worry about if the story had form or substance.  After all, André Breton advocated surrealism as a means to unleash creativity.

I was playing with words.  I needed a starting place, so I created a surreal detective, loosely inspired by the existential detectives of I Heart Huckabees and Dirk Gently, holistic detective.  If you can have an existential detective and a holistic detective, why not a surreal detective?

Switching to using surrealism as a means to unleash creativity worked beautifully.  I even got a story out of it that I think is good fun and worth trying to publish.

Since I finished with Johnny Talon and the Goddess of Love and War, I’ve been able to make real progress on Absinthe and Alchemy, as well as write two short stories that used characters I created in Johnny Talon and the Goddess of Love and War.  You can hear one of them as part of the WordCountPodcast here: http://rbwood.com/dir/index.php/2018/01/26/the-word-count-podcast-episode-72/.  Surrealism cured my writer’s block.


Finding the Garden at the Roof of the World

One thing that readers have found it hard to believe is that in mid thirteenth century India, there were women who dedicated their lives as ascetics, living without worldly goods, dependent upon the donations from strangers.  People think it was too dangerous, this was something only men did.



This statue is of a yogini. While made divine with four arms, she sits much like her male counterparts, mostly naked in meditation.

Bhakti yoga was practiced by woman as well as men, with women taking the ninth principle often to heart in mystical marriage to Krishna, much the same way nuns in Europe were considering themselves brides of Christ.

Stories such as Shilappadikaram, by Prince Ilango Adigal, tell of wise women found in wild places.  In the Shilappadikaram, Kavundi is addressed as “O noble saint, famed for rare asceticism.”

Perhaps the Kavundi in the Shilappadikaram is the same Kavundi in The Garden at the Roof of the World.

Lingua Franca and the medieva era of the Garden at the Roof of the World

The Lingua Franca of the medieval era was both French and not French, if you get my drift. The French of the south of France is often called Provencal, or Langue du’oc, sometimes truncated to Languedoc. The way this happened was something of an unintentional consequence of the crusades.

Most of the members of the first crusade, as well as members of the second crusade including the infamous Aliénor (Elanor of Aquitaine) were from the south of France. With the first, the Langue du’oc became the language spoken by most people in crusader states, as well as along the now re-established pilgrimage routes to the “Holy Land”. Richard the Lion Heart would have spoken it well long before he joined the ill fated Third Crusade, as it was the language of his mother (the afore mentioned Aliénor).

This helped Gwenaella greatly in her journey. It wasn’t until she entered Baghdad that she needed the help of a translator.

ReaderCon Selfies and other silliness

Why no Readercon selfies or other photos from me?

ReaderCon was a great way to meet people I’d corresponded with Beth Bernobich, Anna Kashina, Ellen Kushner and John Schoffstall) and folks I’d only met on Facebook Theodora Goss), become better acquainted with the amazing Andrea Hairston, K. Tempest Bradford, and Mikki Kendall, as well as meet amazing people such as L. Timmel Duchamp, Matthew Kressel, Julia Rios, Christopher Cevasco, John Chu, Adrienne J. Odasso, Sofia Samatar, Delia Sherman, Christopher Barzak, Felix Gilman, Max Gladstone as well as the amazingly generous Art & Becky Henderson.

However, I left the camera phone off. I focused on their ideas, their wit, wisdom and challenge to create new and amazing stories with characters who are as real as anyone you’d meet. Even if they have six legs.

I loved participating in the panels and doing the dramatic reading from The Garden at the Roof of the World!

I am looking forward to next year, but first, I’ve got a lot of writing I want to do.