Dear people of this world,
Hi, I am Jesse, better known in literary circles as William Saint George. I am into mythopoeia. I link you to Wikipedia there so I can spare me the labour of a full explanation.
Put short, it is the art of myth-making for the sake of it. Our prime example has, and may very well be JRR Tolkien’s legendarium.
This looks a lot like some place in my story…
Contrary to popular belief, it not only is about hobbits in the Shire, and Middle Earth wizards and Sauron. It concerns the much larger world of Arda, of which Beleriand and Middle Earth were a portion. There is Valinor, and other such places I have forgotten by name.
Mythopoeia is something I was into, before realizing it was a full blown genre, newly crystallized under Tolkien’s works. Before him have been some notable examples of High Fantasy that border on myth making. Of them, I consider the Gods of Pegana, by Lord Dunsany to be the truest example. Let me know if there are others.
In my opinion, High Fantasy, which I describe as fantasy literature that is deliberately made richer and more intricate, to as it were create a truly detailed and believable world (Conan, Harry Potter), should not be confused with true myth-making; which is creating mythologies.
My mythopoeic adventures begun about a decade ago, when I took my writing seriously. I’ve always written fantasy, but my true goal has been to create a world, a plausible world, with its own gods and goddesses and little beings that live out their destinies. I’m sure the seeds of this goal were first sown when I started reading Greek Mythology.
I created my first mechanical, rudimentary mythologies when I was much younger, and would draw elaborate maps to illustrate them. Thinking it was impossible (I had no idea of who Tolkien was, nor of his work) I did not take it as seriously. But when I read the Lord of the Rings, and learned that it was based on something grander, I knew that I was on to something.
Fast forward today, and here I am now. Over my years of trying to write my stories, I have learned and noticed a few interesting things about the genre, and probably about my favourite writer.
Tolkien, it is widely known, created the languages first, before the stories. He was a philologist. Languages were his thing, and he worked them well to produce our best and most celebrated example of mythopoeic literature. I, for the most part, have always been a map guy. I won’t tell when I drew my first map, but I always delighted in using figures to tell stories. I always begun with a map, and ended up with a story of how the map became what it was. It helps when one knows their strength.
I fell behind in my map ways, but have since began to use them to connect individual legends. The result has been exciting. After close to a year of fleshing out two disconnected parts of my mythos, I finally found the all important link that has brought me back to where I begun this whole thing. Now I can move forward
Often one has a story, and looks for a way to tell it. I started with maps, and relied on maps for the most part. But I was led to believe that I could tell my stories better by writing. So I attempted, and subsequently failed to complete several novels. Even after “downgrading” to short stories, it turns out I’m not cut out for holding a narrative in prose. I nearly turned to game development, real-time strategy game development of the Age of Empires kind. This gave me an interactive map, and actual characters to play with. That was the closest I could get to having my world realized. It was my inspiration when I took up strategy gaming, and I modeled early maps in the AoE map maker. I did the same with Warcraft III. It was fun, but just not fulfilling. I had to turn elsewhere.
Then the poetry started. My first poems were free verse, and used only to back my poor prose. I knew of epics, but always considered them far above me. I gave up on the poetry, and tried to write essays. That worked out well. I rethought the whole creative process. I wasn’t writing a story. I was nurturing one. So, instead of writing that “This person said this, so that this other thing will happen.” I discuss the persons actions, as though the person in truth had acted. Where I have doubts, I write them out. Honestly. That greatly helped put my story in perspective.
The essay writing continued, and I discussed my story with myself, and allowed it to evolve on its own. It begun to grow with its own life, seeking inspiration from unexpected sources. When I tried to force things, I realized my error and had to rewrite. Thankfully, I can proudly say that the story is mature enough to be shown to others.
That is what I have done here. I started this blog to show off my work. Clearly, after a lot of training from this guy, I’ve taken my narrative verse to a different level.
On My Myth
Here, I tease you with a few wonderful highlights from the story I’m growing. One of the biggest hurdles was creating a cosmos and a creation story that I will actually stick to. I can’t count how many times I have begun this thing, but my current creation myth is a reflection of my current thoughts. It turns creation into a little, mathematical game of bringing into being all from naught.
In the beginning, there was God. He was everything and nothing at the same time. He did not have any embodiment, and could not be separated from anything, because he was all. In a sense, he was not “he” (or she, if you will). There just was. Then he made the first creation that he could make in that form, which was music. With music, he created language, with which he spoke himself into embodiment. In that way, he was the third creation, coming from language, which was created from music. In the end, after an interesting set of events, he vaults about himself the Sevenfold Realm, being ordered like music, and infinite in expanse…
Another bit was creating an origin of evil in the world. It was needed to drive the conflict, which drives any story. But I did not want to go with the Judeo-Christian Lucifer-falling-from-pride-and-rebelling thing. It was another issue I laboured long on. Eventually, I got something that I discuss in part in small this essay On Death.
I’m glad organizations like the Mythopoeic Society work to support this kind of literature. It steps beyond the normal human desire for stories, and seeks to create something large and all encompassing.
I’m still a novice at all this, and my story is still young and evolving. New themes come up, and drastic changes are made. But the beauty of letting a story evolve on its own, and grow to what it chooses to become, is that in the end (if the cycle ever ends) a truly beautiful myth will be born.
ps Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories” has been of immense help and direction to me. Check it out!