WEEK 23 - The Library of Exchanges: Lessons from Creating Unstable Directions 1 & 2

Week 23 has come with a solar eclipse and Mercury's retrograde, so that means inner reflection and communication. This week, I thought to share lessons I've learnt creating Unstable Directions 1 & 2.

Week 23 has come with a solar eclipse and the Mercury retrograde, which means a greater need to dive deeper into our inner selves and clarify our modes of communication. At the same time, the initial draft for all Unstable Directions 2 short stories have been completed and are now in the midst of editing. 

Combining these two, I couldn’t help but look back at the lessons from creating the first issue of Unstable Directions and how different they were from this second issue. This week, I thought I’d share the different lessons I’ve learnt from creating these two issues of Unstable Directions with the rest of you. 

Note: I might accidentally spoil some aspects of Unstable Directions 2 for you, so I will do my best not to reveal too much on a canon level ;) 

The Why

Initially, Unstable Directions was meant to be a one-time world-building accompaniment that could round off Unstable Foundations’ unanswered questions. That was the intention while writing and publishing Unstable Directions 1. 

And then, the stories happened. 

Moving along promoting and talking about Unstable Directions, I started to learn about what the phrase “I planned, but my story had other ideas” really meant. 

Because the more I continued talking about Unstable Directions 1, the more unanswered questions and world-building opportunities popped up, and the more I wanted to talk about them on a platform like Unstable Directions 2. 

And by the time I was in the midst of planning for Unstable Directions 2, a greater world for the Unstable Branch started to take root. 

So the lesson here - If you’re aligned with your story, go along with it. You might just get a story you find yourself enjoying (both reading and creating) a lot more. 

The What

To up the suspense aspect of Madeline’s suspicions and Nathaniel’s secrets, I experimented with a different form to give readers a glimpse into what happened before the events of Unstable Foundations - and non-linear at that. 

Taking the form of letters between Madeline and Nathaniel scattered through the issue, I didn’t only learn about identifying what to explain and what to let the audience decide for themselves, but also that such experimentation was useful in bringing out more unanswered questions - i.e. more ideas for more stories. 

This was when Unstable Directions 2’s planned stories found their momentum and took root. Without giving away too much, I do believe Unstable Directions 2 was where I started to get a greater sense of the world Madeline is going through (I may be speaking too soon though).

Lesson here? - Unanswered questions and world-building work hand-in-hand, and if you have the urge to create more, look no further than a question that has been nagging at you for a while.

What inspires you to create? Something you see? Something you watch? Something you have been feeling? Or a question you’ve had in your head for a while? Share them in the comments - I’d like to know too =)

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The How

And finally, Unstable Directions issue 1 was an experiment in the types of prose I could possibly present. Instead of another bunch of short stories, the plan was to look at the best ways I could tell a story about a scattered conversation between two cousins, once closer than siblings, until one disappeared without reason. 

While I would agree that the letters might not have been the clearest way to tell the story of the prequel, especially for readers unfamiliar with Unstable Foundations, this style lent itself to another style I found to be quite intriguing to try out. 

Enter the non-linear perspectives happening within the same timeframe.

Unstable Directions 2 came out neater than I expected, but more focussed on a line of events that happened within a single block of time instead of all over the place. And this was where I learnt the importance of anchor points in the sea of experimentation. 

Apart from wanting to tell the story in the best way possible, the motivation behind Unstable Directions 2 was anchored around a single core - the core of the story, the main message behind all these events in Unstable Directions 2. Too often, we may use the word ‘experiment’ loosely to justify never setting up camp and deciding what you want to do with this piece of work. While that’s fine to a certain extent, even experiments need conclusions and results - what are the results you’re looking for? 

The lesson here - That was how I learnt some level of focus, and that was how I learnt the importance of core message in storytelling.

So I guess the overall lesson here could be - to find your creative focus, look no further than your inner self for that spark of inspiration, because that question you’ve been asking yourself (whether it’s about a new or recurring creation) might just blossom and bear fruit. 

And that’s it from me! Take care and I’ll see you next week!

Authenticity and authentic voices in stories make them relatable to the people you want to tell your story to - do you agree? Let me know in the comments!

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