For almost a year I struggled with the concepts I had in mind for my historical fantasy fiction novel on Mongolia. Though I did a research paper for school that inspired the novel, I didn’t know nearly enough about Mongolian live, culture, society, or religion. Not only that, but I wasn’t sure how to take a timeline that spanned about 20 year (or so) and turn it into a coherent string of events that fit the purpose of the novel. I had no idea where to go from my original inspiration so I sat on the concept for nearly a year.
Research is something I’m not terribly motivated to dive into. Most of the other writing I have done has required me to do research on the go, which was fine with me. I would research the information I needed as I needed it and it worked for me. For this novel I needed to understand Mongolian life before I even started getting the plot in order.
Sadly, the American education system, on all levels, doesn’t teach much of anything about Mongolian unless it is referring to Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun. This meant that I not only needed to learn more about the culture, but I needed to learn about the culture to begin with. Part of the reason it isn’t taught could be simply because of the fact that Mongolians have kept their lives private. Even documents that were important to their history were kept in scattered places around the country for centuries.
To make matters more difficult, aside from understanding culture I had to learn more about the main character. The truth about her has only come to light in the last three years world-wide, and most of the histories have been erased or scattered. In fact, there is only one book that talks about her extensively. That means the novel is my only source of reference for anything I need to know about her.
So yes, I have struggled with motivation to get this project going because I simply didn’t know where to start or how to approach it. Just yesterday I picked that book up again and started reading it again, making notes and using a highlighting code for different parts of information (characters, religion, culture, landscape, etc). Still, it feels like I’m not learning enough about the culture to adequately begin forming the world and writing.
Then it all hit me. I found out how to solve the timeline issue, which was a major hurdle for me to jump, and my motivation for the project returned. I was reading the book that had most of the information I needed in it, and then even the magic started to fall into place. Originally I was going to have it be a shaman thing, but as I read there were phrases that popped out at me as potential magical elements of the Mongol nation.
So the novel is finally starting to come together, slowly. The research is still intimidating, but not nearly as much as it was before. Finally, this project has begun its sluggish crawl forward!