The Rainbow Knight and the Butterfly of Blue

Book cover for The Rainbow Knight

The seed of this story popped into my head after I read What Do You Do With an Idea? and was left in awe of the artwork. Then I remembered that Darlene had done sketches of a similar style for Princess Hiccup, when crafting the initial designs of the characters. Wouldn’t it be great to put together a book with such gorgeous artwork?

Add in a dash of inspiration from my children, reciting the colors of the rainbow, and you get The Rainbow Knight.

Some parts of this book surprised me. It was going to be a basic story about gathering some common items, but then, on a lark, one of the items became a living butterfly. And not just any butterfly: the Emperor of Kaleidoscopes*. A king of kings, if you will.

And so to restore the creation to its rightful order, to bring the light of color back to the world, a humble king must lay down his own life. And the king does it willingly. Add to this symbolism the fact that the lifecycle of butterflies is itself a vibrant picture of resurrection…

It was an emotional punch I hadn’t expected.

It became the hinge of the whole story, its beating heart. I fell in love with a blue butterfly. That’s not something I deliberately set out to do.

Don’t get me wrong. Overall, this is still a goofy, light-hearted story. It also features an arrogant parrot and a hipster witch involved in artisanal jam-making, so please don’t take it too seriously. But the depth is there for those who want to see it.

You always hear of writers being surprised by what their characters do, and about how the story unfolds in ways they never expected. I gave superficial assent to the fact, but never really believed it in my bones. Now, after two books, I understand it. And I’m grateful for it.

Please help bring The Rainbow Knight to life. Please help tell the butterfly king’s story. And in so doing, perhaps help hint at the life of another sacrificial king, whose actions form the hinge of the Greatest Story.

*A kaleidoscope is defined as a group of butterflies, one of those true English gems. It is a perfect word.

Embracing the Reality of “Thinking Slow”

I’m a discovery writer, and I just have to live with it. This comes from me being a “thinking slow” person, which might also be related to me being an introvert. It comes out in many different ways. Let me explain.

I don’t feel comfortable speaking on a subject until I’ve thought about it. And thought about it. And then thought about it some more. And then I want to work out exactly how I want to say it.

In fact, I don’t even know what I think until I’ve gone through the process of writing it down. This blog post, for instance, started with a seed. I think I know what I want to say on this topic, but I’m not really convinced, and by the time I’ve gotten to the end, I might have changed my mind. My thoughts, anything beyond “I’m hungry” or “I like that,” don’t coalesce or get ordered until they have been written down.

If I am doing a new speech in public, like a sermon or presentation, I have to write down everything single word that I think I’m going to say. The process is required.

If I am writing a story, I can’t plan out things in advance. It never works. I either get frustrated or distracted, or frustrated that I’m distracted. I have some seeds, typically the beginning and the end, but I have no idea how I am going to connect those dots until I start writing.

Take Princess Hiccup, for example. I knew there would be a princess cursed with hiccups by a dragon, and that a boy would need to defeat that dragon. I honestly had no idea how the lad would actually accomplish the feat, and my mind was blank all the way to the point where I began writing those scenes. It just hit me in the flow of the moment. There are moments in the book that probably surprised me just as much as they surprised you.

If I speak quickly about something that sounds deep and thoughtful and off the cuff…worry not. It’s just an illusion. You can be sure that somewhere, at some time, I’ve taken the time to write down something about it. My memory is pretty good, but it takes a while to build it up so it’s as accessible as a computer’s RAM.

It seems daily journaling would be a beneficial habit for me…but alas, it never catches on. Because while I don’t know exactly what I think until I write it down, I’ don’t get motivated to write anything down until I’ve sat on it, chewed on it, and perhaps even had the chance to dream on it. Maybe I need to think about a bunch of other related (or seemingly unrelated) things first.

It’s sort of annoying. Notice the sporadic posting schedule of this blog? My grand total of two movie reviews over on Medium?

Anyway, I’ve come to accept that this is how I work, and more importantly, its how I put out my best work. I don’t think I will ever be prolific. And that’s OK.

If this has resonated with you in any way, what does that mean? It means you should write. Think you have writers block? It means you should write.

Have a problem you can’t solve? Write it out. Ever had a moment when you were articulating a problem to someone with the written word, and the solution suddenly came upon you as if it plummeted from several thousand feet in the sky and nailed you right between the eyes?

I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

In summary, outlining is for chumps, and everything I learned about writing in public school was a waste of time.