In the Origin of a Story series I’ll be sharing insights of how some of my stories came to be. What inspired them, and what kind of process followed it. All of that spoiler-free, so you can still enjoy the story if you didn’t have a chance to read it yet. For the first installment, I chose Miye’s In, a fantasy short story, published back in 2013 by Fiction Vortex. You can now read it on my website.
This was the time when I was actively involved in creation of my partner’s universe. We brainstormed ideas for the multiple worlds set in it, and I provided feedback on many of his ideas while creating my own corner of his setting.
He was explaining to me one of the concepts people had in this world: that sentient species consist of Ra and In. Ra was the intellectual, reasonable part of any being, following logic and facts, while In governed instincts, emotions, and subconscious reactions. I liked the idea, and it was also useful in real life when we used these terms in discussions about people’s motivations and behavior.
It started with one sentence
Back then, I was still living in Ireland, and that year’s winter was particularly bad. It wasn’t even about the weather, because by then I was already used to the “dark and damp” days. I had a lot of stress around that time and in March, when the weather refused to improve, I felt drained and depressed. I was emotional about things, too.
Trying to describe how I felt, I subconsciously retreated to the terms Inq and I have been using for a while.
My In is sick.
That thought struck me. Not only because it felt accurate, but also because it immediately made me wonder, what could it mean in the setting we’ve been working on. After all, people’s In wasn’t some sort of a creature to feel unwell. Gears started turning and the story idea was born.
Since the universe was somewhat developed and I was actually writing a novel in it already, I didn’t have much work to do. If anything, I had too much of a setting, and the real challenge was to condense it into a short story without overwhelming the reader.
Sure, I knew everything why humans didn’t exist in this universe, of how it came to be, and what oskrin – the mysterious monsters really were, and why the multiple ancient species over the centuries became one – the fearn. I also knew that these were the things I wouldn’t be sharing because they weren’t relevant to the idea I had.
I set the story several centuries prior to my novel’s events. At that time, fearn from the overcrowded continent-city, Ozellium, were setting their eyes on the large, uninhabited and oskrin-infested Imheria, and it seemed perfect to tell Miye’s story. In Ozellium, the oskrin were nearly extinct, but they roamed freely on the land, providing just the circumstances I needed.
A girl, always healthy and energetic, falls to an unknown sickness, and while the adults worry about an epidemic starting so far away from civilization, she keeps insisting her In is sick. It wouldn’t work that well in Ozellium, full of healers and knowledge. It couldn’t even happen there.
I wrote the story within a week, and in a way, it served as a therapy. For some reason, writing about the sick In seemed to have healed my own, if you allow me that metaphor.
I chose Miyemorphosis for the title, but an editor suggested to change it. Following his advice, I titled the story Miye’s In. I knew that people wouldn’t know the concept of Ra and In, but it amused me, because the title worked anyway. It simply read like “Miye is in”, and I was confident that by the end of the story, the readers would know its true meaning.
Even though I finished the novel set in that universe, I put it on the back burner. Inq was still working on the setting, altering and adjusting its various aspects, and I didn’t want to get too deep into the project without the certainty I wouldn’t have to go back and change things as it evolved. Yet, I still think warm of Miye’s In and would love to revisit this world some day.
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What a lovely article, Joanna. It is always fascinating to read how different writers approach their writing. This project sounds so much fun – working with your partner must have been wonderful. I’m very lucky in that Himself is always very ready to discuss all aspects of my writing ad nauseum – but it being a joint creation would make it even more special. No wonder it has a special place in your heart. I love the cover, btw – and the title is genius:).
Indeed it is. We mostly work on our separate projects now (he tinkers with his worlds waaaaay too much for my comfort 😉 ), but we still discuss a lot, so I know his world (and he – mines) pretty well.
And thank you for the kind words. I worked on the cover for a while: I’m not a writer, so it was a challenge to put something fantasy-esque with limited resources. I’m also happy with how the title turned out, and it makes me giggle whenever I think no one knows what it really means before they read the story.
This is fascinating, Joanna. Both the insights into the process of creating the world of Miye’s In as well as what inspired the story itself. I also think it’s good that you realized what parts of your world could be left out, since they were either not important to the story or would make things too complicated. Was Miye’s In your first short story to be published?
It was the first one in English. In Polish, as you’ve probably seen in my Publications, I’ve been more or less steadily published since 2006 (though no novel yet, but I started writing them late).