Bear with me, Dear Reader.
I’m about to tell you a tale – one that will offer you a glimpse into the circuitous route to my present mindset and how steampunk has made my life better by restoring a sense of wonder (1) to my life.
I’m a research addict. I crave it. I accumulate it. I hoard it. You can often find me spiraling down endless rabbit holes, in search of that one elusive fact, that last piece of a puzzle I’ve been chasing. The one thing that makes everything fall into place. It’s the curse of a writer (or scientist, or quiz night-o’holic, or… ).
But there’s more to it than that.
Imagine you’re an explorer of uncharted lands:
Dust whips your face, lodging in your nostrils, scratching your eyes. You dig your fingers into the rock, ignoring the stinging pain as blood beads on your palm. You drag yourself up the precipice, thrust your arm over the crest of the mountain and spy the wonders of an undiscovered landscape.
Imagine the pure delight of such endless new discoveries. Researching my books is not unlike being an explorer. It starts me on my journey, inspires the landscape (setting) and encourages me to explore for new worlds, complete with wondrous gadgets for my characters to discover.
But there’s still more.
It seems Sir Francis Bacon predicted our future: Knowledge is power (Meditationes Sacrae and Human Philosophy,1597) . Everyone wants a bit of the action. No one is willing to share.
Let’s face it. Life can be a grind: Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Sleep. Repeat. (Though waking up can be optional). Endless days of monotony, in a seemingly uncaring world where we are either invisible and insignificant or vying for control.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Empire may have wanted to plunder the spoils of exploration but we – the explorers – can revel in the pursuit of knowledge. We can search for understanding and inspire wonder for others. We can trek into the unknown, searching for the wonder and mystery of life, of people, of experiences. And we can share them.
So how has steampunk made my life better?
It has inspired my research beyond the confines of my writer’s chair, beyond the internet, beyond the library. It has encouraged me to discover the wonders of a community of supportive people. It has inspired me to explore the wonders of my world – past and present. It has given me the courage to wrench myself (sometimes literally), from the safety of my comfort zone onto that mountain side, defying my anxiety – to try new things, a new career and to experience life as I search for the hidden wonders in our broken but beautiful world.
Photos copyright Karen J Carlisle and MJC
(1) Definitions of Wonder (Oxford Dictionary):
- A feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.
- A thing or a quality of something that causes wonder.
- A surprising event or situation
- Having remarkable properties or abilities.