Well-met, cartographers aspirant and accomplished
Just thought I'd give a short-ish introduction...
By morning and evening, a martial arts teacher. After discovering the art of Tai Chi Chuan at university, it quickly climbed up the priorities list. After pulling out to get on top of a medical condition, it assumed the #1 spot. The path has, at times, been the stuff of fantasy and OTT martial arts films - fascinating, a little scary, literally painful hard work, but completely inspiring.
By afternoon, house-husband, knowledge-sponge and aspiring writer! With the writing, there is the sense of creating more than the central story, but the story of the whole universe, so that is my quest. I am too curious to let much of the detail be unknown. So, character portraits, maps, languages, histories, race biologies, technologies, military compositions, battles, the lot. It all also makes writing the story more fluid too.
The creative process is fuelled by mainly autochthonous thoughts. As it probably is for many others, it's almost like some kind of meditation. I cannot plan writing or mapmaking, I simply have to let it flow and then go back over it later to make fixes. If another world's media start creeping into my thoughts too much, I go cold turkey on that world. Instead, I spend a lot of time reading as widely as I can from fictional worlds and the real, and let my subconscious distill and decontextualise it until it becomes essentially lessons learned instead of a source of derivation. Hoping to add some travel in there, so I can see the strange, wide world with my own eyes. Of course, to misinterpret Newton like British currency has been doing recently, we all step on the shoulders of giants. Recently, reading has strayed between Hannu Rajaniemi, the later Ottoman dynasty, extinct Latin letters, English phonology and books written by women on characterisation (Nancy Kress need only write a premise in an instructional book to break your heart, or so I thought).
The idea is to sustain myself by teaching my art to others, using free time to get together these books and look to get them published.
I began a prologue to my story in a small corner of the universe called Skemnok, and it has since evolved into a nice, little macrocosm of its own. Most of its basic elements have been laid down, and I've got stuff on the language, geography, cosmosgraphy, ecology here and there, history, culture, the lot.
If anyone could recommend good star-mapping programs, that would be splendiferous. I have Astrosynthesis, but I don't feel omniscient enough in the program. I am thinking of shelling out on CC3 and Cosmographer, since Cosmographer appears to gel nicely with how you are usually introduced to multi-variable calculus (R^2 -> R; (x,y) |-> z, or "start with the plane then map to above or below"). Is Cosmographer worth the dosh?
I look forward to learning of how the masters of mapmaking go about their craft and also the interesting inventions that surely line the forum vaults.