Water-Carriers2A gate to worlds.

They rise from us as if by magic, in words and ink, paint and pixels. When we write or make art, we summon into being worlds clothed in images.

In any writer’s or artist’s life, the percentage of this world-making to see publication is minute. Supporting that small public display is a vast root system: years of work and thought, of experimentation and play, an ongoing inner dialogue.

How does a writer-artist conduct that dialogue? Here are some thoughts about the puzzles, questions, and processes that drive the long journey to a finished book.

*PlacitasDoorwayWhy build worlds?

A writer-artist’s work circles around a few central questions that can endure for decades. What are my questions? What are yours?





ClerkWriting CropBook Worlds

Every story has its story: behind every book is a tale of how it came to be written. Speculative fiction goes one further, because each book hides a universe: worlds of culture and adventure that support, but aren’t visible in, the published book. Here you’ll find more about the worlds of Long Night Dance, Dark Heart, Listening at the Gate, and Roadsouls: stories, histories, and songs not yet published, and some new short fiction.

DaybooksRoots and Sparks

As I develop the deep framework of a novel, I shift back and forth between the verbal and the graphic. If writing stalls, I get out the brush; when I return to the computer, words flow again. These variations are the roots and sparks of fiction.*

GeoSketchWild Worlds

The deepest source—and one we are inclined to forget—is the earth we walk on and of which we are a part. The earth makes us. By how we look at it and live on it, we make it new.


May your own world-making go well!


All material on this site, both text and graphics, is ©Betsy James, and may not be used commercially without her permission.

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Betsy James on Writing, Art, and Walking in the Desert

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