The Beautiful War

This weekend marks a really cool milestone for me and Ash. We're book people, we love books, we love reading them, we love making them but as we've gone on we've become sticklers for detail, enjoyment, richness. I saw a post by someone who was commenting on the need to create and how ultimately he'd love to be able to create like Ash. So as we're waiting for the photos to come down I thought I'd talk a little about our new project: The Beautiful War.

The Beautiful War series is going to be the main focus of our personal projects come 2013. Once again it's a full collaborative effort and we hope at this stage that the series will work out to be about four times longer in span than Lore. 

The way we work together makes it a long process to create a series of books like this, in this case even before ink hits the paper, The Beautiful War has so far been four years in the making, and that's just the prep.

The original working title for this project was Le Jardin or The Garden. Four years ago we discussed creating the story and then I went away and wrote a full length novel based on our ideas. The novel was then read to Ash during his evening painting sessions and then little by little we exploded it and reimagined it, (taking detailed notes along the way), a second full length novel was then written, bringing the story closer to that which we had envisioned together.

As it goes you will likely never read the novels, the creation of novel length stories in this case was part of my own working process, the story is complex, detailed and rich (just like we like it). And then comes the magic moment - Ash breaks out a blank sketchbook and then it's definitely on!

In Ash's studio he keeps a pile of well used sketchbooks and each sketchbook is full of every detail of every story, property and toy design carefully imagined, re-worked, fine tuned and re-imagined all over again. WWR has several sketchbooks devoted to it of varying sizes but the thing that was most exciting about that project is that I got to watch as he literally translated those amazing images into fully realized paintings.

Perhaps for me the project is closer to Lore than WWR, as even though I wrote the words in the WWR books, Ashley fully originated that story by himself and I merely translated it for him onto the page, he'd already crafted the WWR world from start to finish before I ever came near it.

So, what does it take then to create like Ash? Well I think it's silly for people to compare their own working process to either of us because everyone is different and should allow for themselves to be different or you'll just mentally lock yourself up and get nowhere. I think it is also important to acknowledge that every creative person has to start somewhere, and yes, 1000 pages from now you will be a better creator than when you started on page one but if you don't have the courage to put pen to paper on page one, then the point is moot because you will never see page 1000 to reflect.

Somethings happen faster than others but on collaborative projects... on average the prep is actually about 3-4 years in the making. As for Ash, his career is 20 years plus in the making... so go easy on yourself if you're starting on page one today, knowing that page 1000 is in fact only 999 pages away and in the grand scheme of things when spread out over years 999 pages isn't all that much after all:) 


ashley wood