The Sword and Pen OR seeking expertise while having fun

On a day many were drinking green beer, members of neighboring shires gathered for an afternoon of melees (battles) with swords and shields, armor, archers and spears while the ROTC trained nearby. And all this in a Pennsylvania college town

No. I’m not making this up. I was there today waiting semi-patiently for the doors to open at 1 pm with 40 some others so the battles and duals could commence .

It was a fun afternoon.

And where was I in all this? Mostly outside the gym with the other fencers and increasing my knowledge of swordplay with rapier and dagger and training others. Yes, I’m talking real swords and daggers with blunt edges, blade flexibility and blunts on the tips.

As a writer, this activity gives me a wide playing field of experiences to draw from and resources to go to when I need to ask questions such as how would one train and what the different great masters taught. Some of these fencers have been training for 20 years and more and are a wealth of information. All great stuff – though, this by far, is not the only and maybe not even the biggest reason I do this. It’s immensely fun.

Convenient perhaps that my hobby and my world-setting walk in tandem currently. But there are other aspects of my make-believe story world and other experts I had to tap such as speaking with equestrians (i.e. horse people), costume designers, historians and others.

And people generally like being interviewed by a writer.

[“Hey honey, I got interviewed by a writer! How cool is that? Maybe he/she will put me in their book.] — Who had difficulty hearing this in your head?

But even with this wide-range permission slip, many writers, particularly new ones, cringe at the idea of seeking experts in a field. As a whole, we do tend to be introverts (with a few exceptions)and perhaps in a way there is an aspect of necessity for the creative spark BUT it is important to look up, live life and sometimes, even move out of a comfort zone.

Anyway, the medieval free company/mercenary household I hang with are training for the big annual event where approximately 14,000 people from around the world (and other kingdoms) will get together for two weeks in a temporary city to have a medieval war. We are talking days of up to thousands on a side doing battle in the woods, in the field, and in the town. And afterwards there will be medieval leisure activities — courtly dancing, storytelling, plays, concerts and parties.

I’d love to hear who and what groups, organizations and experts you tap for your story worlds.

Happy writing!

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