Behind the Scenes: The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan

This post contains spoilers about my novella. If you haven’t read it, check out parts one, two, and three before reading this post.

Yesterday I released part three of my first novella, The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan. I posted it in three parts because of the length. I wanted to break it into manageable chunks, and two parts were still not right.

That all happened after the story was finished. This post is a look at ideas and inspirations I had while writing.

I don’t know the exact timeline, but quite a long time ago, a few of my writing friends and I were choosing writing prompts and sharing short stories. We all wrote from the same prompt and had the same amount of time to write. We started with every two weeks, then realized we were too busy for that to be adequate. It switched to once a month, rotating who chose the prompt.

Someone chose this prompt: “It’s been so long that no one knows why the walls were built. Nobody wants to leave.”

I recall wanting someone to pick it. I don’t think I chose it, though, if I remember correctly.

At first I didn’t have a clear plan. I just started writing and went where my thoughts said to go.

Then I named Kaashif Sarwan. Both parts of his name are related to exploring or adventure or discovery. I don’t remember exactly what meaning I chose, but both parts have the same meaning. Because that’s what he is.

Around that same time I realized this story should take place on Irqulnirn, in the N’Zembe system. I’d been thinking about the star system and how far away Irqulnirn was from the star. I created quarzyls to be the solution and explanation for how Irqulnirn could support life. I decided/figured out what was outside the walls and why they were built. That led me to write the Apocalypse of Irqulnirn, the background for this novella.

Once I knew how and why the walls were built, I had to go about the business of writing Kaashif through his journey to the top of the walls.

When I first had the idea for the dead world outside the walls, the conclusion was going to be bleak. Hopeless.

But because of how quarzyls “work,” and their life-giving abilities, I was able to work in a hopeless, depressed period for Kaashif and end with hope.

This story is as much about Kaashif as it is about my own journey with depression. Not literally or even symbolically, but experientially, to a degree. I wrote my depression into Kaashif as part of his journey, including the hopeful ending.

I changed as my vision for the story changed.

When I thought the ending would be bleak, I was in a dark place and wanted to reflect that artistically.

When my vision morphed to something more hopeful, I’d come to a more optimistic, hopeful place in my own life.

This post is a bit different compared to my other posts. I’ve never written about what the nature of inspiration in writing stories is for me.

This post also marks 50 days of blogging! In another 50 days I could do something like this again, provided I have a new story to write the behind-the-scenes for.

The Apocalypse of Irqulnirn

I am currently writing a short story that may become a novelette set on Irqulnirn after an apocalypse. It actually inspired the creation of quarzyls.

This is the historical background for the piece. Some of the details are incomplete at this time and require more worldbuilding.

Irqulnirn is dependent upon quarzyls’ life-giving and creating abilities, because of its distance from N’Zembe. This is common knowledge among Irqulnirn’s inhabitants, yet not often are its full implications considered.
The quarzyls live throughout Irqulnirn, nourishing the soil and assisting in the growth of plants and sometimes animals. However, a large concentration of them live in the country of Arziki, creating a greater level of prosperity there than anywhere else on the planet.
Jealousy sparked in the hearts of the other peoples, and they decided to band together and attack Arziki. The quarzyls from elsewhere gathered in Arziki with their fellow quarzyls. The quarzyls, despite preferring small groups, began building all around Arziki’s borders with magic-resistant stone mined from their country and nearby lands. They built a wall two hundred and fifty feet tall, five feet wide.
As soon as the wall was tall enough to block the quarzyl’s magic, Irqulnirn began to suffer. All the other species began to die from starvation and suffocation. The plants helped regulate Irqulnirn’s atmosphere and temperature. Now without them, there was no hope or possibility for life outside of Arziki.
The quarzyls had not thought through the results of their actions, not fully realizing how dependent Irqulnirn truly was on their magic. The other species did not realize this either.
Over time, after those first quarzyls had died and several generations passed, everyone forgot about life before the walls. Life with other species. Life elsewhere on Irqulnirn. The people were content, lacking nothing, creating all they could ever want or need. However, their true purpose had been lost. They had killed their planet and all those who depended on them. Those they were meant to protect and nourish were killed at the hands of those who made their lives possible on this far away planet.
One small green speck exists on Irqulnirn when viewed from space. Eventually, it too will cease, once Irqulnirn drifts too far from N’Zembe for even the quarzyls to live.