So a few days ago, an interesting thing happened.

I don’t usually see a lot of mushrooms around our home, and I can’t remember ever being blessed with a Faerie Ring nearby any of my living space.

I’ve been getting up earlier on most days, lately, in order to give my Llady rides to work (we were temporarily down to one car), and one day, my extra morning time included two unexpected things.

"Tock the Gnome" dreamscape gown, pencil sketch

Firstly, out of nowhere I was graced with an idea for my graphic novel that I feel really, really solid about.

And secondly, as I pulled back out of the driveway to go to a morning meeting, I noticed a new growth of mushrooms on a pile of mulch near the barn.

Faerie mushrooms, 1

Faerie ring :)

These pictures were taken when I got home, so the sun had taken its toll on them at this point. Earlier in the morning, they were much less droopy and as such, did form a circle. A real Faerie Ring, for the first time I can remember!

(And each morning since, that mulch is even more covered in mushrooms, by the way.)

That having happened, it made the idea I had for “Tock the Gnome” feel even more significant.

If you’re reading the comic, vague spoilers follow!

My Llady and I figured out the basic plot of the story years ago, back when a contest over at Crossed Genres prompted me to develop it. Originally, it was going to be a basic “Hero sets out to save the princess, but falls in love with someone else along the way” kind of thing.

At the time I was pretty deep into an addiction problem, though I couldn’t see it, and as such I was very spiritually blocked. I believe now that I wasn’t capable of having a true spiritual connection because I put my self-destruction in the way of any personal growth, much less spiritual growth.

What that meant for “Tock” is that the message I intended, if it had played out as I originally meant it to, would have been underdeveloped and shallow. Then, as I developed the story and the characters more, things began to shift. The cultures of that world had religions, so I started paying attention to that a bit more. And then, in my personal life, I finally decided to get help for my disease.

That has skyrocketed my spiritual growth (in comparison to how I was for more than a decade before), and its definitely shifting things in Tock’s world, too.

Tock’s quest to find the Princess, her intention to marry her afterward, and the unexpected hiccup of meeting the Orc Lady are still there as my original thoughts laid out, yes. That’s still important, but I’ve had such inspiration in the last year and a half as to how important Tock’s quest and their meeting is, on a world-wide scale. I’ve been gifted with a rich history for that world, tying in years of work I did on what I thought was another project altogether. I feel more guided as to what the Faeries and the Goddess Herself want me to do with this work. And sometimes, I have clearer moments of inspiration – significant parts of the story that I feel are given to me, directions on what to do.

One of those happened yesterday morning and finding the Faerie Ring reinforced that for me, so very much.

My plan for the publication of the story, even as I publish new pages online, is to reach a certain point – basically, when the crew of Tock’s airship is all finally together and set off on the quest more officially – and then have a Kickstarter to fund the physical publication of the first book. I hope doing that, and getting that part of the story out into the world as a physical book, will give readers a taste of what’s to come and get more support for it, so that I can make more. As such I want there to be enough of a hint of what’s coming in the comic already established before I publish it.

Some of that has come together already – I meant for it to be obvious that the Orc Lady is going to complicate Tock’s steadfast heart, and there’s going to be an important conversation between them before the ship takes off that will lay out how that’s going to develop (leaving, of course, a lot unexplained so hopefully people will want to see what happens, even though they know this situation is coming). But in terms of the increased spiritual nature of Tock’s story, I hadn’t had any plans for this immediate part of it that would foreshadow that at all.

What I was given the other day is the idea that I can do that, very vaguely, through Tock’s dreams. There’s going to be one point much later (actually a great idea from my Llady) where dream sequences are important for all of the characters, but I hadn’t planned to utilize that idea otherwise. This is slightly ironic, since I did a mini comic years ago, in college, that used a kind of dream sequence in a similar way – with characters from that “other project” that I thought wasn’t connected at all.

"The Dreamstone," cover  "The Dreamstone," page 1  "The Dreamstone," page 2  "The Dreamstone," page 3    "The Dreamstone," page 4  "The Dreamstone," page 5  "The Dreamstone," page 6

So now, I feel called to have Tock dream about the enormity of her quest and what it really means, in images and signs she won’t understand yet. I don’t know exactly what images those will be – I will likely think/meditate on it a lot more, since it’ll be a while before I get to drawing those specific pages. But I’m so surprised and grateful that I’ve been given that direction to go in, stating so clearly what kind of messages my readers can expect as they follow Tock’s story and development.

All images and ideas © Rachel Marsh, 2014.

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