When struggling with abstract or existential problems there’s no better life coach than Warhammer 40,000. Because they solve abstract existentialist horrors by sharpening knives and fitting them to chainsaws. It’s a literary universe where the word “rip-roaring” isn’t just a valid description, it’s the subject-object interaction between most of the inhabitants, and everyone is always getting on with it. Which makes them the ideal motivator for most writers.
Their dark pantheon are four Chaos gods which handily represent the four stages of writing.
1. Slaanesh: God of Lust and Sensation
Slaanesh is all about the orgy of indulgence, the adrenaline of exploration, the thrill of sensation and the joy of experience. It represents that glorious first stage of writing where you’re bursting with new ideas and can’t wait to try them all out. But just like (his and her) chaos demons most of these ideas never escape into our world. They’re trapped in an imaginary realm where none will ever truly enjoy anything. And most of those who make it into our plane don’t survive for long, their imaginary impossibilities collapsing under the weight of existence. But those who make it have so much fun. And the one conjuring them always enjoys it.
2. Tzeenntch: God of Chaos and Change
The second stage is the sinuously shifting god of change. Ever-flowing, ever-moving, ever plotting and planning and shifting the stage to better suit its desires. Tzeentch is the power of rewriting. His is the glory of mutation, taking things that thought they were one thing and twisting them into shapes better suited to the new plan. This is the shifting of schemes in react to real problems. This is the glory of random creative chaos suddenly resolving into success, then getting to claim that you were an Architect of Fate all along.
3. Nurgle: God of Death and Decay
The oldest god, a bloated and scabrous thing which claims victory not through strategy, nor strength, but simple rot and neglect. Nurgle is all the articles left unfinished. The stories shelved because they got difficult. The endless bandaged forest of mummified corpses left waiting for inspiration which will never come. Of all the gods, Nurgle is the most powerful. Nurgle is always waiting for you to fall. Nurgle must be defeated.
But you have a powerful ally.
4. Khorne: God of Violence
Khorne is the god of rage and blood. The most savagely simple of the gods. The most despised by amateur writers who fancy themselves apostles of Tzeentch but he is the most vital for their victory. Because Khorne is the god of editing.
You must get in there and finish things. You must chase your pieces down and end them, dispatch them to where they’re going, and that means ripping and tearing and cutting them to the bone. Feel the savage joy of blades separating the rot and bloat, carving away the unnecessary and the ugly. Only the worthy survive.
Of all these inspirations, I most love the idea of Khornate berserkers set loose on the magical Faerie forest of Muses. Blood-drenched barbarians of spiked iron and action chasing down those diaphanous excuses, burning down their sun-dappled copseso f inspiration with the war-fires of immediate assault, dragging the flittering malingerers before their god of editing so that their blades can draw deadlines. Because the god of editing does not care from whom the word count flows.
Only that it flows.
Bonus: He’s not a Khornate, but I conjured my Inner Space Editor long ago, and he still does sterling duty in service of the Typing Throne
If you enjoy the world of 40,000 you might like:
If i ever get a dog i’m naming him Nurgle. Great post Luke
WORDS FOR THE WORD GOD!
This might just be the most inspiring and hilarious piece of meditation on writing I’ve ever read.
What else would I expect from the man who takes Dark Souls as a lesson on proper living?