I, naturally, chose a writing and thinking heavy major in college. I loved professors best who made me question all of my assumptions about myself and my world. These skills, like a good book, open the mind to see from new perspectives.
What this taught me was to strive for newness. Freshness.
Anthropology, my major, introduced me to other ways of living,thinking, structuring a society and the harm caused by Imperial actions and ethnocentrism. It taught me what culture was, despite that being such a vague and intangible concept. It gave me the tools to analyze my own indoctrination and see where and how my preconceived view of the world helped or hindered me. The ability to analyze gave me the vested interest in looking into how I, personally, could grow in the direction I wanted to--a direction that represented my true values and ideals without merely mimicking that given by society. Not that this process is foolproof, or ever complete. But it is a skill at self-analysis.
In writing this helps, particularly in Fantasy because of the breadth of issues presented is fodder for stories and the tenants of culture give a writer much material to craft one's own cultures. Also helpful is developing an understanding of cross-cultural power relationships and how this transforms individuals. This has helped me take some of the large cultural ideas that I learned in college--and in life--and be able to break tem down into character driven stories. You, my readers, can judge how successful I am with this. But all things are a process.
There are questions, too, that come from our modern world. What is privilege? What are the constraints of power? How is prestige given and taken away? How does perception of one’s place in society promote action? Or inhibit action? And that is just a few questions that float through my mind right now.
Questions like this. Experience. This settles in a writer’s mind and slowly, subtly affects what writers write. My perspective affects what I write. So come and explore these questions with me. Explore the characters and places that questions and experience shape through a jostling of information and imagination. It should be fun.