The Inspiration for Nonesuch

The original dream long entry.

The whole idea came from a dream.

I know, it’s kind of underwhelming.
I was wandering around in a dark forest, looking for my husband, Joe. I hugged him and felt relief when I finally found him… But the thing is, when I looked at him, it… wasn’t him. It looked like him, but I knew it wasn’t. I ran away and found myself in an old staged town, full of copies of Joe and me. On a bench, a large woman in a striped shirt and a trench coat invited me to sit next to her. She offered me a clipboard for notes, and informed me that I can’t go home until I find my husband. She helped me narrow down the slight differences between the copies of my husband until I found him. And I woke up.
I immediately and viciously started writing out the elaborated concept from this unsettling and intriguing idea. I tried to make notes of the arrangement of the town, the way it felt like a puppet show, the woman’s very vivid image in my head, the potential things that could happen in this town, various strategies to escape, adding more “what if” and “why” questions to flesh it out. I spent the next month fleshing out the characters and the story, and started posting the canvas version over 2020.

I kept a corel file and started adding sketches and images to it, as I usually do.

The song, “Panic Room” by Au/Ra was the song I had strongly associate with the story, I had heard it the day before and was listening to it on repeat, and I still wonder if it had anything to do with that dream I had the night after I discovered it.

Gathering elements and moods of the setting.

The Town

I got the name from my creative writing class in high school. We were working on world development, and Mr. Haughton gave us a list of all the towns in Kentucky. There’s a lot of really weird ones. But I loved the sound of “Nonesuch.” It was mysterious and it had so much character. It was just so Kentucky. It sounded old and even a bit western. The project I went through I had this world stuck in a sort of time bubble, that this unnamed character passed by it, it “picked” him, and he somehow got stuck in it. The story followed him explored it, trying to figure out how he could leave. He met various characters through it, I used it as a study of how money can bring out the best and worst of people, but for this next project, I felt the name still was so awesome. You can probably see how the concept translated into my clone version of the setting.

The other interesting thing, I always recognized the name “Nonesuch” when Joe and I passed by it on our way back and fourth through Bowling Green and home when we lived in the apartment. Driving those windy, creepy backroads every other weekend, tired out of our minds, trying to stay awake together. It lead me to want to write about an engaged couple, as I had just gotten married, and Joe and I were learning more about each other, fighting a bit more, learning what it means to live out love.

I also considered them being high schoolers, but my editing group said it needed to be an engaged couple, there was more to explore and the stakes are higher that way.


The Characters

I started working out what would eventually be Bridget, Connor, and Shannon. I will go more into detail about Connor, Bridget, and Shannon in their own posts, but the characters never really changed from their roots. Bridget’s arc and struggle was based off myself and Connor’s off my husband. Joe and I were fighting about moving back home with our friends and family, but he was terrified. Having faith to quit his awful job and trust God to help him find a new job and a new house in our town, while his parents were encouraging him to stay in Bowling Green despite how bad it was for us there… was difficult for him. Meanwhile, my struggle over that time involved grappling my vindictive feelings toward my family, trying to forgive myself for the things I did, and trying to learn to trust Joe with those feelings and fears and doubts about myself. Being honest with him about the voices in my head telling me I was things that I wasn’t, fearing he would realize he made a mistake marrying me, were the loudest and hardest parts about living in the apartment at the first conception of the story.
Shannon’s arc… was a more interesting story. I felt like it had to revolve around guilt. It felt only natural that someone who got stuck there would be living with the knowledge that they were stuck there because they killed their partner. (How it was in the canvas version.) So some sort of idea of redemption and forgiveness was bound to be a prominent theme. Eventually, her character settled into one strongly tied with her mother. I was currently in a bad place with my own mom specifically, learning what it means to forgive and be forgiven with her. Reflecting on the events of my wedding and engagement, the things I said that hurt my mom the things she said that hurt me… That would resolve over the course of the canvas version’s development, strongly influenced my understanding of what forgiveness was.


Final Style for Canvas

Their designs made slight variations over the course of development. But none of them really made too many drastic changes. Here is what I came to by the start of the canvas version.

Six Gun City

I really needed reference photos.
I was trying to put the assets for the town together, and found myself researching ghost towns. I needed one that looked western, but also… in the middle of the forest. It was a high request, but eventually, I found Six Gun City. It was PERFECT, it looked exactly how I imagined the town, one strip, old wood and primed for a high noon showdown.
I looked for videos so I could get angles of it, when I found it was in Kentucky… slap down in the middle of the forest in Cumberland Falls- just two hours away.
I could get my own videos and pictures of this place.
I could feel what it’s like to be there myself.

Immediately, I called the team up. They were as excited as I was, it was Nonesuch.
We agreed we would leave the next morning.

That night, I spent a couple hours researching how to get there. I put together the maps and markers we would need, printed them out for each of us, including the pictures of the trails, markers, and checkpoints.
It wasn’t easy, and as sure as I was that these were the correct instructions, from multiple sources, something in me kept telling me that there was no way this was actually going to work.
We weren’t going to find this place.

That fear settled on me again.
We were jumping off of marked trails and trekking into the middle of nowhere. We could potentially get lost, but even if we didn’t, what are the chances I did this all right and we’d find this place? What if it’s not even there anymore? All we’d have was the papers that I printed.
It was on me- my idea, my directions, and everyone’s trust was in me.

I woke up that morning, and as we packed in the cars and headed out, I remember the anxious thoughts pacing my mind about how stupid I was gonna feel if I got a bunch of people rounded up overnight for some impulsive trip to some rumored place hidden in the middle of nowhere… and there was nothing.
And why did everyone go with me? Did they think I knew more about what I was doing than I really did? That I was totally capable of finding some obscure place in the middle of nowhere? I’d never done it before! Why did they even agree to go? And what if I was wrong? What if everything I thought I knew about this place wasn’t true? Why did they trust me?
If I was wrong…They’d think I was an idiot. A girl who got too excited about the latest and craziest thing and followed whatever whim I was on.
If I’m being real honest, the biggest fear was that they would start slowly distancing themselves from me if it failed. They’d see that I wasn’t the person they thought I was, and I’d feel even dumber for losing these friends because I risked my friendship by exposing them to this intense, stupid side of myself. This part of me that fails constantly. I’m deeply embarrassed by my emotional whims, and even more embarrassed by my failed ones.

When we got to Cumberland Falls, we grabbed more maps and drove out to the trail.

It had just rained. So the water was high, and right off the bat, the first part of the trail was flooded. I was tempted to turn around already. This on top of the battle in my head was already so much. I didn’t want to make everyone have to figure a way around this. There might be more flooded trails ahead of us. We shouldn’t have done this.
But then Audrey suggested heading up the hill around the flooded trail.
I was actually pretty nervous to do that. It was steep, and I’m not the best climber, but I was willing.
Everyone agreed to do it.
And as we went around even more around the flooding, I started to fall behind. But when I looked up and saw everyone waiting for me… I got an inkling of some kind of patience with myself.
They were waiting.
And I noticed something about myself then.
I felt like I was going to be left behind.
Then, of course, I became afraid that they were frustrated that I was holding everyone up.
At one point, in my rush to keep up as much as I could to not hold everyone up, Averi offered me her hand, and I remember trying to tell her not to worry about doing that because If I slipped we’d both fall. But she said something about how if she was willing to catch me, she was willing to fall with me.

As we kept along my researched route, we kept hitting all the checkpoints. Each one to my genuine shock.
It was actually working.
Everyone was having a great time.
Then, tired, out of breath, it was time to branch off from the trail.
And soon enough, we hit more checkpoints- and I remember the reward of having faith, the unbelievable feeling of running out ahead of the rest of the team… seeing the familiar path from the pictures, those orange slides, and turning to see that allusive town that I scoured the internet for.
I already made the big, scary steps researching the town, gathering the people to get there, and daring to go out and walk in it myself. What a bold, stupid thing to do. And I did it.

We took our pictures, videos, and experienced the surreal feeling of the town. It felt exactly like Nonesuch. We talked about scene ideas we got from rubble and all the accents and details we could add.
But the biggest takeaway for me was the fact that I actually did it. My whim… wasn’t a whim anymore. It was a dream come true.
There in that twice burned town, I remember realizing that I am enough for God. That He provides what I need, and not because of me, but because of Him, and He makes me who I need to be. He gives me all that I need to fulfill what He calls me to.
My team doesn’t need me to be enough, they trust God to be enough. For me to lead this team into an unknown- they don’t trust me as a human, they trust a God who is guiding all of us.

This trip was the trip I heard in the beauty of the adventure, nature, and love of my friends, that I am worthy of this calling of mine. God’s calling for me to write these stories isn’t a crazy whim- it’s a real place that He has equipped me to find, a real dream that He purposefully put on my heart.