So, I'm a nerd. Duh... I write sci-fi and fantasy. It kinda goes with the turf. Select your adjective, Nerd, Geek, whatever, I pretty much fit the bill.
As I've told people, "My geekness cannot easily be measured." We're Harry Potter fans at my house, I'm a Ravenclaw. I'm more a Star Wars person than Star Trek, though Discovery was pretty epic. Battlestar Galactica is a series my wife and I rewatch every year. I like my sci-fi gritty. And just so we're all on the same page, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool-Browncoat. I do aim to misbehave more often than I probably should.
I nerd out about metal working and sculpture, that's what I did when I was in art school, after all. Historical nerding is something I can go way down the rabbit hole on. It could be the details of nineteenth century saber use, or why modern folks don't seem to get just how important a waistcoat is and the differences in waistcoat length between 1750 and 1780. And then there is primitive technology... How to make fire without matches, twining thread from milk weed, or building a metal casting furnace from only clay, straw and sand based on a Bronze-Age design... The list goes on and on (and on and on and on).
As a writer, all of these spheres of geekdom inform my writing. Every writer does research. I like to live some of mine. I like to get my hands dirty. And I know there are other writers who do the same thing. Being a Geek or a Nerd isn't the epithet that it was when I was growing up. People have come to realize that geeks and nerds are some of the smartest people they will ever meet. That's a great thing.
Not every artist or creative is a geek. I've met plenty of artists who looked down their noses at me because I went into the woods wearing eighteenth century woodsman's clothing to sleep rough in front of a camp fire. And historical reenacting is filled with people who are conservative, who looked askance at me for being a sci-fi nerd. So, there are all kinds of 'steps of geek/nerddom.'
Someone once told me to "Write the stories I want to read." What a fantastic piece of advice! I didn't have to write things that fit someone else's framework, just what stories I wanted to hear.
I am a Star Wars fan because I saw "A New Hope" when I was thirteen. I was exactly the right age to be affected by it and it changed everything for me. I'd grown up watching Star Trek, but suddenly there was this grittier (by the standards of the time in 1977) heroic story with mind-blowing special effects.
I started writing fanfic about it immediately. I gobbled up "Splinter of the Mind's Eye," and that set my interest in expanded world/universe storytelling.
"When he created ‘Star Wars,’ George Lucas built a universe that sparked the imagination, and inspired others to create. He opened up that universe to be a creative space for other people to tell their own tales. This became the Expanded Universe, or EU, of comics, novels, videogames and more." - Lucasfilm sets record straight on Star Wars Expanded Universe
One of the key things I learned from this was the idea of "myth" in a fictional world. The same story could be told from different points of view within the same universe and that story could be wildly different because it was based on the perception of those telling it. In a universe the size of Star Wars, that meant there could be wildly different versions of the same event.
Following Star Wars' success, the floodgates of scifi opened up on TV. There were things like Jason of Star Command, ARK II, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the original Battlestar Galactica. Some were awful, some were good. I consumed just about anything scifi I could get my hands on reading-wise.
It wasn't until I was in the Navy that my geekness really got refined. On ship, boredom was a huge part of life, so I read voraciously, the Thieve's World series, Starship Troopers, Dune, Anne McAffrey's Pern series, Spellsinger, BOLO, Lord of the Rings, Foundation, the Thomas Covenant series, Shanarra, Dorsai, Darkover etc, etc.
I also really got into tabletop gaming when I was in the Navy - D&D, Traveller, Gamma World, pretty much anything I could get my hands on. We played on ship, on friend's ships, at the USO, anywhere, anytime we could. Anymore, I don't really have the time or energy for tabletop gaming, LARP, etc. Pretty much all of my friends are involved in them in one way or another. Even playing in a game puts my brain into storyteller mode. I end up spending hours and hours building backstories and at the end of the day, that's creative energy I need for my writing.
I started playing in the SCA - the Society for Creative Anachronism, while I was still in the Navy. Once I got out, it became my passion. Let's just say the next decade of my life was in one way or another shaped by the weight of a shield on my arm and a rattan sword in my hand.
What's above is a shorter version drawn from "SCA - The Dream."
And then I got involved in historical trekking. What can I say, I like black powder shooting, starting fires with flint and steel and wearing filthy moccasins. Going out into the woods and camping with only what an 18th century woodsman might have carried gives a very different view of the world. That 'different view of the world' was most clearly pointed out one morning when I was on a trek. It was cold, so I was trying to get the fire started to make coffee, but I kept dropping my flint because my fingers were numb. It wasn't until hours later that I talked with someone who'd brought a thermometer with them (part of a period set of scientific instruments for mapping) that I found out it was nineteen degrees - at that time. Which meant it had been substantially colder earlier. But I didn't -feel- cold. I know that sounds weird, but it's all about situation. With my wool clothes next to a fire, I was fine. But that's not something many people are going to experience or understand. It's part of the concept of 'a different kind of comfort' when out in the woods.
The video below gives an idea of what historical trekking is all about although these guys are representing a later era, 1820s-1830s or so vs 1750s-1780s.
Like I said above, my geekness cannot easily be measured. These things are all part of what makes me - me. And as a creative, they are the things that inform my storytelling. So, as the saying goes, I'm no one to judge.
My philosophy is 'Let your geek flag fly!' It's who we are and I'm unapologetic about it because it's allowed me to explore things that many people seem reluctant to. So don your plastic armor, raise your rattan or foam swords, sit at a table and work out tactics for your miniatures, or how you and your plucky adventuring party are going to get past the basilisk, grab your rendezvous gear and go burn some powder. It's all good. We're geeks and nerds and that's okay.