Switching From Confidently Editing and Writing Anxiously
I have to be honest, I didn’t miss the anxiety that comes with wanting to make sure every word you write is significant. The ideas bursting inside of me while I was editing was really exhilarating. Now I’m back to layering the story down, brick by brick, word by word.
The first draft was easy for me. I heard something the other day while I was listening to writer podcast “The Writer’s Routine”, hosted by Dan Simpson, that writing the first draft, aka writing the vomit draft, can be easier than the second draft. The writer being interviewed said he always ends up being very perfectionistic about every word, not to mention he said he’s a lyrical writer so he definitely wants flow and artistry to be prominent in his storytelling (probably most writers want that, but some of us REALLY care about it…obsessively). Hearing that from American-noir writer (who happens to be British), Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at The End, was really comforting. I was thinking, “Yes, I totally understand that,” but then there’s the other voice inside of me, the voice striving to live a fulfilling life and often challenges my guilty pleasure with, “I know perfectionism tends to cripple me rather than heal me.” Very true. For the first draft, I let my perfectionism go, but now that I’m writing the second draft… I’m wondering if I need to bring back the ol’ harsh inner critic.
Self-improvement is a process, not a race. I keep forgetting that and my subconscious becomes so opportunistic that I end up reverting to old ways of thinking and being. Trusting in the progress we make as people who are trying to make better decisions in life requires us to be brave enough to trust ourselves even when the unexpected or the uncontrollable occur. Let mistakes happen. Tap into that raw emotion that rises up, analyze those old habits, accept why you gave into them, then take that experience and do better. It’s not easy and it’s not a race. Let’s give ourselves permission to explore and adapt to the process of self-improvement.
So my first horror short “Autonomy Bleeds Black” has been available on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Scribd, and other ebook platforms for a couple of months now. To make the free excerpt of the story more accessible, I’m going to share it on my website and on Vocal after I do some line editing. It is my first published work lol it’s not perfect, but I am proud and want to share it as much as I can.
The free excerpt will be available next week. Hope you’ll enjoy it!
So I’m working on another/essay about the history of divination, its structure, and how it became stigmatized. I’ve been wanting to research this for a while because I have been scrutinized by the stigma by those who value science and those who value their religious practice. The motive to research isn’t necessarily to “prove” anything, but to understand how we comprehend something as having power and influence over our lives versus embracing what power we have over our own lives and the lives of others because it’s considered either “blasphemy” to embrace the power of god or just delusional; and yet, humanity’s use of symbolism to process the explainable and unexplainable things in life has been constant for so long.
When I started hunting for resources for my work, I was a bit underwhelmed. It was interesting to review how diviners were once revered advisors to rulers in the past. To this day, we still have people we call mystics, prophets, or readers who are depended on to interpret “the will of god” or the energy of the times. As someone who’s a mystic, I’m already aware of this and also aware of the more popular types of divination, and why divination is bastardized by those who value the scientific method and the domineering religious beliefs in specific areas of the world. All the research I found covered what I already knew so I’m hoping to actually breakdown the standard techniques of divination, the significance of symbolism, and how symbols/omens from divination practices may have made some symbols universal (one example being how we look at the four natural elements metaphorically).
It’s going to take some time, but I thoroughly enjoy it. A while ago, I was also researching past life regression and reincarnation. I still hope to write about that, but understanding of the language of symbolism is required because past life regression is often tapped in to through meditative or divinatory means. One step at a time.
For a good page turner, you have to do more than a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are our scapegoat for suspense. Avid readers catch on to that real quick. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors on suspense, Donna Tartt, “Suspense is when two people are having a conversation and there’s a bomb counting down to explode under their table.” Oh the many factors to consider… Do the characters talk about the bomb? Are they oblivious? Is one character beating around the bush about the bomb? Does the other character understand the other’s subtext? Is the bomb noticeable? Is the bomb ticking loudly or silently? Is the timer for the bomb a good amount of time or minutes away from going off? Who planted the bomb? Considering the factors needed for a suspenseful page turner is all about context. If it isn’t rich enough, the audience will assume the predictable: the bomb will go off, the characters will die and that means the characters weren’t important in the first place. In other words, lack of context makes the audience apathetic and cliches make them cynical. All interest dies. So, while I was thinking about the resolution for the first part of my novel hoping to make sure I don’t emotionally shutdown my audience, I did my best to keep it like a chess game and maintain the captivation through a series of power plays.
Do You Read To Death or Read For Sex? On Narration Style
A friend told me that there are mainly two types of readers out there: the ones who read to death and the ones who read for sex. The ones who read to death surrenders to the author’s siren call to turn the next page. They’ll gobble up a book of over 200,000 words in a matter of days, certainly less than half a week. The one who reads for sex, like myself, makes the experience last. They aren’t necessarily slow readers, but gluttons for the suspenseful moments. They might read a few chapters, then set the book down to make their own predictions about the story or daydream of what the characters would do or say if they met in person. These people may also read like professors who are wondering more about what they can learn from the author, what each character’s archetype is, how and why the story structure was presented as is rather than in a more traditional or more contemporary way. I do read and write for sex. No it’s never been a procrastination technique, but a very pleasurable learning technique that keeps me enthusiastic about my career. I don’t want to bore the ones who read to death with extraneous details and I do hope as I grow as a writer, every sentence will have such an addictive quality that it will be hard to put the book down and even harder not to break it down critically.
The magic abilities assigned to each character reflect their personality and develop overtime, but I almost bombard them with restrictions, not just for conflict, but for strategic problem solving. In the world setting of my story, everyone is a mage or a magical being and they are all part of various societies that have laws for and against particular paths of magic. There is a reigning government in place that most of the mages and magical beings respect, but there are some “outlaws”, for lack of a better term. So while I was thinking about the structure I have in place, I was also thinking about what makes a good magic battle. Combining my own imagination with Timothy’s advice, here’s what I came up with…
Gothic: Originally referring to the Goths, barbarian tribes who sacked Rome in A.D. 210, the term Gothic was mistakenly applied by eighteenth-century critics to everything medieval, including the kind of cathedral still known as Gothic–with its vaulted arches, flying buttresses, and gargoyles. Used in reference to literature…the term calls to mind gloom, grotesqueness, mystery, and decadence, the atmosphere also earlier gothic novels…
– NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms
Carson McCuller’s story “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe” is Southern Gothic.
Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the earliest gothic novels.
My Take on Gothic
As an aspiring dark fantasy novelist, I basically worship gothic literature. The era of dark romanticism in English and American literature has always been a favorite topic of mine to research and analyze. Gothic literature inspires me because I feel less alone in the experience of describing my fears, my sorrows, and existential wonderings through poetry and prose. If Hugo, Shelley, Poe, King, and all the other greats can do it, so can I.
I strived to make “Autonomy Bleeds Black” gothic with some magical realism, but it’s my first ever short story. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but I’m proud that one of my first attempts to blend beauty with darkness, fear, and dread can still be considered “gothic” in a way.
I’m determined for my novel series to fall into the gothic genre as well. We have many novels today that dabble with gothic or horror elements, but I’m hoping to join the authors who made it so their stories were immersed in gothic atmosphere.
You don’t know this about me, you flirting, busy bee, but I’m hurt by the ghost you’ve become. Haunted for years by shallowness, not that you are, but I’m so distressed by the ephemeral fading you’ve done in my life as a picture, out as a memory. Back in again, posing so charmingly, far from … Continue reading Ghost – [Poetry]
In hours and increments I realize your distance is no longer sentenced to a timezone away. For hours I search, recalling your flirts fading in the spurt of my grief and dismay. Wherever you are, Angel, I’ll wait again, for hours upon hours upon hours still. In these hours upon hours, I’m longing. Sour at … Continue reading Hours – [Poetry]
Demon/Daemon/Daimon: “Lesser spirit or god. A devil in Christian mythology. Literal meaning for Demon – “Replete with wisdom.” Derived from the Greek ‘daimon’ meaning divine power” – S. Connolly (1997-2006) – The Complete Book of Demonolatry. The Stoic understanding of daemon is not so different from the Socratic understanding of the daimonion, or the divine … Continue reading What is a daemon or demon? – Metaphysical and Occult Terms 101
“Alchemy is a rainbow bridging the chasm between the earthly and heavenly plans, between matter and spirit… Alchemy, the royal sacerdotal art, also called the hermetic philosophy, conceals, in esoteric texts and enigmatic emblems, the means of penetrating the very secrets of Nature, Life, and Death, of Unity, Eternity, and Infinity.” – Stanislas Klossowski de Rola Alchemy: The Secret Art
This Klossowski de Rola quote is in the first chapter of Mark Stavish’s The Path to Alchemy, a book I’ve been reading/studying for months now. Although alchemy’s origins stem from many stories (many say Egypt, some say China, the list goes on), alchemy will always be more about inner transformation than anything else regarding the transmutation of metals or exploiting any kind of relationship between Earth and Heaven. Through processes that require patience and open-mindedness, much of what alchemy can teach you inevitably braids itself into your personal philosophies. Even the technical procedures, such as making sure you start and finish an alchemical process at a specific hour and day, challenges your level of respect for how forces outside of yourself affect your work, your mentality, and your aura. The procedures, prayers, and meditations learned by the alchemist create a more fulfilling understanding of the self and the world, emphasizing the act of “penetrating the very secrets of nature”. Overall, alchemy is a very interactive philosophy that demands your dedication, your honesty, and your resilience as a co-creator in life.