My head has been stuck in the books lately and when that happens blog posts seem to gradually fade, haha. Between studying, blogging, and my other music projects, I’m missing my novel and the VPD entries again. So I thought maybe I should take NaNoWriMo seriously and see how far I get. Once Samhain passes, taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge will be intimidating for sure, but I just really miss my novel, or rather the world I’m building and my characters. It’s dark scifi-fantasy novel and the first draft was over 400 pages and over 136,000 words. Working on the second draft definitely came with some struggles (and a lot of panicking, to be honest), but that beautiful big-picture view of the entire project and the awesome information I’m retaining from my psychology classes keeps connecting the dots between my characters and all the ways I can torture-DEVELOP them. Hehehehe.
So basically, I’m really enthusiastic and can’t wait to take on this challenge along with report my daily progress. Also, my cover song and poetry reading will be finished within this week and posted in the first week of November. I hope you’ll like it and thank you for your patience. I’m getting much better at actually completing projects rather than jumping around from one to another aren’t I? Good for me. Are you a fellow writer thinking of trying out NaNoWriMo as well?
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily or mental and spiritual John Stuart Mill […]
…Is writing the second draft supposed to almost feel like you’re writing another story? Well, it doesn’t feel that extreme to me, but there’s a lot that needs to be added, changed, and polished. I don’t know why this seems strange. During this writing session there are times I feel like my first draft is a botched mess and the fact that I’m having to fill in details that were obviously necessary must mean my writing needs a massive amount of improvement, but harsh inner critic aside, I’m fully aware that writing will always be a practice. The best I can do is remain teachable, open, and devoted to the craft.
Just like music makes the mood for a social gathering, atmosphere and archetypes are key elements to the mood of any work of fiction. In art, mood and tone with colors range from cold to warms; I know in writing we have to explore all sorts of sensory details, so what I learned today, and also what I consider today’s triumph, is conveying a character’s demeanor with common attributes we associate with a Jungian archetype.
My first draft rendition of introducing this new group of characters reminded me how sinful it is to write cringy dialogue and that my characters should have purpose or just not exist at all. I don’t mean to be too hard on myself considering it’s the first draft, but I was disappointed to read this scene of diverse characters introducing themselves with a silly/comedic camaraderie and then turning out to be kind of overpowered later. I already know my anime-brain took the lead on this. Now current me has to deal with characters whose purpose is poorly translated. While keeping my focus on making sure the voices of these characters were definitive and believable with their personality, I thought more critically about the development of side characters.
I was talking with a friend the other day about needing to watch more or read more crime and mystery pieces and study how the “clues” lead the audience and the characters from one thing to another. I know my novel has a lot of conspiracy innuendo, but conspiracy can be really obvious real quick. We’re used to seeing a government organization, a religious organization, a secret organization, or an academic organization have players scheming in the shadows or plotting in broad daylight. Though obvious, I think the intrigue maintains itself if the end goal of the conspiracy isn’t so obvious and who immediately comes to mind is Lovecraft.
The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 3 – Kill Your Darlings (or torture them)
The chaos is what we want to show our characters responding to. We must also be brave enough to show that they may never learn how to flow with the chaos of life or releasing expectations for things they can’t control or simply taking responsibility for what is within their control. If our darling aren’t working for the story, we kill them; if they need more development, we torture them.
So after some work and some rest, I’ve been able to progress in character development and the lore of my world. I’m stuck on vampires again, but temporarily. One of my characters is my vampire and an exorcist. I’m basing her spirit work skills on exorcism techniques they used in ancient Japan.
For the record, working on a novel isn’t doing the same thing every day, at least for me. To keep the mind active and the inspiration flowing, I think it’s okay to take different approaches to your work. It’s a great confidence booster too when you create a different way of developing your story and it leads to progress, but even when you don’t make the breakthrough you hoped for, taking in that experience is a progress in itself.
My struggles with anxiety have surprisingly inspired me to fight for a confident attitude towards my work and myself. Shadow work during this time (shadow work is a self-reflection process many pagans/witches do through divination or other means, in case you don’t know) has helped so much. I did start a daily Instagram posting of one of my shadow work methods, but now I’m behind because of some mental health issues on my end. I’m still trucking on though and wanted to say that things are still moving forward.
To end, a little advice from a teabag tassel I got yesterday: The purpose of life is to know yourself, love yourself, trust yourself, and be yourself.
Every character should have purpose. I had to redesign a character today, who started off one way, but I had to make her the opposite of what she initially was to improve her presence in the story.
I hate side characters without purpose. I’ve seen main characters without purpose and they make me livid, but side characters are just as bad because you don’t want the atmosphere your main character is in to be bland or not memorable. A side character without purpose and depth to their design is a nuisance. Even if the character is the comedic relief or specifically needed as a plot device for a single moment, the character should have purpose.
Okay, I sound like a broken record, don’t I? A character with purpose is a character designed with significant attachments to the setting, themes, and plot of the story. This doesn’t mean the character has to “belong” in the world you put them in; it means that their attributes affect what is happening in your world or story for a goddamn reason. Like, imagine reading a romantic story where the protagonist and their love interest are destined to be, but a character who is literally a nobody, doesn’t even have a name, starts spewing out the protagonist’s darkest secrets for no reason just so the love interest negatively reacts and every time the protagonist somehow gets their love interest to accept them again, the nobody just appears again to spew their shit and vanish into the darkness until they’re needed again. And when you get to THE END of this romantic story, even though it ends with “happily ever after”, the nobody is never explained! No! I hate that! I’ve even read fanfictions like that! I’ll never accept this unless the story is avant garde af (but even avant garde has more purpose than an underdeveloped character and that’s saying something)!
I don’t know why I’m heated about this…it’s because I’m thinking about characters without purpose in other stories…maybe. I don’t know. I am sure as hell determined to give my character’s purpose though. If I ever create a pointless character, it will be done to prove my point in the most spiteful way possible.
Today was a fabulous research day! Today’s research topics helped me flesh out the history of two characters who, for lack of a better term, gave me major feels while writing them. Now that I’ve worked through their lives a bit more, I can continue writing their about their pain 🙂
First, let me just say I LOVE Jenna. Someone shared one of her videos on Tumblr and I just fell in love with the way she broke down her writing tips. She’s very frank and incredibly open-minded. I like watching a video from her or other authortubers before I jump into my own novel to get my head in the game. Enjoy!
Also, please consider checking out her book The Savior’s Champion and her other book Eve: The Awakening. I’ve added both to my reading list on Amazon. I’m ready to see her work for myself. FYI if you have Kindle Unlimited, Eve: The Awakening is free to read.
To start, this post is not bashing Christianity. Many of us could blame Christianity or other religions for what happened to us as a child or why we deal with so much anxiety and pain to this day, but I’m discussing the habits that fuel that anxiety and fear based on our own perception of having Christian parents with authoritarian aspects. This isn’t about the religion itself, but rather, the destructive point of view one can develop if they don’t remember to show themselves compassion and forgiveness. Yes, a Pagan who was once Christian is behind this, but please hear me out. I speak about the following bad habits and my personal experience developing those habits respectfully. I blame no one.
Although we are most likely told in Christian upbringings that we make mistakes and that we’re imperfect creatures that simply need to repent for our sins, we may believe otherwise. An early introduction to the Christian god and his power can add a type of pressure that appears to demand not just repentance, but performance. Some of us may strive to become sinless by trying to gain validation from our parents; they are the ones who introduced us to God after all. Here’s the truth: as long as you’re human, you’re going to make mistakes and the most important type of validation is from yourself. Inevitably, it’s up to us whether we let our mistakes punish us or help us grow. You may feel inclined to exact a type of judgment on yourself to understanding who God is, but you’re still doing that to yourself. Perfectionism is a ridiculously high ideal. It’s not meant to be reached. Neither is reaching a level of sinlessness at God’s level according to Christian belief. You may sin, repent, be saved, then sin again, repent, repeat…Why not accept that sinning or making mistakes is part of the human experience? It’s wiser to consider your life as a learning curve than placing yourself in a position where you’re starving for acceptance. Accept yourself, flaws and all.
Here’s the thing about judgment: it’s all projection. Judging someone or something prematurely and rashly is very common in religious circles. If you live in an authoritarian household with a Christian view, the last thing you want is for any type of judgment to fall upon you. In fact, it may pass down from your parents on to you and then you want to relieve yourself of it so badly that you pass on your judgments to your siblings, friends, classmates, coworkers, or whoever. Premature judgment is a projection of fear. It’s a subconscious way of dodging a bullet you think God is itching to point at you on judgment day. If you feel your parents are judging you and using the bible to add on extra weight, it’s not just unhealthy to carry that, but it’s just as bad passing that on to others. Consider being open to other’s life stories and gaining the whole truth before coming to a conclusion about them. If you feel you can’t understand the whole truth or you just flat out don’t want to, then mind your own business. Reflect on what’s happening within you and why judgment from your parents, fellow churchgoers, or God encourages you to apply the same pressure to others in your life. Christian circles often come off as one big family. Toxicity like gossip can tear families apart and damage who you are as well.
(Quick side note: The book above, Running on Empty by Jonice Webb is absolutely EXCELLENT. My first therapist recommended I get it and it woke me up.)
You Believe Your Needs Aren’t As Important As God’s
How quick are you to dismiss whether your needs or desires aren’t as important as someone else’s? If you grew up with authoritarian Christian parents, you were probably often told what held the most importance at the time. I don’t mean being told you need to eat dinner before dessert so your appetite isn’t spoiled. I mean being told if God would want you to do something the way you’re thinking of doing or if God wants you to hang out with the friends you’re wanting to hang out with. God constantly interjects into your life decisions, which is part of the Christian lifestyle. However, your self-reliance and self-trust should NOT deteriorate while you’re living a Christian life or any lifestyle for that matter. According to Christian belief, understanding God completely is near impossible, but with the guidance of the Bible, you should be able to know what you should and should not do, but in the vastness of humanity, the millions of perspectives that exist, we probably don’t all see the Bible the same way. So if your parents are pushing you to see something their way rather than encouraging you to understand God on your own, that can summon a lot of self-doubt as an adult. It is not healthy to diminish your own self-trust and I feel many Christians would agree that God shouldn’t be used in derogatory means anyway.
I truly hope this one doesn’t offend anyone, but as someone who was once Christian, this was one of the hardest things to break away from. If you combine the three previous points, perfectionism, judgment, and lack of self-trust, you have all the ingredients for pure paranoia. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you have self-acceptance, an open-mind, and a strong ethical stance you trust yourself to follow as a Christian, you won’t feel inclined to be in a state of fear of everything that appears as “secular” or “unholy”. I have friends who are Christian who often have nothing but love to give. They may not understand why I’m Pagan, but they do know me beyond my own belief system, just as I know them and we decide the parameters of our friendship respectfully so we have interconnectivity, a network of understanding founded in compassion. If you grew up in an authoritarian Christian household, you may have thought fear was healthy. I’m not talking about the type of instinctual fear that lets you know when danger is around, but the deep-sinking fear amplified by anxiety, hypothetical punishments, harsh self-judgment, and limited information. The fear that encourages you to fear life even with God being there is not healthy. Period.
I know what it’s like growing up in a Christian household that is practically militant. You don’t want to step out of line and face consequences, you don’t want to accept any type of judgment you don’t fully understand, you don’t want to suffer for being human and so you aim to be otherwise. You may think I’d want to blame my parents for this, but that wouldn’t be fair. They have their lives and I’ll never know wholly how they grew up and what exactly they passed down to me. Ultimately, they love me and what I can do in response to their choices about my upbringing is decide what is or isn’t healthy for me to hold on to.
When it comes to reflecting on my thoughts, emotions, and decisions, even as a child, I still must address my accountability. Yes, all children are impressionable, but we do make certain choices whether our parents try to influence them or not. Even with the parents I had, I snuck a Harry Potter book, I read occult books in the library, I looked up telekinesis and witchcraft online, I found “secular” rock/metal/goth bands that I still listen to today. Yes, there were times the pressure of authoritarian parenting shook me to my core and God in the mix of that amplified my fear, but my ability to choose was never really restrained. Free will and all that, right? To be honest, I feel lucky compared to some other children, and I’m a pastor’s kid. With them and myself in mind, I guess I wrote this as a way of saying it’s not too late to break away from the unhealthy habits you developed during childhood. You don’t have to change your religion. No need to be angry at your parents. You should simply change and be patient with yourself through the transition. Bad habits like these die hard.
Thanks for reading. Referring back to my novel, my protagonist grows up in a theocracy because these are the bad habits I’d like to address. I consider this “research” for the sake of character development and world building.
Also, there’s a second part to the previous book I mentioned before. Check it out if you’re interested.