Hello,

I hope you all are well. I’m finally getting back into a good working groove again for my art projects and my novel, which reminded me about how much I miss blogging about my progress/research.

Starting with the progress with my novel series, what really helped was using a cork board and sticky notes to jot out the main plot. My first draft was written with more of a pantser mentality. I kept beating myself up for it before, but now that I’ve accepted that I’m at where I’m at and there’s no changing that, I can lean more into my plotter side.

Using a cork board and sticky notes to track the plot/character arc of one of my protagonists has helped tremendously. I think seeing the story’s progression through one character’s point of view and having more of a visual/tangible mode of seeing my work brought it more to life. Specifically, I was able to pinpoint how many other characters cross the path of this protagonist along with what areas and events they come to interact with whether they expect it or not. It’s an interesting process because initially I was down on myself for not plotting more for my first draft, but it was pointless to think that way. I’m learning to trust my creative process more and I’ve accepted how chaotic it is, but it’s also has a natural order to it. In other words, there’s an order to my chaos and I should never have compared myself to other authors/writers to begin with. It does help to learn about the creative process of others, but at the end of the day, just do your own thing.

As for the Russian/Slavic witchcraft venture, I previously posted of a podcast I listen to where author Natasha Helvin describes her own experiences. I’ve been reading both of her books Russian Black Magic and Slavic Witchcraft. Both are intriguing reads and are very inspiring for a specific character of my novel, which I hope I can capture well with the utmost respect of the craft.

Here’s the Instagram of one fellow writer I follow who reminded me of cork board plotting.

Now, for my art projects. I focused on my poetry collection for most of the winter season. While working, I kept having these visual ideas being paired with my poems. I’ve done photography with poetry before when I was younger (like a teenager), but looking back on my creations in the past, it’s not really up to my standard of quality today, although I love that I tried my best back then. So what’s the next level? Photomanipulation. I’ve been taking lessons with photoshop, photography, and digital art to see if I can bring my dark fantasy vision and poetry to life through a darker medium. The surrealists and dark self-portraiture artists of the photoshop composite world are amazing.

Danny Bittencourt is a Brazilian visual poet whose work I’ve fallen in love with.

Another is Flóra Borsi, whose fine art self-portraits are surreal and captivating.

I hope to enter this world one day, so I’m working hard. Diving into the world of photoshop and photography was very unexpected while working on my poetry. At first it felt like I was distracting myself from the main goal of the project. Quite the opposite; this is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do since I was a teenager. I don’t want the poetry collection to just be in a book. I want each work to be a masterpiece.

Here’s to ambition and the crazy chaos of creativity.

Be well.

  • Leliel

Featured Image: © Danny Bittencourt

Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

Genre Study: Horror and Magical Realism

Horror and magical realism are my favorite genres to blend. My first published attempt at doing this is my horror short “Autonomy Bleeds Black” where pain and power manifested into elemental forces. One of my favorite magical realism works is Pan’s Labyrinth directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I’m a huge fan of Del Toro’s and am grateful that Pan’s Labyrinth was my introduction to him. In interviews, he’s described this film to be very personal as someone who lived under strict and religious conditions, but used fantasy works and other genres to escape. Often our escapes become reflections of our inner world and help us interpret what’s going on within us subconsciously and consciously.

…These genres are mirrors, but for their effectiveness to withstand any resistance to our personal revelations, we writers have to hook the audience in with familiarity and give them the illusion of control.

Second Draft Drama (With Questionnaire)

For my “fantasy” side of my dark fantasy novel series, I created a World Immersion checklist for myself to make sure I have continuity from chapter to chapter. Here’s how it goes:

  • Setting descriptions
  • Lore Continuity
  • Magic System Rule Review
  • Character Placement
  • Character Dialogue/Dialect Accuracy
  • Story Flow

Not bad right? I think that’ll be solid enough. I also created a review questionnaire for myself to reflect on how I’m doing as a writer. Here are my answers for the prologue:

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.

Photo credit: Tonik on Unsplash


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To Be The Proper Guardian of My Own Health – [Just Me & Video]

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 […]

Taking A Break – [Just Me]

My mental health really sucks right now, so I’m taking a few weeks off. I may be on socials or try to post some poetry. Forgive the silence and thanks for understanding. L.

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.

Writing Without Historical and Cultural Inaccuracy or Offense

My first novel has the protagonist searching for the historical truth of the world’s magic system. One of the harsh realities they’ll face is that no matter how much truth you dig up and show to others, there is a comfort zone in the status quo that some find is hard to escape, especially if a group or race of people have worked hard to prove themselves to be capable of living a civilized way through the abandonment of their origins. My protagonist has to face their internalized shame and break away from it through the risk of being demonized by their society. I can easily write about how my character’s risky actions lead to harsh consequences, but for my audience to empathize with them, I need to explore the pain of disconnection, conversion, and misrepresentation. For that, I’ll need to start with historical inaccuracies in general fiction before I dive into horror.

As an African-American living in more contemporary times, I know my losses aren’t as extreme as the losses my ancestors suffered, but unfortunately, the loss continues. There’s a trauma from that past I may never understand, but their history still echoes through the Black Lives Matter movement and the African-American creators today wanting to be seen and heard. My heart is full of the genuine desire to understand many indigenous cultures and capture their views of what they considered divine or supernatural without judgment. As an animist and mystic, I’ve always been drawn by their stories in the stars, the lessons from nature-inspired parables and fables, and the development of shamanic power pre-dating organized religion and colonialism as it has inspired an entire universe inside me I only want to express with gratitude.

To The Writer Ashamed of Resting

It doesn’t matter how old you are, fellow writer. You are in charge of your life and one of the ways you take charge is through writing, self-expression, analysis, arguments, or storytelling. You are the one who decided that writing is an essential part of your lifestyle, so why aren’t you living in a way to ensure that writing remains a priority? Beating yourself up over a rest day during an entire week of work is preventing you from living like a writer. Like I said, you’re in charge, so when you decide to overwork yourself, you’re also deciding to sabotage yourself. You do this because you’re ashamed, afraid, and guilty, but I want you to remember that when you’re in those flow moments, where you’re just inspired to write and the words just come, that is when you’re dignified, fearless, creating without regret.

Studying Karma as a Writer

As a writer, thinking about karma keeps me mindful of how audiences processes information. One thing leads to another. A ripple effect, right? But it’s not just about action and result or action and reaction, it’s the tension between those two things that makes karma such a universal concept because we’re all sentient enough to think about the “what if”, or the unknown/hypothetical situation caused by an action. For many of us, that’s our self-imposed prison taking form.

Antihero: “A central character, or protagonist, who lacks traditional heroic qualities and virtues (such as idealism, courage, and steadfastness). An antihero may be comic, antisocial, inept, or even pathetic, while retaining the sympathy of the reader. Antiheroes are typically in conflict with a world they cannot control or whose values they reject,” – The NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

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My Take on The Antihero

Honestly, this is my favorite type of character. They fall under other archetypes like tricksters, desperados, lone wolf, and the like. Ostracized, brooding, angsty, mischievous, chaotic, and neutral only when they want to be. These characters are near and dear to my heart probably because I’m the antihero of my own life. As I write my novel, I have several characters that fit this mold. I just love them.

I think what’s most important about this definition is the very last sentence: “Antiheroes are typically in conflict with a world they cannot control or whose values they reject.” The most prominent attribute of the antihero is conflict. This comes from their ambiguous alignment (not always lawful, chaotic, good, or evil), their “many shades of gray” point of view, and their autonomy. They conflict with many elements of the story because of their independence and resourcefulness. It’s them against the world, no matter if they have a few allies or not. Although these traits can be admirable, there is a lot of stress that comes with it, which is probably why they gain sympathy from the audience. Freedom isn’t free and you always have to watch your back. Antihero’s often come off as hardened, distant, or mistrusting. The conflicting circumstances they run into simultaneously reinforce the skills they have sharpened from their independent nature and challenge the morale they have for their lifestyle with ethical questions. I love watching a character who does their best to be neutral struggle with their ethics because it really is relatable; it’s how you establish your own personal philosophy.

Have you designed an antihero before, fellow writers? Do you favor this archetype more than others?

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The system I have in place has been going quite well. Here’s a preview of the editing key I created on Instagram.

It took me a couple of hours just to edit six pages…out of 470ish? Haha. It’s great fun, actually. After stressing over the ending and coming back to the beginning, the ending looks clearer and easier to manage. For now, I’m at the beginning, relearning how to write exposition well. I found a great video for that actually.

320x50 Got an Idea?

This is the same channel I recommended on my Magic Systems post. I’m definitely going to be sharing more resources in the future. I’m hunting for them constantly and get excited when they have damn good advice. Hope this helps anyone who needs it. Speaking of which, here are two of the books I’m currently studying right now, just to get the basics down and start thinking outside the box. Click on the pictures to check them out.

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft 9th ed. by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French – Great for learning the basics of fiction and storytelling and good for review. I’m pretty sure I got this book in college.

Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot by Jane K. Cleland – I bought this a couple years ago. More than anything, this book reminds you to keep your audience in mind and helps you keep your writing fresh and inventive.

Hope that helps anyone who needs it. I’m grateful to have them…obviously

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