Posts Tagged ‘writing

16
Oct
18

Breaking Dreams

Something I – and many other artists, I imagine – struggle with is the feeling of worthiness. That my ideas matter, or might be of interest or value to someone else. I can’t speak for everyone of an artistic bent, but that feeling is compounded for me by numerous mental issues.

I do tend to believe that artistic folks tend to have a greater incidence of mental illness, but that’s probably a topic for another day.

But those issues pile up, combine with self-esteem problems, and the constant wondering if the work is good enough and the desire for input so you don’t feel like you’re creating in an echo chamber.

That’s when I get the most discouraged. I’m sure I’m not alone, here. You have what sounds like a really cool idea. You need a little input, or an opinion, or maybe just a sounding board to talk it out with so you can clarify it in your own head. You go to a loved one, a friend, a message board or whatever, and before you’ve even finished articulating whatever it was, someone whips out a hammer and crushes it.

Now, those people may not have known what they did. They may not have done it maliciously, or even meant to be harsh at all. But in my own depressed, fragile, constantly doubting mind that quick dismissal is like a knife shoved between my ribs. It kills discussion regarding that idea, and frequently reverberates through later ideas, shattering them before they even have a chance or form or subjecting them to “well, the last one didn’t fly so why bother with this one?”

For those like myself, those rejections and dismissals become grains of sand around which black pearls form, tended and brooded over for years after the fact, often receiving far more attention than the idea that led to them until they are so large there is no room for any actual creativity. It’s not healthy, but it’s true. Again, I’m pretty sure I can’t be alone in this line of thinking.

Two that I remember: While mulling over Ioudas and where it needed to go, having started with the premise that the concept of “sin” was a type of “energy.” Attempting to determine where that energy would need to go, and how one would ultimately get rid of it, I commented “So Jonas would have to fight literal, physical manifestations of the Seven Deadlies.” I got that far before I was cut off. I had more; images of what those sins would mean to Jonas, how those manifestations would be dealt with, almost a whole story complete and ready to go. Before I could do so, however, the person who I was speaking with said “Oh, the Seven Deadlies. Really fucking original.”

Ioudas has been sitting at 25% complete since then; about three years. Every time I open the manuscript and think about working on it, I hear that voice again and slam the iPad shut, snarling.

The other was in reference to “Little Miss No Name.” Now, she’s fared better than Ioudas, with actual progress occasionally being made, but she hasn’t had the exposure she deserves because of it, and the greater world hiding behind her remains a few scraps of paper at the bottom of the desk because of it. Someone asked what I was working on and I said “It’s a story about a doll who…” Instant cut off.

“Sounds like crap. Like Annabelle. Who gives a shit?”

That person then went on to explain how a real good story would involve JFK time-traveling and killing dinosaurs, which really puts in the wheelhouse of “Consider the source,” but that’s never been my specialty. It left a scar, one that I still pick at and worry at, and rub salt into, far more than any of my physical self-mutilation injuries.

One can always go back to “grow thicker skin” commentary. Certainly an option. But that’s not something that magically happens, or makes every previous wound just vanish.

So if any of you out there are close to an author, a painter, a designer, a creative of any stripe, and they start sharing an idea… please, for just a second, pause and consider your response. I’m not saying you can’t be negative… maybe even mean. There are times when we need those things. But there’s a difference between negativity to a bad or malformed idea and offhand dismissal without even knowing the nature of the idea, and the latter is what rankles me and leaves me awake at night, brooding over the grim treasures spawned from such dismissals.

If you have a creative in your life, let them finish their thought. Ask a question or two, if only to give the impression that you were actually listening. Don’t just break out a verbal hammer and crush it straightaway or – worse – throw up a wall and walk away without a thought.

Please.

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23
Sep
18

Keeping Boats Afloat

“Whatever floats your boat.” It’s a phrase I’m fond of, for no particular reason. It’s frequently spoken slightly dismissively, usually in relation to a habit or endeavor that evokes little or no emotional response in myself but that seems of interest or import to another. Doubly so if it’s an interest or important subject that I don’t understand why it’s important.

Everybody’s out there just doing their thing, living their lives. Frequently the things going on in one person’s life are of no relevance to another. That’s how we get along; doing our best to keep our own boats floating without crashing into someone else’s or letting them ship water onto ours to save their own.

Maybe I’m going too far with the analogy. Oh well.

There’s going to be some whining and begging here, so you are free to skip with no hard feelings. I’m doing my best to get more content up, which isn’t always easy for reasons we’ll delve into in a moment, but hopefully there’ll be some more stuff for fiction, gaming or general horror fans soon.

I’ve had a lot of health problems this year. Severe jaw infection, pneumonia twice, strep, mold infection in the lungs, severe asthmatic beatdown from multiple forest fires, poisoned by algae in the water supply, constant fights with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and now the potential of autism rearing its head. I’m a bloody mess.

None of those things help with writing, obviously; worse, they make it hard if not occasionally impossible to work, which means no money, which means no meds, which exacerbates the problem, compounding it exponentially.

To continue the above metaphor, the boat is springing leaks faster than I can find corks and bail water; drowning becomes an ever-more-realistic prospect… in a more literal way than one would like, given the penchant for lung problems I possess.

So, anyway. That’s why you haven’t seen much of me lately; I’m either lying on the couch staring at a visual novel while hooked up to a nebulizer or scrambling in brief periods of wellness to try to catch up or sleeping off the latest cocktail of medications that will supposedly fix me “any day now.”

I need help. (“So what?” I hear you say, “So does everyone!” I hear you shout.) So I turn here, where there are supposedly roughly 400 people who pay at least some attention to the things I say and do.

First, to each of you that reads this blog, pays attention to my Tweets, watches my videos or has bought or read my books, thank you. Intellectual and moral support by way of the idea that someone, somewhere is paying attention and may even like my stuff matters. Keep at it.

To those of you who’ve been in bad places and crawled out, or take pity on those who are sitting in their mental and physical caves somewhere despite not having been there themselves, or those who’ve drawn some entertainment or inspiration from the things I’ve done, thank you.

To all of them (and anyone not already covered who happens to read this) give me a moment of your time; I have a GoFundMe and a Patreon, both of which are there to help me keep paying for my meds and keep the lights on in those periods where I can’t work. If you feel like it, you can drop by and drop something in the bucket. Doesn’t matter if it’s a dime or a thousand, it’s appreciated and helps. But don’t think this is just a begging drive; sure, cash is great, but there’s less physical ways to show that what I do matters to someone.

A like. A share. A “keep at it, bro” e-mail or Tweet. Something to show that I’m not beating my head against a wall in the hopes that the concrete cracks before my skull and shouldn’t just throw my hands up in the air and walk away or let myself go down with the ship.

Okay, I’m done whinging for now. For those more interested in “real” content, I should have the second chunk of “Three Blue Hearts” up during the coming week, and I’m trying to put something together for Halloween – might be a stream of Death Mark or Call of Cthulhu, might be a livechat, might be something else, suggestions are welcome.

That’s all for now. And don’t forget, go hug your favorite artist or mentally ill person (or both) today. They probably need it.

27
Aug
18

Sometimes they just die on you…

Sometimes, no matter how much you like a story or a character or a situation, there comes a point where you have to throw your hands up and say “Call it. Time of death.”

“Riptide” appears to have suffered such a death. With all the health problems and other upheavals, attempting to write hasn’t been easy… attempting to work on that story in particular has been all but impossible. When I open the document and stare at it, trying to remember what I was doing and attempting to reconnect with our protagonist in an attempt to see what she’ll do next, I get the flat hum of dead air, the long, low beep of a flatlined monitor.

So, despite being in the middle, I have to state that the patient has died. It is an unfortunate truth of writing that sometimes that happens. It is sad, it is frustrating, and frequently leads into a blame game, pointing fingers at everything and everyone that might have led to the death. But sometimes it just happens. They slip away. At least, to me.

The bright side, of course, is that because writing is an inherently magical act, sometimes that death isn’t permanent. Sometimes those stories will get dragged back to the temple where some brave soul donates for a resurrection. They may return, Gandalf the White style, more powerful and radiant than they were before their deaths; they may return relatively unchanged, popping their feet up on the table, cracking a beer and asking “What’s up?” Sometimes they come crawling back as shambling monstrosities, abominations that are mockeries of their former selves… but at least for a horror writer, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Thankfully, while work has slowed significantly on Believe Me, it hasn’t died completely. So that’s one good thing, I suppose. There’s also a different bit of serialized fiction, “Three Blue Hearts” that seems to actually want to crawl onto the page, and that should start cropping up come Wednesday. Keep an eye out for that.

What about my fellow creatives out there? Has there been a project that you were working happily on but that just died in its tracks and refused to allow life-giving efforts? What caused it, and how did you deal with it? Let us know down below!

27
Apr
18

Unique, or Part of the Horde?

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I spend a lot of time thinking about monsters. Kind of part of the job description, I should think. But I was mulling a few things over today while skimming Wikipedia for nuggets of lore to appropriate and hit upon this question:

“What’s scarier? A unique, solitary entity with no frame of reference, or a ‘race’ or ‘species’ of being?”

Net answer? I don’t know. It depends on a lot more than that question can easy reference; how unique are individual members of this species, for example. Does the title of “werewolf,” for example, dictate anything beyond “blend of man and wolf,” or can you start there and run with it? (Obviously, you always can do so, but I mean in the worldbuilding sense. Do werewolves in your world have a forced homogenity of any kind, and how deep does it go?)

I remember reading something in the Buffy Watcher’s Guide where they were talking about Der Kindestod, a monster that appeared in an early season of the show. I don’t recall if it was Whedon who said it, though I think it was. The gist of it was that he didn’t want to call it a “kindestod demon,”  that it was just THE Kindestod. He said he found it more frightening if it was just a solitary entity, rather than some species demon Darwinists could “collect” for study. I kind of agree with him.

I’d seen similar concepts in reference to the Antedeluvians, Malfeans, and Earthbound from White Wolf’s World of Darkness game lines; they may superficially be members of their supernatural races (vampires, wraiths/spectres, and demons, respectively) but they have gone so far beyond the “template” for their species that they can only be understood as something that has transcended that starting point, a unique entity of unknown power and quality. I think it was quote from Orpheus, but I could just be making things up, that referenced the Malfeans as each “being a nation of one, with little to no relation to its confederates.”

On the other hand, I’ve seen intstances where someone trying to go with the singular entity explanation flubs it. Being unique and alone means the creator can essentially just create the rules as they go along, which some folks take as carte blanche to delve into fanfiction levels of “nuh-uh, I win,” allowing the beastie to do anything it wants whenever it wants, instead of being subject to any kind of logic (fractured, supernatural, paranormal or otherwise) or rules.

What about you folks out there? What’s worse? An individual entity, or a horde of Samey McSamersons with an occasional unique individual? Is it still an “individual” if it springboards off a known template, or must it be completely unexplained and seperate from more general terminology? Let us know down below!

KA Spiral no signature

26
Apr
18

Silence and Offense

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I’m going to give a warning. This post is something I’ve been mulling over for a while, debating on whether or not I should post anything about it. It’s going to piss people off; I’ve just reached a point where I’m pissed off enough that I am not too concerned about it. It is entirely probable that it will be long, contain quite a bit of vulgarity, and convince people – especially the individuals who inspired this post – that I belong in some camp full of folks with assorted -phobias and -isms.

You thus have the opportunity to walk away now, pretend you didn’t see this, and be happy. If, on the other hand, you are of the tribe of special snowflakes that create this sort of cesspool thinking, I’m sure you won’t; you’ll want to continue to the end to justify your outrage. Or perhaps I’m only being paranoid. Ready? Here we go.

It’s no secret to anyone connected to social media or paying any attention to the news at all that there’s a war going on. If you have any kind of minority tag you can slap on yourself, you’re on the “winning” side, and thus “safe.” If don’t, you are the enemy. It really seems that simple. That’s not what irritates me… at least, it’s not the core issue.

The core issue is that it has gone beyond that. No more is it enough to claim one is put upon by the circumstances of birth, genetics, mental ability, race, sexuality and non-human nature. Now we have to put down anything that doesn’t come from a similar source. In the world of the arts it seems like if you don’t have a snowflake sticker, you’re actively discouraged from attempting anything at all. If you produce something or provide an opinion anyway, you will quickly be reminded how evil, patriarchal, racist, sexist, misogynistic, transphobic and theriophobic you really are. Frequently devolving into a dogpile of stupidity that results in the “offender” – who’s crime was typically being white, male, straight and/or cis – being banned, boycotted, doxxed or otherwise punished.

The best part is this is done in the name of equality and freedom, with apparently no sense of irony or hypocrisy present.

But that’s not even the core issue. The problem is this: it’s done in such an insidious, backhanded way that slowly squeezes away opportunities for creative expression and is presented in such a way that any complaint or question about the treatment only “proves” they deserve it.

As an example: Writer A tells a story. Reader B feels that there aren’t enough minority characters in the story, and is offended; it must be some form of -ism at work! Writer A, if he’s dumb enough to attempt to defend himself, will likely note that there isn’t much specificity of race, sexuality or gender because they’re not relevant to the story, and that his male/female balance is dictated by the needs of the story rather than a checklist. This will only “prove” to Reader B that Writer A is racist, and they will drag in SJWs C-Z to complain harder.

Writer A goes back to the drawing board. Tries to sprinkle some more minority influence into the story. Reader B and their backup crew will then start screaming about -isms again, tossing in the new fun one of tokenism. Now the person is -ist because they tried to be inclusive. And start back over.

Now, if Writer A, before sharing with Reader B, had included a “proper” number of minorities of all stripes, then he’s liable to take heat anyway. Why? Well, because he dares presume to know anything about that group by writing about them. If you’re not a member of the group – or one that is similarly “opressed” in their eyes – then you’re not allowed to write about them.

So what’s the answer? You’re apparently not allowed to just write what comes, as your natural -isms will come to the fore when you don’t make sure to keep a 51-50 balance of female vs. male and obsessively note every character’s race, sexuality, gender identity and species dysphoria. You’re not allowed to include people other than your own, because doing so is tokenistic and also showing racism or what have you. The message I’m drawing from that seems pretty simple: Either you don’t bother writing at all, or you sit in your corner and have hate piled on you until you quit.

What worries me the most about this is that the trend also seems to be somewhat retroactive. People claim it’s slippery slope logic, but I can all too easily picture a day in the not-too-distant future where a bunch of Antifa types are gathering up the works of Shakespeare, Bradbury and Twain to have themselves a good old fashioned book burning. People say that’s a slippery slope, and I don’t disagree, but we’ve proven a lot of those slopes are very real of late… what’s one more?

Anyway. I think I’m done for the moment. Throw your tomatos and accusations of hate speech if you will. Meanwhile, I’m going to go peck away at the next chapter of Lune de Amant, which is what prompted this little rant, since someone taking a look at it started complaining that I was racist for using a historical personage of an African American persuasion. Because apparently when you’re doing a horror story set in Louisianna, having voodoo or the self-professed voodoo queen involved is somehow morally wrong.

Anyone out there have anything to add to this? Right or wrong? What to write? Worried that book burnings are around the corner? Let us know down below.

KA Spiral no signature

25
Apr
18

PorterGirl – Sinister Dexter Live Launch & FREE STUFF

The third novel in the PorterGirl series is going up! Grab it while you can! (Comments disabled here; please visit the original post.)

PorterGirl – Sinister Dexter Live Launch & FREE STUFF

PorterGirl – Sinister Dexter Live Launch & FREE STUFF
— Read on portergirl.com/2018/04/26/portergirl-sinister-dexter-live-launch-friday-27th-april/

25
Apr
18

Spook Stories, Mark 3

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I know I’ve been on a run with this stuff lately. This will be the last on the subject for a bit, I swear.

Yet again, I opted to leave the Spirit Stories app running while I slept; here’s the listing of what it kicked out. (For semi-brevity and ease of typing, I’ll forgo the timestamps this time; if anyone is interested in that, let me know and I’ll arrange for that.)

Fluffy; Aunt laughs; bright; son answers; strict; thrown; depressed; morose; hose; thrown; cousin warns; movie; cursed backyard; gloomy; dejected; reserved Rhonda; vehicle; frightened mother; sheriff; thigh; sedatives; judge; carpet; son cries; hand; resentful; beside cellar; used chain; Betty judges; companionless; salesperson; close to floor; sound behind; dealer; lighthouse; front yard; shattered leg; rope; somber; trades; ceiling; scratch arm; vehicle; lighthouse; tavern; admired; lazy; shadowed parlor; hepatitis; don’t run; Craig walks; detects; enchanted living room; encouraging; spirited story; heartless jeweler; hospitable; argumentative lover; hostile; primitive; dishonest; knife; scratch face; prepares; son whispers; penitent; controls; thieving manager; vengeful; ranch; penitent; gullible relative; outraged; tariff; light; hand; cemetery; window; divan; with sedatives; kind; scratch leg; storeroom; below pool; cluster; dainty; axe; mate hires; hoe; health; colors; humiliated; dismayed; Holly; all around us; used bat; hopeless; meningitis; parlor; inactive girlfriend; mysterious; entity ahead; crowbar; egg; cursed roof; Denise; depressed mechanic; earrings; haversack; bruise; poet; diva; hostile; gullible friend; pantry; Alan answers; husband diagnoses; careful; nephew; train; feeling lonely; roof; egotistical; son travels; stereo; happy music; piano; lungs; impatient; Ricky orders; watchful; hateful; defensive; haunted ward; Sarah fixes; devalued; interested; admired; tearful; loud story; insipid; dejected; criticized; examines.

Quite a long list. Had it running from 11:32 PM last night til 6:46 AM today. Stopped when I rolled out of bed in a mad dash to pray to the great god Ralph. More info than you folks needed, I’m sure, but oh well.

 I don’t think I’ll be leaving it running anymore; it hasn’t kicked anything out that really convinces me its doing anything useful, and in all honesty I suspect it may be rigged to give “spooky” pattern answers.

But that in and of itself had me thinking. If it is a rigged game, its almost brilliant. Just random enough to make you suspect it may not be, just consistent enough to make you wonder. A large part of me enjoys contemplating and prodding at paranormal hoaxes. They’re almost as fascinating as the real thing. Assuming, of course, that there is such a concept as a “real thing” for those sorts of topics. I suspect there is, but I honestly think I’d be happier to have it disproven once and for all.

That may be why I have so many fraudulent psychics and “are they or aren’t they?” moments in my writing. Both of the manuscripts that are getting actively worked on, Believe Me and Smoke & Mirrors rely on those concepts; I’m sure they won’t be the only ones.

Enough about that, I suppose. I owe them their words for the day, after all. What about you folks out there? Is there some hobby or concept that you find keeps creeping into your own creative work? Do you encourage it or try to avoid it? Let us know down below!

 KA Spiral no signature




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