Week 4 – Werewolves and Demons
Updated: Feb 4, 2020
I’ve had a really good week. It feels nice to be able to say that. Being able to have gratitude for the good things in life has been something I’ve struggled with throughout my life, and am actively working towards improving. It’s easy when it’s been a good week though. Lots of things to be grateful for.
I’ve always been a person with multiple irons in the fire. Some might also call that burning the candle at both ends, but we’ll ignore those people for the time being. The number of projects I’ve been working on usually ranges from four to a dozen, depending on how manic I am or how difficult it feels for me to say no to someone (or myself) at any given time.
For example. Right now I am working on two novels, a short story, this blog, the 100 Day Writing Challenge, attending class, organizing and actively working on this little thing called WriteHive (a free, online writing convention, anyone reading this who doesn’t already know should check it out at WriteHive.org), and I just started my freelance editing because, well, ya boy needs money. I also love being able to utilize my analytic mind to help people tell the story they want to tell in the best way possible. But because capitalism, money.
Honestly that might seem like a lot, but for me, it’s surprisingly low. And because the majority of these things are personal projects rather than things that have deadlines, with the possibility of failing and disappointing others, I’m balancing everything really well (granted the semester has only just begun.)
I’ve outlined and written about 10,000 words in one novel. The other I’ve been working on for about a year and a half now, and I had 120,000 words written for that one. It was only until I reached the end that I realized that I didn’t actually have a story. I had 120k worth of backstory for the story I ACTUALLY wanted to tell. But this week I made headway with a new outline, and I think I finally cracked how I’m gonna be able to approach this second draft. There are no mistakes. Only learning opportunities. I’m a significantly better writer than I was a year and a half ago, and those 120k words are no small part of that. That’s what I have to keep telling myself. It’s hard, but it’s a helpful reminder. Besides, two of my favorite authors, Donna Tartt and Patrick Rothfuss, both took at least a decade to write their first book. I’m hoping it doesn’t take quite that long, but if it takes that long to tell the story right, at least I’m in good company.
This week for the 100 Day Writing Challenge, there were two different exercises that really stood out to me, and made me take pause and think about what I had just put down on the page.
The first was a series of exercises, actually, but who needs to be bogged down by all these boring technicalities. This exercise actually began in last week’s channeling the muse exercise. I was to have a dialogue with a person the manifested in my mind’s eye.
The man I saw was an elderly man, with dark skin and a weathered face, sitting alone at a writing desk in an old style wooden cabin. Outside his window was a forest. It was clear he’d been alone for a very, very long time. He wasn’t rude, or deranged; just lonely, blunt, and a bit sad. We had a lovely conversation. His name is Elijah.
The next was to create an imaginary bio for a foreign writer that had never existed in this reality and, in the reality in which they did exist, was unfortunately, already dead. It seemed only a logical conclusion to write about Elijah. Elijah, as I discovered through my fake bio, was a German man who wrote a memoir, UNDER THE SAME MOON, about his struggles with Lycanthropy that became famous as a work of fiction. When the people who lived in the town nearby discovered it was in fact a memoir, they ran him out of town. People tend to get hateful when they are confronted with things they don’t understand. In his isolation, he wrote a series of other
The next day I was prompted to write a translation of an excerpt from this work. I’ll put it below for you to read.
EXCERPT FROM UNDER THE SAME MOON
The moon shone through the windows of the carriage. My father sat beside me, looking sternly forward. I wanted to ask him what we were doing, where we were going leaving the house in the middle of the night light two thieves. Everytime I tried to speak, he silenced me with a stern hand or a sharp, silencing hiss. So I sat there, quietly, my bag set firmly on my lap.
The sound of horse hoofs on well packed dirt echoed through the night, until they transitioned. The gallops shifted from dull thumps into the hollow echo of cobblestone. The darkness of the night faded, as dim light bled in through the carriage window. Stealing a glimpse as I pulled the curtain aside I noticed we were no longer in the forest edge which we so lovingly called home, but instead were in the heart of the village. I’d never been to the village before. My heart pounded both with excitement and fear. What had we come here to do?
The carriage slowed to a trot, and then to stop.
“We’re here.” My father said, gripping me by the arm and nearly yanking me from my seat. I didn’t dare complain. There was a look in my father’s eyes. The wild, frantic desperation of an animal fleeing a predator. Who it was we were running from, I had no way of knowing. Silently, I followed behind my father.
The streets were empty. The oil lanterns that lined the streets were few and far between, but even in the darkness I could tell this wasn’t a part of town people came to unless they had to. Rubbish was piled on the street corners, small vermin scuttering in and out of the rotting meat and soiled cloth.
My father led me through a doorway, and closed it behind us with a more gentle hand than the one he held me with. The interior of the room was strange, pungent with the smell of spices and herbs I couldn’t identify. Portraits hung on the wall, not of people, but of monsters and angels and demons so lifelike I could swear their eyes followed me as I walked past them. My father sat me in a chair, and without a word told me to stay silent. He didn’t have to insist.
Rapping on another door that lead further into this hall of mystery and horror, my father stood patiently waiting for whoever, or whatever it was that waited on the other side. The silence of the moment seemed to last an eternity before the door opened with a piercing creek. Walking out from within the heart of was a hobbled form of a woman, a witch. She wore a deep purple cloak, and walked with a wooden staff, decorated in intricate carvings I could not recognize. My father bowed deeply taking the womans hand in his own, kissing her gnarled knuckles.
“Please,” my father’s voice was barely more than a whisper, “help us.”
The woman patted his face, ever so gentle, like a mother comforting a child. “I will do what I can. And what I cannot… well, let us hope that I can.”
I have to say, I really like it. I don’t know where it will lead, but I can’t imagine Elijah will let this be the end of our relationship.
The second exercise was something completely different. It was the most difficult exercise I’ve done in this challenge to date. The prompt demanded that I connect with the Writing Demon in my head, the voice that I spoke about in my very first post. The one that tells me I’ll never amount to anything. The one I’ve been running from all my life and am absolutely terrified to recognize for fear that I’ll discover it’s right.
But that day I had to face it full force, and let the voice flow through me. Let every doubt and criticism be put on the page, directed not in the first person, but in the second. As though that voice was talking to me, not coming from me.
It was hard. It was really fucking hard.
Here it is.
THE WRITING DEMON
Listen kid. I’m gonna be honest with you. I really don’t think you have what it takes. I mean come on, that’s not too far a stretch, is it really? Look at the words you just put down. They’re flowery, they’re self-indulgent. God it’s like you’re masturbating all over the page for the whole world to see. And when it comes right down to it, none of it even means anything. It’s not some universal cosmic truth that you’ve managed to pull out from the mucky scum that is existence. It’s just a bunch of characters on a page that when you look at them long enough mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Your time could be so much better spent doing anything else. Literally anything else. You say you want to help people, then why don’t you get out there and actually fucking do it instead of shutting yourself up inside your room and typing away (or let’s be honest here not typing away and staring at a blank screen long enough until you tire yourself out and start scrolling through your goddamned cellphone.) Just lie down man. Give it rest. You’re never gonna be some big hot shot writer. Almost no one ever is. What makes you think youre so fucking special that you’re gonna be the exception? You’re not the exception to the rule. You’re not special. You’re just some kid with delusions of grandeur sitting alone in his room hiding away from the world while it crumbles around you. Please, I’m begging you, put it away. None of this really matters, you don’t matter. One day, everything you’ve ever seen is gonna be gone, everyone you’ve ever known or who will ever know you is gonna be dead and gone, and the universe is gonna fade away into dark, black, nothingness. So why torture yourself (or let me torture you, I guess more accurately, though I must say I really do enjoy it). Lifes too short. Go out there. Smoke some weed, drink so much you forget your goddamn name. None of it really matters. Just enjoy yourself until the day that you can’t anymore. Because it’s gonna come one day, sooner than you think, and when you look back all your gonna have to show for it is a bunch of unfinished garbage on a page that never got published, that no one ever read, and you’re gonna feel like you wasted your life. You already feel like you’re wasting your life, don’t you? So give up. That’s all you have to do. It’s so much easier. And you like easy, don’t you? You like to give up, that sweet release from any expectations, from any responsibility. No one can expect anything from you if you don’t ever try. So don’t. Thats it. Books don’t mean anything. Stories don’t mean anything. Don’t trick yourself into pretending they do. At the end of the day, if you look back on a blank page all your gonna think about is what a great fucking time you had doing absolutely nothing.
By the time I was finished, I felt lighter. Tears were running down my face, but I wasn’t sad. Or anxious. Or angry. I was relieved. It felt so freeing to put these words down on the page. To realize that no decent person would ever say this to another individual. And in reading back, they make some valid points, I must admit. But overall, they’re so completely wrong. Stories do matter. People who tell stories matter. I matter.
I’m proud of the work I’ve done this week. The bus is about to come, and I really can’t miss it because the MTA is absolute trash. But that’s a post for another day.
Week of January 21-28: 13187
Best Day: January 23rd, 2910