The Din of a Million Little Voices

So i’ve been going over The Z-List my first attempt at writing a novel, and I think i’ve figured out how to write it in a way that sums up all of my feelings as an outsider living in a world full of outsiders. The answer is to not worry about the big questions and answers (because they don’t exist) and instead focus on the sound of a million little voices crying out all at once.

The novel follows the firing of Satan and the effects of the Prime Minister as she takes over as the ruler of Hell (The Devil). I’ve played around with lots of different directions and characters, and each time I felt that it wasn’t really working in the way that I wanted it to. Four months later, a written first draft of a second novel, and lots of editing of other stories has given me a new insight on what its been missing.

The novel follows a group of characters as they either react or attempt to ignore the effects of Hell on Earth, which is fun to write, but I always found myself more interested in the little characters that occupied the metaphorical quick glances of others actions. It sounds obvious now, but it recently made sense to have more stories providing the various opinions and lives the don’t represent the 1%, which is important as it’s the normal people that make up the 99% of the world acting as its Z-List.

I’ve started working on short stories to accompany the main artery of the novel, acting as little veins, each giving their own insight into the world of bullying and control. The great thing about writing short stories like this is that you get a very worldly view of the effects of there story, which I think is important as we’re all ultimately effected by the decisions of actions made in fear.

The story might sound political when considering the plot but in truth I can’t really say which political party is right, viewing more of a broken ride in need of some new safety regulations and modern insight to reduce the chance of people falling off it and hurting themselves.

The Z-List focuses more on the power of suggestion brought on by confident demagogues who seem to have all the answers to the worlds problems (Which they don’t), the dangers of shutting yourself off from those around you, and as seen with all the various demons and people the aged old message that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The major push behind writing the novel was that I can’t ignore the hostility and fear going on around me, but i’m not exactly sure who to blame or what will work, instead I find myself paying attention to the energy and passion as people scream their opinion as loudly as possible.

I think we can all agree that the public have a lot more power than we think, and i’d like to think that with the rise of social media and wonderful sites to voice your opinions like this, that it’s only a matter of time before we stop viewing difference as a disease, people of different creeds and colours as insects or vermin, and take some comfort in the knowledge that nobody really knows what they’re doing.

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Wednesday Worries

So today has been spent like a lot of says lately, worrying about pretty much everything from: politics, the environment, war, poverty, and anything in-between. I find myself in existential dread, wondering about the great madness of it all, and then I remember that i’m not the only one.

In the past I would look towards the big minds and social visionaries such as: Bill Hicks, Douglas Adams, George Carlin, and now I find myself surrounded by millions of minds thinking just as I do, wondering what the hell is going on. The beauty of the internet at times like these, surrounded by arguments supposedly defined by duality, is that there’s a lot of us who don’t see the world in black and white or even have a clue what colour it is at all (Mauve?).

Things are difficult across the world and there’s no ignoring that, but the hysteria that surrounds us on a daily basis seems about as helpful as someone trying to put out a fire by blowing petrol into your face. Things are difficult and this leads to us wanting to hide away and surround ourselves with something to take our minds off it.

Luckily we live in an age of television where we can surround ourselves with shows and films that we want to watch, unlike when I was a child where you had to take what you could from terrible films, effectively re-writing the entire story with your own misheard dialogue. Escapism is considered somewhat negative and childish, but for those of us who need to be somewhere else it provides something spectacular indeed.

The great thing about living in an age of such noisy information is that anything is possible with art, able to draw from inspiration across the world, and allowing you to connect to people in countries you had no idea existed. the amount of information can seem daunting, so you find yourself sending flags up all over the show, just so the world can hear that you’re hear and that you have something to say (hopefully it’s good).

It’s less worrying when you look around and see that everyone is going through their own little bit, and i’d like to think that it makes us a little nicer, or at least a little less eager to point the finger and throw a few rocks.

I love to create, especially when i’m stressed and don’t really know what’s going on, that’s the time the art comes out in all sorts of mad little ways. Whatever it is that you love to do, I hope you know that it’s not silly, and somewhere someone cares about it, even if in the short term it’s just you that knows it.

Keep creating. Keep going. Make a difference in the most positive way possible, by making shit up using the power of your mind.

Tuesday Tidbits

So i’ve just finishing editing a short story called Monday’s Menagerie which follows three people as they are guided around a kind of zoo for magical animals such as Chimera, giant bees, and Dragons. It sounds like a wonderful place but when you see that Monday uses the animals for his own gain such as fighting that it starts to raise questions on whether it’s better to subject animals to unnatural conditions or whether it’s better to risk them being subjected to human influences in the wild.

I wanted to have different characters that had their own view point on the subject as I wanted to play around with different attitudes, ultimately mocking all of the end all and be all attitudes found on all sides. The main character (M.C) plays role of someone in complete shock at the information that there are monsters in the world, but then finds it equally shocking when presented with such extreme opinions on how the animals should be treated.

The story started off with ideas about Victorian menageries which were often run by less than benevolent figures, people pitting lions against dogs, so the public could have some light entertainment while spending a sunny Sunday out with their family. I feel that the end paragraph is poignant with the M.C worried that they can’t find any monsters in the wild anymore, no matter how hard they look for them, hoping that their future isn’t in the hands of people like Monday.

It’s a big story of 6000 words (24 pages) and while it’s not quite finished it’s great to play around with a story that gets to mix all the things that I love together. I am looking forward to getting everything to work properly so I can share it with all you people with strange minds of your own. There’s stuff to make you think, but don’t worry it’s hidden behind humour and things that want to eat you.

In other news i’m around seventy pages through Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a story that i’ve avoid for many years because of the harsh review from my Dad. Being a pale Englishman i’ve read my fair share of Victorian literature, finding works such as Carmilla, Varney the Vampire, and Good Lady Ducayne to be wonderful works of literature, paving the way for vampiric lore. Dracula doesn’t strike me as the same sort of thing as what came before them.

The thing I like so much about Dracula is the style in which it’s written, a diary account of the oddities turned horrors as a stuck up Englishman finds himself unable to brush off the creeping dread around him. You find yourself furiously wishing that he’s just put aside his proper upbringing and just stand up for himself,  which seems to hinder Johnathan’s safety.

The novel came with some of Bram’s essays on Censorship which I find extremely interesting as in the same breath he implores the public to understand the significance of creative freedom, while condemning others from publishing literature which he deems as damaging to Christian morals.

The beautiful way in which Bram fights for fiction is inspiring for anyone dealing with their own inner or outer battle with life, something which escapist fiction is often regarded as damaging by groups throughout the ages. The fight for the repression of the inner evil and sin are where things getting murky and interesting as Bram move away from the public and focuses on his own issues on sexuality and society.

 

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The Beginning of May

So i’ve been absent from writing a blog over the past couple of days due to illness, working my way through stories, and whatever other excuses seem applicable. It’s the most flippant i’ve been with my blog since I started it in January, which I didn’t feel was the right attitude to wards blog posts.

I love blogging, I think it’s a great way to reflect on all of those moments fretting over whatever goal is currently in front of you. The only problem with blogging is that the moment you write it you find that it’s only real if someone sees it and likes it. You find yourself worrying more about the attention of the words rather than the the truth of the words themselves.

Being ill so much over the past few weeks has left me mentally exhausted and emotionally tender, add that to the constant downpour of viciousness on social media and you find yourself wanting to hide away somewhere nice and warm.

I said in a previous post that I am happy being a part of the group that doesn’t really know what to do, but understands that there’s definitely something wrong with the way things are going. I don’t think this is because of anything new, but more likely the result of giving everyone a chance to voice their opinions. Instead of having a small social circle and then the input of celebrities you are instead subjected on a daily basis to the type of social interaction usually reserved for awkward Christmas dinner parties.

I am kind of lying when I say that I don’t know what to do, in actually I think that the answer is obvious, step away from it all and put that energy into creating something. Checking your news feed can be like bumping into a Dementor, spilling his cherry coke all down his new tattered robe, finding yourself drained of all energy. My advice is to ignore it, step away, and use that energy to create something.

I’m a writer, so when I look at all of the madness I sit down and write something that I can understand. I wouldn’t be surprised to see escapist fiction on a rise as we plunge further and further into the fear-filled future, which is wonderful.

Art struggles to kill people, unless you’ve just received a nasty paper cut and suffer from haemophilia. The constant misdirection and smoke and mirrors brought on by the news will leave you feeling disorientated, so it’s hardly shocking when you can’t stomach it all anymore. The great thing about art is you get to decide what you think about it, you take away the stuff that’s relevant, and on a personal level you are right regardless of what other people think.

If you’re creating something then it’s fair to assume that you’re not destroying something, unless you’re making weapons. I’d like to think that if you’re creating and working on something you love then you’re less likely to get caught up in everything around you, which is not to say ignore it, but to not be swept up in the fevered hysteria of it all.

I’d like to live in a world where the news has to abandon shock tactics in order to engage with us, which is hard when you consider how politically illiterate we are on the whole as a species. If you’re creating art however you’re hopefully going to want to share it with the world, talk about things, and more importantly listen to what people say. It’s harder to demonise groups and terrify people if you’re aware of the facts.

I’m sure we will get to the point where everyone has a broad and developed sense of humour, allowing us to shrug off the misleading media as they point the blame of the worlds problems like a child brought into the in the head teachers office for pouring paste over the quiet girl at the back.

I believe that we need a political system to help run the world, but i’d like one that had to be honest, and couldn’t hide behind the sort of tactics you’d find with social media trolls or click bait. A political system which is kept in check by the fear that when they mess up they pay the penalty just like everyone else. It’s hard to control people with fear when all you want to do is create and share it with people who think just like you.

Friday Fun

So today I worked on a short story called The Dead Police so I could send it off hopefully for publication in a magazine. The story started as an idea about ghouls, and what they’d do in a zombie apocalypse. Ghouls are rather underrated when compared to werewolves and vampires, but as a child they always represented something seriously scary.

I’ve spent the past few weeks editing short stories and sending them off to various magazines. Each day I take a short story, polish all of the good bits, while sifting out the stuff that doesn’t work. Editing a second or third draft isn’t as fun as writing the first, at least for me anyway. That first draft is judgement free, and most of the time you’re just seeing where it goes.

Editing later drafts is all about understanding what works and shaping the story to fit. It’s like working with a piece of marble that you’ve accidentally just made a well shaped nose. You want to get it right, but you do have to work with what you’ve got, so it’s important to not spend all of your time chiseling away at the same block. Get it finished and move onto something else, you can always come back to it later with some fresh ideas.

It’s great working through all of these different stories and finding that while they all differ with improvement, each has something about it that reminds me why I wanted to write it in the first place. The Dead Police was a story I wrote this year, and while I had to change bits here and there like knocking through a wall or redecorating, I didn’t need to gut out the whole thing like some of the other stories.

I had what I can only describe as the nicest rejection email, which stated that while they weren’t going to publish the story, they gave me advice on what didn’t work in the hopes that i’d resubmit it as soon as. I know we all want to strive for perfection, but knowing that i’m on the right track keeps me going.

 

Thursday Trouble

So today I attempted to edit a short story called Meeting at Midday but only managed to get halfway through. It’s hard when you’re banging your head against the grindstone, trying to make your tired brain do what you want, but eventually I got the message and took a little break.

I did what I normally do in these low output moments, I watched something educational, which came in the form of a couple of nature documentaries. I don’t know if this works for anyone else, but opening myself up to new information seems to help get my creativity flowing, even if at first it looks like i’m looking in the wrong place, and perhaps that’s the point.

I think we all struggle with trying to push the world around us into a shape that makes sense, but the world doesn’t work that way, and ends up pushing back. Finding the courage to let go of the things we can’t control and using the time to enjoy life helps us see things from a different view point and hopefully come back at the issue from a new angle.

I watched a Netflix documentary on Wild Arabia, and Wild China.I took a lot of pleasure in finding myself stealing ideas for a story directly from nature. I love those moments when I find myself in complete awe at the capability of people and their ancient traditions, and I find it heartbreaking to think that so much of their ingenuity will be lost in favour of first world principles.

Meeting at Midday is a story about the dawn meeting the dusk for a date, in some kind of anthropomorphised manner. They start off both worried that the other one won’t like them, but find themselves bonding over a mutual love of what the other one does for a living. The story develops into a folklore tale as Dusk takes Dawn to meet some of his friends, who as it turns out don’t approve of Dawn very much at all.

I loved writing this story because it allowed me to playa round with some interesting ideas and imagery, while maintaining an air of reality with issues surrounding relationship. I particularly loved laying around with the idea that the dawn of the day could be insecure about all the little things that we love it for. I’m excited to finish this edit, and hopefully get it good enough for publication somewhere so I can show it off to you all.

 

Thud!

So i’ve finished Terry Pratchett’s Thud! today which I devoured over two days with sheer delight. The novel uses fantasy as a lure to introduce you into issues surround: race, discrimination, drugs, fatherhood, and more. I’ve read a few of Terry’s novels over the years but this was the one that really grabbed my attention.

Personally I love fantasy that gives depth rather than trying to do a Tolkien in a new way. The blurring of Dwarf and Jewish mentality was a really interesting touch as to people who know these things both share similar morales when concerning society, family, and traditional values.

The novel if you don’t know is a loose detective fantasy novel which in itself helps to blend different genres together in such a way you hardly notice the sticky tape holding it all together. There are clues throughout the novel to help push you this and that way, and you find yourself forgetting that this is all set on a flat disc-shaped world on the back of four elephants and a turtle.

The story managed to discuss some serious topics which surround us today such as heated racial tension but it did it in a way that removed the blame or rather put the blame on all of us, and I should add it did it without a thin-veiled metaphor of certain races.

It was great to see lots of different sides of dwarf and troll culture, ranging from the kings of both cultures, down to a misguided, knobbly troll named Brick. It’s so easy to create species that all share the same mental topography, but what really shines is when you can take what is quintessential to a species and then play around with whatever exists in the realms of possibility.

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Tuesday

So in an attempt to not give this illness the attention it craves i’ve buried my head in Terry Pratchett’s Thud! Trolls, Dwarf’s, racial aggression, and scoaif hysteria. It’s the first Discworld book that has really grabbed my attention and 230 pages in a day seem to show that quite nicely.

 

 

 

A

It’s Ok to Not Know

So i’ve been thinking a lot lately about where to stand in various arguments both politically, socially, and I find myself less inclined to take either side. Each time I find myself in the middle of a heated discussion I find myself noticing more and more just how screwed up people really are, it’s like watching two children argue over which one’s dad is Superman.

This is nothing new when you consider how the only thing that’s changed in American politics over the past forty years is which country is considered the terror threat. The nomenclature of fear has jazzed itself changing from dictator to terrorist and now to religion. The thing that strikes me as odd is people still buy into this idea that it’s not true, not in a conspiracy cover-up kind of way but in a lazy re-editing kind of process.

Veganism, Feminism, Identity, Misogyny, triggers, there all words that I thought meant something to me once, but then words evolve to survive, taking on new viewpoints and opinions. Feminism is a great example of this, growing up if asked I would have stated that I was a feminist as I don’t really see any difference, but I also believe that the suffragettes caused more harm to women gaining rights than they were a force for good.

Current feminist opinions are uttered with a cultist mantra that I can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable when they tell me about a society that only allows the rights of white privileged men. I do agree with that to a point but only when you consider what they constitute as a privileged man, which I can tell you from experience is definitely not me.

Anyone who deviates from the 1% is considered an outsider and are judged accordingly, and while I accept it’s easier to single out someone for being a woman or black it isn’t an issue over sex or ethnicity it’s an issue with society itself. I understand that people are angry and in some ways that’s excellent, but more often than not you find that people have no idea how to use that energy for good, and more often than not go on a rage campaign.

My view on where to stand in all of these issues is that I don’t know, and to be honest I don’t think anybody really does. You’re always going to find people who talk like they know what’s wrong and how to solve it, but they don’t, they’re just winging it. I’m not saying these issues don’t matter, because they do, what i’m saying is now we’re paying attention a little bit more we need to start thinking.

Things have spiralled further and further down politically, but I wouldn’t say that was because of Trump, I just think he’s the latest product of a defunct society. We’re all so wrapped up in stupid things that we forget that the world’s far from ok, and i’m not talking ecologically but socially, and I think that time may well lead to a further divide.

Fear and anger are the easiest tools to use to manipulate people, it’s the sort of tactics you’d use to get someone into trouble at school, yet as we’ve seen time and time again it’s the old tricks that work best. Instead of this us and them mentality i’d like to see people move away from that primitive territorial ape stage, and instead take note of all of the crap that could be solved.

I find it odd when 1st world people are arguing over what you should and shouldn’t eat when there are people who don’t get to eat at all, it definitely shows how skewed and misaligned our views are when we’re happy to argue over peoples rights when a lot of people don’t have them.

In the end i’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know and further more i’m happy to accept the fact that I don’t know. I find that self-assured attitude to a problem involves a level of fundamentalism. People are eagerly jumping into camps, pointing fingers over possible truths, and to be honest I just think it’s a waste of time.

I find myself agreeing to some extent with everything, and then there’s a challenge, or a joke, and I sit there open mouthed as the whole thing unravels into a vicious monster. So i’m just going to watch, listen, and just keep going. I don’t expect other people to agree with my attitude, which may be interpreted as on the fence, but I think it’s like trying to decide what ice cream I want to spend my money on, while hundreds of ice cream van men shout at each other in an attempt to convince me that they’re the right choice.

Saturday Scribbles

So today I woke up feeling really ill, which I felt was a little unfair after spending most of the week feeling quite sick. It was spent groaning from room to room like a miserable ghost with a temperature, till eventually I collapsed into a adult nap, and then continued to exist in the most miserable way possible.

I also finished The Hounds of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, which really helped during this difficult, trying time. The Sherlock Holmes long fiction are wonderful as each story takes everything that works and then shows a new side.

The Hound of the Baskervilles separated Watson from Holmes, giving a new element to the mystery, creating moments where you would fear for Watson’s life. We know that Sherlock Holmes would be in no danger, but there’s the sneaking suspicion that Watson could be the victim of foul play, irregardless of the fact he’s narrating the story.

The supernatural element also adds an interesting dynamic into the story, especially when you focus on Sherlock’s reluctance to give an opinion, you feel in those tense moments that he may give into the fear and as we know there’s no going back once he’s made his mind up.

All in all it’s hard to complain when you have such powerful works in your clammy hands.