Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Author I'm Going To Be

I’m struggling to untangle the jumbled mess of cords that has become my mind after completing the novel I devoted myself to for four years.. But I’ve written enough about that in the post where I announced the completion of the book (which will be released this year). What I wanted to write about, in the hope that my mind will finally come full circle on this, is my future as an author, and the almost terrifying epiphany I had the other night that told me I nearly made a grave mistake with where I intended to take my writing.

After completing the novel, I took a break to edit it, and also mourn the end of the relationship with my protagonist.. But during that time I thought a lot about what the next book would be about, and I’ve had the same thoughts on that matter since before I even began the novel I recently completed. I knew what I wanted to do afterwards, and I felt it wasn’t even in question what the next subject would be. It was going to be an epic fantasy series, since that is what I’ve believed I was going to write since I was ten years old. That was the age I was when this world first came to me.. It isn’t a world filled with magic or dragons. It’s a world filled with unique creatures I created long ago, and humans who struggle to coexist in a decaying world. This world is vast, rich, and complex, as it has been fermenting in my mind for over half my life. I know all the characters. I know the plot. I know the breadth and message this story would have, and yet I’ve spent my entire life failing to write it. The reason why is what makes this all so painfully bizarre to me..

The reason why I can’t write it isn’t because I’m afraid I can’t do it justice. It isn’t that I’m unsure of the plot or any of its characters. It isn’t because it holds so much weight and significance after all these years that I’m afraid to let it go.. It’s none of that. I’ve even begun the first book in the series, and I was happy with the way it was progressing. But what I’m starting to contemplate as either a blessing or a curse has happened once again. This was one of many attempts at writing this series, and what happened in 2011 has now happened again in 2015. I call it “the seven page itch”. Every time I’ve tried to write this book, I’ve written seven solid pages I’m elated with, and then I’m sucker-punched in the jaw by a character that I never even wanted or felt like I created at all. A character that hijacks my mind and derails me until I’ve written hundreds upon hundreds of pages about them..

That is precisely what happened in 2010 when the protagonist of my recent novel came to me, and a part of me both feared that it would, or would not happen again. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be left alone to write my fantasy work, or if I wanted to fall so horrifically in love again with a stranger. A character I feel I discover as I write about them.. A character that shatters my heart in ways that leave me wishing I wasn't a writer. I was foolish enough to believe it wouldn’t happen again, and I’m still trying not to be afraid that it actually hasn’t..

The other night, on some bizarre whim, I watched an obscure film from the 80's. A three hour long film I’m going to keep private for the sake of feeling like its still “pure” in my mind. This film left me rapt and heartbroken, and filled me once again with the adoration and compassion I have for suffering people. Suffering people in THIS world. Not in some faraway land that doesn’t exist anywhere but in the confines of my own mind. This film, combined with documentaries I’ve seen over the years, has imbued me once again with a drive to do what I’m starting to believe is my purpose..

I lied awake in bed that night, thinking about the film, but also about so many other examples of real human suffering. Especially the suffering no one takes the time to notice. The people who are the “throwaways” of society. These people, more than any other, enrapture this corner of my soul that demands I write. Demands I write stories I’m often uncomfortable exploring. Stories that extract all of the “fun” out of writing a novel, because they leave me so intense and melancholy at times, that I feel trapped inside the mind of the character until their story is completed.. Now that the first story is over, I’m horrified to discover there might be a new one.

After brooding over that film, I woke up the following morning with a new character in my mind. One that came with a name, a face, and a story. As though presented to me as some strange gift in my sleep, and I know that it was. When I think about this character I have this fluttery, fearful feeling in my stomach that makes me spontaneously smile, while furrowing my brows in doubt at the same time. Like this character is one I’ve recently gone on a first date with, and now I’m chewing my fingernails off wondering, “Could this be the one?”

When this new character came to me, I knew what I was doing wrong. I was failing to understand that my recent novel was not just some fluke I felt compelled to write.. I finally understood that I’m learning what type of author I’m going to be, and that I can’t decide that for myself. All my life, I believed I was going to be a fantasy author.. I believed I was going to breathe life into some incredible world that people could get lost in and come to love. That was what I believed I wanted... But what I’ve come to understand about myself couldn’t be any further from the truth. I now know that I want to write books that devastate people. I want to write books that leave me trembling and crying as I write them. I want to write books that I’m afraid to write.. But most of all, I want to write books that inspire empathy in a world where empathy is dying every day.

I’m not saying fantasy doesn’t do this. What I’m saying is that the light I personally want to shed on human suffering cannot be done in a world other than our own. I want that light to pierce the soul. Leave people questioning themselves and humanity as a whole. More than anything though, I want the books I write to help people. To lift them out of immeasurably dark places not as an escape, but as an invitation to search every corner of their souls, and heal the damage buried within.. I know this is my purpose, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid to delve once again into what my last novel did to me..

I know this story will effect me even more harshly, yet I know I have no choice but to write it.
Because this is what I'm being called to do. This is the reason I'm a writer.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Neurosis - The Best Concert of My Life

On August 4th, I experienced something I've wanted to for many years now.. I finally had the privilege of seeing the most incredible band I've ever heard live, and it wasn't so much of a concert as an out of body experience. I expected nothing less from Neurosis, but being able to be directly up front, with Steve Von Till only a few feet from me, was something I wasn't completely prepared for. This is my favorite song, and while this video is not from the concert I went to, it still somewhat captures the experience. I admit I cried a little at 4:40.. The set was extremely long, and while they closed with "Through Silver in Blood", I've truly never seen Steve Von Till so utterly into the music. It was one of the best nights of my life, and I'll never forget it.. This show fully solidified Steve Von Till (guitarist on the left), as one of my favorite musicians of all time, and unfortunately, this video doesn't really scratch the surface of the experience at all. I could post fifty live videos and it would not compare to seeing and hearing them in person.

Neurosis' are so much more to me than just an incredible and talented band. Their music symbolizes the moment in my life when I chose to break away from everything I've known, and become my own person. To carve a new path despite fear, hardship, and complete uncertainty.. This is why it means so much to me, and why I wanted to elaborate a bit further here than I did on Facebook. So many people don't "get" Neurosis, and I think the main reason is because they're intimidated or turned off by the sheer power of not only the sound and vocals, but of the strength and potency of the lyrics. Neurosis bring new meaning to concepts like "depth", "heaviness", and "emotion" in music. This music is art. An expression of the true potency and resilience of the human spirit, and I will love it forever. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Venom of the Soul" - New Artwork

Recently, I was imbued with inspiration to start drawing people again after nearly ten years. I felt my art stagnating, as I've only drawn animals in profile for most of my life. I wanted to start pushing my limits and trying new things, so this piece was the first step I took to do that. In hindsight, I wish I'd gone for a realistic portrait, rather than a high contrast, graphic one, but I think for the next one I'll do something a little more lifelike. I may even draw the same character again, but a more realistic version of him.

This character is not one I ever have or ever will write a book about, so he was a good test subject to improve my skills. I'll only attempt drawing my real characters once I've settled into a comfortable style, and that may take a while! I wanted to combine high contrast people with textures and tones applied in photoshop, and my first attempt wasn't a complete and utter failure. Close, but not quite! I'm pretty excited about the way my art and writing are progressing and evolving at this stage in my life, and I'm glad the inspiration is only increasing..

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Moment I've Yearned For - My Novel Is Done

I thought for a long time about how I could start this post, and I came to the reluctant conclusion that there simply is no perfect way to start a post about one of the most amazing moments of my entire life. Perhaps not everyone will understand, but a few will.. A few may even understand quite well if they’ve experienced this very thing..

Yesterday at around 1:30 in the afternoon, I officially completed the novel that has been a pivotal part of my life since early 2011. The end came more suddenly that I thought it would when I finally mustered up the courage to sit down and complete it. I knew the end was drawing near for a long time now, at least a few months, and there was this massive part of me that was wanting to leave it unfinished. To still be able to slip into the safety and familiarity of that world whenever I wanted as I have for the last four years. I knew once I finished it, the door to this character’s world would close, and I would finally say Goodbye to him forever (because no, there will never, ever be a sequel). I’ve been afraid of that moment now for years, and as those last few pages were typed - I shook and sobbed with the sheer weight of everything this story has meant to me. I wept not only for the story, but for the weight of all the experiences in my life that were required to create something of this magnitude. The last thing this novel is about is myself, but I know the pain I had to live through to even begin to understand the scope of this story, and hopefully do it justice.

It feels like a painfully long time ago that this character first came to me. He appeared to me as this ragged, mysterious little trace of thought in 2010, and I never could have imagined he would become something I adore so powerfully that my heart is now shattered at the idea of never being able to touch him again through writing. As frightening and bizarre as it is to admit to the world, I wept mostly for him as I finished this book. For the knowledge that I will miss him for the rest of my life. This character was there for me through the most difficult year of my life. He was birthed from my anguish and sorrow in 2010 and 2011, and now I have to set him free. Our time together is done, and the shuddering sobs I experienced as I ended his story was the very act of me severing my tie to this book. To this character. To that time in my life..

Now, I prepare it to be released to the world. In the pure and earnest hope that this story can be to someone else what it was to me.. A comfort in dire times. An escape from a dismal reality. A guiding light that can hopefully shine just bright enough to lead the soul out of darkness, and into a new, beautiful chapter..

My target release date is October 1st, 2015. There is still a lot of work to be done to ready it for release, including editing, illustrations, and preparing it to be printed - but the hard part is over. Right now I just feel like I’m grieving, but once this incredible ache in my heart fades I can finally come to terms with the thought of truly letting this massive piece of me go..

I don't want to end this on a sad note though.. I'll leave it with the gif that explains my feelings more flawlessly than words ever could!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seeking Serious Musician For Project

SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY! I’m interested in finding a mature artist who actually wants to see a project through and create something noteworthy. I am mostly interested in working with a guitarist or pianist, who can create slow, dark, ambient tracks for me to write lyrics and sing with. Ultimately, I would like to create a whole album in this fashion.

I want the music to be mostly organic, rather than electronic. Even simple, so long as it adheres to the dark, somber mood I’m going for. The music has to have structure as well, where one can feasibly inject lyrics. I would also like to do some longer, more experimental, ambient tracks. "The Limitless Reaches of the Earth" is not really the style I'm going for with future projects. The song following it is an example of what I’ll be going for, “Living With The Black Dog”. Not exactly of course, but I want to create music that feels more stripped down, while sounding more haunting at the same time.

First, I would like to provide a few a Capella track downloads of songs I've written which better show my voice than the collaboration song below :

To Feel Whole :

Whip-Poor-Will :

Example of a past collaboration with me singing :

Example from another artist of the general mood I’m going for with the music :

Again, only inquire (privately on Facebook) if you are serious about making music with me. I don't have the time or patience for someone who doesn't follow through with anything. I'm serious and ready to create something awesome.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Videos : Finding your Motivation and a Poetry Reading!

I made two new videos today! Wearing my lucky poetry reading dress. Actually, that wasn’t intentional.. I only realized I’d worn the same dress after I was already done! Anyway, this first video is a reading of “Fade and Forget”, which is in my poetry book, “Fragments From Nowhere”. It's a rather dark poem, though contrary to how it sounds, it's rather abstract, and not meant to be taken literally.

The second video I made today is about a topic I’ve discussed with several people lately, and have thought a lot about. This of course won’t apply to every artist, but it will to some. Because many artists, including myself, indulge in numerous artistic outlets and hobbies that can distract from what we TRULY want to accomplish. This can create a sense of being unfulfilled, a profound frustration, and chronic procrastination. It's important to fight against being so erratic artistically and devote your time and energy to your most important projects. The ones that create a deep sense of accomplishment, and represent who you truly are as an artist.