Before my first post, I thought writing was all you needed to do to run a blog. Perhaps it is enough to run a blog, but it’s certainly not enough to run a successful blog. If you write more than 2 blog posts you will almost definitely enter phase 1.
It turns out it is no fun writing if there is nobody to read what you are saying. So you work on getting followers. You tell your friends. Some of them start reading your blog. Some of them wish they could have a conversation without you bringing up ‘that damn blog’. And others ask you about it regularly, but never actually read it.
Eventually you run out of friends to promote your blog to and you focus on finding strangers to read your work. Perhaps you start to follow other blogs and find like-minded bloggers. Or…
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House of Dyes is what should’ve been my second novel, I wrote 98k words of it, about two thirds before I burnt out, and got kinda stumped at the possibilities. Even now, after say six months, I still don’t know what it’s supposed to be.
As with everything I write, I usually don’t know what it is until it’s done.
I abandoned House of Dyes and embarked on a YA novel working-titled SUICIDE CLUB, wrote 50k words of it and abandoned it also, favouring to start a new project, but I’ve showed great restraint these last few weeks for not beginning something else (pats self on back) Another YA dystopian thingy.
I figured at this rate I may never finish another book so I sat down and buckled up and revisited House of Dyes, hoping that am in a better place and a better artist to take the story to its final conclusion. (Fingers crossed)
First of all, House of Dyes is going to be another long one, not as long as Silhouette of Shadows (885 pages) but long, I think around 680 pages. My main intentions for it was to write 5 interconnected stories dealing with different themes but talking the same inner demons (P.S. Am yet to figure out what– nothing has to be perfect, or that coherent even — it’s a first draft) I’d written three stories so far, BAPTISMUS PER IGNEM, a tense dystopian mind-fuck of a revenge saga, DREAMS OF FISH, about a blind senile disgraced writer’s delve into existential crises, and ECHO’S LAMENT FOR NARCISSUS, loosely inspired by the Ben Johnson poem by the same name I was particularly taken by the line “Our beauties are not our own” (Oh wait a minute, hmmph, could this be the main theme of the whole book?
Anyway I need two more stories to wrap up this book, hopefully it’ll turn out something less recognizable to the way the Ice-truck Killer wraps stuff. So, I started this story, YA, of course, titled WANDERLUST, about well, wanderlust. It’s not a coming of age story, or one where the characters attain some sort of actualization at the end, it’s one of those stories about a trip going terribly wrong.
Meet Sally, seventeen, beautiful and dangerous, literally– her father is a mob-enforcer and her mother’s an addict, then meet Liam her bestfriend who’s had the biggest crush on her, so he obviously wants to tag along, mostly because he has nothing left for him in Pierstone, their bum-fuck of a ship-yard small town. He’s mother has just died and he’s never known his father.
On their trip they meet another boy, who apparently has relinquished all claims to his name, citing, “All my life, I’ve been defined by my (father’s) name, I just want to see how long I can survive without it.” And that’s not the only thing that’s weird about him, he makes Sally and Liam miss their bus, and well, he offers to tag along to drive them anywhere in his stolen school bus. (Did I say stolen? Yes. Stolen)
‘No-name’ is trouble with alpha-numerics, but Sally and Liam go with him… That’s the story so far…
Here’s a small snippet, (bear with me, it’s a very raw first draft)…
They’d graduated into pseudo-adulthood—face-first into the twilight evening glare—the nativities of their youth, consummated by back-seat grope-fests and broken prophylactics. Their first ‘I love you’ and ‘I think am ready’ being the net that fished them out of their stale miseries—the tallied days grown crooked in their journals, diaries and book of days—word’s crowding together to form hollow stories of hopes and dreams interweaved and spread across the gory obscenity that been their lives.
Them running away, their actions soon to be scorned and lauded in equal measure, this was going to be the best thing that might never happen to them—it was a sweet uncertainty, the reverse of an Esprit d’Escalier, because if they didn’t wait for the time to be right, they’d never have to struggle to find just the right words to say.
The bus ride was long and she slept right through everything, granted there was nothing good outside to see out there, but this was the first time either of them was leaving Pierstone, really leaving, or maybe it was a good thing she didn’t look, she didn’t want to remember her way back here. Liam just sat there, with all the time in the world, to think, to dwell on sinking feelings of betrayal, and he was careless—he’d sink so low into a darkness of uncertainty whose depths flared as he went towards the core of it, to this secret fathom, because even though nothing would come close to making him as happy as he was here seated next to her, nothing would also make him sadder.
Not for everything he’d left behind, which was little, and insignificant, but for everything that was already taken care of, back home he was somebody, could be somebody—this notion of being anybody hadn’t taken root yet, and this far out, he feared it probably wouldn’t.
He was home-sick already, not missing what it was, but what it could’ve been—what it ought to have been, (if only he knew what that was supposed to be?)
Sally roused in her sleep, turned from the window that had misted with her breath, and leaned against his shoulder, making the slightest purr—Liam felt golden, infinite, vindicated like the two of them were reasons songs like Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car were ever performed.
He stared at her sleep, her eyes twitching, her breath light as a sigh, and he looked away, his eyes caught the glazed glass and he paused a beat and smiled, saying to himself what the hell?
He stretched across and wrote on the window, like he was leaving a message to the beautiful night outside, a message for all to see, except her whom it was intended, he wrote, “Our journeys are not our own, we only decide which path to take.”
I find respite in the restlessness,
the faceless bow
Going in circles, on and on,
on and on. Anon.
Following the roads that follow back
to this place I never really knew.
I mount on a steed of nostalgia,
ride to memories
I never had, but run I do,
Running only where I can crawl
Crawling only where I can run
Haunting where I could dwell,
Dwelling where I could haunt
I become the god and the subject
The marble and the sculptor
The church and the cornerstone—
I’m the faith that’s broken
By a congregation that won’t bend
I’m the sun that dies for the moon—
I’m the echoing silence of Reckoning,
I’m tortured and torturer,
I don’t know what has become of me?
Or if there was even a me to become?
Martin Dean, 1956–2001
Who was my father?
The offal of the universe.
The fatty rind.
An ulcer on the mouth of time.
He was sorry he never had a great historical name like Pope Innocent VIII or Lorenzo the Magnificent.
He was the man who first told me that no one would buy life insurance if it was called death insurance.
He thought the best definition of thoroughness is having your ashes buried.
He thought that people who don’t read books don’t know that any number of dead geniuses are waiting for their call.
He thought that there seems to be no passion for life, only for lifestyle.
About God—he thought that if you live in a house, it’s of only nominal interest to know the name of the architect who designed it.
About evolution—he thought it was unfair that man is at the top of the food chain when he still believes the newspaper headlines.
About pain and suffering—he thought that you can bear it all.
It’s only the fear of pain and suffering that is unbearable.
He never achieved unlonely aloneness.
His aloneness was terrible for him.
He could not hear a mother calling for her child in the park without calling out too, sick with the ominous feeling that something awful had happened to little Hugo (or whoever).
He was always proud of things that shamed others.
He had a fairly complex Christ complex.
His worldview seemed to be something like “This place sucks. Let’s refurbish.”
He was impossibly energetic but lacked the kind of hobbies that actually required energy, which is why he often read books while walking and watched TV while pacing back and forth between rooms.
He could empathize with anyone, and if he found out someone in the world was suffering, Dad had to go home and lie down.
Dad always maintained that people don’t go on journeys at all but spend a lifetime searching for and gathering evidence to rationalize the beliefs they’ve held in their hearts since day one. They have new revelations, certainly, but these rarely shatter their core belief structure—they just build on it. He believed that if the base remains intact, it doesn’t matter what you build on it, it is not a journey at all. It is just layering. He didn’t believe that anyone ever started from scratch. “People aren’t looking for answers,” he often said. “They’re looking for facts to prove their case.”
EXCERPT TAKEN FROM STEVE TOLTZ’S “A FRACTION OF THE WHOLE”
I’ve just reread these pages on which I write with a lucidity that endures only in them, and I ask myself: What is this, and what good is it? Who am I when I feel? What in me dies when I am?
Like someone on a hill who tries to make out the people in the valley, I look down at myself from on high, and I’m a hazy and confused landscape, along with everything else.
In these times when an abyss opens up in my soul, the tiniest detail distresses me like a letter of farewell. I feel as if I’m always on the verge of waking up. I’m oppressed by the very self that encases me, asphyxiated by conclusions, and I’d gladly scream if my voice could reach somewhere. But there’s this heavy slumber that moves from one group of my sensations to another, like drifting clouds that make the half-shaded grass of sprawling fields turn various colours of sun and green.
I’m like someone searching at random, not knowing what object he’s looking for nor where it was hidden. We play hide-and-seek with no one. There’s a transcendent trick in all of this, a uid divinity we can only hear.
Yes, I reread these pages that represent worthless hours, brief illusions or moments of calm, large hopes channelled into the landscape, sorrows like closed rooms, certain voices, a huge weariness, the unwritten gospel.
We all have our vanity, and that vanity is our way of forgetting that there are other people with a soul like our own. My vanity consists of a few pages, passages, doubts…