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Summoning The Daemon

 

The title does not contradict my previous statements on inspiration. It is inconstant and should not be relied upon as part of a writing process if you want to achieve a regular body of work. I do, so I don’t rely on it. I write through all the different shades of feeling.

Feeling ill? Still writing

There’s a new season of that show I like on Netflix that I have time to binge watch? Still writing.

However, inspiration is pretty wonderful and when it lands upon you, it is like mainlining the universe. In Ancient Greece, they referred to it as a spirit called a daemon. Inspiration, in that context, can be seen as summoning it so I will use that metaphor going forward. Sit down, kids, this is going somewhere interesting.

Sources of inspiration:

The most obvious one is reading. I include audiobooks amongst this, as the science supports that listening to one resonates in the brain in the same way looking at words on a page or screen does. I will break that down for you into some further definitions.

Fiction – I say this and it is kind of hammered into you that if you are a writer, you should be reading. The why of that, to me, is the following reasons. It allows you to see the possibility of what can be done on the page. There are no right or wrong books to be reading. A good book can inspire envy as well as  much as a bad book can inspire contempt.

Reading as a writer is different from reading as a reader. You want to see what effects are possible, then you look at how and what the writer uses to convey that effect. Don’t see this as an adjunct to dry, literary analysis, think of it as figuring out what they did and how you can reproduce it in your own writing. It is not plagiarism, which is stupid to do in the days of software that can analyse and point it out, although people still do it and even sell books online with it. Warren Ellis, the comic book writer, offers this up in terms of comic books. Tear it apart, use the entrails to see a possible future for your work. Chuck Palahniuk has a lovely quote that I use.

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

You should do the same with bad writing too. What that means is subjective to you, but if you get that faint sense of ‘I can do better than that’ or not even the faint sense where you resolve yourself to a vigilante crusade to burn every copy of that book in existence, then you can still learn something useful from it. Bad books have a malign sense of energy, and some of the subjectively worst books have been the most popular. Slag Dan Brown off all you want, he won’t hear you from atop the massive pile of gold and escorts that he sleeps upon.

So, read, listen to fiction. It gives you scope for your own work.

I also add that it is good to read outside of your genre. If you want to work in a particular genre, it is arrogant not to read the leading proponents of the style. Who those are is also subjective, but I believe that if you read outside of that, then you can incorporate elements to make your voice unique. It is healthy and lends itself to original work, if you can do it in a natural way. What matters is that you look to make those elements organic, not some Frankenstein’s Monster literary hybrid that lurches from the slab with lightning running through it’s decayed veins.

Non -Fiction.

I will refer to Tom Clancy for this:

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”

I would argue that any written non fiction is fictional in construction. Actually it is not me who argues that but Steven Pressfield because you are still choosing which moments and perspectives form your account. Reality television is not, because it is not a dogme 95 camera trained on a fixed point and neither is non fiction writing. I digress though.

Non-fiction is a mine of inspiration for me. It is an education awash with pleasure because you can pick up a great deal of images, incidents and story prompts from the stuff of life itself. You can change the names, details but keep that little spark there alive and you have something that resonates whilst still having the plausibility of real life.

Pick a subject, look for the good stuff and let it wash over you.

OBSERVATION

I work a day job, lots of us do. Your colleagues, your customers are all potential sounding boards and sources of inspiration. Listen, ask questions that relate to whatever you were working on and need some juice to pump into your writing. Anecdotes are everywhere, and you should use them wherever possible, legal issues and ramifications withstanding.

I hope these points are of interest, and that they help. Feel free to disregard what does not work for you, and please offer up your own points in the comments or to me via the contact form at the bottom of this post.

 

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Spark

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Trials lie in wait

On every corner

I hold within

A spark of purpose

I am earth, air, fire, water

And all things

Within it

Undefined

By anything

Beyond will

And purpose.

Each quiet hour

Before dawn

Pen makes

Love to paper

Fingers seduce

The keyboard

If you would

Find me anywhere

Find

Me

There.

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The Subtle Pleasures

The 

Subtle pleasures

Made manifest

Now, you come to me

Vibrating with the need to 

Provide your surrender

Raging with the need to feel guided

Your deepest nature, I am gentle in nurturing

Desire is your truest, most beautiful self

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To Be Seen

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I wish to be seen

Desired

Appreciated

Even as I walk through

The faded hours

Alone

I respond to 

Small bursts of 

Recognition

Stars to light my way

On the darkest parts

Of the path

I walk

I do not need it

But my want is a trade

Where you inspire

And in return, 

I embolden 

Take you to holy

Places within yourself

That no other man

Could take you

See me

As I am

A dragon unfurling

A bear rearing upon

Hind legs

Come to me

And bear

Witness

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Walk With Me (Audio)

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Warm Command(Audio)

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Teeth

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My erudition

Is not deference

Let me show you

My teeth

The fur upon my chest

My thick thighs 

Broad back

To sweep you

Into my embrace

There is earth not dirt

On my soul

And you cannot wash it off

Once you surrender

Some small part

Of you remains

I clean you with my tongue

Words that speak

A fine, deep knowledge of you

And all your secrets are toys

For me to enjoy

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Walk With Me 

masthead-bb-young

The wind through

The trees

Birds singing

Such places serve as churches

Watching the dog

Snuffle see his world

I am capable of fury

My body aches from

Focused labour

Hands as weapons

But also instruments

Of divine exploration

To caress the contours

To open and penetrate

All the world and it’s pleasures

Visible in my eyes

Look as deep as you need to

I am the nexus between

flesh and divinity

Lover and magician

Read this as my spell

Let it sink beneath

Your skin

A drug delivered without needle

No chalky aftertaste of the pill

A perfect delivery of want

I would make you shudder with want

And the supply is constant

The wind through the trees

The birds singing

Would you walk with me?

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Two Pages (07/11/16)

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I’m now 65 pages into Strange Lights, the second act is always the roughest part of a first draft, a period without the enthusiasm of the first or the determination of the third, and it’s where the majority of the book happens. It’s a change of location, and a focus on a character who has been spoken of, but not seen until this point. There is tension in these scenes, and I’m really enjoying writing in a voice entirely different from the previous books I’ve written. It is said that good writing is almost on the verge of being embarrassed by it, but openness and earnestness draw rancour from some people. On the page, I put my heart and my mind. It is where I am free, to play and wrestle with my thoughts and feelings. Fiction is a wonderful playground.

I have been reading a few books.  A collection of Joyce Carol Oates’ short fiction, which was fantastic. The First Bad Man by Miranda July was a great surprise, polymorphous, unapologetic and incredibly moving in it’s telling. I also finished Wake by Elizabeth Knox, which was a powerful blend of psychological and supernatural elements, all handled with a knowing delicacy and ambiguity.  You can become drunk on books, and I find that a concerted amount of reading allows me to be bold in the writing.

The aim is to get Strange Lights to 100 pages then start a second draft of Lawful Evil, editing as I transcribe from longhand and giving it a polish as I go.

Thank you for reading.

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Two Pages (05/11/16)

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I shifted to a lower gear this morning, five pages against the previous sessions of ten, although I might get back into it this evening.  I’m now into the second act, which is where I really start to put my protagonist through the wringer. We test our characters because in adversity, we find out who they are.

You can get away with any number of sins, if you avoid boring the reader. I read a great deal, and if I find myself starting to drift into the dance of my words, I take a step back and look at the grid, see if there’s something missing that can drive it forward. When I used to write from a single idea, then I would, if stuck, look back and see if there was something unresolved that can generate tension in the work.

So, I’m 54 pages into Strange Lights now, and it’s a challenge, a balancing act between trying to capture what I like about the culture and aesthetics without it feeling too blunt and curated. It’s fiction, not based in anything other than an idea about the culture, allied to a strong story. I hope. We can never tell whether anything we’ve written is any good.

I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman’s short fiction books, which is always an education and a revelation. There’s fantastic imagery and ideas, but they’re always welded to a knowing, melancholy awareness of people. I’ve said before that in terms of fiction, monster can be metaphor, and Gaiman does that better than a lot of other writers in the genre.

I’ve got another collection of Joyce Carol Oates to enjoy, and a bunch of fiction to plough through. After Pynchon, everything feels faster than normal, but I will ramp up my interest. I read so often because it feeds the writing, grants a courage and eloquence that can easily get lost in the focus on task. I haven’t heard back from the agent about Until She Sings but as soon as I do, I will let people know. I’m ahead of the curve in terms of my workload but that’s part of my whole approach, to have work to show people who are interested in it. I work at my own pace, but it’s constant and consistent.

Thank you for reading.