Unleashing the Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 2

I got incredibly lucky this last week.

As many of you may know, a few weeks ago one of the two hard drives in my computer died on me. And when it died, it took all of my writing folders with it. Thankfully, a majority of that data was backed up on a USB drive and had also been copied onto my laptop. So a few days ago, on a whim that came out of nowhere, I went looking back through that USB drive to see just how much of The Wolf was still there. Lo and behold, I found two partial drafts of the manuscript itself and when I read back over them, I realized that however unsteady things may be in my head, the story as it exists on paper is still wonderfully solid.

And having two different drafts from two previous attempts at re-writing this book gave me a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast my own writing. To compare where my mind was, where it is now, and make a decision about how best to move forward for the sake of the story. Part of that decision was to craft a new first chapter by actually mixing and matching different parts from the different drafts, and doing that finally gave me a version of chapter one that I can actually be proud of.

I think some of you are going to hate me for how much more viciously it stabs at your heart, but that’s kind of the point in the end. 😉

After wrapping up chapter one though, I got another shot in the arm of gratification when I started re-reading chapters two and three from the more recent draft. I realized while doing that just how much of those chapters still worked. How many times the different scenes actually hit the emotional mark I was aiming for. So rather than re-write them entirely or re-construct them with parts of the earlier draft, I was able to just do a simple revision for clarity and emphasis. That’s not the kind of moment I often get to have with my writing, so it’s a special kind of sweet when it happens.

Now however, comes the real challenge. Chapter three of the most recent draft wasn’t finished. That ending and everything I’d had for Chapter four actually did get lost with the death of my hard drive, and I can’t for the life of me remember what emotional mark I was aiming for beyond the point that chapter three got cut off at. Now, given what The Wolf is about and what all has to happen with the rest of the story, I’m not at all concerned about finding another proper emotional mark to aim at. However, I still remember how I felt about the chapter and pages that I’ve lost, and I can’t shake the feeling/fear that whatever new target I take aim at just won’t be as powerful as the last one I actually fired at.

I realize that this fear is likely irrational and unfounded, but it’s one that I will definitely be struggling with for the next few days as I get back to work.

Such is the life of a writer. 😛

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My Darkness, My Light, My Balance

“I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have hate. You have anger. But you don’t use them.”

I find there is no better quote, in fiction or in truth, to describe my state of mind right now. For I do hold a great fear in my heart, and that fear gives birth to a rage and a hatred that leave me sick and shaking within my own skin. That fear comes from the fact that I am a black man living in America, and yesterday I had to sit back and watch as my President responded to an act of Neo-Nazi, white supremacist violence and murder by refusing to categorically denounce and reject those ideologies, and claim instead that “many sides” were responsible for the violence.

I am a black man living in America, and it took my President two full days to call out and condemn Neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

So yes, there is great fear in me.

I do have hate.

I do have anger.

And I will never use them.

I will never use them because I already know what lies at the end of that path. I will never use them because I can’t stand the way they physically make me feel; like my heart’s become a furnace and my blood is on fire. A fire that fills my mind with an acrid smoke, obscuring and consuming all possible thoughts of light, life, and love. This fire has been smoldering in my heart for as long as I can remember, kindled by the bullies who saw a shy and quiet nerd as easy prey and further stoked by an abusive adult who should’ve known better. For the majority of my life, I’ve had to fight near constant battles against that fire and the darkness that birthed it.

Most of the time, I win those battles, and the lights of my life get to shine all the brighter because of it.

On those days, I get to be Anakin Skywalker.

But sometimes (like yesterday) I lose those battles, and the lights of my life are consumed by shadow and flame.

On those days, I struggle not to become Darth Vader.

I struggle not to become Darth Vader on those days, because I’ve tasted the power of the Dark Side before. I’ve felt the strength and the relief that can come from finally unleashing all of your hatred and your rage on the things that have inspired them, and just as Master Yoda informed Luke, it is quick, it is easy, and it is seductive.

And of the handful of times that I’ve wielded that power, nothing good has ever come of it.

Beating up one of my bullies just gained me three more, and lashing out at them just gave them more ammunition to fire back at me. Pain begat pain, and the darkness just spawned more darkness. When you let loose with the fire, all you ever really do is burn the things that are closest to you.

This is why, back at the beginning of the year, I finally said “No thank you” to the Dark Side and resolved to always and only ever be a guardian of the Light. No matter how hard the Darkness tried to trick me, lure me, or seduce me, I would never again let it control me.

Which brings me at last to the real purpose of this blog post.

Losing this last battle against the Darkness has shown me that I’m not spending enough time cultivating my own Light. I’m not spending enough time doing the one thing that brings me more joy and more happiness than pretty much anything else on the planet.

Writing.

I love streaming on Twitch and just can’t imagine giving it up, but at the same time, trying to write and stream on the same day like I have been for the last couple of months just isn’t working. The streaming gets done no problem, but the writing has definitely suffered, and that lack of balance has started doing some pretty unpleasant things to my state of mind.

So here’s the plan. We’re going to stop juggling and start balancing.

We’re going to do that by making what I hope will be the final adjustment to my stream schedule that I ever have to make. We’re going to do that by dedicating three days just for streaming, three days just for writing, and the final day for all the IRL adult stuff that has to get done.

Those days are going to be as follows:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday = Streaming Days

Friday, Saturday, Sunday = Writing Days.

Monday = Adulting Day (eww.)

Before I can implement this schedule however, there’s a whole lot of catching up that I need to do on the writing front. To say nothing of the fact that I’m also still in the process of recovering from the events of the last couple days. Because of these two factors, I’m going to be taking the rest of this week off streaming. This was not an easy decision to make, but it’s one that will allow me to tackle this new schedule with a clear head and a cleaner slate.

So with all said, I will bid you adieu and farewell. This blog post has taken me nearly five hours to write and I’ve still got a ton of stuff I wanted to do today. The first of which is likely eat lunch. Take care everyone, and I’ll see you again soon. 🙂

Unleashing The Horsemen: Taming of The Wolf – Part 1

 

Anxiety is not something I’m used to feeling. Especially not with regard to things that usually excite me and make me happy.

And yet, that’s exactly what happened the day before yesterday.

In hindsight, I know exactly what set it off. I’d once again caught myself doing multiple things at once and trying to rush through them as fast as possible, rather than take my time and make sure they all got done properly. Add on top of this a small dash of self-inflicted relationship drama, and for about 36 hours, I found myself almost completely paralyzed with indecision and fear.

Then late yesterday afternoon, from seemingly out of nowhere, everything changed.

I could say that if felt like someone had flipped a switch at the back of my mind, but the truth of it feels… a little bit bigger than that. For my money, it felt like all this anxiety was being caused by one broken nerve in the back of my brain that kept short circuiting. Then after I finished lunch and a couple episodes of The West Wing, that nerve had been completely disconnected and replaced with a whole different kind of nerve; one that plugged perfectly into place like the final piece of an electrical jigsaw puzzle. The paralytic fear and anxiety that I felt dropped away almost at once, and in their place rose an almost zen-like clarity and focus. All I could see were the tasks I had in front of me, and all I had to do was walk forward and accomplish them.

So that’s exactly what I did.

Now, the boring list of house-cleaning chores aside, the big-ticket item on that list of tasks was finally sit down and get back to work on unleashing the four horsemen of my apocalypse. The first of these is The Wolf, and the first thing I thought I had to do was re-create the various character biographies I’d need to make sure that my characters would be actual people, and not mere automatons moving in service of the novella’s plot. I say I thought I had to do this, because before I typed a single word, I pulled out one of my USB drives that I’d saved my old writings onto and started reading through some of the old notes and histories I’d already written down for The Wolf.

To say that I was stunned by how much of it was still a rock-solid foundation to build a story on would be an almost criminal understatement.

The reason for this, I suspect, is that I wrote all of those notes in the same style and voice I planned to write the novella itself in. That is to say, the first-person perspective of my main character. And since the thoughts and feelings of my main character haven’t changed in the three years since I’d last worked on The Wolf, there was largely no need to go back to write them all again from scratch.

I say “largely” no need, because there are a few things that I still want to go back and tweak. I’m not at all happy with how poorly the relationship between my main character and his mother plays out considering how central an element his family is to this story, and I’m also not happy with how loosely I let myself play around with the nature and history of my werewolves. So the big task for the week ahead is to go back and do just that. Craft the final, iron-clad rules and backstories for my werewolf characters, and then go back and write a consolidated, comprehensive family history document for my main character in the same personal journal style that I used before.

All my ducks are already hatched for this story. I’ve just got to make sure they’re all in their proper row. 😉