Getting Back Into The Habit… Some Musings On Writing Horror

Talk about multitasking! Playing two games and trying to write this at the same time. I guess everyone left… Haven’t seen any activity at all since I announced I had quit writing. A bit of an update on that… This has since changed to, “I quit pushing myself to write.” I felt so pressured to write stuff, establish a daily habit, all the things every writing book tells you to do, and that isn’t gonna work for me at this time. So while I am not fully back, announcing that I am writing again, I am back, writing again, if that makes any sense at all.

I used to write short horror stories. Yes, the guy who runs the spiritual blog. Maybe for some of you this is not a surprise. I mean things could get rather dark here, right? I used to be a Christian, I used to write poetry with a religious focus, and at some point I started writing short stories, mostly short horror stories. I have nobody standing behind me, supporting me as I say this, but I think I was pretty good. Am pretty good. I think I still have some short horror stories in me, and this is the time of year to delve into those dark waters again.

As a writer of fiction I appear to be what they call a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants. In writing short horror fiction, I start with an idea. This is called the “what if” by some writing texts. I just start writing, don’t even think about character names or anything, just make snap decisions as I proceed. The important part is to get the gist of the story down, then establish my character’s names and make sure everything is consistent. This works well for writing something around the 10,000 – 20,000 work mark. But after that, you need structure. You need bones to hang the flesh of your story on.

I think the scariest stories are the one where things are left unexplained. Most movies try to explain why a house is haunted. Why this is happening or that is happening. They try to show this in some way. One of the best horror movies of all time, in my mind, is Grave Encounters. Even What Keeps You Alive, by some of the same people. Because these movies leave you in the unknown, and that is the scariest place for a story to leave you. You find yourself in the dark, in a huge room, with things slithering around you, brushing against your leg, and you have no idea what the hell they are, where the hell you are, or how or why you got there.

I think the second pillar, as it were, holding up the structure of truly terrifying horror stories is logic. While the monster or its motivations remains unclear, unexplained, there is a logic in there, mostly that this could happen. To help make this clearer, if anyone here has read “Dark Carnival” from Joe Hill’s, “Full Throttle”, there is no logic there. No way what he writes could ever happen. It is in a word, fantastical.

But in many of the Dean Koontz Odd Thomas books, you can see how some of these things could happen. In a book John Saul wrote some years ago, the wind, which is a constant in a certain area, drives people mad. If you can see clearly how it could happen, if it makes some twisted, logical sense that it did happen, yet at the same time there is an element that remains unexplained, unclear, unfathomable – if you don’t know how it happened or why it continues to happen – well then you are in one of the scariest stories, in my opinion.

I have created an account at Medium.com, and I think I shall get back into writing short horror stories. I think I will also share many of the stories I have written there. I will begin to post links to these here. I may not stick with Medium, it depends on if I have an audience or not. If I am telling scary stories around the campfire, and all that is around me is darkness and the distant hoots of owls, well that is no fun, is it? A writer must be surrounded by shivering, trembling people of all ages, all shapes and sizes, all mentalities, religions and spiritual bents, completely transfixed by the stories he tells. Otherwise, what is the point? To be a story, it must be told, and to be told, it has to be heard by others.

Here is a non-horror story I recently uploaded to Medium:
https://medium.com/@dreambliss/what-do-you-want-to-be-12593fc24e1f

Do this storyteller a favor and tell me what you think. It is cold out here, in the dark, illuminated only by the glow of a dying fire, and I swear I can hear something moving out there, in the trees.

Join the discussion here:
https://www.reddit.com/r/DreamBliss/

10-3-2020 – …and Suddenly, I Have Something To Write!

A combination of things has come together and given a spark to the dying and dead embers that is my writing. It has created in me a desire to write, and so, for now, I am writing.

I am not officially back or anything like that. I am taking this thing as it comes. Except for this spark, my heart is not in this. But the one thing writing gives me is a place to express myself, far more eloquently than I ever could otherwise.

First thing on my mind, coming away from just having watched the final episode of The Masked Singer Episode 1, having heard T-Pain’s rendition of Sam Smith’s, “Stay With Me”, is that I really want to sing again.

For a while there I was paying for lessons from an excellent local teacher. But she wanted to train me classically, and I did try to swim in those waters. I found a way to work with Josh Groban’s songs, a fellow Tenor. But there was no help for what I want to sing.

I grew up in the 80’s, listening to what was called Soft Rock back then. You play a song that was on the radio from 1985 and I will accurately identify it 90% of the time. I remember one song I heard a few years back, I think from Nickelback, talking about how they sang driving into the steering wheel. I empathized with that. I have done that. But I never got out of the car, literally AND metaphorically.

Then what my former friend Josh was around it was like being a musician, being a singer, was HIS dream. I was supporting that, and my whole heart was in that. Even now that the person I knew of as Josh is no more, and has become someone else, I am still here, rooting for him/her/it. Just while they were with me, it was like there was no room for another singer. Somehow, not sure how that happened. I just stepped back I guess.

How many times have I just stepped back, instead of up to the plate? How many times have I never even tried to hit the ball? How many times have I tried and failed? And have I ever scored a home run? I never thought of myself as being controlled or influenced or ruled by fear. But I guess I have been denying that reality all these years.

All I know, sitting here, writing this, is I want to sing again. Not sure how or where. No money for lessons, no opportunities I am aware of. I can just do my own thing, but I know myself, and with all these other balls I am juggling, I will drop the ball. I guess I do not want it enough. I have to want it as much as T-Pain wanted to become a singer, taking I guess a detour along the rap industry route, but when you hear his voice in Season 1 of the Masked Singer, it is obvious he can be, and is, so much more. He deserved to win, and I wish I had a fraction of his drive and determination.

The truth is I don’t deserve to fulfill any of my dreams if I am unable or unwilling to fight, to put myself out there, to work for them. Not sure how that works with the spiritual ideals like acceptance, allowing and flow. But somehow, in some way, I have to get myself out of the white man’s version of the ghetto, and into a better life.

Anotehr thing on my mind is Ken Robinson’s, “The Element.” Reading about those four things as he lists them, as requirements for something to be your Element, I see that writing is not my element, because I lack passion for it. This actually freed me up. This and calling it quits with writing alltogether. It’s amazing how many things comes to you to write, how much you want to write, when you truly have thrown in the towel.

I see now that I have been putting WAY, way too much pressure on myself. But in reading that book I eased some of it off, and that has freed me. I can now approach writing on my own terms, write or not, and not commit to a damn thing. This is what I am going to do from here on out. Probably gonna toss everything out I have written to this point and start over.

On thing bothering me though is I can not find any archives of my first blog, “Romance Beyond Reality.” For some reason I wanted to revisit it. I have revisited, briefly, “A Different Path”, the precursor to this blog. Anyhow I can’t find that or any of my Brittany materials. I hope I did not delete them. Don’t know why I am looking for them. Is there something there I need to remember?

So… Yeah… I guess that’s it for now. Not as strongly as I want to sing, I do have the desire to write and publish something. Write something good worthy of being published and read by (hopefully) millions. I want to see it through, just as I want to see singing through, and piano playing, come to think of it. And I want to loose weight, maybe take up dancing. And I want to do yoga and Tai Chi or Qi Gong.

But the weather is turning, the leaves are falling, and all income streams have dried up. Even my laptop is wigging out a little, had a display driver crash the other day. Without money, I can’t replace my equipment, and without equipment, I can’t write. I know some writers use notebooks and legal pads. But my handwriting does not lend itself to deciphering by even me sometimes. So here’s to hoping that opportunity comes knocking, and I open the door.

9-21-2020 – I Am Done Writing

I have just had a sort of break down. Packed up all my writing books to go back to the library. Threw these stupid bookmarks inspiring me to write and other things to the back of the desk drawer. This will be my very last bit of writing for a while. I quit.

Spent the last 3 days or so looking for something I wanted. I needed the outlet. I do not enjoy writing. I do not love it. Yet I am told this is what I am here to do. Fine. But give me other things I can enjoy and love! But no, the Universe refuses to grant even that.

All I want is a STABLE, SMOOTH RUNNING, Android Environment running INSIDE WINDOWS that will let me install and play ANY GAME in the Google Play Store. Not downloading the .apks. No, using Google Play and having UNRESTRICTED ACCESS to every title. So the Android Environment will have to look, to Google, like a Samsung Galaxy S9 or even my LG G7 ThinQ. Something released in the last 2 years running Android 9. And it also must be recordable using OBS or some other reasonable solution.

I just want to sit down and try a few new games that game out on Google Play, doing gameplay videos of them for YouTube. That’s it, and I do not think it is too much to ask, or even demand, as the case may be.

I have put up with an old crappy laptop. I have put up with an old gaming PC. I have put up with limited finances. I have put up with being alone, single, dateless and unmarried. I have put up with not having space to exercise, do yoga or meditate. I have put up with sleeping in the RV because I do not have a bedroom. I continue to put up with living a life I do not want, and have even renounced suicide, committing myself fully to live.

I have put with so much shit over the years I know I am well past any reasonable quota. I am putting my foot down on this, telling everything and everyone in whatever realms exist that if they want me to write they better damn well give me what I want.

Don’t expect anything else to show up here anytime soon.

9-19-2020 – After The Storm

So the windstorm lasted about 3 days, and it took down part of a standing dead tree not far from where the RV I sleep in is parked. Also not far from the horse trough and power lines overhead. It scattered limbs all over the place, and we are still cleaning everything up.

After that the fires in the east and across the river left a smokey, thick air that literally hung around for a week. It made my nostrils burn, made it hard to think or do anything, much less breathe, and I am sad to report I go almost nothing done. In fact fell into a fairly bad mindset, and didn’t even try to meet online with the two writer’s groups I have tentatively joined.

But yesterday I saw the sun, the full sun, not some dull pink disc hanging in the sky! It really did life my spirits, that and the fact I could see the distant hills again, as the smog or fog or rain clouds or whatever combination had receded. Whatever is there is still there, but the air is fresh and clear, and the bad stuff seems to have been pushed out to the distant hills, or washed away.

Just the other night we had such a downpour of rain! A real cloudburst, but it lasted for a few hours before dropping off to a normal rain. The water in my horse trough became a sort of green stew with leaves and pieces of moss floating around inside. I dunked my face in it before I knew that. Now the ground is wet and the birds are singing again. I swear I hardly heard anything other than dogs barking these last few days. No owls hooting at night or birds singing at the close of the day, as I hear now. I always wonder what they are saying to each other. Something like good night, hide well so the predators don’t get you?

Also the other day I suffered from a very bad headache. I am sure it is stress, from all that has happened with the conditions outside recently, to concerns and strains with my life, to the stupid game I insist on playing. I had to come to a place where I decided I would not let the game get to me, and if it started to, I would stop playing. To just let go of the goals I wanted to accomplish but, currently, are unable to. There is great freedom in embracing your current, perceived limitations. Just acknowledging that this is where you are, and to stop struggling so damn much!

We fight so hard to control things, to make things bend to our will. We make it harder than it ever has to be. We espouse hard work as some kind of virtue. We really are like Sisyphus, pushing that damn rock up the hill, over and over again, and for what? Why not just let it go? What is the point in fighting if you are certain you will not win? By all means, work hard at the things that matter to you. But only on the things that matter to you, that you really care about. And learn to walk a balance between pushing ahead and easing off. If you drove your car like you drive your life you will get into a wreck before you know it! The brake pedal is there for a reason.

Just as in driving there is pushing ahead, slowing down, stopping, there are times in life when pushing is necessary, there are times in life to let go, and there are times in life to simply hit the brakes and let things be as they are. How are you driving your life? Pedal to the metal, full steam ahead? Straight into whatever immutable obstacle awaits you, right into the waiting arms of cancer and disease. You are literally pushing yourself to death!

Life does not have to be so hard. I need to hear this as much as I need to say it. There is a flow, and sometimes you drift with it, and sometimes you grab the oars and row. You always get to choose where to point your vessel. But you only get to choose where to point it. You are not in control of the flow, you have no say in the direction or strength of the current. But you can choose what course to take, and what direction you will go.

These next few days will bring some changes, some things I am going to try and work through. I will come back here with anything I learn.

The Storm

I enter.

My mom starts talking about
how great and good God is,
the way that tree fell.

I feel such a surge
of hatred, anger and maybe
even a little bitterness.

But I choke back my words,
and say nothing at all because
I don’t want to hurt her.

I exit.

I have come to feel
that everyone is entitled
to their beliefs.

I just wish they would
stop shoving them down,
my throat, smothering me.

Is it too much to ask
that you respect my right
to believe as I wish???

I am doing that for you,
though your unquestioning,
sheep-like behavior wounds me.

When will humanity evolve
past the need to define God
and simply accept things as they are?

When will they let go
of the old, the outdated,
beliefs of others, long dead?

Will they ever learn
to define God for themselves
and respect each person’s experience?

The wind rages, trees fall,
limbs are blown across the lawn,
reflecting the storm within my soul.

What Is Working In My Writing?

Sage Cohen, in her book, “Fierce on the Page“, talks about focusing on what is working, instead of what is not (chapter 13). As I took a look at myself, all I could think about is what is not working, what I am not doing. Obviously I am focused on what is not working if these are my thoughts. Especially since I am struggling to pinpoint what is working in my writing life.

So, in my writing, what is working? I thought I would sit down and work this out in a blog post, as my last blog post kinda sucked (again, focused on what is not working.) You can do this with me. What is working in your creative life, in whatever way you express yourself creatively?

For me, one of the things I love about when I am writing is when I sit down and sort of fall into a flow state, AKA “The Zone.” When I just get lost in a story I am telling, and it’s like I am experiencing the story at the same time I am writing it. Which, going back to what is not working, why it hurts me so much, why it sucks so much, when I loose the thread and can no longer “pick up” the story. I hate that!

Something else that works for me in my writing is how some things I am working on seem to resonate with me. I have a bunch of shortcuts on my desk to various documents that I felt strongly connected to at the time I created them. I will likely write in one of these. It is so satisfying when you open up a document, and can “pick up the thread” as it were. When this happens I absolutely love it!

Another thing that was working for me in my writing and might work again, is my chosen established writing time. It wasn’t a huge victory, but enough of one that I noticed, when I managed to establish a writing habit. I accepted that I am a writer, made it clear to the others that live here when I am writing and identified myself to them as a writer, then wrote at that time. When I was doing this, it was nice to have that small victory in my writing process. It is also easier to fall back into it now that I have been away from it a while.

I love the high energy, high frequency, high vibration, positive state I am in when poetry comes. Those days when multiple poems would come at once. Nothing phased me, I was in love with the world, engaged with it and all I was experiencing around me, whether it was scenery I was watching or a breeze playing over my skin or the sounds of water flowing, or children playing. If I knew how to live in that state forever, I would. But when I find myself in this state, especially after long absences away, I just enjoy it, relish it and the poetry writing flows effortlessly.

I loved the stories I was able to complete. The short horror stories and, to my eyes, the satisfying endings. I loved creating those endings, and most if not all of the time I never had it planned out in my head. I had this idea for a story. I created a character, plunked them into the story and built it around them based on the idea. Then I watched things develop through their eyes, from the beginning to the end. I went through everything they went through. I lived the story with them. I got scared when they got scared. Then I would wrap everything up, and it hardly ever felt wrong. It felt right. It felt complete. I would like to return to writing short stories like that, and I would LOVE to be able to write longer tales the same way!

I love how certain things I read can have such an impact on me, even to the point of affecting my writing. I once started a story that was completely in rhyme, inspired by the Tolkien books. Managed to get through the first chapter or introduction, then lost it. But I would like to figure out how to access that way of writing, and do an entire short story, or even a novel, completely in rhyme, I am sure I could do it, if I could just figure out how to fall into a state conducive for that writing to happen.

I loved the beauty of that piece I linked you to in my last blog post. I can barely remember when I wrote it. But on discovering it, and reading it again all this time later, I cried a little. It spoke to me. I can hardly believe I wrote it. I can’t even recall the spirit or state I was in when I wrote it. I have some vague idea, but nothing concrete. Yet it says so eloquently what I wanted to say at the time, what I still want to say. I strongly desire to write more parables and things like this. I mean it worked for Kahlil Gibran!

I think that if when I sat down to write I experienced more of these things I enjoyed and loved and less of the struggle I have been wrestling with I would write a lot more. I would develop and grow as a writer much quicker. I know I denied this aspect of myself all these years, and there are consequences for that. I likely have a lot of slogging uphill in the mud to do before I get anywhere in my writing. But I am looking forward to that sunny, green hilltop. That alpine meadow with all the flowers, birds and a few hardy trees. That space where my writing has become more than habit, it has become my life, and I am literally putting my life energy into every word I type. Bleeding on the page energetically, in a state of ecstasy. I look forward to that day, and desire it to come soon!

So, reader, if you are a writer, what are the things that are working in your writing? If you are an artist what are the things that are working in your drawing, painting, sculpting, etc? Any advice or thoughts that you would care to share with everyone? Please comment below.