Friday, September 12, 2008 - 9:06 AM

It's been a while; I've been 2500 miles away from where I usually am, relearning the fine art of relaxation. Part of the misery of being a writer is that you never really have a free moment. There is always an overwhelming sense that you should be Doing Something, at all times. Sleep starts to become a hindrance. For that little tittering part of the psyche called sanity, a break is very much needed from time to time.

Also, my East coast people, keep it real. You are all awesome.

Naturally, I have a huge docket of creative work to deal with at the moment, and the one at the top of the list is a novel. Some of you were privy to the short experimental series I entitled Customs, under my pen-name blog, which was originally based on a dream I had. The idea continued to grow, and I have the skeleton of a full-length novel involving the protagonist. Unfortunately, for the first time in my life I am having difficulty on starting the story. I know where the middle goes, and I know how it is likely to end, but the start is too muddy.

However, a little spark landed on some creative kindling, and I believe I have a way to get going on this.

Customs, the novel, is a prequel of the pieces I have already written, and for those of you not familiar with those pieces, the Customs world is a place where the supernatural exists and everybody knows about it. Yes, it is a popular genre these days, but my take on it isn't something I've seen in any of the books I've happened across. I do believe I have something new to offer, which is funny to me considering how much of the very, very old is ending up in Customs. A very large part of mythology has been popularized, distorted and reinterpreted to the point where most people don't even recognize the original stories behind it, and I have found that in many cases, the original stories are far more bizarre and unusual than the popular image. Being me, I fully intend to make good use of the bizarre.

Another aspect of Customs that I wanted to particularly explore is the nature of the supernatural and its role in the human psyche. In our world, the supernatural is a level of symbolic existence, a place where we can safely examine pieces of ourselves or others that we are not comfortable with or do not completely understand. We do this by creating an external story that incorporates these facets of ourselves within it, whether we are conscious of that choice or not. The popularity of the vampire myth is a fine example of this, in my opinion; vampires in the popular view, if stripped down, are dead humans who must drink the blood of other livings to sustain their immortality. They control and manipulate other people. Some try to be good but it is never easy for them, and yet, there is a strong romanticism connected with them. Why?

Because people instinctively see their own selfish hunger and their fear of failing to be a good person in the vampire. It is a story to help understand one's self.

So, writing about a world in which the supernatural is quite real provides some wonderful opportunities for storytelling and examination. Symbolically, it is a world where humanity is confronted by uncomfortable truths frequently, and they cannot merely dismiss them as stories or myths. Of course, they can try to redefine them into something safer, something less frightening to recognize in themselves, and that is part of what Customs is about.

The ability of humanity to deceive itself is truly astounding.



At September 13, 2008 11:47 AM, Blogger GaanEden said...

I am looking forward to this novel. I love the Customs stories.


At September 15, 2008 6:27 AM, Blogger MCHossman said...

"It was a dark and lonely night..." ?


At October 14, 2008 5:52 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I agree that most supernatural creatures have a reflection in the human experience, if not of themselves, then at least of something. Dragons are a favorite of mine. They are nature at its most dangerously primordial. They are the storm that rips the roof off your house and kills your children, and they are the rain that nurtures your fields.

I'm never sure what I like better when it comes to these human-in-inhuman archetypes: play them straight, play them straight but out of context, or attempt to invert them in or out of context.

I guess the question is, is it more fun to have your hero slay a dragon, to have your hero slay a dragon in a business suit, or have your hero be the dragon.


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