How Short Stories become Books.

I was reading around the blogs, as one does on WordPress, and came across an interesting post. The author noted that they found fiction to be nearly impossible for them to write, despite loving to write. So they tended towards non-fiction, but still really wanted to learn to write fiction.

I’m by no means a veteran author. No, I only started my first book eight months ago, but I spend around four-twelve hours a day writing (depending on how much I can get away with while attending University full time). The part that comes easily to me is fiction and this person was asking for advice, so I wrote:

“It seems you’re approaching it deliberately. That only really works when you have a full outline…Patterson style (this works, but it also takes some of the fun away).

For me, a book starts with an idea, a singular scene or defining moment that makes everything else fall into place. Once the characters and setting have a bit of weight, they tend to write themselves. The hardest part of a snowman is the base, but once it’s big enough, you just push it gently and it grows.

All my books started as a short story. The hard part is finding the players and arranging them in a way that makes sense and is believable. After that, they make themselves interesting by being who they are. Just light the fire and blow a little oxygen (because we need more metaphors in this comment, don’t we?)

I hope that helps a little. I know it’s vague and wordy, but fiction is a much more fluid process than nonfiction, it’s less about the details and the authenticity at first and more about the big picture. You have time to fill in the details as you go and when you’re editing. Kind of like sculpting versus photography, if that makes sense. You’re go for the rough shape of it first, each chapter needs to have an overarching point or purpose, but that can mean a lot of things. 

Anyway, love the post. Honest, funny, and interesting. Keep it up!”

I hadn’t really thought about how it worked before then, and it was kind of weird to read that back. I’m just sitting there thinking, ‘so that’s what I’ve been doing?’ 

But that’s all it takes. If you can write an engaging and open ended short story (this isn’t necessarily easy but everyone has it in them), by all means, let it snowball into a novel. It can seem imposing when you think about it like that, but make each chapter another short story, just build off of what you have. The longer it gets the more natural it feels. And it is engaging. Beautifully engaging. It’s the reason I’ve come to love doing this…it’s like a drug for me (since I don’t drink I need one of those :P).

That feeling when you get lost in a story? You get that by default, except it’s so much more because it’s your story. You are the characters. You feel what they feel and it’s a unique sort of empathy. It’s never about word count or aiming for a certain length, or worrying if your stylistic innovations are even publishable. These things matter, but it’s just gonna make it seem imposing again. Just let it become what it is, mold it like you’d mold a part, sculpt a drawing. Let the other bits come naturally and adjust accordingly. It’s a lot easier to do that kind of thing when you already have a working manuscript. It’s your art.

In that regard, I feel my experience with traditional art has really helped me approach story writing in a way that makes sense to me. In art you plan, but that archetype needs to be fluid, otherwise you’ll fail or worse, miss opportunities to make it better (there’s nothing quite like improving upon that image you had in your head). Writings the same way. Start with that rough sketch, shade a little, find the shadows and plan for the highlights because light only matters next to darkness. Books are that way too…you want contrast, you want a roller-coaster to make someone feel. To make yourself feel. I write what I want to read and write what I find to be engaging and natural and that’s all there really is to it. Genre is a post production label, too. Try not to think about it when you’re getting started. That gave me some grief early on.

The only other major tip I have is, don’t force it. If you’re not feeling it, and it isn’t fun or engaging at that moment, that’s probably a sign it isn’t necessarily where you should take it. Trust your own emotions and only write when you want to. I write a lot, but it’s still only when I want to. I don’t usually plan or think about the story that much when I’m actually writing. I do that when I fall asleep and throughout the day, I just sketch little notes or ideas on my notepad app. Immersing yourself in the story and living it a little before deciding on a path can really yield some awesome plot twists and depth you could never achieve in one sitting.

There are likely hundreds of different processes that are different then or even better than what I do, but it’s worked for me, and I never once had to really think about it. Once you get going, you’ll find your own little tricks that make everything easier.

Anyway, I hope someone finds this useful and maybe reconsiders giving fiction a go. I promise it’s worth it.

-Blu ❤

Willow o’ Wisp

Le Willow o’ Wisp

Cornhusking the dog,
It pauses,
Before sipping it’s grog,
A mixture of fermented oils from frogs.

A salesmen at start,
A sick fuck at heart,
Clyde shapens his pitch,
And my lips; how they part.

Wide an’ oh so wallow,
Like this neck in a noose,
He sells me his product,
As my hands won’t come loose.

The bonds o’ his trade,
Le willow of wisp,
A fragment; no spade,
Of hell and its bliss.

Behind me he walks,
Continues his talks,
And slithers his husk around my kin.

Making me watch,
He delivers his thoughts,
Oh; how do the knives even talk?
And;
“The darkness always wins.”

Artwork: Pisces

The second piece of my Zodiac project. After Leo (found here:https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/11/29/artwork-zodiac-series-1/) I really wanted to clean up the line-work and composition. This almost ended up looking a little too clean for the style, I think. This is probably the first time where I’ve had a reverse fore-ground, where the background is so noisy that it draws attention to the undetailed focus of the painting, which is a weird but kinda cool effect. Sorry about my shadow on the bottom of the picture, I have a very dark room and the light is currently out, so I had to use the window!

Concept: Pisces are all about finding that one person who makes them feel whole, there yin or yang, so to speak. To a true Pisces, life may not seem worth living until they find that person or thing that drives them. You know what they say, life was built for two.

Love2

Sagittarius (Art in progress)

IMG_7389

Spent a good amount of time getting the outline done and some preliminary shading so I know where to put the watercolor. Tried a new technique using metals and glue which turned out pretty cool for the first try. I used my fingernail for most of it to be honest. Still need to put in the Shadows and clean up the contour before I get to painting, though.

A few mistakes, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s going.

Artwork in Progress + Steps

 

I recorded many of the steps along the way: 

Outline work:

IMG_7096

 

Minor shading and reinforcing line-work:

IMG_7122

 

Watercolor overlay and deeper mid-tone base:

IMG_7143

Water-color detailing (Bad Picture, the light is reflecting off the heavier painted areas):

IMG_7152

Heavy oil and pen shading+detailing in addition to skin shading and texture work (Current Progress):

GhostV4

It has taken on a bit of a surreal vibe with the self-harm symbolism being echoed through the blood-tinged smoke, the wrist, the smoking, and standing in front of a moving train. I like how dark I’ve managed to get the shadows as well. I need to go in with some white and highlight a few things, but I want to get basic mid-ranges handled on the train and grass before I do so.

The scene itself is from Finding Happy: Chapter 11, which hasn’t been released yet. I need to spend a week or two re-editing the flow of part one as a whole, at which time I’ll start releasing more hard-content. Another issues with these pictures is I couldn’t submit .Tif files, which really hurts the shadows in the current drawing, especially the hair. I’m going to try to figure out which compression file works best for it in future uploads, but I just wanted an update on artwork put out since it’s been almost a week and a half.

-Cheers

Bluebeard

Finding Happy: Chapter 3-To Normal

Ignorance is a bliss that most fail to appreciate. Truly, sometimes not knowing, forgetting, is the purest mercy life can deal you. How knowledge can taint an otherwise euphoric reality. 

Enjoy!

Start at the beginning, if that’s your thing: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/13/third-degree-part-1/

_____________________________________

III

To Normal.

Casey had regained control of her emotions by the time her mom pulled up, twenty or so minutes later. I still can’t get up…The pains only grown sharper. Her mother nearly tripped as she raced out of the car. Her hand covered her mouth, tears flowing, as she flew to her daughter’s aid. “Baby, what happened to you? Oh God! Sweetie, you’re bleeding. Can you stand up? We need to take you to the hospital!” Bleeding?

Apologetically, Casey muttered, “I can’t walk…my stomach feels like it has a hole in it.” Pale and distraught, her mom wrapped her arm under her daughter’s knees and back, lifting her with a wordless grunt. “I’m really sorry, mommy. I went to a party last night. I know I was drinking, but I don’t know what happened. The last thing I remember is being in the hot tub with…” Best to leave that out.

“With who sweetie? With who?”

Lying, Casey said, “I…I don’t remember.” Straining, her mom managed to open the old VW’s passenger door.

“Don’t worry about it sweetie. Everything’s okay now. I’m not mad, don’t worry baby.” She said as she lowered Casey into the VW’s shabby and torn faux-leather seat. She’s always mad when I do bad things, why not now? I almost like it better when she just yells at me.

Casey pulled out her phone to check the rest of the messages as her mother started the engine. She tabbed to Matt and read:

‘Hey, Casey! I got the drinks and came back to the tub, where’d you go?” Where did I go, anyway? I just remember waiting and thinking how he was taking forever. ‘Hey, kinda worried, these parties can get pretty crazy, hope you’re okay <3’ Damnit. Now I feel even worse. I probably ruined his night, too. ‘Hey I’ve been looking around down here for like thirty minutes. If you headed home or something, I just wanna say how great a time I had with you. I know you think I’m a bit of player or something, but I’ve never really had a real girlfriend. Like I’ve gone on a few dates but I’ve never really connected the way I did with you there. Oh goodness, look at me getting all cringey. Sorry about that, but I mean it!’ He’s so sweet. I felt that too, though. ‘Alright I’m heading back with Jacob now, he drank wayy too much lol, I’m good to drive though, so don’t worry!’ I hope he was… ‘Hey, I made it home safe, hope alls good on your end <3’

Casey jumped, yanked from her reverie as her mom said, “Just a few more miles to the hospital, Casey. Hang in there!”  

Casey looked back down at her phone as it vibrated twice, indicating a new message. It’s from that same unknown number…It read ‘You get my msgg, bitch?’ Furrowing her brow in confusion, she tapped the new message notification and looked at the previous message, an ill-lit still frame with a play-symbol in the center. What the fuck? An ominous wave of anxiety surged up and down Casey’s sore limbs as she tapped play.

The video was black and void of detail, aside from two guys laughing softly. Is one of them carrying something? It’s so hard to tell with the piss-poor quality. Where does this dick get off calling me a bitch anyway? Wait…Is that someone? It looks like a body…The camera moved erratically and she heard someone whisper, “Take the camera so I can fuck the bitch.” What the hell is this? “Turn the flash on, dumbass.” Casey’s eye’s widened as a light illuminated what looked like a corpse on the bed. She’s not moving, what the fuck is wrong with these people!? No…The man who’d handed off the camera got on top of the girl and started to touch her.

Casey’s hands started to quiver, silent realization paralyzing her, as if she’d kissed a train that had somewhere to be. The man–the coward–pulled his large frame off of Casey’s limp body and started to undo her shorts. Broken, she held the power button, letting her phone die. Her entire body started to shudder, in shock, as the excessive vasoconstriction stole her viscera’s light, their liquid life. Again, the tears fell, but no sound left her gaping mouth. As the pain started to ravage her fast-fading willpower, she shut her eyes tight, let out a quiet choke, and leaned her fore-head against the back of the raggedy front-seat. In a vain attempt at stealth, she bit down hard on her tongue, and tasted crimson-iron. Why?

Noticing, Casey’s mom screeched, “What’s wrong, are you okay?! Casey!” Casey couldn’t respond as naked and utter despair washed over her sense of self. Failing at suppressing the pain, she let out an agonized, blood-tinged, wail.     

 

Quotes of a Cynic #22

I’m about to go for a run, and when I do, I’ll imagine a purpose for the movement. I like to think that one day, when I get fast enough, strong enough, and the breaths come easily, that I can run at a pace to a place no-one can trace the past remnants of me. A place where I’m enough, a place where I can just be, in peace.

 

The One thing I got Right (Poem)

The One thing I got Right
_____
You lay there and seem,
A goddess to me.
Vibrant deadly stream,
the painting from my dreams,
fire-born Seraphim.

You are the one mistake,
I won’t break,
because kissing you,
Brings me closer to heaven.

And the way your breath,
Ignites winter’s air,
Could save me from death.
This time that we share,
the truths we lay bare,
All let me know,

You are the one thing,
I did right,
the only mistake,
I’ll never take,
For granted.

Yeah,
we’re measured in heart-beats,
as we start flying away.
My love,
piece me together,
and tell me to stay.
I don’t know what’s holy,
but baby we are.
Forget the darkness,
that pain of yesterday,
let me sew you together,
as love lights the way.

Stay here with me, and there’s nothing we can’t create.
Tell me you need me, because that’s all that I say,
Your love is like heaven, so show me the way.
____________________

A few reasons why “13 Reasons Why” doesn’t actually promote suicide.

Preface: This is an atypical post, as Bluebeard is an art project, not a platform for media commentary. I write stories, I’m the opposite of a diplomat, abrasive, even. Yet, I’m inclined to defend this series’ integrity. This show is an exception, in many regards. It handles topics most people won’t touch in a deft and admirable fashion. I’ll spare you a half-assed plot summary and get to the point. If you haven’t seen it, and you have access, I highly recommend it.

_______________

It’s not an easy thing, to balance entertainment and tragedy. Catharsis is one of the most misunderstood and least accepted precursors of joy. The concept is this; without negativity, without different emotions, and without pain, joy would be meaningless. A constant and uninterrupted joy is the equivalent to a never ending supply of heroin at your bedside. It would be fake. Light is only recognizable amidst darkness, so to speak. This is why I respect ’13 Reasons Why’ and what it does.

It creates a meaningful dialogue in a country where, frankly, we suck at feelings. It’s 2017 and people still say “Commit Suicide” like it was a crime, a murder. It’s not, and has not been in the United States since the ’80s. We treat it like it’s something dirty, we don’t educate our youth about the dangers of depression and self-harm. We ignore the victims who suffer from it every day, telling them to suck it up, because we’ve cultivated an individualistic sink-or-swim community where many would prefer to see their friends fail than see their friends surpass them. It’s this ignorance an repression that ultimately leads to higher rates of suicide in every demographic.

’13 Reasons Why’ is a perfect example of what we need more of; exposure. You can’t fight what you don’t understand, as a chemist, that fact has been drilled into my mind for years. You don’t cure cancer without an intimate knowledge of the mechanics surrounding the mutations that cause it (cyclins, P53, etc.). Yet, research on suicide and depression continues to be given a backseat to things like developing new tanks, war-machines, and war-heads because if it can’t knock the earth from its orbit, it isn’t explosive enough. The best way to combat depression is to talk about it.

As someone who has suffered from depression, as someone who’s lost someone close to their heart to depression, and someone who has thought about suicide at least once a week for the past five years, I can tell you with near-perfect certainty that the one thing that has been effective for me was having someone to talk to. Someone who wouldn’t call me an attention whore. Someone who wasn’t going to judge me for what I might be going through, however trivial it may appear from the outside looking in. Those people aren’t easy to find, because we are socialized to value stoicism and strength over emotion and introspection.  The result of that, by the way, is that the cruel and stupid flourish at the expense of the thoughtful. If you’ve ever been beaten up by over four people on the playground while the aid turned the other cheek, you know what I’m talking about.

The argument against ’13 Reasons Why’ is this: Hannah’s suicide romanticizes self-harm, the tapes glorify suicide, makes it appealing, thereby increasing suicide rates.

Ironic to see this coming from the same news outlets that have a field day when when some kid shoots up a school. Glorifying school shootings by making the shooter famous and showing their face to everyone gives the killer what they wanted. This isn’t that. Hannah’s characterization is slowly revealed through the tapes, the (extremely valid) reasons she was in pain. One thing above all led to her decision, though. That was the fact that no-one was there for her. She tried, very explicitly, to reach out. Nobody gave a fuck. Instead they continued to abuse her, both verbally, and in one grim instance, sexually.

That’s the point. That’s all there is to it. Compassion and the simple act of being there, the act of not presuming to know what somebodies going through.

Not everything people are saying is wrong, her suicide scene was romanticized, in the artistic sense of the word. It was an artistic and cathartic scene that made me cry. But romanticizing something doesn’t glorify it, it’s the act of making it relatable. It’s the context that matters.

’13 Reasons Why’ accomplished something when they made depression, pain, and suicide relatable to a mass audience. The people who jump on it and condemn its intentions are the same callous, sensationalist, and opportunistic folks who’d sell everything they are for success. Success is relative. Means do not always justify ends.

I’m not arguing Hannah’s character is perfect, because she’s not. She has flaws that inhibit other peoples ability to help her, most notably Clay, the socially inept protagonist. But who doesn’t have issues? Who doesn’t have the occasional self-destructive moment? People who say they don’t ever have painful moments need to take their masks off and look in the mirror.

Another salient point is that just because Netflix produced something that contains an instance of self-harm, doesn’t mean Netflix is trying to get people to kill themselves. That same logic only holds when applied to everything, including murder, crime, and things a whole lot worse than depression that are regularly aired without criticism. We do this, this taboo stuff. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s ironic and damaging. The reason people get mad that a suicide is depicted in a story is the same reason that people get mad when there is nudity. All the while mass-murder and unapologetic gore become normalized.

I’m not arguing against depictions of violence or further censorship, rather, that people start giving more credence to actual context than click-bait titles. ’13 Reasons Why’ doesn’t convince people to kill themselves, if anything, it’s a positive step in combating the enigma of depression,

Maybe it could help our society grow in a positive way that encourages youth to be open instead of smothering uncomfortable emotions and pretending they don’t exist. That’s when the damage is done, when you bottle the negativity up. This show simply tries to alleviate that built up societal pressure. One thing it won’t do, however, is convince psychologically healthy individuals to up and kill themselves. There are reasons for suicide, it’s never trivial.