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Today’s story is a mash-up-date of two classics, one older than the other. You can find it in the Stories section 😀
I wanted to try writing from a different moral stand-point than I usually do, so I picked one of the most infamous villains in history. In a way, he’s also my favourite character of all time. I hope you enjoy, ‘The Labours of Hell!”
For those of you wondering about the state of MB, it’s still in the works. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten it. My schedules have been pushed around a bit and my interviews postponed, but the concept lives on.
Today’s rant is a bit personal. While I usually include anecdotes in my writing, I tend to avoid talking about myself. This is quite on purpose. “Trivial,” as my gaming blog and writing blog are called, refers to myself, in part. I’m just some trivial punk writing my thoughts and ideas out for you to read and consider. I have no problem with that. What matters to me is the internet identity that manifests from those ideas. They will coalesce and take on a life of their own. They’re part of me and separate, as well. I figured the name should acknowledge that while it also defines it. It also shortens to “Trivia,” which is a substantial portion of who I am.
Today, though, I have something to say that cannot be divorced from who I am. For a long, long time, I’ve wanted to be a writer. In my younger years, I thought that meant that I could get along on talent and inspiration. It took time and effort to realize that those are but the seeds. It takes determination and a considered hand to craft a writer from a talented youth. There are days I resist the written word. There are days it resists me. However, if I’m ever to feel comfortable in the skin of someone that calls themself a writer, then I need to be able to work through those days. Otherwise, I’m just someone who writes. This is a craft, after all. If I don’t push myself, then I’ve failed right out of the gate.
It’s a life-long pursuit. So, I might as well start now. That’s where my blogs and Trivial Punk came from: the urge to write and improve. I needed to prove that I could make this MY craft, while, simultaneously, proving that I belonged to it. That was the beginning, though. Halcyon days don’t last forever, and my raw idealism has since transformed itself to cynicism. That cynicism became desperation, which became hope and determination. You see, when I wrote Descent, part of me was acknowledging the grind that my life could become. The life of a freelance writer is not a wealthy one, and bills catch up with the best of us, except perhaps the ultra-wealthy. I realized that this life might not be sustainable and that I needed to find a way to make it work. Otherwise, I would have to drop what I’m doing here and return to academia for my Masters in Psychology far before I was ready.
I know it doesn’t sound like a desperate life. In truth, it’s really not. I’m not trapped or bereft. My poverty is of my own choosing, a symptom of my dedication to this and other pursuits. I have a possible future and the means to make it happen that could furnish me with interesting work unto my grave. That sounds fine, but it’s missing a key element: my desire. Descent was, in part, an acknowledgement of the small consolations and compromises we use to get through life and the dangers of following them to their logical conclusions. There’s no point where we truly choose “a life.” It is the result of an endless stream of small decisions and minor circumstances. I know this sounds like the whinging of the privileged, and it is. I’m well aware of the advantages of my position, and I’ve never once looked on them with scorn. I am grateful.
Simply put, I don’t want to compromise my life away. I want to design games and write stories. I want to use my knowledge of psychology, and the further study I’ll pursue, as a means to create beautiful experiences and promising treatments. I don’t want to reduce it to an end. It’s my hope that understanding the organ we’re engaging and the being it represents will let us create gaming experiences of a truly transcendental nature. That we’ll use the fleshed-out worlds of the sand-box genre’s logical conclusion to keep the minds of coma patients alive and healthy. That we’ll give movement to the still, as we’re already beginning to. It’s the future, and gaming has a lot to offer it.
At the core of it, though, we’ll still need stories. We’ll need the tale of the brave orphan. We need the kindly shop-keep. There’s no way we can do without the sinister older brother. The wise old man. The waif, hungry for knowledge. The talented protege who learns that it’s going to take more than a sharp mind and a strong body to truly wield his fallen master’s sword. You need more than passion. You need opportunity…
You need dedication. That’s why these blogs are here. I don’t want to lose the analyst, the artist or the story-teller inside of me. If I commit entirely to one view-point, then those parts of me will die. They will take my eyes along with them. Those perspectives furnish me with insights that have set me apart from my classmates in the distant past, when the school-room was our playground. Now, though, they might only allow me to run alongside those people I hope to call peers. There are experienced, intellectual titans in the ocean I waded into, knees barely wet, out of sight. On calm days, when my mind is agile and reflective, I can feel their waves in the shuddering ocean. I can dip my fingers in and conjure a far-off reflection of brilliance…
…and I am afraid. Daunted. Inspired. Excited. Steeled. As good as I may become, I might never rise to meet the best, or even shake their hands. That’s not what matters, though. What matters is that ocean and the boy on the beach looking into it. His urge to swim. His audacity, confidence and passion to try and breach the surface. I cannot let him down. Yet, here I sat contemplating that very thing. That’s when I realized why this blog and the other were so important to me.
They are the life-lines that keep me honest. I love games, I truly do. I adore stories; they are my heart. But, that love isn’t the reason I write. It’s the reason I write about those things, yes. They’re not the reason I put finger to keyboard or pen to paper.
I am writing for my life. You find me here, because I need to keep the story-teller reminiscing. I need the artist inspired. My dear analyst must always have something to ruminate over. At the end of the day, I need this to stand for me, so that I, the flesh and blood boy, can dive into the ocean.
I don’t want to sit on the edge of the beach and watch the children splash in the shallows. No part of me is okay with just making a living. Working. The grind of Capitalism. Whatever you want to call it. Perhaps this hope, too, will rot off into acceptance, but it hasn’t yet. I want to live.
If I have to do that through a collection of articles or stories on a webpage, then so be it. I will live. I will write. I will create. I will learn. I will realize what I created before was rubbish and learn from those mistakes.
I will take swimming lessons. Maybe get some floaties.
That’s about all I have to say. I hope you found something reflective in my words. I hope you find your ocean and take your shot. For now, this post is all I can do to thank you for being a part of this life-line. Allons-y!
Next post will be either a new story, an old poem or the next MB entry. Either way, thanks for the indulgence. I really had to get that off my chest. (Just finished an old book. Like an ancient friend, it tends to have that effect on me).
We found a Way through. At first, we sent in a team of explorers and scientists, curious to document, study and understand. The realm of fairies furnished them with wonder and knowledge. We quickly learned that emotions, thoughts and feelings could be made manifest in one form or another. We were given paradise. We saw a resource.
The land stretched on, verdant, as far as we could see in every direction. If this world truly was the crystallization of humanity’s potential, then we figured it was boundless. The inhabitants were friendly, beautiful and gregarious in the extreme, but resisted our tests and attempts to harvest. In the end, we sent in soldiers. My dearest companion, Terrence, and I were among them
Each one of us was intent on using the resources of this place to save our dying world. After all, where would it be without us? We hadn’t considered that it might not want to be used. Whatever our reasons, our mission was theft.
As we marched through the Way, we were unaware that the membrane on which we stood, the Land of the Faeries, could bend, break and permit. It was a sieve. In gathering, we’d reached a collective threshold and plummeted to the depths where intentions live. The land of the Pixies.
It wasn’t a fall. Or, rather, it wasn’t a drop. We simply materialized at the mouth of a grand cave. The stalactites were ringed in impenetrable shadow, the stalagmites were darkness. We spread out to cover the perimeter, but we couldn’t possibly have prepared for the creature, the THING, we found. It stirred, slowly woke, and quickly gained momentum. It was a titanic ball of rippling flesh, scab, and bone. As it fell upon our scattered group, under a hail of machine-gun fire, its unity shattered. Forms burst forth from it, were carved out, still attached, and raked through our ranks. Every form we killed, it would feast upon. A maw of flesh would appear in the thing, close around the body, and chew with shattered bone and blunt trauma. Crushing, grinding, swallowing, feeding its metabolic girth with itself.
For all of its auto-cannibalism, it quickly over-powered us. Too much. Too many. We fell back to the mouth of the cave. We fell back into the wild unknown. We fell.
Yet, when our numbers thinned before the atrocious thing, we vanished once more from where we’d been. Finding ourselves, instead, in a shadowed glen. Trees shaded us from the elements and provided us with cover from the terrifying predators we couldn’t comprehend.
Sweeping the area, we cleared away rocks, plants, animals and sounds. We took knife to stem and hollow-point to movement. We established a guard, took shifts and, round the fire, took stock of what we knew. At the time, it turned out to be very little. As night fell and we set to sleep and watch, screams echoed through the camp. I watched it happen to a soldier named Jeff, overwhelmed into inaction.
A root had him in a wooden vice. Its undeniable force ripped through his uniform, his boots. His skin tore, at first, as it was roughly scraped from the flesh of his feet, but, once inside, the thing merely rippled through his flesh. Putrescent, his body dissolved within the skin-sac and leaked out of his orifices, out of himself. Then, like a sickly party favor, he was filled again by the malleable core-flesh of the envious tree. Rooted still, at its entry point, the puppet lashed out to claw a fleeing victim, its nails and finger-flesh scraping off of the wood underneath. It stood before us, out of reach,, splintered fingers bare, on two gnarled roots, in Jeff’s skin. It was a nightmare I resisted comprehending.
I grabbed Terry. We ran. Alone, we appeared, again, in another land. It was a gray area, unremarkable and terrifying. Nothing made sense. Nothing could be grasped or seen. It was enigma.
I realized then what I’ve told you now. Maybe it was madness or delusion. A wild rush of hope after all I’d seen, but I knew we were near the surface. I thought that without his sin I might break through the meniscus.
Whatever I’d understood, Terry hadn’t. My knife sunk easily into his unguarded neck.
Yet, nothing happened. I was just alone. So, alone, I wandered.
I should have realized then that, in leaving them to die, we’d sealed ourselves within our depth. Murdering him built upon that. The weight of my crimes alone were now enough to keep me here.
Here, I stay. Through study and practice, I’ve manifested many things, but there is no Way back. However, on the right night, in the right way, I can send a message through.
Please. Heed these words, “Your motives are not your intentions. Respect our demons.”
Tell Terry’s family, “I’m so sorry.”
I posted a short-story under the “Descent” page. I couldn’t tag it, but it’s basically a blog post; I just didn’t want to screw up the word-count continuity. It’s my first attempt at a psycho-character study in the guise of a horror story. I’m using it to apply for a write program, so any constructive feedback would be much appreciated!
I’ve had this one building in me for a while, but I never wanted to approach it, because it’ll make me sound like an elitist git. It wasn’t until a couple of minutes ago that I realized that what I was actually trying to say wasn’t a complaint. If I flipped it on its head, then it was something deeply important to me that I had to share. It just manifested as anger because I hated seeing it abused. Today, I want to talk a bit about that thing. That thing is, of course, language. In my case specifically, the English language and, by extension, being a writer. Or writing. Or any combination of the two.
Let’s start with one of the purposes of language: communication. What is language without communication? A bunch of arcane symbols and noises. In other words, you can say anything you want, any combination of gobbledegook at all, but it will be meaningless unless it can be understood. This is why grammar and syntax are so important. I’m sure you’ve been to Facebook, Reddit, or The Internet, and seen the high-larious, hackneyed posts about the important differences between “your” and “you’re,” so I won’t bother getting into the specifics here. However, the idea serves to highlight an important point: re-read your work. Edit. Get someone else to read it. Take a walk, come back and read it yourself. Freeze yourself and send yourself back in time a bit, or alter the time-stream to create a parallel version of you with no knowledge of your current work, and get that version of you to read it. Care about the words you say and where you place them. Everyone makes mistakes. That’s an okay thing to do. BUT, you mustn’t be careless. Anyone who reads your work is letting you into their head. They are bringing life to your vision, so make sure it makes sense.
That brings us to the flip-side of the coin: grammar-nazis. There will always be people who are willing to correct your work. Not all of them will give you constructive criticism, though. Some of them will just demand that you stick to the rules or not make mistakes. This sort of critique is mostly useless. I understand wanting to win an argument over the internet, but insulting someone’s grammar will never net you a win; it will just prove that you’re a tosser. Correcting it is fine, especially if the sentence is so malformed that it doesn’t make sense, but proving a point takes more than words. It takes ideas. Yes, words communicate ideas, but not all ideas are always equally applicable. Sometimes, a mistake is just a mistake. Demanding that you stick to a set of rules seems like a reasonable demand, but it isn’t universal. Grammar exists to help us communicate more clearly, but its rules are constantly in flux. Personally, I have a well-worn copy of “A Canadian Wrtier’s Reference” by my desk that’s about 4 editions behind. Each new edition has added something new. I’m constantly finding out that convention has changed. Most of the time, it’s stuff that I can safely ignore, because it gets really obtuse. However, you can’t ignore it all because the obtuse stuff can get you in the end. It can warp the meaning of entire phrases. Language doesn’t crystallize forever, either. Look at ye olde English Bard, yon Shakespeare. Some people think he’s absolutely impossible to understand, the height of nonsense. Of course, if you read him, then you know that’s not true. It does serve to illustrate the gulf that can form with time, though. Someday, our work will sound like that, too, if we’re lucky enough to have people interested in reading it.
However, even current convention must be subsumed within the larger purpose of communication. Once you are familiar enough with the rules, as the age-old saying goes, you can bend them. Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to start a sentence with “But” or “And,” but, sometimes, it’s the best way to do so. Sometimes, it lets you communicate more clearly. Sometimes, you’ll have to break convention to get a point across. Using “…” or repeating words over and over again can bring life to a sentence in a way that nothing else can. It gives your writing flavour. The writers who compile the rules of grammar and syntax know this. The ones who judge our works from on high are well aware of the inherent flexibility of language. That’s why those rules exist: to try to rein in limitless fecundity just enough to let words speak to each other. Otherwise, we’d be left garbling to no one.
Overall, my point is simple. Make sure you place your words with care. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules of form and function to serve communication. All you have are your words, their placement and their context to get what you’re trying to say across. And, you ignore one at the expense of the others. Revere language because it’s more important to humanity than any of us can fathom without it.
More-so, if you’re a writer.