A few years ago one of my favourite bands released an album entitled God and the Devil are raging inside me and right from the moment I first laid eyes on the cover jacket I fell in love. The very idea portrayed in the title was so beautifully macabre that I couldn’t help but be moved by the complexities of human emotion those eight short words could convey. While you’re probably thinking I’m about to slip into another diatribe about my own inner thought processes and compulsions, I’m going to have to say that you’re wrong. We’re not here to rehash just how misguided my head often is, but rather we are going to touch on sometime I started a long, long time ago.
For those of you that have been with me for a while you may remember that in the early days of this blog I regurgitated a quote by comic book writer Alan Moore (I do tend to use quotes a bit in my works). The quote was taken from a short thesis Moore constructed about writing, in which he posited that if a writer wants to continuously improve at their craft they must learn to immerse themselves in the least desirable element and swim. At the time of writing I proposed that if I wanted to continue to grow as a writer I had to venture into a realm that left me with a sense of dread: I wanted to write a love story.
Ever since that post I’ve had a few different attempts at creating a love story, but every time I’ve tried to produce something of quality I’ve found myself with a protagonist who is a real piece of shit. Arrogance, narcissism, and ego seemed to be a common trait in my male leads and the stories would usually crumble pretty damn quickly, and rightly so. Who could fall in love with someone so abrasive? Nevertheless the idea of producing my love story has always been at the forefront of my creative endeavours, becoming the God in my own mental raging when compared to the Devil of my thriller writing.
Lately I’ve been sitting on my hands waiting to see what becomes of my high concept thriller novel Midas, and have been floundering between devoting time to its sequel and this blog. It’s a weird feeling to be creating a sequel to a novel that may fail to become anything more than a document on my laptop, so every time I try to produce a decent follow up I find myself giving up after an hour or two of second guessing and endless self-critique having accomplished very little.
Last night I was determined to write something, so I took to crafting another attempt at my love story rather than screwing around on my sequel once again. I opened up a blank document and started with the word vulnerable as a title. I don’t really know what made me chose the title. Nor do I really know why I chose to start my story in the arm chair of a phycologists office, but over the next few hours I punched out thousands of well thought out words that would become the introduction of my story.
Usually when I write I spend a an hour or two labouring over a thousand words or so before I give up and collapse in an exhausted heap or decide to go shoot hoops. Yet last night I just found myself pouring my soul into the first few scenes of something that actually sounded fucking good. By the time I came up for air I’d plowed through almost five thousand words and blown away any previous records I’d held for productivity. Those words were the most harrowingly honest writing I have ever produced as I created a protagonist whose catalysts and compulsions are similar to my own…
…Stop. Chris just stop. You should never create characters based on yourself. It’s toxic. It’s arrogant, it’s-
-Shut the fuck up. While that’s true, and you should never attempt to create characters in the image of how you perceive yourself this was actually cathartic. I took a long hard look at myself, my failings, and idiosyncrasies and I poured them into a script until I felt something inside me release; as if by unburdening my heart of its own negative inclinations of itself, I had untied the knot in my chest and allowed it relief. Somehow playing phycologist with myself and pressing my mind to answer the questions I’ve spent years trying to avoid allowed me to create something that I felt truly proud of.
While this latest version of my love story is still in its infancy, and still a long way from being well thought out or even remotely ready to present to anyone, there is something quite humbling in the lines I have produced. With a title like vulnerable I decided that I had to be exactly that if I was going to attempt to immerse myself once more in that least desirable element. If I’m going to swim then I need to do it untethered.
So just as God and the Devil are raging inside of all of us, so too are they now raging inside my creative mind once again. I have the God of romance trying to bid for my attention and the Devil of ruin and woe pulling me back to my true passion of thriller writing. Only time will tell if I can sustain the opening pace of my new script, but even if I can’t, just being able to unburden my soul in those opening few thousand words last night was an experience I won’t soon forget. Through my own honesty and self-reflection I now know a different side to myself and have a character that for once doesn’t sound like a fucking dick.