Friday, September 13, 2013

In The Footsteps Of Dracula, Part One

When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow.  There was undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half-reclining white figure.  I called in fright, “Lucy! Lucy!” and something raised a head, and from where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes.

-Bram Stoker, Dracula



            Written by Bram Stoker in 1897, Dracula has become without a doubt one of my most beloved books.  In my youth, I had always shyed away from stories which touted the more frightening topics, recognizing that my own mind had the tendency to carry my imagination far beyond the words on the page.  Eventually, I convinced myself that it probably wouldn’t be overly frightening, having been written so long ago.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When reading old literature, it helps to understand the times that the author lived in.  In childhood, Bram learned about blood sucking fairies through his mother’s bedtime stories.  I could never imagine telling my children something as horrific as that, be it day or night.  My shock propelled me to further investigation.

            My love of history took over and as best as I could, I attempted to take my self out of my own times.  Dracula was written in the Victorian era when human mortality was very high, especially for children.  I believe that Bram Stoker used vampires as a way to explain the constant companion that death was to their everyday lives.  So why would a mother tell a child something as frightening as that?  Death was such a common reality, that there was probably no need to state the obvious.  And like any society in history, stories have a way of moving deeper into the human condition, transforming the obvious into fantasy.

            I always loved fantasy and science fiction but admittedly, I had not read any classic horror novels.  My reading of fantasy had been restricted, as white fangs salivated with immortal desire to penetrate my imagination further.  My imagination was indeed awakened to new depths, and presently I have read this book numerous times.  Of course, I prefer to read it during in the day and when I read it at night, I keep the hallway light on!

            Dracula was the beginning of vampire legends, inspiring many after it.  Imagination is endless in its immortality.  In this way, one never ages, never truly dies, and the human condition of death is free to move beyond the decay of this world, even beyond the grave.  In a wakening of consciousness, I did not see drops of blood flowing down my neck after the fangs struck, but drops of blackened ink as my mind shot open into boundless immortal fantasy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Arc of Change

In the past two months I lost my uncle and aunt, each siblings of my father who passed away in 1988.  In the midst of the two losses, I sent off my literary characters with my blessing and loads of tears into the big unknown of potential publication.  I’m cheering them on as they try to get a job.  The remaining patriarch and matriarch of my family having passed into the light of innocence are with their Creator for all eternity. 

I was emotionally raw from the death of my uncle, a man who was a great story teller (more on that later) when with celebration and prayer, I held my breath and pushed send.  With both joy and sadness, I sobbed onto the shoulder of Jenni Nelson, my editor, who I have been so blessed to have with me on this long journey.  The emotions were euphoric joy, relief, sadness, fear and overall… really strange!  Within two hours, I received the phone call from one of my cousins that my aunt was failing.  Unfortunately, she passed away early the next morning, peacefully, thank God.  Once again, my husband sat at the computer booking another flight and hotel, for another sad occasion.  In that whirlwind, I had no time to fully process emotionally or personally the fact that my characters had left the nest.

My aunt had never said a bad word in her life, she was a virtual saint.  Nobody and I mean nobody could ever say a mean thing about her.  She was a real angel in the flesh, and I found myself lost!  I was so used to creating and working with my angel of an editor, and I dreadfully missed it.  I didn’t know what to do with myself, with my newfound time.  I was so used to sending Jenni chapters, re-working them, receiving them back until finally seeing a final version.  When that process ended, it was like the brakes were applied so suddenly that the inertia of my body wanted to keep going, but it smacked against the laws of gravity, stopping me cold.

For weeks I wanted to write another long overdue post, but quite frankly, I couldn’t!  I was trying to come to grips with all of the life changes I was going through.  I tried to let myself jot something down but it was nothing more than a bunch of mish mosh hibble jibble.  I had often wondered how I would feel when my characters left the nest.  Well, it feels lonely, practically like an empty nester.

It is interesting though, how the deaths of my patriarchs and matriarch helped me.  For one thing I learned was that many of my family members are story tellers.  Those who have passed have a story with a forever-after happy ending.  With that reality, I see my characters moving along the same arc of change.  Like family members who have passed over from this world to the next, so too did my characters.  All of them have been created, nurtured and loved into eternal hope.  My uncle and aunt are both experiencing the best reunion imaginable and seeing their creator face to face.  Their aging human skin has been transformed into ageless youth, and my uncle has all the time in the world to tell his stories (I’m still not sure if they are real or based in fact!)  Yes, I will still shed many tears, but I now see my tears as apart of a natural and necessary grieving process.  Their future is more secure than ever, because they are holding hands with their Creator. 

I therefore continue on the journey that my Creator set me on.  He has been more faithful than my mortal mind can comprehend.  When I think of the arc of change my uncle and aunt are on, and the youthful reality they will always have, I see not so much an empty nest, but a full one.  Full of hope, I wait as my characters go out into the unknown.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Silence is Golden

Sometimes silence is beneficial, in order to listen for that still, small voice. Maybe it’s for creativity to move deeper into the soul, maybe it’s for reflection and introspection. What ever it is, there are times when silence is needed, to stop and not just smell the roses, but to ponder on their beautiful creation, to examine the petals in all of their complexity. Roses are in bloom all around us, in every season, even though humanity frequently looks right passed the source of their potent beauty.

My silence on my blog is attributed to a much needed time of silence in my life, to enjoy the rich bountiful rose garden I have been blessed with, namely my family and friends. They have all labored in understanding and friendship during the many years it has taken me to ink this creation, Abyss of the Fallen.

Even in silence, I was not gone from the muse of my mind, for during the drought of my blog, I found myself tackling re-writes, which admittedly I had felt that I would never have to do. I long since have chalked this up to naivety, to not fully understanding a craft which will take me a lifetime to perfect, if even then.

It was only in silence that I was able to hear the voices of my literary children better. Removing my thoughts to allow theirs to move in the freedom they sought, their voices rang truer in my mind, and I was able to hear their story in the way it should be told. It was only in my solitude that my characters found a solace for their existence. Speaking as a fantasy writer, they were pleased when I gave them full reign of their own story, without interjecting my own course for their direction.

I once heard, ‘if your characters do not become family to you, then you are not writing.’ This is very much true for me, and like all families, each person is unique and should have the freedom to live the life they were meant to live. It is in my quiet times of prayer, that the gift of silence is more potent, when the rose garden smells the most poignant, for my mind goes to each of the miracles in my life, my children. In silence I sit, and I think of their own course of life and how little I can interject or should interject upon them the direction that I want for their lives. In silence I listen, in silence I wait, and in silence I feel stronger in Who is guiding, leading, and directing the course of their lives.

While I claim authorship for my characters, I do not claim authorship for the gift of silence, for the gift of the rose garden, whose petals I have been blessed to hold in my hands, but the biggest blessing is knowing in Whose hand everything is held. I know like the ink which flows out of my pen, like my fingers which tap the keys, I am here to guide and correct my characters' story onto the page, as well as guide and correct my children with their lives. I will continue to let silence be golden, listen to that still small voice, and let creativity shine through onto their paths, while praying that the Creator who holds everything will move deeper into their souls.