Monthly Archives: May 2014

New Projects!

It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted here, but this time I’ve actually been getting some writing done! I’ve finished rough drafts of two new short stories, “Wings” and “Bedtime,” and I’ve been working on another called “The Passing.” “Wings” was the result of a prompt an apartment-mate at university gave me (“buffalo angel wings”), and turned into a very open-ended story about fallen angels, hungry giants, memory loss, and the malleability of reality. “Bedtime” is very short, about 500-word piece exploring what happens if there really is a monster under the bed. I’m currently editing and revising these pieces, and hopefully will be submitting them to be published in as-of-yet-to-be-determined places. The piece I’m currently working on, “The Passing,” was inspired by this scene from Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, an SB incarnation I have very mixed feelings about. It involves an interdimensional being “passing” through someone’s home in the middle of the night, and interacting with the homeowner in a variety of unsettling ways that drive him to insanity.

Those short stories aside, I have two other projects currently in development. The first is another free online serial novel, in the vein of the dead Astral Tide, but this time with just myself writing. It does, however, borrow heavily from many of the themes present in the earlier work. Beginning June 9th, every Monday I will post a 500-2000 word chapter in the story, which is what I call a “post-Lovecraftian” tale, mixing science fiction, horror, and fantasy in a post-apocalyptic setting in which Lovecraftian monsters have awoken on earth. The setting borrows heavily from the Cthulhu Mythos, and will feature characters and beasts from Lovecraft’s works very prominently. For those of you who are interested, I will direct you to The Eldritch Wastes, where you can read more about it and dive into the short preludes I have been putting up. I encourage you all to check it out!

The other project I’ve been working on is another new short novel-length piece. I got bitten by a really bad plot bunny a few days back, and I’ve been plotting like crazy. The current working title of the piece is Moons Over Sothenheim, and I am aiming for a 50-75 thousand word novel in which capitalism meets Lovecraft. It begins as a science fiction dystopian novel taking place about three hundred years in the future, and follows the troubles of a young woman trying to survive in a Darwinist universe, but over the course of the novel she winds up mining on one of the moons of the frontier planet Sothenheim, where something beyond human comprehension is being exploited by leaders of industry, threatening all human life. In order to ensure that I finish this project (hopefully by the end of this summer, fingers crossed), I will attempt to write the whole first draft in the month of June, in the form of my own Camp NaNoWriMo, complete with weekly updates. So, stay tuned for all of this, and I’ll be back soon!

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Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Writing


Dark and Bleak Writing

For a long time, I considered myself a “dark” writer. I thought that my writing was dark and gritty, showcasing the bad side of reality, the side that everyone else wants to ignore. Part of this came from my identification in part as a horror writer; horror is dark, right? Well, it can be, but it isn’t necessarily. Poe’s writings were dark. Alas, my own horror is not inspired by Poe, but rather by Lovecraft. While Lovecraft himself was in part inspired by Poe, most of his writings, I don’t think, were dark. His writings, instead, were bleak – and so are mine.

What then, I hear you ask, is the difference between dark and bleak? While many will probably disagree, I believe that the difference between dark and bleak is that dark reveals cruelty, and bleak reveals futility. Dark writing has hope; bleak writing does not. Dark writing is personal; bleak writing is impersonal. At its core, I think, dark writing explores the mankind’s inner darkness, while bleak writing describes the universe’s outer darkness. Dark writing is concerned with portraying the bottom-most depths of humanity, and showing how utterly cruel and sadistic other living beings can be. It shows the dark side of social and personal lives, and the cruelty embedded in every interaction. Bleak writing, on the other hand, shows not cruel individuals and the darkness inherent in humanity, but instead the hopelessness of existence and the forces outside of your own control that shape your life, often with utter indifference. It isn’t the potential for cruelty that scares in bleak writing, but rather the indisputable fact that nothing you will do matters.

If this difference is unclear, that’s fine; for a long time, it was unclear to me. My best analogy for the difference is in comparing the works of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. Poe’s stories, while they did not always feature a clear antagonist, were all driven by human activity (a piece I wrote that I think is somewhat dark is “Station Fourteen;” some might disagree and have a good case for it). When there were antagonists, even if they were not human, they often had human characteristics (see “The Devil in the Belfry,” a piece of dark satire). In “The Telltale Heart,” the cruelty of mankind is brought out through murder and explored through the psychosis it brings. “The Pit and the Pendulum” has no individual antagonists, but the source of darkness is mankind itself – and also, at the end, mankind is also the source of hope. In many dark stories, the dark is contrasted with the light, and both are highlighted, albeit with a heavy emphasis on the dark.

This is not the case in the bleak writings of H. P. Lovecraft. The darkness or lightness of humanity isn’t explored because it isn’t relevant. It doesn’t matter; nothing anyone does matter, and the future will be terrible (my own story “Hell Factory” is a prime example of this). H. P. Lovecraft was the master of this idea, and indeed really gave birth to it in his development of cosmicism. Even Lovecraft’s autobiographical hero Randolph Carter, in the end, wasn’t able to really have any effect on anything; in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath he is still fooled by Nyarlathotep, and he suffers a terrible fate in the “Silver Key” stories. None of Lovecraft’s protagonists win; even the faint hope in some of Poe’s stories is gone. Furthermore, their fate is not the result of personal cruelty or even any kind of human foe; their fate is the result of the inexplicable and inexorable forces of the universe, represented by literally incomprehensible eldritch (I love that word) deities. There is no salvation from the dark; there is only a bleak future.

So, the major difference? Dark writing is concerned with personal cruelties perpetuated by social forces or individuals, and brings out the bad parts of everyday life. Bleak writing is concerned with impersonal forces that make personal activities meaningless, and give individuals little agency to change their doomed future. Dark writing, I think, is more common than bleak writing, because dark writing still offers the possibility of a happy ending, with the protagonist coming out a changed, more nuanced individual due to his horrible experiences. Dark writing leaves room for victory, and often ends on victory. Bleak writing, on the other hand, almost by definition, offers no such victory; any victories that are won are meaningless, as we are quickly reminded. Only insanity, death, or doom awaits the protagonist in a bleak story. He will not be a more nuanced man by the end of it; he will be mad or else six feet under (in an alternate dimension).

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Posted by on May 3, 2014 in Philosophical Musings