Reflections on Love & Life or, This Time It’s Personal

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” -John Milton

I usually talk about my current writing works in progress here, but nothing has changed since my post last week, other than that I am making progress on my story which is tentatively titled, “Knocking on Heaven’s Gates” to be submitted to the anthology, Dreamers in Hell.
So today I’d like to share with my readers something a bit more on the personal side of my life. Something that I experienced yesterday that put a lot of things in perspective for me. I was helping my wife Sussie with a client photo shoot at the Dallas Arboretum. Something I have done many times before, so nothing unusual, or new really. But while I was watching her taking photos from behind her camera I had this sudden epiphany. Seeing her doing what she loves so much, made me realise just how much I really love her. When she has her camera in front of her eyes and she’s in “the zone” taking shots, she transforms into this being of creativity and freedom. It is  moments like that when I see the carefree, spirited, light-hearted woman who I met and married thirteen years ago who took a chance at love and a new life with this fool of a dreamer, poet, writer, with a moody temperament and dark soul.

Time and tide test the mettle of even the strongest relationship. We have had our rocky periods when we both thought the dream of a life together might come to an end. Things have been rough this year, with the stress  of financial hardships we’ve had to endure, Sussie getting her photography business off the ground, and me trying to get a writing career going while trying to do well at a new day job. So many changes happened this year, but change means your life is evolving, isn’t stuck in the mire of stagnation.  But we have persevered because of our committment that we made on that day we vowed troth to each other. Ever since we met each other we knew that our relationship went beyond this life and time. We were drawn together in this life, because we knew each other before, in another time, another place, another life. We sensed within each other that we were soul mates and were meant to be together, in the past, in this life, and in many more to come.

The rub of the whole issue however, is that I believe we can’t choose who we fall in love with.  It just happens, often when you least expect it to, and like getting on a roller coaster, you just have to hang on for the ride. And often the ones we fall in love with are not the most compatible person that we could be with, and yet, somehow it works. Also, the one you love the most is the one who will inevitably hurt you more than anyone else in your life. It seems to go with the territory. A relationship that is genuine, powerful and true is composed of both love and hate. At the end of the day you must decide if the love outweighed the hate. Some days the hate can be so heavy that you almost forget the love that is there deep down in your heart and soul. It is on those days that you give in to the feelings of bitterness, contempt, loathing, and anger and almost give up, throwing it all to the wind. But you carry on, because you hope the love will win out in the end. Sometimes you just have to step back outside of your situation and look upon it with new eyes, with new understanding and compassion for one another. This is what I have had to do. Love doesn’t come easy. Marriage, and any relationship for that matter, is a constant work in progress. Communication is the key to opening doors that sometimes get shut between you. I am not a good communicator, as I tend to keep too much of my true feelings and thoughts to myself. I am trying to change this aspect of my personality, but old habits die hard, and too many times I have continued to feed this monster of anger, doubt, depression, and loathing until it eats away at me, or explodes in a fit of fury. Often I feel like the darkness that dwells deep inside my heart and soul shouldn’t be let out into the light of the world, lest it reveal too much about who I am and what I feel.  I wasn’t always this stoic, and reserved. In my youth I would wear my emotions on my sleeve, expressing the love and the hate,  the anger and sadness. But people misunderstood, or perhaps understood too much. I hurt those around me and myself, often unintentionally, sometimes on purpose. So I built this armor around myself, gradually adding to it piece by piece until in enveloped me like a personal fortress. Few ever get inside, and even then, I don’t know if anyone has ever made me completely let my shield down since I have created it. My wife and my daughter have come the closest, as I let them in more than anyone else in my life.

Anyway. I really didn’t mean for this blog post to be such a downer. I don’t like unloading my problems or issues upon my friends. It’s just not my style. But I wanted to get this off my chest, and I’m really trying to learn how to talk about my feelings more. Maybe what’s bringing it out of me is this story I’m writing for Dreamers in Hell and the concepts that I am exploring within it: redemption, (or the lack thereof) self-centeredness, forgiveness, unconditional love, self-sacrifice, and self-realization. Also one of my characters is William James, famous philosopher, spiritualist and one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. Maybe he is pulling these feeling out of me, like I’m receiving psychotherapy from him through the method of trying to channel his mind and spirit to make the character more believable. I do tend to employ “method writing” by becoming a little like my characters when I’m writing a story.

And I don’t seem to express myself well unless I’m writing my thoughts out. That’s probably a big reason why my wife fell in love with me even though we were thousands of miles apart. We were communicating mostly by internet, sending emails and instant messages to each other before we had even met in person. I communicate better in the written form apparently. Plus, I wooed her with my poetry. What woman wouldn’t fall in love with a guy who wrote her love poems?

So in closing, let me just say that today I love my wife more than ever, and it took seeing her doing what she loves to reiterate just how special she is to me, and why we are meant to be together. We creative souls don’t always make for the easiest personalities to get along with one another, as the artistic tempermant lends itself to extremes. But like all great art, great relationships are founded on and cemented in powerful emotions, both of joy and sorrow, anger and happiness, love and hate. You just have to learn to balance them accordingly.

“It’s all the same — no good without evil, no balance…no maat. If we lose one, we lose the other. It’s just life, that’s all.” –Niko, from the story “Pillar of Fire” in “The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-Girl: Sacred Band Tales Vol. 2”  by Janet Morris & Chris Morris, (c) 2012, Perseid Publishing.

 

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A Writer’s Holiday, or Wrestling With my Inner Daimons

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I am taking a vacation from the mundane day job this Thanksgiving week to get some much needed writing done.  I plan to try to put things around the house in some semblance of order as well, as with both my wife and mine’s work schedules, house chores tend to get put off to a  time that we call “I’ll get to it later.”

One of the stories I am working on is one that will hopefully be included in the next book in the Heroes in Hell series, created by Janet Morris, Dreamers in Hell. Old familiar faces from my previously published stories in the shared-world anthologies  Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell will return in this yarn. It deals with Anton LaVey trying to come to terms with his death and damnation in Hell by seeking psychiatric council from famous psychologist and spiritualist, William James. Also, Guy Fawkes having given up on trying to redeem his way out of Hell, has decided to try to blow his way out. Calamity ensures of course, and it should be a fun tale to read when it’s all done. As I did with the previous two stories, I have collaborated with a few of the other Hellion authors to connect my story with theirs in the larger meta-arc storyline that will be present throughout much of the anthology. This book should be very dynamic in nature and I think may end up containing some of the best stories from the series to date.

Another pending project is to write and submit a Victorian era historical fiction horror story for the anthology  Terror By Gaslight. I have the basic concept of the story and I know who my main character is, so the  preliminary work is done. Now I just have to start the actual writing of the story and hope that my daimons of inspiration will help me keep the words flowing. We writers contributing to the book have been given free reign to give the stories a steampunk twist if we so desire, but I’m not sure yet if mine will actually go in that direction. It has the possibility of doing so, but I won’t know until I really get into the meat of the writing process. I know quite a lot of writers who have set stories in the steampunk genre and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself from time to time so it would be fun to take it in that direction. It opens up so many possibilities that the story couldn’t have if I stuck with a traditional historical tale.

Speaking of steampunk, I’ve been listening to a lot of steampunk music lately that has I think been driving my creative forces onward in the right direction. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror captivated my attention from the first moment I heard them play live at The Difference Engine steampunk convention that night on New Year’s Eve 2011. Darwin’s sound ranges from what has been termed steampop, literary rock, and  rock and roll. Her album Oscar Wilde’s Serenade is a beautiful tribute to the poet, with songs written to his lyrics. The song “Don’t Panic” is dedicated to Douglas Adams and Gene Roddenberry. They recently filmed an awesome video for the song that you can watch HERE.

“I could be the anomaly, I could be the missing link between reality and your point of view. You know you boldly go where no one’s ever thought to go. The captain of your ship has lost her grip but she won’t let it show. If you slip into a black hole, don’t panic, don’t panic. If you can see into my soul, don’t panic. I won’t let go.” 

-Darwin Prophet, “Don’t Panic”

Darwin is a wonderful, intelligent, creative, and incredibly talented person. She is a gifted songwriter, musician, vocalist, and artist. I am fortunate to call her my friend. The Chronus Mirror band is made up of Maestro on violin, and DarKo on viola, vocals and percussion, both incredibly talented musicians in thier own right.

Marquis of Vaudeville is another favorite band I’ve seen perform at steampunk events. I keep listening to and watching the video for the song Utopian Playland, over and over. It is such a poignant anthem for these  jaded times in which we live as we strive to eke out a meagre living  trading most of the hours of our lives performing mundane repetitive tasks to earn a fistful of dollars.

“Productive members of society, that’s all we’re ever taught to be. But when society is failing, the dreamers rise up and will lead, to Utopian Playland.” –Marquis of Vaudeville, Utopian Playland.

The song is a tribute to the ideology of Dr. Steel who proposed that our top priority should be to have fun. I think it is a wonderful sentiment. The dreamers, writers, poets, artists, philosophers, and musicians should be allowed to create and play unfettered by the shackles of drudgery.

Recently I had a story called ‘Time For A Change”  published in the shared-world anthology, Sha’Daa: Pawns. The series is created by Michael H. Hanson, and edited by Edward F. McKeown. This book deals with stories about the Forces of Good battling the Forces of Evil during an event called The Sha’Daa,which takes place every ten thousand years on earth, in which the walls between our dimension and other darker more malevolent ones grows thin, and evil crosses over to try to annihilate and enslave mankind and take over the world. During this period, mankind must fight back with the help of the enigmatic and mysterious Johnny the Salesman. He trades items of powerful magical ability with ordinary people  to try to stop the Sha’Daa from happening. This is the third volume in the series, but it can be enjoyed without having read the first two, Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, and Sha’Daa: Last Call.

In September I was honored to be a guest at the Friends of the Bedford Public Library event, Evening With the Authors, where I read my story, “Ragnarok & Roll” from the book Rogues in Hell and got to answer questions from the audience about my writing.  It was really wonderful and made me feel very special as this is my local library where I check out books, so it felt great to be among my fellow local authors like Joanne Faries, Rebecca Balcarcel, Sharon K. Owen, and special guest from out of state, Sarah A. Hoyt who is a Prometheus Award winning author.

Well, that’s about all for now. I hope all my American readers have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Until next time…