Non-conformance is subversive!
Diversity is deviancy!
Indoctrination is education!
Religion is purity!
Welcome to the New World Order.
In a society where non-conformance is considered subversive and deviant, and all psychic ability is heavily regulated, Hauke de Grijs hides from the government and the shadowy Ecclesiae on a houseboat in Amsterdam. His Talent allows him to travel between the world of the living and the Veil, the realm of ghosts. More comfortable walking among the spirits than he is with the living, he has earned the nickname “Wandelaar van de Duisternis”.
But even Hauke’s abilities will be tested to their limits when he’s tasked with rescuing a living family trapped beyond the Veil, in the dark Lands of the Dead, where even ghosts fear to tread.
It has been a long while since I last did any creative writing, besides having ideas and making a few setting and character notes, and writing a few fragmented passages of prose. I’ve always been good at creating concepts and starting to write; never at finishing what I’ve begun. But over the last few weeks I’ve been overwhelmed by thoughts for a new setting, the characters that inhabit it, and a dark “Urban Fantasy” storyline.
And (for a change) the ideas have flowed, often too much and too quickly. My head feels overwhelmed and I’ve been trying to get it all down in writing. Not just draft notes and ideas this time, but good, clean writing: and I’m almost a third of the way through making that work a full-length novel.
For much of this year, it’s been a struggle to focus on anything. My sleeping patterns are (still) shot to hell; and when I could sleep, I wasn’t reaching dream sleep (until my doctor recommended Melatonine). My mind seems to have just two states: hyperactive, with so much churning through my head that it’s been impossible to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time; and exhaustion, where it feels like any thought is trapped within cobwebs in my brain.
Until I started taking the Melatonine, the closest that I’d come to dream sleep this year had been the waking nightmares. “Wandelaar van de Duisternis” was inspired by my first real dream this year. Since then, the concept has grown and evolved in those times of mental hyperactivity. Minor characters have grown a life of their own. The setting is more detailed. The antagonists have purpose and motivation. Now I have too much material for one novel, possibly enough for a series of four or five stories.
Putting it all down in words is the difficult part. I can’t type quickly enough to get it all in writing, but even then I’m still churning out large swathes of text, jumping from scene to scene, flitting from chapter to chapter, so my mind is constantly thinking about several different parts of the story at the same time. In those rare moments of mental lucidity between hyper and exhaustion, I’m going back over what I’ve written in my hyper state: rephrasing text, re-organising paragraphs, simplifying the vocabulary, improving dialogue, cutting down on excessive wordiness (I know that I can ramble a bit), writing bridging passages, and trying to make the prose flow in a coherent and structured manner.
I still have a long way to go before “Wandelaar van de Duisternis” is finished; but I feel confident that I will complete it. I’ve written 24,000 words in three weeks; that’s about 1:30 hours of reading time, and about 1/3 the length of an average novel. In a typical day, I’m probably writing about 5,000 words, then cutting it back down to 1,200.
Here are a few short extracts as examples of my writing:
- The opening few paragraphs.
- Excerpt 1, from the main body of the story.
- Excerpt 2. A short bridging passage from the main body of the story.
- Excerpt 3. Some speculation on modern technology in the afterlife.
In a week or so, I hope that I’ll be satisfied enough with the opening chapters to ask a few people (particularly those in Amsterdam, where the story is set) to review selected parts of my work so far and provide feedback. That feedback will help me realise whether it’s worth continuing, or whether I should just consign the whole idea to “The Well of Lost Plots”.
In the meanwhile, I’ve even exchanged messages with some author friends about how I might publish the novel once it’s finished. And I know a couple of artists that I will commission to do a cover design, and perhaps some internal artwork for the book.
Creative writing isn’t always easy, but it is cathartic. I’ve made myself laugh. I’ve made myself cry. I’ve cursed and sworn at myself. I’ve felt exhilarated and drained and raw. I’ve tried to allow my characters to express emotions in my writing that I have difficulty expressing myself in person. I’ve lived their lives and felt their pain and sadness, experienced their hopes and aspirations. I’ve mixed horror and darkness, love and romance, nightmares and dreams in a blender to see what comes out on the other side.
For all the pain that it can make you feel, creativity in any form can also be a wonderful release. It doesn’t matter whether it’s writing (fiction, poetry or songs); dancing; drawing, painting or other types of art; making music; or experimenting with recipes. It doesn’t need to be something that you do as a side hustle, to try and generate some extra income. It can simply be a hobby, something that you do for the pleasure that it brings. It doesn’t even have to be something for other people to see/hear/taste and enjoy. It’s something that you do for yourself.
Creativity is passion, it’s emotion, it’s self-expression. Creativity is being alive.
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