People might have noticed a slowdown in my postings . . . yeah, right!
However, despite the lack of concerned inquiries, I have in fact slowed down. Too busy, not enough time, life getting in the way, not focused enough, still processing a couple of thousand Alaska photos, a nagging “what’s the use” feeling . . . pick one and go with it.
Your chances of being right on the money are not insignificant, as I regularly cycle through all those.
Take the previous post, for example. I write every Monday for Legends Undying, and for the last two weeks I’ve hit Sunday evening without having put word one to paper. I can’t even point to a reason for it, but there’s always one (see above). Still, I made a commitment to Both Legends Undying and, more important, to myself.
So, come Sunday evening, I sit in front of my computer, ignore the mess I was supposed to clean during the weekend, and put fingers to wireless keyboard. Soon the soft sound of keys struck with uncanny speed (considering I don’t touch type) forms a comforting drone that accompanies my YouTube Playlist (usually on scramble).
I mentioned before I am a “discovery” writer. I know my destination, but the road is cut through uncharted territory, and there are lots of detours.
Here is the interesting thing about the previous post . . . it was written after I scrapped a good hour-plus worth of writing. And you know what? I did not want to waste that effort.
I used it as part of the postscript for Legends Undying. I used it to show the writing process, and how a story can go down alleys which will either end up you getting lost, or will end at a wall, and will have you turn around and retrace your steps. Below I reprint the three chapters I had written, and decided not to use. Interspersed within them are my comments in red. Blood red, to be precise. OK, it’s maroon, but work with me, people!
Everything is exactly as written, unedited, and unaltered . . . and unused. The first half of the first chapter is exactly as presented in the final draft, and I mark the point to which I retraced my steps, and re-wrote the story.
Here we go . . . a rare insight into my writing process . . . Oh, I should mention the following . . .
One of my concerns is this story reflects a Judeo-Christian-centric interpretation of creation. This is not intended as a slam on other creation myths; it’s just a convenient one to use, in part because of my geographic location.
Another problem is that, while cool, swords present a complication with their introduction in the story. Sure, swords are mentioned in the Bible, and often have mysterious origins, but none are sentient.
So, where did these swords come from? And how are angels interacting with other humans around the world, humans who likely labor under the burden of different myths? Surely it’s not just a North America issue?!?
Well, I had ambition . . . ambition to tie it all together independent of the underlying premise.
OK, this time, we go for real . . .
Chapter 10 – The Swords
Sable reached out, sense and awareness seeking to confront the intruder . . . and quickly scaled back the conduit. So much power; she was tempted to accept whatever the conflict. She wanted to feel that conviction fueling her, running through her core, cutting a swath through the enemy’s lines. No. She knew not what enemy, nor who would wield her. And yet . . . something familiar in the presence . . .
“You are part human.”
“I don’t know what I am. It may be a trace of what I once was remains . . . if so, it is but a shadow among shadows.” Shadow’s replied conveyed much more than he intended. Sable wondered if he understood her relationship to things, and humans in particular.
“The other shadows are troubling. I cannot fathom intent, and see little of their nature. I see human and demon, both clearly . . . the rest would have been called an abomination in different times, and ancient places.” Sable cautiously took measure of the being. Much of what she saw burned with honor, integrity, focus, and other qualities which would make this . . . Shadow, a worthy wielder of her own will. But, the large part she could not see . . . that gave her pause.
“Perhaps I am an abomination . . . but to humans, so are demons. So are Angels. And to some humans, humans I’ve gathered for this battle, so are gods.” As Shadow spoke, he let his thoughts spread in this nospace, reaching other swords who were becoming aware of the interaction between he and Sable.
“These humans could use the help of you and your sisters. I aim to protect them, but I will be spread far and wide, and they could use weapons to shield them from the light of Angels.” His words had barely finished echoing in their consciousness when a wave of anger swept through the now assembled swords. Shadow could sense thousands . . . as many as would be needed.
“Angels!” Sable voiced the disdain. “The corruptors! They altered human history, kept them from their greatness . . . (up to here the writing is as it was posted . . . from here on, what I did not use ) and robbing us of our destiny.”
Shadow pondered before asking. “How was it a concern of yours?” He felt the collective will of the swords react to the question. “I mean no disrespect . . . I just want to understand.” He hastened to add reassurance even as he knew they posed no threat to him.
So, here I figured it would be neat to give the Swords a history of their own. This was late last evening. Keep in mind all that follows was written last evening, scrapped, and new chapters written for today’s post.
Sable pondered the question. The origin of The Swords were not known outside their own ranks. She resolved to let Shadow know, for she already knew both she and her sisters would join this battle.
Chapter 11 – The Swords
Sable drifted, her awareness spreading to show Shadow the place she and her sisters were forged. Perhaps in this universe, perhaps in another, a time ago, or a time to be, on an ordinary planet, there awakened an intelligence. For eons it grew, it learned, it understood what there is to understand. At some point it understood the meaning of “alone”.
Neat, uh?! I thought the wording was reasonably clever. But not too clever . . . don’t want to put anyone off.
Wielding power magnified by a desire for substance, the elements themselves were enslaved to form basic shapes, forms taking shape as much by the will to “be”, as by the destructive force of fire.
Vessels, they were. Vessels for the incorporeal will of an intelligence without substance. It contained, shaped, and gave form to all the sisters. Not as finished swords, but as bound expression of a will. Bound, and yet not bound, for they could exist in nospace, between time.
What had been one single intelligence was now thousands, but most important, it had given itself, and hence each of the sisters, a purpose, and the means to fulfill it.
“A purpose?” Shadow interrupted without meaning to. What remained of his humanity remembered a lack of purpose beyond caring for the welfare of those he loved.
“Yes, a purpose . . . to bound to other beings, to no longer be alone.” (I liked this line, and kept it for the re-write, along with a few others.) Sable recalled wandering between time, using nospace to visit barren portions of an ever-expanding universe. And then she felt the call. One of the sisters had found sentient life!
Politicians aside, I still classify most humans as sentient.
“Well, somewhat sentient. Humans were barely surviving. Eager to bond, many sisters bound themselves to whichever humans there were. We were not always swords. Sometime we were no more than a favorite club, or a staff.” Sable paused, her will wanting to bore into Shadow, but mindful of the power that lay there.
“We discovered not all humans were worthy. Some harbored dark desires. Others knew not of honor or justice. Still others believed they were doing good, but were, in fact, leading humanity to a dark path. We became more selective as to who was allowed to bond. We did not want to directly guide human destiny, but chose to favor those who favored the good of others.”
Sable stopped, and focused on her own shape, once again tracing the lines of her physical boundary. (a throw-away line to serve as a break in the narrative, giving the reader a chance to take the proverbiaal breath)
“Once humans began forging weapons out of metal, we came to know the pure form; the sword. Properly used, a symbol for justice, a weapon against tyranny, grasped by the hands of humans, the same hands that, directed by their will, built the wonders of the world. The same hands what channeled their focused desire to our physical form. The desire for justice, for honor, and for a better path for humanity to follow.”
Eventually, I planned to mention further refinements in weapons involved projectiles of one form or another, and thus unsuited for the idea of sentient weapons – I never got to it, but hey; I can mention it here.
Shadow listened, and wondered. “You speak as if it was a time before Gods, before Angels,” he finally voiced. “How could that be?”
“You don’t know?” Sable’s words were as much a statement as a question. “No, of course not. You are aware of only your history, your creation myth.” She once again drifted in time and space, Shadow following.
How’s that for a hook into the next chapter? This is right after I got the idea of a unifying concept. Something that would make sense within both the Judeo-Christian myth, and all them other creation myths (and there be many . . . many . . . so many).
Chapter 12 – The Gods
Human history progressed rapidly as their low numbers meant a few could affect the lives of many, literally changing their destiny within single lifetimes. Armies rose and fell, cities, civilizations, great men and women throughout the world shaping their corners of the world with the sweat of their brows, and the blood in their veins. And then, no one knew where or how, the notion of gods appeared.
Some, including Sable, feared The Swords themselves were responsible for such notions, for indeed their selective bonding seemed to favor some tribes over others. Worse yet, The Swords were seen as gifts from said gods. And so it began. As many tribes as there were, so their notions of gods differed. And those differences often drove conflicts. Even as the sister tried to bond with the worthy, they reinforced the idea of one god being more powerful than another. Worse yet, as the belief grew, the first gods appeared.
Yes, I’m purposefully fuzzy on this point. Borne out of the idea that humans created gods (and not vice-versa), it stands to logic that gods would evolve along with humans ideas regarding their nature and powers.
As limited as humans were, so were their gods flawed. Selfish, cruel, and often bloodthirsty. Not all, of course, but those who were inexplicably gained the most followers, crowding out the benevolent gods.
Sable showed Shadow the rise of the three major religions, and their respective gods. She also showed him the remnants of the American Indian gods, all but destroyed by the encroachment of Christianity.
“You refer to all of them as ‘myths’, but yet you speak as if each happened. But the world, this world, in which I exist, this world has angels, demons, one god, creatures of smoke and fire . . . there are no other”.
Sable considered carefully before answering. “They all are. Some are intertwined, others exist on their own.” She focused on Shadow, and continued. “You were raised and learned of only one myth. It is your reality because you know no other.”
Pretty clever, uh? But methinks a tad too clever . . .
“I saw an Angel take the memories of my wife and children. I saw it laugh, I watched them pass from life!!” Although not a form in nospace, Shadow’s presence swirled as if it were physical smoke and darkness.
“Had you been born a Mongol, you would have seen Erlig, or were your birthplace Finland, you might have seen Tuoni.” Sabel conveyed sympathy, but knew she could not quell the storm within Shadow.
Those are gods of death in the respective cultures. It is perhaps worthwhile for the reader to search on creation myths for various cultures. American Indians are interesting, as are the Polynesian myths. India has very interesting and varied gods, and their creation myth is much more benevolent (and less blame-to-foster-guilt themed).
Shadow pondered the implications. “Why The First? Why the Angels? How can they be different than what I learned? I did not manufacture my family’s death! They exist, and they are not what they should be. According to myth, I should be fighting demons. The First! He believes his reality! The Angels are in fact corrupting humans, and waging war on non-believers.”
Here I voice my own difficulties with traveling down this path. If reality is a construct based on what we have been exposed to, then what Shadow experiences cannot be outside of himself. His reality is anchored in his beliefs . . . but that too is wrong because he was a non-believer.
I give it a shot to salvage the idea.
Sable spread her being, offering no focus point for Shadow’s anger. How could she explain the multiple of paths, the tendrils twisting and turning in between time, in nospace, and coming together for the instantaneous reality experienced by all.
“It is your reality . . . and The First’s, and the Angels, and that of all. You see it through your understanding, but are not the cause of it. Your existence focuses the possibilities, but you are not responsible for what reality you experience.” She paused, and waited.
OK, that sounds mumbo-jumbo enough to pass muster in a fantasy story which, last I checked, this still was.
. . . then, my mind continues it’s overly-analytic process . . . What you read next are essentially my own questions as I write.
“Can I change reality?” Shadow’s being was calm and focused once again. Sable could barely perceive his presence.
“What do you mean?”
“Can I get rid of gods? Can I free humanity from their own creations?”
“That I do not know. Your current fight is against the manifestations of human weaknesses and fears. Manifestations which in turn exploit those weaknesses and fears for their own design.”
This is where I stepped back, got up, and went to tell my wife I would be a tad longer . . .
I had wandered down the torturous path of trying to reconcile fantasy with reality, to mesh fantasy with perception, to tie together the variety of different realities of people from literally hundreds of cultures, past and present.
As I stood there, waiting for the tea to brew, I casually thought . . .
“You have a ginormous ego to think you can pull this off. More so, it would require matching testicles to actually try it!”
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a normal walk . . . obviously I don’t have the physical requisite to pull this off. I went back to my desk, and wrote what was posted in the previous entry.
Ultimately, it’s cleaner, simpler, and if anyone points out the inconsistencies and problems with the story, I will remind them I have a normal walk, so only so much can be expected of me.
That is a glimpse into my writing process. I hope it was entertaining.
Note: the above is presented as written, so please excuse typos, grammar, or anything else which might diminish your opinion of my writing skills. Thanks.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.