Heartsick Teens Make Horrible Writers…

Posted in Thoughts & Musings on September 1, 2009 by Shiloh Black

Without a doubt in my mind, today possibly one of the happiest days of my life.

I like you too… I never thought those words could melt my heart. Only, the did just that, and so much more. They gave me a hope and a dream that I cannot kill, no matter how often I wrestle it aside, it springs up and gushes and nothing on earth can hold back the wonderful way I’m feeling right now.

“Like”. That’s such an immature word, something we would have used in middle school. But there’s no better way to describe two blind children groping around in the world for something their Father had seen in his all-wise vision before either of us were even conceived.

This time, it is all about God. He was the one who mentioned it, but I know that all along I’ve felt the same. Last time, God was that rock and foundation missing from the framework, the most important piece of the puzzle left out. This time around, I intend to correct that mistake.

It’s funny, but I would have thought emotions like these were the driving force behind many great writers. Shakespeare, as he madly scratched out the first sonnet of Romeo and Juliet, surely was fresh from the companionship of the love of his life to capture words so lovely. Now I recognize that must not be so, because being with that one person is an ecstasy, one that stops up the creative process when all thoughts turn to the object of desire… I am a madwoman, it was only a for a few hours that we saw each other, and it has not been yet twenty-four hours since my admission was made, but I feel full of hope that I have not felt in so long and my hands are almost too shaky to write, I am a madwoman.

S.B.

Poem: The Great & Mighty Corpse (old)

Posted in Poetry on August 29, 2009 by Shiloh Black

Because I am too lazy to come up with something clever this evening, you get an older poem of mine. This one was jotted down while I was supposed to be paying attention in Drivers Education.

(Photograph was taken in Saint Patrick Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland. The quality is not so great because I was not able to bring my SLR on the trip and had to make due with a lousy digital.)


The Great & Mighty Corpse

A poem by Shiloh Black

Here is laid in shallow grave
The Great & Mighty Corpse
Soil reeking make fetters bronze
To round fell soldier’s ankles fasten
A lock! A bond!
And throw ‘way the key!
And his watchtowers rot away
Sinking ‘pon and ‘pon like ravished Hell
Starving devils, wyrms, feast ye now
Behold all empire is fallen
All treasure buried with its king
Young paladin rends his helm
And to the tomb descends to rest
N’er life’s sweet musk to taste again
The Great & Mighty Corpse sways
Scepter, topped by grinning skull
Calling ‘pon his forlorn men, yet
Behold! From them no breath rises
Nor black sword lift in battle
But condemned are they to bareness
To artificial heaven rest therein
And therein them rests, unleaded
Nectrin from his bowels give way
And all held within spill forth
Fluids break with body and stain
Ground, no more new life garner
To take root and there flourish
Only maggots prosper from his deeds
Day by day growing fat on the
Blackened heart that resides
In rot’d cavity of his breast
And the raptors that tilt charred
Heavens above cripple their talons
Bow their heads and make descent
To feast on the fat that in the
Heat of day boils up through soil
Stew of emperors their trough
To make grotesque feasting
O familiar sounds of flesh a feasting
Did ere I see such grave before?
These Roman forms of thy warpath—
Visions, visions, why hark!
I know thy works, I know thy fall
Tis the grave of every great diadem
And staff, and weapon
Sheathed in bronze fetters
Ye Great & Mighty Corpse, all powers
Look on thee with fear and envy
On thy grave who can gaze
And tremble not at the works
Of thy hand?

S.B.

Update: Contests, Scripts, and Novels — Oh My!

Posted in Thoughts & Musings on August 28, 2009 by Shiloh Black

Just an update to what I am doing in terms of my writing:

Late July and August I received the results from two contests: the Nicholl Fellowship and the Atlantic Writing Competition. In both, I failed to move on.

For the Nicholls I had enteredThe Potter’s Field (then titled Ashes to Ashes). The notification was a generic letter informing me I had not advanced to the quarterfinals.

The Atlantic Writing Competition results were far more interesting. For this competition I had entered the novel version of Ashes. Along with a letter informing me I had not placed, I received a sheet of handwritten, very helpful critique (albeit difficult to read), whose points included:

– The need for character development.

-The believability of the narrative.

-The need to show rather than tell.

It is sometimes difficult to be dissected as a writer, but it helps. Looking back on that novel, as I did in my last post, I can see where I made most of my errors.

In any case, both competitions are excellent opportunities for writers. The Atlantic competition is limited to writers in Atlantic Canada, mind you. For those who qualify, however, it also boasts other categories including short stories, poetry, children’s books, and more. I’ll include the links to both in my links section on the blog — they really are worth checking out.

In other news, I received an inquery earlier this month requesting to read my short script, ‘To My Daughters with Love’. Contact had been made through Inktip, another great site I’ll have to link. I was thrilled to have my first inquery! As of yet, no response, but its a small step I’m proud of. I’ll keep you posted if anything happens.

Right now, I’m working on overhauling The Potter’s Field. For now I think I’ll leave the novel version to sit.  I admit the whole deal is a bit of a pet-project for me. There is, I feel, a certain maturity to the plot that is sometimes lacking in other stories of mine. The Potter’s Field (or whichever of the million other names it has been called at one point or another) is about a seven-year-old boy named Harley whose sexual experimentation with an older friend, Mark, lead to guilt and, eventually, tragedy. The story serves to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the people the boys grow up with, and how each individually contributes to the tragedy at the conclusion.

Also in the works is a new novel, The Firefly Lord. I don’t want to give too much away concerning the plot right now, but let’s just say it’s a fantasy with dark undertones that echo fairy tales such as Pan’s Labyrinth. There are hints of Christian themes in this one too. The whole thing is set in rural China, which I think makes for a very interesting location but took an arse-load of research in order to pull off. The trouble about rural China is that its so remote photographs and documentation are hard to come by. I had started out working on The Firefly Lord a couple of years ago, in the form of a graphic novel which fell through after fifty odd pages.

And, last but not least, ‘Thy Will be Done’ is a short script which I have been writing in private. Its focus is one a woman who goes on a personal crusade against a man she believes is molesting her daughter.

I’m kind of playing a juggling act at the moment — here’s hoping it doesn’t go up in flames.

S.B.

EDIT: I am pleased to say I received a second query for ‘To My Daughters with Love’ this evening.

Let’s be Lovers, not Fighters

Posted in Thoughts & Musings on August 26, 2009 by Shiloh Black

Have you ever written one of those stories that keeps you fighting with every step?

Up until recently, when I thought of ‘fighting’ with my writing, immediately brought to mind would be that screenplay or that novel that, no matter how many times you change this scene or trim that chapter, nothing seems to work.

This past year, I worked on a painting for art class, a still-life done in acrylic. There was one part of the painting I had trouble with — a corduroy coat — and no matter what I tried, it looked like an ugly mess. As my art teacher patiently ran his brush up and down the page, correcting without much thought the disastrous rendition of that poor coat, he explained to me that sometimes a painting can behave like a child, and right now, my painting was in its “teen” phase. In other words, it was refusing to cooperate and become my vision of the corduroy coat. As he went on to tell me, the real struggle comes with knowing when to let go of our work — our ‘child’.

In the process of editing my screenplay (currently titled The Potter’s Field) that had failed to advance in the Nicholl’s this year, I realized that a work of art can behave like an unruly teen in more ways than one.

A teenager sometimes makes moral choices that the parent does not like. The parent never intended for this choice to come to fruition. For instance, no matter how many times a parent may tell their child to stay away from drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd might lead to an entanglement with illicit substances. A teenager has a will of their own, and, when it all comes down to it, they decide their own moral standard, and not their parents.

When I started writing The Potter’s Field (as a novella under the title Ashes to Ashes), I intended to write a story about how a boy’s guilt leads to the death of himself and his best friend. His guilt was caused by a bout of sexual experimentation with this friend — an event mentioned only passingly in a few, brief sentences.

Like a rebellious teen, however, by the time I’d started the second draft of my little novella-turn-screenplay, The Potter’s Field had made a few moral choices of its own.

I was brought up by a mother who was very verbal about her disgust with homosexuality. My father supported her on this issue, and thus, homophobia became ingrained in my mind up until a year ago when I developed a liking for yaoi manga. After getting over that phase, gay love no longer held the same evil, forbidden premise in my mind (though, because of my Christian beliefs, I still to this day do not condone it), to actually write a graphic scene of this nature seemed unthinkable. Not to mention I am uncomfortable with sex scenes in general. A kiss on the beach is about as far as my writing has ever gotten.

Then along came that unruly teenager.

I slowly began to realize that the story I had created was not a simple tale of guilt and consequence. No, it was much more complicated then that: it was an erotic portrait of an adolescence who’s sexual obsession and suppressed sexuality drive him to madness. My story’s true nature revealed itself to me through the comments of others, but for a very long time I denied it.  By consequence, as a novel it was constantly told at a safe arm’s length, and severely lacked in character development. All this because I was afraid what I might write if I dug too deep. Just like my character Harley, who buries his sexual desires, my denial of the story’s nature was hurting me.

The reality check came when I received the judges comments from a contest I entered. To quote one judge: “sexual desire — the bedrock of this story — is absent from the internal conflict of the narrator”.

So here I am squirming through the process of writing about a young man’s homosexual tendencies. Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d end up writing a screenplay/novel about this.

When you have a story inside you that’s begging to be let out, sometimes you don’t have a choice. You have you let your baby stumble blindly through an immoral, reprehensible world and make every mistake known to man. Once they’ve come to a life-changing conclusion based on their exploits, you have no choice but to pen the last word and let that child become a fully-fledged adult.

Even if it means sometimes standing aside on the parent when all you want to do is keep your story ‘clean’.

S.B.

An Introduction, if you Please…

Posted in Thoughts & Musings on August 24, 2009 by Shiloh Black

Hello, bonjour,

You don’t know me, and, chances are, I do not you. We are mutual lurkers on this place called the Internet (or, as I personally like to call it, the ‘Interwebs’). So, I hope you and I will make the best of our chance encounter and learn something from one another.

Sooner or later, I am bound to tell you that learning from one another has always been the basis of my growth as a writer. True, not all of us are professional writers, and there are areas where we are bound to struggle with: but as readers, we are given eyes to see, ears to listen, and mouths to share. We do not just use our eyes in reading, just as we do not use only one vicinity of our minds to write. A new writer can spot the mistakes made by a seasoned counterpart by simply bringing a new set of senses to the other’s work.

Over the years, I’ve been blessed to have a great number of readers: teachers, friends, family, and even complete strangers. Were it not for them, I would not be half the writer I am today.

Throughout this blog, I will post numerous samples of writing, photography, and artwork, and I encourage my readers to do the same.

So here’s hoping we can learn from each other.

S.B.