Category Archives: Manicheans

New Stuff (and old train of thoughts)

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So today is a snow day but I still made my way into the City this morning and on my commute, listened to a beautiful song by the (in)famous Ke$ha called “Praying”. When you listen to this song, you can really feel it to your bones she speaks from the heart, and sings with so much emotion. All the hardship she’s been through made her transcend herself. The pain she felt has become a vessel for her inspiration, and you can tell, by listening to the lyrics, that she remained true to herself. There’s no glitz, no glamour, no extra bright lights. It’s raw, it hurts, and it’s beautiful.

This song made me then ponder about my own writing and creative process. I started writing heavily in 2010 while I was going through a shit storm of everything and anything that can make your life hell, and I used this heartache to fuel my stories. My craft was not perfect by all means, but the message went across and many people identified. I used Twitter a lot, built a following and joined a community of writers and like minded creators and felt at home for a while. Then life got better, and my writing lost its spice. I disconnected myself from the community, and continued my writing journey away from Twitter and social media platforms in general.

I deeply believed pain was necessary for me to create anything worthwhile. And it’s not an exaggeration to say many poets and authors were tortured individuals, and they created masterpieces because of their misery. Happiness does not fuel the creative process the same way. I noticed it with my own process, and the stories I crafted and am still in the process of crafting. I, first hand, don’t want to sit down for hours at my computer anymore and write, and edit, and write and edit, but sitting down is not even the issue. My characters and my plots don’t feel the same when my life is good. I don’t need them to save me from myself. Because let me tell you the truth: I lived through my characters more than I lived my own life. I hated my life honestly, so fantasy was a good escape for me at the time. I wouldn’t say it saved me from myself, because I hit my bottom anyway, but it did the trick for a while.

So where am I now with my writing since my life does not suck anymore? Well, I want to write funny stuff. I have ideas about roller derby, and my alter ego Kiki Reynolds and her adventures. I also have my trilogy The Manicheans which has been on the front and back burners for years… Rewritten countless times, it’s way harder to write comedy than dwell on depressing garbage all day long by the way, and I still haven’t found my voice. Probably because my voice is constantly changing. I also don’t want to necessarily write commercial stuff. It’s rough. Writing is an art that lost a bit of its flavor over the years and development of self publishing platforms. Anyone can write. Anyone can publish. Freedom for all, which is wonderful and all at the same time awful for folks who really want to write quality content. You get lost in the masses. Marketing takes all your time too. Social media management becomes a second job. Automated tools to post and repost content are also a handful… See I started writing on a typewriter when I was about nine years old, so moving on to now, I did not consider writing as more than just you write your book, and you publish and that’s it, you move on to your next project. Yeah, I lost my inspiration. I really did, which made me question my entire creative process when I listened to Ke$ha’s song and wondered, do I need pain in my life to be able to write again?

I don’t think I do. I have to get used to creating without a crutch. Because pain was my crutch for so long. I have to really dig deep, sit down (and gosh I hate sitting down so I’ll stand), and draft outlines, character profiles, and plots. Practice can only make me so perfect. I’ll practice. The marketing component, however, just kills me. Thinking about it, I want to pull my hair out. Do I want to write something commercial? No. I don’t. Then I should not expect to find instant gratifying success and sell a thousand copies of my books in a month. I therefore should not worry about the marketing process. Stop projecting all together, girlfriend, and just write!

Now this post reads more like a rant than anything else. I swear I did not mean to rant. I’m not even upset it’s snowing out. I actually enjoy any weather now, and I’m not saying that with any sarcasm. I enjoy being outside. I love feeling one with nature, no matter whether it rains or shines. I find it peaceful. I don’t lose myself in the every day noise anymore. And not losing myself in my own head’s noise anymore either makes me not really care about spending hours marketing my talents and showing the world I can wow you with my words. Yes, I love to write, and I will write because I enjoy it. Period. I don’t need to sell or market, or develop content so that the world can treat me like an influencer. If I influence you, then it will be completely involuntary.

I’m not trying to impress anyone, and this has been the biggest change for me since 2010. I’m not running in this competition for Best Selling Author. I’m sure I will continue working on my works in progress when the creative spirit strikes me spineless. I’m mostly experiencing now. And experiencing joy takes over feeling pain. Just living makes me smile.

So do I have new stuff? No. Am I going to try to put new stuff on this platform? Yes, I’ll try. I always say that, and then remain silent for the rest of the year. But seriously, I’ll try.

I know I already said that. I have to repeat myself sometimes.

 

 

Note to Self (49) Life

I am a believer, and the modern society molded me to be who I am today. I have my flaws and my qualities. I respect the rules and perform to be the best, no matter what environment I am in; I am always ready to compete. This world has forged me into believing in the superiority of the human intelligence which fabricates stories and makes up scenarios to escape from reality. This world has taken me to a higher level, where I thought my brain cells would stop reproducing but instead, I think my brain got bigger, and despite the drugs I did, I think I even got smarter.

This world gave me power and free will, it led me to take control over my life and think of the earth as a better place, where everybody could find their own way, succeed and be rewarded to the fair extent of their personal investment. This must have been what I thought when I was 12. Growing up showed me that a lot of casualties were left aside on the road to success and that no matter how hard you tried, sometimes life was just a bitch. It did not bring you anything to do your best; it just brought you more crap to deal with in the end. It did not take much to realize that it was all a game and that no matter how well you played by the rules, they always changed. The only constant in all of that is you; as you grow older and experience life, and you realize that it is raw, it is harsh and it hurts.  But nothing feels better than the power of life given to humans and each of them accomplishing what they decide to do with it. It has nothing to do with pride, with anger or remorse, with justice or revenge, nor with love.

Within each and every one of us, we know that we have a purpose. If your purpose is to steal, then so be it. If your purpose is to give, then so be it. In life, nothing could be more real than you looking in the mirror and deciding to take control over your destiny. You have been made one way, you can become what you desire and possibly change to become a better you. I did not stay the same as I was born. I was shaped and molded by my past experiences, my losses, my wins and my disappointments, my lusts and my fears.  It all became normal to deal with them every single day of my life. Why did I exist in the first place? Why did God and my caretakers put me here? Did I deserve to live at this time? Did I make the right choices? Will I ultimately have the right to a second chance if I fail to make what I believe to be my dream come true?

There is no dictionary of childhood dreams. These dreams and creations are the fruit of a childish imagination, sometimes too vivid to realize that anything it can manufacture will simply never happen. But that is what pushes children into surviving their constant growth, their reshaping and their remodeling all throughout their angst ridden teens and then their miserable and pathetic adult life. “I have dreams”, you will hear people say. “I have everything it takes to be that person”, you will hear them relentlessly repeat to themselves. And when the final moment comes, and they didn’t become what they always dreamed of, they just meet their deadly fate. It is nothing bitter and nothing sweet, it is the harsh result of physically and emotionally experiencing life instead of imagining it for hours and years while endlessly staring at a bedroom ceiling. The power of the mind is too strong to be defeated, unless you decide to nuke yourself by smoking too much crack and then you simply lose part of your humanity by becoming a vegetable. Life is harsh as it takes beliefs and passions and crushes them in an instant, creating fear and doubt in every mind. This is the power of life over people and it takes only just as much courage to overcome fear and doubt as it does to breathe for a newborn. It hurts and it stings everywhere, but when it finally happens, it is priceless.

 

Note to Self (37) My story about time

A comment from a fellow Tweep triggered in me the need to talk about the opening monologue in the first volume of the Manicheans.

Time. I wrote this monologue without knowing I would write a entire series dedicated to the world of pain, my world of pain, The Manicheans. It was a little over a year ago, when I was hitting a dark time in my life. I knew my marriage was going downhill, and I did not know what to do to save it. I fought for my dream as hard as I could, while suffering deeply from an obvious lack of love… I got depressed, even thought about suicide a few times. But I had my goal, you know, the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t want to sound like a whining victim, the one who suffered all along and was a saint. I was not a saint. I made mistakes too. I hurt him as much as he hurt me. I made him cry, I made him hate me. In the end, all the love we had for each other became so toxic that we behaved like wild animals, constantly fighting and cursing at each other.

The last memory I have before I left is of me sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at my hands, crying so hard that I was almost choking, and I thought: “I need to leave. I need to go. Things will be ok for me if I’m out of here.” And, of course, I worried about my immigration status, but at this point, I was almost done with everything. I just needed to file one last batch of documents and then, fate would take care of the rest. I knew from a legal standpoint that I would be ok. No matter what happened, I could stay here but, you know, everything depended on how much more legal fees I had to pay and how much more paperwork I had to fill out until everything would be settled. Being a foreigner in this country is hard. Everything the immigration services makes you go through is sickening. But you have to do it if you wanna stay. There’s no other way.

You know, when I think of it now, everything worked out for the best. Despite all the struggle, and the pain, this motherf***ing pain that never left me every second of the journey, I made it. I survived. I reached a new point in my life where I can look back and say: this is me now, the new me, the Manichean who will succeed in everything I undertake.

Time. This marked the beginning of the Manicheans, Volume 1. I opened the story with a very simple message : “It feels like time has passed but I actually don’t feel any older. It’s just bliss, an emotion, a feeling of having grown up without noticing that time has slowly marked my face, leaving me with memories and pains that I am unable to forget. Time did not teach me patience but impatience.”

I looked at the world from where I stood, the disheartened wife and foreigner who felt unhappy in her life and wanted control back. I wanted to leave and scream at the top of my lungs how hurt I felt. I wanted the world to know how much I hated him, how much I was wasting my time with him. The pain grew, deeper, stronger, invading my space like a sickening smell, never leaving me alone, never letting me rest. I prayed for it to stop, but it stayed right next to me.

I created characters who I could use to convey everything I felt. My life played before my eyes as I was shaping them and when they finally became realistic enough, they continued the story for me. I did not need to tell them what to do, they knew where to take me. The pain transformed itself and became beauty, the most delicate flower I was gifted to received as a thank you from God or whoever is up there. I knew at that exact moment that I was meant to continue the journey, no matter what it took. I did not give up. I fought and persevered until the last draw. And I won.

Time was never my enemy. It was never my ally either. Time is what we make of it. If we want to take it slow, or fast, time will not change. We change. We evolve and grow, learn and improve ourselves, and we always have control even when we think we don’t. We live to suffer, but without that pain, we would not exist. Being human is all about that. I’ll be at peace when I’m dead.

Note to Self (35) I am a Manichean

I was listening to “Angels” by the matchless Robbie Williams this morning on my commute.

I sit and wait
does an angel contemplate my fate
and do they know
the places where we go
when we´re grey and old
´cos I´ve been told
that salvation lets their wings unfold
so when I’m lying in my bed
thoughts running through my head
and I feel that love is dead
I’m loving angels instead

and through it all she offers me protection
a lot of love and affection
whether I’m right or wrong
and down the waterfall
wherever it may take me
I know that life wont break me
when I come to call she wont forsake me
I’m loving angels instead 

That song made me think of life and death, and everything that happens between the day we were born until the last we spend on this earth, and I wondered: would the Manichean in me like to feel immortality? Would that new state give me the freedom my soul desperately longs for?

I would not want to be like these vampires and other nightly creatures who seek revenge for their loved ones, kill for pleasure, or unsuccessfully try to go back to their miserable mortal existence by hanging out with humans and eventually falling in love with them. I understand why it sounds attractive at first, because they’re so vulnerable and blood thirsty, a rare combination of gentle and mean that always excites the hungry beast within each of us. But are they really worth the effort?

Vampires feed on blood, and live at night. They’re also dead. You would mate with a corpse. With werewolves, you would mate with a wolf. Demons, fairies and all so derived creatures coming from other worlds and dimensions are like space aliens in a way. They’re completely foreign to us. Just imagine the worst attribute one of these creatures might have and try to find it sexy…. Knowing that we already can barely tolerate ourselves as humans, I, therefore, find it difficult to believe that we would love to be intimate with such  creatures….. But hey, this comes only from me, if you dig it, good for you! I am no judge here. Just expressing my opinion. This makes for great horror stories for sure.

Since I would not be turned on by any of these unfamiliar bodies, I tried to imagine myself as a human reaching an immortal state without ever becoming a vampire or a werewolf. And that’s when I thought of the Manicheans. In my series, I created supernatural beings called “Spirits”. They live as floating atoms, and can control three of the four elements – water, fire and air. They were flesh and blood once, but their appearance got altered after the planet they lived on got burned by a cosmic ray shower, and the proton reactor of the spaceship they were trying to escape in burst and pulverized them into dust. During their struggle to understand their new form, they developed an extreme sensitivity to pain, and fed until completely and solely sustaining from it. Pain is the motor of their world, similarly as it is of ours. Pain is what drives us to feel and live, love and hate, save and kill. Pain is faithful and lingers everywhere we wander. I wrote a whole monologue about pain in the first volume of the Manicheans that I’m pasting here.

Pain

The first time I consciously realized what pain was, was when I went to kindergarten for the first time. I spent my first day at school crying and screaming at the gate because I was devastated my caretaker had left me. I felt a terrible sensation of abandonment and I thought that nothing could ever replace it. The pain my body felt was also a learning experience. Falling from a swing on the playground and hurting my knee did not feel good. I saw the blood running and I thought to myself that I would just die there. I was three years old. I was such a little human being and I was already obsessed with death. 

I vividly remember the first time I woke up from a nap and realized I was alive. I looked at my hands and I focused on my breathing.  It felt good to be there at that instant, safe and loved in a home where I knew I would always be welcome. I was so young yet so aware. It almost felt like my brain was older than me. 

I then grew up to become an individual who constantly fought to find life and death, to love life, and hate death, or to hate life and want death. The struggles of my past, my present and my future shaped themselves into a constant battle between my hope of finding eternal peace and my will to survive. Many times the will to survive shaped itself into surrender because I was just too scared to end my life. I never considered myself a coward, but trying to end what my caretakers had worked so hard to raise, educate and love was just heartbreaking. 

I never had the capacity to forget about the ones around me, the people loving me and also the ones hating me. If I died, the people who loved me would be devastated.  If I died, the people who hated me would be exhilarated. It was therefore never easy to choose between the pain of living and the pain of dying. I, however, always decided to live. It was never easy. I had a lot to go through, and a lot of pain to endure to be where and who I am today. 

Pain shaped me and it taught me how to live happily. Pain brought me patience, joy, excitement and, most importantly, it brought me wisdom. Like my first day at school, when I desperately cried for my caretaker at the gate, the pain of her departure taught me to swallow my tears and just learn how to become independent. Grow up, become a woman, be tough! Live life, go through terrible situations, survive either victorious or defeated, learn from these terrible moments and become a better person. 

The whole purpose behind pain is that it is there to toughen you up. Pain shows you the real side of things, and it forces you to react to it, either by giving up or by overcoming the obstacles put in your way. Pain goes hand in hand with life. The first cries of a newborn come from his pain to breathe for the first time when his lungs expand and the air enters them, forcing them to open wide. It is mind boggling to come to the conclusion that happiness is only one side of the medal. The other side is always driven by pain. 

Pain is the engine of our lives. It makes our muscles burn, our heart melt, and our head ache; every part of us responds to it no matter how little or big it is; pain tortures. Pain kills. Pain hates. Pain obsesses. Pain harasses. Pain hurts. Pain loves. Pain adores. Pain is faithful. Pain is dangerous. Pain is addictive. Pain is conflicted. Pain lingers. Pain wakes up. Pain disappears. Pain increases. Pain never goes completely away. It is always there, standing by our side, and looming upon us. Pain is our closest friend and our strongest enemy. We cherish it as much as we want to get rid of it. 

Without pain, there would be no struggle, no fear, and no love in this world. We would be surrounded by emptiness. Pain is there to always remind us how precious life is. It is because I love life so much that I also love pain. My pain makes me smile and it makes me cry. My pain needs me as much as I need it. We both survive together, and we grow together. My pain is real and it stays with me every step of the way. My pain is my learning; it is my escape and it is my freedom. I would be nothing without it.

I would definitely love to be a Spirit because I would be immortal and I would still be able to feed from my pain and the pain of others to live. I could write for centuries…. So many stories, and so much time to work on my novels…. That would be the dream. The Manichean in me always searches for salvation, and forgiveness, while battling through good and evil. I’m no pure soul, and I know I’ve sinned many times. I will surely sin more as I grow older. I’m not looking to be forgiven for the mistakes I made, but I want to find a path where my soul will be free from oppression, ignorance, intolerance and hatred. This is where I want to go. Eliminate all the negative and focus on what’s good, grow and learn from it, as long as I can, until maybe one day where I will finally become a Spirit. Being a Spirit does not mean my struggle through good and evil will be over though. No, that battle will simply never end for the Manichean inside me.