I have subdued the beast within me, the monster, and the creeping thread picker of my soul. Every word I write comes past him. I don’t need his approval or consent, but I do need to get past him and that is never easy. Yesterday I edited a very sad story that I am working on, trying hard to get it just right. The beast within tried to gobble me up. I know that sounds like absolute nonsense, however it is an entirely apt description for what sometimes happens.
Those who know me know my smiley side mostly and I have written many times about the melancholic spirit that inhabits the heart beneath the smile. In an older blog, I wrote about the importance of letting that spirit free on occasion, to flow into my written word and I while do of course it is tempered by something pernicious. There really is a beast.
My book Darkly Wood deals with a beast of sorts, although some don’t see past the outer monster and that is fine, as the book is intended to work a bit like radio; each reader should create their own picture. Larry Flynn is full of monsters, all human or inhuman perhaps and my third book Bad Blood, has beastly blood flowing through the veins and genes of some of the more monstrous characters I have written into life. In writing Little Big Boy, I explored monsters from a different perspective, that of a small boy, full of love and innocence, discovering monsters in the outside world and closer to home.
I always espouse the idea that at the heart of every book there is love or the absence of love. It is unavoidable and be it the most violent thriller, dark fantasy, swashbuckling adventure or children’s story, it can be found lurking beneath the surface at the very least.
So then, why the monsters you might ask? The beast within that I speak of is unkind. Perhaps it might be better to say he is unkindness itself. Writing for me is something very special indeed. I am in love with the process. Every writer has their own way of finding their stories and developing them. I become them.
I ran through Darkly Wood, across the meadow and over the bridge by the stream. I looked up and saw the darkening sky and felt the clawing branches closing in, as I listened to my heart beat with fear. I looked down my nose at Larry Flynn, the disgusting old man and I was filled with contempt for him. When I found out why he was the way he was, I felt a lump in my throat and prayed that he might redeem himself before it was too late. In writing Bad Blood, my heart pounded with fear when Jamal stepped into the Wainwright’s yard and I was stunned at the death of one of my characters. For me they were all real and I lived in the moment and that is when the beast arrives. My vulnerability, my Achilles heel like many writers, is uncertainty. The beast within knows it and wants to take advantage of that knowledge.
Yesterday, I went over a piece that I had written in my latest book Little Big Boy and it made me cry. It had been some time since I had written that particular chapter, but in an instant, I was holding a little boy’s hand and he squeezed it. He wanted to know if everything would be alright. You see, there was a monster there in the room with us and he had no one, only me. It was such a responsibility, but I knew what I had allowed to happen next and it upset me. I could have saved him there and then, but then again what happened next had already happened in a sense, when I first brought that scene to life. I could no more change the outcome, than rewrite history.
So the beast arrived and picked at my thread of vulnerability, hoping to pick apart my confidence. He wanted to consume me and stop me from setting this part of the story free. The beast that is in me, that wants me to fail, that wants to push back the tears or else to let the melancholy totally consume me and allow darkness to take over so I won’t write, is very big and very strong.
Writing about Love and monsters all in the same swirl of a pen is a beautiful thing for me. The glow I feel from the love in my life is what sustains me and the darkness in my centre is a part of me I have to live with and love, because it is from both that I find my way into the moment of the book that I am always writing. It is a dangerous thing to do sometimes, to immerse myself in the story, in the moment of my book. I know I am safe as long as I go with my heart, but I have to be careful how far I go and how much trust I give to myself. I have to watch out for the beast…….
Little Big Boy by Max Power. Coming soon…
Max Power’s other books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn and Bad Blood, all available on amazon to download or in paperback. You can find more details about Max Power’s other books here : –