The Ecstacy of the End

Bradley Verdell here.

You know the feeling: when you hand in your last exam of a semester or school year, walk out into the sunlight, and know the last challenge of many months’ work is over at last. At first you don’t know what to do with yourself. So many possibilities … For once you feel you have all the time in the world. Soon you will get wrapped up in new goals, get used to the feel of the next segment of life, but for a few precious days there is that afterglow. The future is bright and open to anything. For the first time in a long time, the present is so calm.

I remember turning in my final paper of my final class in university, the last thing on my checklist before graduating. The only matter on my horizon was moving my things out of my dormitory sometime in the weeks to follow. What a day that was. University finished. The afternoon involved mini-golf at one point and breakdancing later that night.

We’ve all been there, usually by necessity. The great part about being a writer is that I get to create more days like that. I can give myself that feeling again. Whenever I finish the long project of writing a book, I get to taste that sublime relief all over again.

Recently I finished a novel tentatively titled The Fourth Warlock which I hope to publish in 2016. I have been so tranquil, so relaxed, and so uncaring about everything for about a week now. I know the crash is coming. The let down and emptiness as I come back into balance will be tough.

But right now, I can go to the coffee shop and not feel I have to work as hard as possible the whole time I’m there. I don’t have to think, “I’m so close. So close. Gotta get this done. Don’t stop, we’re nearly there. Gotta make this session count.”

Now I can sip my drink in total relaxation, write a blog post, tinker with other stories and ideas, do some research, and just let the clouds float by.

I’ve also been thinking about how I should celebrate. I’ll do something special when a free weekend comes along. Maybe I’ll go clay shooting, or maybe I’ll take a camping trip. I need to think about it. But having that kind of dilemma on my mind is a nice break from over-analyzing every aspect of a plot, worrying about holes or problems.

So writers out there, if you’re in the middle of a project, living in the grind of getting that idea out a few thousand words at a time, take heart. Remember the prize is worth it. The prize isn’t money or fame or seeing your book for sale. For me the prize is knowing that I can tackle a huge obstacle, like a marathon or a dissertation, and finish it. I can whittle down a monstrous task. I can complete the journey step-by-step without distraction or giving up. True self-esteem, for me at least, comes from that: doing what you love, getting better at it, and not giving up until you have something to show for it. When other challenges arrive in life, you get to say, “Come on now, I started and finished a novel that took __ months. I can handle this.”

That’s a reward no one can take from you, not to mention the book that you created that will be there for the rest of your life. I’m savoring it now, and I know from experience that though the afterglow will fade, that new note added to my life history that reads “finished another 130,000 word novel” will bring me satisfaction for the rest of my life. Unlike something bought, I’ll grow even fonder of it as time goes by.

I’ve often said that novel writing is the marathon of the arts, with something like painting or poetry nearer to the hundred-meter dash. Short stories or playwriting strike me as sort of the 1600 meter. Writing that story in your head is a painful process, but the relief when it’s over is the more for it. That’s one more reason, if writing appeals to you, to do it.

To everyone who has read any of my work, I have to say a big thank you. You give me invaluable motivation to keep doing it. Thanks to your encouragement, I get to experience this wonderful rush again … and hopefully again soon. Thank you for pushing me into this state of bliss.

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Upcoming Antics

Here’s an update on the shenanigans the Taipei Writers Group have planned for autumn 2015.

Events – Please Join Us!

READINGS
October 17th 6.30 p.m.- Taipei Writers Group is coming to Red Room
“The Red Room is an ever-expanding community, exploring and extending the boundaries between audience and performer; a not-for-profit platform for events developing a culture of learning to listen to each other, what is around us, and our selves.”

TWG GOES SOUTH
November 21st and 22nd  – Taipei Writers Group is at InBetween International, Kaohsiung.
InBetween International is a creative center that connects Taiwan and the world through engaging people in a cross-cultural platform. 

Writers Writing

IN THE MEDIA
Appearing in the November edition of Centered on Taipei, an article by our very own C.K. Hugo Chung about the Taipei Writers Group, what it does and what the group offers its members.

BRIAN QUENTIN WEBB is hard at work on the final third of his novel, Shift, killing baddies and beloved characters left and right.

TWG ANTHOLOGY III

Taipei Writers Group members are working on the group’s third anthology, which comes out soon after Christmas. Each story is set in the same futuristic, dystopian world, where global warming has caused Peak Heat, a time when modern civilisation collapses. The anthology includes stories set in Canada, Sumatra, Taiwan and several areas of the United States.
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Author of Deadman Bay and The Jade Lady, Patrick Wayland is currently working on a spy thriller set in Silicon Valley.

 

 

 

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Bradley Verdell’s revised editions of The Adventures of Chadwick Yates Books 1 and 2 will soon be available FREE on Kindle, in preparation for upcoming new releases in the series.

Currently in editing is Verdell’s new gunpowder fantasy, tentatively titled The Fourth Warlock. This novel brings together the Victorian Era, demons, and The Three Musketeers.

 

41oRQWkk2QL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_ In 2015, Jenny Green published There Comes a Time, Death Switch and Dawn Falcon.

She has nearly completed the first book in her scifi series, Space Detective: Mission Improbable, which hits the virtual bookstores December 16th. 

 

 

 

 

To sign up to the TWG Anthologies Club and hear about special offers and beta reading opportunities, click on this link.

Book Review: Ghost Stories of an Atiquary

A couple of weeks back, I was invited to review a piece of horror writing by a member of a Facebook Group of Writers I’m part of. Carla Sarett is an author who is featuring a set of horror story reviews on her blog throughout October. I’d just finished two sets of classic horror stories by M.R. James, so I decided to review those.

The link to her blog, which contains an edited version of my review is here:

http://carlasarett.blogspot.tw

Check it out, Carla has some other cool reviews and interesting posts about writing there as well.

I also thought I’d give the unabridged version here as well:

Review – M.R. James – Ghost Stories of an Antiquary / More Ghost Stories

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghost-Stories-Antiquary-Montague-Rhodes-ebook/dp/B0082T46NS/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444378683&sr=1-4

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghost-Stories-Antiquary-Part-More-ebook/dp/B0082UEA9W/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444378683&sr=1-8

I recently read two collections of short stories by M.R. (Montague Rhodes) James. I knew the name, and I’d already had some experience of his stories – more on which later. I came across them as free kindle downloads on Amazon when I was scouring its pages for free books. In total, the two downloads came to 15 short stories, all set in and around the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, though often referencing much older periods of history, and principally in England or western Europe.

The stories vary, with subjects ranging from haunted places or persons, devil-worship, witch trials, and mysterious items of arcane origin. One odd one, “Martin’s Close,” even records the incidents of a centuries-old trial. The stories seldom provide any explanation as to why the various incidents, tragedies, and horrors have come about, though some, such as “The Ash-Tree,” and “The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral” present enough facts for clearer conclusions to be drawn. There are some classical references in there, plus passages of French and Latin that is usually (but not quite always) translated, so you might have to google a few things.

The stories are always enjoyable, and some genuinely creepy. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have read them back to back, as this tended to dilute the effect of each. It would have been better to dip into them whenever I felt like some classic horror.

For classic horror is what it is. There are no gruesome visuals of blood and gore, no monsters stalking victims through old houses or dark forests. The tales are sinister and disturbing rather than overtly frightening. The characters are often scholars, churchmen, or other well-to-do types, and the stories are generally set as recountings of incidents rather than incident as they happen. If a reader is suitably suggestible, they should experience a few odd dreams after some of these.

I would say my main reflection is that these stories should be told, not read. James had a tradition of reading these stories aloud to his friends and students at King’s College, Cambridge, particularly on Christmas Eve. I expect hearing them was far more spine-chilling than reading the words on a page. In fact, this was how I was introduced to James, as the BBC turned adapted a few of the stories so they could be read aloud and accompanied by visuals – not filmed segments, as much as short still images or brief blurs. The fact that these were read by Sir Christopher Lee certainly sold me on how James’s stories should be presented. I’ve since heard others by different actors, and I know there are many other radio and audiobook versions out there.

That would be my final piece of advice. Get the books by all means, and if you like classic creepy ghost stories, you’ll enjoy them. But get decent audiobook versions and you’ll find them much more powerful and evocative, as these will really bring out all the spookiness and atmosphere that M.R. James intended.