“No one cared who I was until I put on the mask”- Bane.

The birth of a murderer, a suicide victim, or an abuser often takes place at the hands of bullies.

It started out as a good day for him. He had received straight As on his report card, his Dad started speaking to him again, and his Mom even smiled at him that morning. He was invited to a party that weekend. He wouldn’t have to be alone on a Saturday night for once.

Then, they came. It was all a joke. No one wanted him at the party. They had invited him only for the sake of ruining him. His anger mounted, overcoming his depression. His fury was so volatile, he couldn’t even feel the pain from the blows.

That was when he put the mask on and never looked back.

On Creativity, Introversion, and Being Social

Not-shy

 

“Being antisocial again?”

“You have to put on the facade that other girls use if you want more friends.”

“You can try to not to be so introverted.”

“Everyone likes him because he’s got that Type A personality.”

“Wow… you’re weird.”

“You’re not an introvert. It’s just in your head.”

People are getting better at accepting the wide variety of personality types that exist in the world. Compared to when I was a kid and a teenager, I have met many more people who can get why I am quiet and they accept that introversion is not a personality disorder. That being said, there are still a lot of people who do feel that introverts are holding themselves back or that they are shy or they should try to remove themselves from their perceived shell. 

What people first need to understand is what extroversion and introversion is. Introversion does not apply only to social situations. Introverts gain energy from being alone, from creating or reading or thinking. Extroverts gain energy from other people and thrive on social situations. Introverts are more sensitive to external stimulation, such as noise, people, or taste. Extroverts, on the other hand, function better in busier situations. They are drained by prolonged silence and not enough external stimulation. 

One personality type is not better than the other. In fact, many introverts can find balance by being friends with extroverts, and vice-versa. 

Introverts are not shy. When I think of an introvert, I actually think of “Quiet confidence.” There are different types of introverts as well. I am a part of the “Idealist” introvert personality type (Taken from the Myers-Briggs Personality Test) and these people are the dreamers, creators, artists, therapists, and writers of our society. They can do these things because they can function very well at working alone. They prefer to do so. Being inside of their own heads allows them to conceptualize stories, artwork, problems, or ideas easier than the other personality types. 

While we may not be the life of a party (Though this can happen on rare occasions as well), we’ll be those people sitting on a couch willing for someone interesting to sit down and entertain us with a philosophical discussion. 

Introverts benefit the world in many different ways, just as extroverts can and do.

Is it “all in my head” that I prefer most evenings to myself so that I can write, read, or sketch artwork? No. Is is strange that I prefer to have a close group of friends? Nah. Am I timid? Not a chance. In fact, I will be the first person to tell someone off when they make a racist comment or make light of rape. It’s actually bemusing how often I find myself in such situations, but despite my supposed timidity, I seem to usually be the one who has the strength of character to defend other people. So I do.

Introverts are introverts. It is not something that they can overcome, or something that they are pretending to be because of bad experiences. Introverts simply re-charge and function better when they can get plenty of alone time. They still enjoy going out, spending time with friends, and many of them enjoy loud concerts or night clubs. They really enjoy conversation, and will be exceedingly glad when they meet someone whom they can finally talk to for hours without becoming that drained. The key is being around less people rather than no people. 

What introverts need is balance. Most of us do not wish to be alone in the true sense, but we long to be left alone long enough to get our work done. We need meaningful relationships and amazing friends as much as everyone else. We like to have fun and be recognized in a group, but we do not want to be the center of attention in that group. We may go for days without wanting to go anywhere, but then there will be days that we want to get out and see new things. We want to be appreciated for our strengths rather than demotivated for what others could consider to be our weaknesses. 

There is a world of difference between antisocial behavior and introversion. In fact, more people should look up the word “antisocial” because it actually refers to sociopaths. 

If you’re an introvert, which you probably are if you’re writing and blogging, be proud of that fact. 1/3 of people are introverts, so we are in the minority, but I also kind of like that.

How in the world could we write if we spent most of our free hours of the day talking? Instead, we usually listen to our characters talking in our heads so that we can write them down. How cool is that?

What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Or, are you somewhere in between? Have you received flack for not being an extrovert at social functions? 

What was left of the HMS Wind

Peter gripped his tattered journal with both hands. What was left of the HMS Wind would be escorted by the French back to France. The remaining Crown’s naval officers and the sailors would be prisoners of Napoleon for God only knew how long. Peter’s worst fear had once been that he would be torn apart by cannon balls. Instead, most of his fellow midshipmen had been killed as well as the ship’s curt surgeon. The brave had passed on, leaving him to face a worse wave of fear.

His isolation was cut short when one of the older sailors climbed below deck.

“Peter? I wondered where you were. Though you might have jumped over board.”

“I’ve contemplated doing so.”

“Oh?”

“You’re implying that you want me to elaborate?”

The sailor shrugged. “We’re as good as dead now. Our lucky captain didn’t pull through.”

Peter knew that he wouldn’t survive, but the news sent a dull pain through his chest.

“You’re going to just sit down here and sulk?” muttered the seaman.

“On the contrary.”

“Huh?”

Peter put his journal on his hammock. His hands felt empty. He strode to the lantern hanging on the wall, yanked it from its resting place, and then ran to the hold. He threw the lantern at the straw floor and watched the flames grow. He passed by the aging seaman on the way back up to the main deck.

“We’re all as good as dead, as you mentioned,” said Peter. “I hope you’re good at swimming.”

I Don’t Want To Be

“Are you a sociopath?”

“I don’t want to be.”

She nodded slowly, turning away from him.

“I can’t really feel emotion, except for anger,” he continued. “Even for my mom. I tell her that I miss her, but I don’t. I don’t care when people stop talking to me or if I lose a friend. I don’t care at all.”

“I understand that you can’t help this…”

It still hurt her that their blossoming, intriguing friendship was about to come to an end because he could no longer use her for his own gain.

“It’s cold. We should go inside,” he said.

She longed to follow him up the stairs back to his place, but something urged her to go in the direction of her unit.

“You would be better off not to have emotion. Life is easier that way,” he said.

“I can’t do that. I want to help people and fix the things that are messed up in this world. I could have been one of those women born in a third world country…”

“I don’t think like that.”

“I know you don’t.”

She passed him and walked toward her front door.

“Good night,” he called.

She looked up at him once more, standing on the third step, staring at her with a blank expression, his empathy darker than the overcast night sky.

Short Story Glory

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I know that most (If any) literary agents will not represent short stories. Usually, short stories are limited to blog posts and, if the author is really lucky, they may end up in a magazine or in a book full of other short stories. Some people won’t consider a short story a true book.

I showed a coworker of mine at the lodge, who was curious about my writing style, my short story Eve and Adam. He absolutely loved it and admired the characters – he even shed a tear when reading the sad beginning. After he was finished singing its praises, he looked at me and asked, “Are you going to bulk it up into a novel, or just leave it as is?”

I think a lot of people won’t take your stories seriously enough if they are short. Novellas may be safe, but if you tell someone that you have written a 40 page story full of dark human emotions and horrifying sacrifice and sanity then you might get a skeptical reception.

I personally have always loved the idea of short stories and I enjoy reading them when I get a chance. I think it’s smart to create books filled with other short stories, but I also think that some works are better left published on their own. I feel that this is the case for Eve and Adam, as well as my other short story The Red Coat and the Red Head.

I know that there’s a market for shorter works, and I wonder if the best way to be noticed for them is to publish them in well-read magazines. I wonder if Amazon buyers see a book that’s less than 50 pages and they move on, unwilling to pay $0.99 for something that isn’t a novel. I’ll research into this further, because I want to know what type of market would be more interested in short stories. I am okay with publishing some on this blog, of course, but for others that require a lot of effort and emotion poured into them, I do want them to be purchased.

I think that if short stories are done in the right way, that they could increase in popularity and possibly even make a comeback. Some of the most famous writers, such as Woolf and Poe, published shorter works. As much as I love novels (I am working on one right, after all, and I cant find the time to read all of the novels on my “To Read” list), there’s something very poetic and satisfying about a good short story.

So, bloggers, what are your thoughts on short stories? Do you write them, read them, love them, or hate them? Do tell.

My Writing Progress After Working in the Wilderness

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In June, I took a long bus ride to northern British Columbia, which took another four hours by car to reach a wilderness lodge where I would work for the rest of the summer. The view was spectacular and I had my own room, so after my long days working with customers and guests, I was able to get a significant amount of writing done. It rained a lot, which fuels my creativity and inspiration.

I ended up revising one of my short stories, Eve and Adam. I was also able to edit and write several more pages of my novel, which is not yet titled. Speaking of which, I really need to work on that!

I found that I was able to focus much of my time on writing when I worked through the day, but on the weeks that I had to work a split shift, I mostly napped because I couldn’t sleep well. I do find that I tend to write better after working during the day. So wherever I end up moving to next, I will do my best to work a day shift so that my writing will not suffer.

How has your writing progressed over the summer?

Eve and Adam, A Project Nearly Complete

My newest short story, Eve and Adam, is something that I have been writing for just over one year. I promise you that it will not be a romance, as that would betray my usual writing style. ;)

The short story began on my third day in the rocky mountains while working at the Delta Lodge in Kananaskis. The new scenery, the travel, and the song called “Miracle Cure” by Seawolf helped the story line flow. I actually published the first draft of it on this blog, but have since edited and added more to it. My sister is already designing the book cover, which makes me very excited and it feels like it is really coming together!

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It is a story about two young misfits. Eve is from a cult village while Adam is from a small town with Southern Baptist roots. While innocent, Eve has a strange mind frame that is just as dangerous as Adam’s suicidal ideations. Their paths cross just a moment before Adam slits his wrists deep enough to kill himself.

Eve and Adam’s opening paragraphs:

Floating circles of red, yellow, and green rose above the long grass and I dropped the knife. Blinking, I sat up on my knees, wondering whether I was dreaming or already dead. The colourful spheres had an owner. A slender girl skipped toward me, holding a cluster of helium balloons with one hand. Her giddy gait, flowing brown skirt, and wide smile mocked my fatal intentions.
Blood smeared the sharp blade in the dewy grass. I stood and slid my reddened hands into my pockets, cringing at how she would react at the sight of a random man sprouting out of nowhere. The girl waved at me. Apparently seeing a weirdo on the top of the rise was normal to her.

I am in the phase of seeking out beta readers before hiring an editor. If anyone is interested in giving this short story a read (It is at 26 pages right now) then I would be very grateful to you. I really want to get it right and this story is so important to me. I want every reader to feel the heart, emotion, and pain that I felt as I wrote these characters and their circumstances into being.

Please let me know if you are interested in giving me a critique – it can be as simple as “Great book, but work on this…” to a very detailed analysis. I want as much honesty and candor as possible before I show it to an editor.

Thank you, my amazing blogger friends!