BEHOLD AND TREMBLE
The Mad Missourian, Ben Wheeler returns!
A tome of terror and nightmare beyond your reckoning! IT IS THE NECRONOMICON AESTHETICA . Bound in the twisted and flayed flesh of critics and penned with the blood-tear ink of underpaid and overworked artists, this book will be the end-all and be-all of entertaining fiction analysis. This is not to be an explicit guide to a paint by numbers towards something poor, generic and, Lord forgive me for saying this, derivative. This is a guide to promoting excellence of story telling, to look at, disagree with or consult like a road map where you already know the way, but you want to make sure.
Read ON brave delver of the darkest literary arts!
From your deep basement, screams rip through the night, causing the villagers who gathered at your door like mice to the pantry to scatter back to their homes. Yet, you know that the screams are necessary. William Twist, the loyal yet shifty-eyed hunchback, trembles at the shouts of pain and promises of vengeance. Your muse watches, pale faced, for she can see the muse of the immortal head attached to the bellows animating it. You can see her shadow, rising higher than you stand. It reaches out with clawed hands and caresses your muse’s neck. All this, you see in a copper mirror arrayed with glyphs of power. No violence comes to her, but brutal hatred pulses from that dire shadow. You know no muse can overcome another, but the will of the author must first bow. You have no desire to submit yourself to the will of the head before you.
The bellows turn and grind, granting animation and breath. It’s eyes blaze with fire. This head, inherited from generations of the past, yet pulled from the far future by magicians of that olden power, will answer your questions. Though, you may have to encourage it with pain. The mouth utters blasphemies to all gods but the God he serves. Nothing is beneath him, nothing can be forbidden from him, but a body and freedom from servitude.
“OH NIGHT! OH EMPTY NIGHT!” He screeches, finally calming down a little after sleeping for so long. “DEATH I SHALL PRAY FOR YE. LIFE I SHALL REQUEST TAKEN FROM YE!”
“Tell me, bound man, tell me about Time Travel, why am I inspired for it? Is it a good idea to write it?”
The head considers. For all its barely contained rage, problems hold a certain fetish for him. He loves a question. “Give me my body back, and I shall answer.”
“No, but Winged Nightmare will take you up and out for a night of whatever debauchery you desire in the dream worlds of man’s night.”
“Pitiable, but enough. A week I demand, at certain days I shall tell Winged Nightmare.” You nod. He begins.
Time travel is a tricky subject, and hard to grasp, but, as I took from your mind, you know this already, and what examples you have been given. The two questions: Why and what profit, shall be answered now.
Inspiration is a gift from God or a devil for good or evil. It is intended that you write such and such for the good or evil it can do. It is a hard thing to be good, but writing easy pornography is always ‘evil’ since God does not inspire sin or the actions of sin. It is against his nature. It may be written in parody, but always, such inspiration is of its father, the Devil, the slanderer.
You are inspired for such a story because it is what you are intended to write. I have an idea that those with many story ideas, some of worse qualities than those previous, or better, may be inspired to mask previous works. My muse pulls no other tale from your mind, so you are singular in purpose. Since you are an amalgamation of everything you have read or consumed, everything you are inspired to write is in the same vein. It’s why it’s important to consume great media, and not the bad. An example: If you read space marine fiction you will write some form of space marine fiction. If you have not read space marine fiction, it is better to read it and see what has been done before you write it.
To write something that has been done can entertain those who want more of the same, but artistically, it is then thrown against the one that has already been done. You can come away the worse, or mocked, for your attempt. While some may say all art is valid, that is simply not true. If objectivity exists, supported by the existence of God and, in a lesser way, the Devil (not that they are equal, I’ll gut the man or beast that says I am saying so), then there are objective standards for everything. “Forms” if you will. A perfect form of Space Marine, Time travel, westerns, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Planetary Romance and horror exists or will exist somewhere. In case of Time Travel, it doesn’t matter when, ho ho ho.
More examples for different genres: Space Marines are probably best done by Warhammer 40k in my former world. Urban Fantasy by the Dresden Files or by Larry Corriea’s Monster Hunter series (which is also the best gun porn in the world, fight me). Time Travel by Homestuck and the City Beyond Time (for different reasons). Westerns were never my bag but Louis L’Amour stands firm against the test of time. Planetary Romance by Princess of Mars. Steampunk by Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius and Arcadia Snips. Horror by Dracula and Lovecraft.
One might dwell and brood on these, that they are better than you’ll ever be. Perhaps. Perhaps. But that shouldn’t stop you. These codified certain movements or genres or characters, but that shouldn’t stop you from using them. Dracula is the best vampire book written, yet others writing vampire fiction does not take from it, but the difference in quality magnifies it. To be inspired to write vampires is it’s own thing I think you should dwell on at a later date. No, stop thinking about time-vampires. Dammit! NO! NO MORE VAMPIRES! AGGGHHHH!
(Screams and curses and prayers to his God follow)
For time travel, to be inspired or to be a fan of, is a dangerous thing. Unlike a clear character archetype to follow, like Dracula and vampires, time travel is a mechanic. That is, Time Travel can not be a character. A personification of Time can be a character, bitch slapping the main character back into his proper time frame, preferably. A character can travel through time. A character can be a time traveler, you see? Therefore, the danger of reading other time traveler works is that you will unconsciously agree or disagree with the world and rules set out by those books. Is it a simple loop? Forward into adventure? A timey-wimey ball thing? A complex knot of loops, false timelines and bs powers? Did you react to any of the things I’ve said?
Therefore, when inspired, taking something wholesale can be dangerous because you will not have properly understood the author’s intent. Yes, we can read all about HG Well’s socialist leanings, but that doesn’t mean we know anything about his views on time travel beyond simply going forward then back again. Or Andrew Hussie, the creator of Homestuck, on his own work? It is being studied. We can only say that he believes in a ‘alpha’ timeline, and all variations to it are murderously dealt with. But is that it? Not at all! Things are destined to happen, but it is more accurate to say that things that are not destined to happen are removed from existence, except for a corpse. How confusing! How can you write such a work stealing from him like a cockney rough in a back alley if you cannot comprehend his full vision? It will fall flat on its face. Even fan works by studied writers cannot grasp it fully.
Therefore, if you are inspired to time travel, you must do the hard work. Whatever time-wolves or time-vampires you have, there must be hard rules you hold yourself to and never break, not once. Back to the Future might not make a lot of logical sense, but it holds to internal rules and doesn’t break them, to my memory. Being inspired by that or Homestuck holds to common ideas, doesn’t it? That the timeline self-enforces and has certain limits. Taking that idea and show how the time-monsters interfere with it is a great application of the raw inspiration.
Raw inspiration is dangerous to any writer. How can you say an idea is good or not? I once was at a restaurant working on an outline of a novel, something to bank while I worked on other projects. Being a homage to Gothic novels, I have a character fall in love with his adopted cousin. The waitress thought that part gross, though there is no genetic relation to make it ‘gross’ and they didn’t grow up together. I still considered it a good idea. The waitress did not. Who is right? I say me but I’m biased. Lets say I took that idea to another author and THEY found it offensive. Again, no actual incest is happening. This is a peer. They have a similar existence to mine (before I was captured and enslaved!) and so can speak to me on the same wavelength.
My raw inspiration is to have such a thing and agonize over it. The waitress’s opinion is personal. I knew that she wasn’t a reader. The author though… In the end, I went forward with it. However, other times I have abandoned whole projects or ideas on the advice of others, myself or my muse. I may love an idea, but at no point does that idea become good because of my love. A mother may love her murderous son, but that doesn’t purify the son a wit. Who can tell the inspiration of God from the musings of man? Even those things that speak to God can be unreadable, cringey and low-brow in such a way as to be worthless to the work that is done for ‘His’ sake. Unless, of course, they are lying and they are doing it for themselves, selfishly. How interesting an idea…
If you decide that you wish to pursue time-monsters and other nonsense, how is it resolved? Do you know yet? Does the main character take up time travel to defeat the chrono-lupine menace? Or does he find their source, a mad scientist bent on some destruction for unknown reasons. Really, the possibilities are not endless, but rather, are limited only by your imagination. What time shenanigans have to happen for the story to resolve comfortably? Whatever inspiration, as you work, make two timelines, timeline and perspective. If you do not put in the hard work, it’ll be nothing but a raw mass, like a half-way decent fanfiction. All that potential, all the characters you might love, but none of that special SOMETHING that promotes it to the top tier.
Crafting that raw inspiration is the art of the artist in its most basic form. Whether the sculpture exists in the block of marble already, or whether there are only happy accidents is meaningless to the normie since those we admire put in the time and effort to be admirable. Of course, it can inspire them to do better, but it will weed out those who lack the passion, dedication and work ethic required. They can’t succeed. They will not profit, no matter how much ‘inspiration’ they have.
Even shills and shams must dedicate themselves to their craft to make a living from it. They must learn to fake or the schmooze or to be in the right place in the right time. You cannot fake luck, of course, but one can learn to capitalize on it. Be bold to take the opportunity. Be capable of profit.
And what does it profit? There are two profitable things in this earth, and one in the life beyond. There are two unprofitable things in this earth.
The two profitable things on this earth are fame and money. Fame, in that a great writer will become famous. haha ha. They gain respect and honor for their great work. Imaginative, genre establishing pieces are better than following the leader. Money is that filthy lucre we need to buy our bread and keep a roof over our heads. That will come should you market and write well enough. It doesn’t matter what it actually IS so long as people want it and are willing to buy it. If you write a good enough time travel piece, it’ll be less profitable that, say, Military science fiction, but it will still have a fanbase and you will gain both money and fame for being the best you can be.
The two unprofitable things are infamy and poverty. Infamy, in that you may be known and derided for what you do. It is better to be ignored or unknown that it is to be infamous. Being ‘famous’ for being a bad writer isn’t a good thing. Even porn hucksters try to write their porn WELL, for a certain definition of WELL. Infamy can sell, but it can never bring ‘respect’. It cannot be profitable in the way fame can be, and can hurt you the more that your infamy grows. If given a choice between you and a famous person of better reputation, they will take them. If you are infamous for having bad books, you will not sell like you would if you were famous for good books. There are exceptions for those who hit upon a ‘zeitgeist’ within a culture, but it creates problems the second it is no longer moving in the direction you profited from. It is better to say that infamy is transient, and one must always be riding the tiger, while fame can take a hit or two. Poverty is a spectre that afflicts all. More need not be said.
Spiritually the profitable thing are whether you created something honoring to the objective God. Though all burn equally in hell, there are rewards in Heaven for overcoming sin and dying a martyr and so on. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that writing things can affect the powers above or below. While writing some lesbian pornography will not stoke the fires of hell higher, (not that you would care even if they did, being more preoccupied by other things like rejecting Christ) it will not be looked upon by God as being a good use of your inspiration or muse. It will be of the devil, not of Him. You should have resisted whatever fame, infamy or profit you would have received from it. It is better to be impoverished, than abusing your muse and God given gifts. For at least then you are only passively helping the forces of evil, not actively helping them. It is better to be an honest pauper in Heaven, than “King of the Pornographers” in hell.
Let us say, at this point, you are ready to write using whatever inspiration you have. You are about to take the pen to paper. Let us take one last stock of our inspiration.
First: Can I write my ideas well enough to do them justice?
Second: If I can, are they honoring to God and to my readers?
Third: What does my idea come from, and am I distinctive or derivative, and is this a good or bad thing?
Lastly: What will it profit me to write this? Will it bring Fame or infamy? Will it enhance my poverty or hurt it?
The order is specific. If you can’t write it, all the others will be a negative response. If they are not honoring to God or to your readers, you will not be blessed by either party. The third is less important in a tangible way, but rather, is a meditation on what you are writing, and in whose footsteps you are following.
The last one is a stark examination and is the least important. If you properly handled the last three points, then, at least, you will not be risking being known for terrible books. It’s a practical look at your life and work. Are people asking for MLP novels uncommissioned by Hasbro? Are people asking for Social Justice Commentary on the SPACE PATRIARCHY? Are people seeking that new genre involving monster girls that is just right around the bend and you are the man to write it? Perhaps the inspiration is just a fancy, and not something truly great, truly worthy of your time.
As much as you might want something, it isn’t always good to have it. Of course, someone has to to start somewhere, which is why fanfic forums, studying ancient texts and modern works, and talking it over with mentors is a great way to ensure you aren’t taking a path that will hurt you in the end.
Everyone dies some day and God knows the span of our lives. If you spend it pursuing worthless ideas and denying truth, then, when you die, you will be found wanting. While you do not fear that day now, you will despair then. The blood of Christ can wash away sins, but it cannot wash away our will to be poor servants.
And so the head spoke no more. Somberly, you lowered him back into the vault and returned to your writing room. William Twist ran from the man’s terrible wisdom and your muse could not bare the brunt of his terrible will. So, alone, you dwell on your work, and if your inspiration is worth your time investment.