Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Pushing Past the Hump

A little piece from what I working on now. It might not survive a rewrite, but I like it well enough, and figured I'd share.

Thousands of years ago, centuries after the God of Light, Sei, had stopped speaking and knelt silently to die in his field, Zaifyr had gone to see him. The Cult of Light had tried to move the slim, Asiatic God, but had discovered that to their touch, Sei's skin burnt, and so they had purged the land of settlements around him for a hundred miles in every direction. In the year Zaifyr walked into the dense forest, the cult had been long dead, torn apart by faction infighting, and by Aela Ren, who before his madness, had claimed to be the inheritor of Sei's power. Zaifyr had returned to his brothers and sisters with the story of how the cult had been murdered, having laid down arms in equal belief, only to be murdered without pause, and for a century they had discussed what was to be done with Ren, only to do nothing.

But there, in the hundred miles as he approached Sei, he had felt the others awareness, felt the primitive, primal acknowledgment of him.

It was difficult to explain just what the dying God felt towards him. When Zaifyr reached out to touch him, there was pain, but there was always pain, in all the gods that he had seen. Like them, there did not exist behind the pain a series of rational thoughts, at least none that he could properly identify. There was thought, but it existed differently, formed alien, as if the rules of time and place mattered not to the being that they were formed in, and they cared not if they were understood. Yet. Yet, as Zaifyr drew closer, the haunts throughout the forest growing thicker around him, there rose a sense of animosity, of hatred: a bitter venom that he would not have thought to subscribe to the God of Light, if he had not already felt it before, and knew he would feel it again.

It was such a powerful hatred that, by the time Zaifyr stepped into the empty, sun drenched clearing where the slender god knelt, he himself could hardly stand.

I am suspecting that the title will be The Crooked Madhouse, but I don't really think highly of that. The problem is that the other titles are either ones I know won't work, or ones that I don't like, or which fit a different novel.

At any rate, I passed the midway hump a few weeks ago. I don't know if others have the experience, but it is where you reach a point where you ask yourself why you're writing this, when you say it's no good, that you should scrap it, and your mind turns with a dozen other ideas, each better than the next. A lot of those questions feel more pointed this time around, given all the experience of the previous novel, but you either work through it, or you don't work through it, though it feels faintly embarrassing to talk about it. There's something about the experience of failing to sell a novel with the various experiences I had that leaves you, months later and working on something new, feeling as if you're a bit of a fake, that you couldn't, somehow, walk the walk. That you could only talk the talk.

There's really not much you can do about it, other than to keep pushing. Internally, writing well is about confidence. Like with everything else in life, a series of bad experiences can threaten and even rob you of that. When you're just starting out, you can suffer from it to, because you somehow feel as if you do not deserve to call yourself an artist, or claim the right because you believe your work is bad, or you don't have belief in it. Once you get over that, a lot of things become easier, though sadly, it seems, a series of bad experiences can put you back there if you're not careful.

But that's life. Roll with it, move with it, make it work for you. I'm fairly sure those were the exact words Harold Holt said, right before he went swimming.

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