Monthly Archives: March 2010

Alternative-Read Review on Keeping Her in the Light

Allie awakes in darkness, but when the lights come on she wishes they hadn’t. You see, Allie is laying in a room full of corpses. When she is able to overcome the paralysis of shock, she makes her way to the only door in the room: a slim, steel door she fully expects to be locked. It’s not, and when Allie opens it, her voyage into terror really begins.

Her captor is sitting at a table laden with food from which he is partaking. He encourages her to explore his home, warning her it is impossible to escape. Believing him, Allie chooses to sit down at his table. She even dares to ask a few questions: “When are you going to kill me?” and “How are you going to kill me.”

The conversation captures the killer’s imagination and as he thinks of answers to these questions, the nameless and very strange man decides he will use this woman to prove or disprove the existence of The Stockholm Syndrome (then he’ll kill her). Allie has no idea what this syndrome is, so she doesn’t realize her overt behaviour has won her a reprieve from death.

The rest of Nicole Fuentes’ Novella, Keeping Her In The Light, explores the developing relationship between the killer and the captive, who is terrorized, taught and befriended by at least four identifiable personalities. Allie doesn’t know the names of any of these personalities, so she comes up with descriptions: there’s The Clown who loves to horrify; the Stoic (Hector) who only asks questions (designed to teach), The Blank (Miggs) who is the killer and The Gentle One (Vernicus) who is Allie’s friend,

But the real significance of the relationship(s) between captive and captor is based on a metaphor plainly illustrated by the title and which is explained indirectly as the novella progresses. Keeping Her In The Light is a clever little story from first timer Nicole Fuentes. She caught me at the beginning and didn’t let go until the end. Kudos are in order.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2010

*See the original here.

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Yellow Kite, Fly

What’s that yellow kite doing up there,
against all the gray smoke?
Why is it soaring,
when we’re all down here, broke?

Can you see its red tail floating,
fluttering with the skill of the wind?
Why can’t we be up there,
tied with success to a string?

Did you see that just now,
the yellow kite fall?
Now it’s torn, stained, and dirty,
unwanted and abandoned in that tree so tall.

Why is it still unreachable,
so far out of reach?
Why is it cling to branches?
Why does it make me so sick?

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Dreaming With Open Eyes

There’s something safe about the mind. For me, it has always been a trusted haven–a comfortable one. I started running inside my head three years ago. Lying down on my bed, staring at the ceiling, I’d let my mind wander about, coming up with stories and scenarios I know would never happen. That’s probably what I found safety in–the fact that whatever I’d come up with wouldn’t happen anyway. There was some sort of safety while playing along a fine line of danger. It was safe, but not quite. It was dangerous, but not quite. I felt like I was walking on a tightrope, trying to balance myself between safety and danger. One false slip and I land on either side. Either I land on safety and be safe forever without a form of thrill, or I land on danger and be faced with danger without comfort. However, tightrope walking is, in itself, already something risky and dangerous. That’s why I can get both when I’m on that line. I can get that sense of danger from knowing I could fall any time, and I can get that sense of safety from knowing I’m balancing on that line. Still, that line, is it safe?

I remember my mentor saying that such a position wherein you choose no side is a position you shouldn’t be in, for such a position is already dangerous, because you see the good in both sides. It can’t be that sometimes you’re for one side while at other times you’re for another. But then again, wouldn’t it be better to take a neutral side?

No, for there is no standing up for what you yourself believe in when you choose the neutral. There is no gray. Everything’s either black or white, and you’ve got to have a good eye to see the distinction instead of seeing the gray.

Once again I question myself: Should I pick a side once and for all, or should I continue to stay in the middle to dream?

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Writing Young

It’s no big deal really, unless you do want it to be big…unless you want to make it big. The only thing that differentiates an adult writer from a teenage one, I suppose, is perspective and how one projects what one sees. But then that can also be excused as style, can’t it?  Style. Maybe there really is no difference and the “difference” we see is actually just a variety of styles–writing what you see in a way that fits how you see what you see. When you put that perspective of yours on paper, how it looks like on paper is your style. There are many different angles to perspective, and matching that chosen angle with your style of writing increasing the chances of uniqueness.

I guess what’s different doesn’t lie in the mental capabilities, but in the emotional one. The mental capabilities in the first place, just because they are all different, make them the same. That way they can’t be compared , only contrasted. The emotional capabilities lie in whether or not you can handle the criticism, whether or not you can handle what’s thrown at your back or at your front. There will be people who won’t be able to see what you see, who won’t agree with what you write, and they WILL express this. The adult writer, far more mature and experienced, will simply shrug it off without giving it a second thought. As for the teenage writer, it depends on how much you can handle. I can handle the insults–I don’t get hurt. What’s wrong with me is that I can’t handle the compliments. It’s the compliments that cause me to change my way of writing, especially when it’s said to me straight away. I’d rather that the compliments beat themselves around the bush than present themselves to me in a direct manner. I don’t know. I tend to over think things, and it makes me think how much truth there is in those compliments. Just the cynical side of me. The insults don’t change me as a writer. They simply challenge me. It’s when there are too much compliments that I tend to suspect something is wrong.

Then there’s experience, confidence, and the doubt that comes from the lack of the two. Adult writers, who too started young (younger than they are now), are more experienced; they’ve written more books, faced more criticisms, passed all those emotional factors. Because of this, I guess confidence just naturally emerges. They young writer, however, tends to doubt. I do, at least. Of course I know that soon this will all go away anyway and that this temporal state won’t matter in the future. As of now I simply try to feed on experiences of other authors. I feed on what they say about writing and I see patterns and similarities to mine, so I take what they say as advice. Makes me feel normal, I suppose, to be surrounded by ideas of those who weren’t considered normal back then.

At first, I thought my way of writing was strange, abnormal, especially since all I do is write what I see. I see the characters playing in my head as if they had their own lives, as if I was only an observer. What they did, I had to write down. I had no control over them. In time, I became comfortable with a serial killer running loose in my mind. It wasn’t the killer himself who scared me, but the fact that I was comfortable with that. The fact that I had no control over such characters as they mingled with my thoughts caused me to slightly question my sanity. Then I ran into Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon”. Harris, in his “Foreword to a Fatal Interview”, wrote, “You must understand that when you are writing a novel you are not making anything up. It’s all there and you just have to find it.” To me, this meant that what I was experiencing was what he had experienced. He just seemed to be more at ease with it than I was. He seemed to accept what would happen to him every time he’d write. This was probably the first advice I took. The first piece of advice that didn’t seem to push me or force me into common structures and order.

I recently read Luigi Pirandello’s “A Breath of Air”, which made me take interest in him. I looked up some of his quotes, one of which was: “When the characters are really alive before their author, the latter does nothing but follow them in their action, in their words, in the situations which they suggest to him.” Vladimir Nabokov, the author and entomologist I have taken a great interest in said, “The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” That’s three authors who have experienced what I had experienced when writing “Keeping Her in the Light.”

History, because we can learn from it, teaches us to first learn from it before we can actually learn from it. Things said and written by authors in the past who, though they have died, have written works that live on, are things that teach, that comfort us, telling us that we aren’t the only ones feeling such things.

Those who write young would do well to heed their advice masked as quotes. It took them far and it will take us even farther.

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Cradle Robber

Here’s a little something I’ve been writing since Tuesday, when I was supposed to be studying for a Theology exam. I’ve been trying to battle a little something people would call “Writer’s Block”. It’s a strange case of writer’s block though.
As usual, I didn’t start with where I was supposed to start in this story. I’m working in a very messed up order. Hmm, never thought I could use the words “messed up” and “order” one after the other in the same sentence. What I’m trying to say is, if this specific scene is confusing, don’t worry for that would only mean you’re still in your right state of mind. This scene takes place far from the beginning, and even farther from the end. No one will completely get it.
Here’s a scene from Cradle Robber (working title) for you:

“Mama?” she cried. Her already dark world dimmed farther and she was thrown into a void of pitch black, into an unfamiliar street with no one to guide her.
“Mama?” she repeated, breaking off into sobs that knew abandonment of all types. Her cries made her hear only herself, silencing the footsteps of the man who had separated himself from the shadows of that dark alley.
He calmly walked towards her, his breathing quickening, his heart racing. Excitement pumped his heart as the stone-sized beads from the massive rosary he held in his hand spilled from his clenched fist, flowing copiously away from his fingers. The huge cross touched the ground, dragging itself heavily by its chain, caressing the cold street the girl was crying on, tears creating a tiny, steady-flowing stream. She was no longer calling for her mother. She knew it was useless, that she only had to wait a while in that blind darkness before her mother would have the pity to come back for her.
The man’s cape fluttered in the cold, chilling wind, giving him away.
The girl, ears keen as her sobs diminished, turned her face from the dirty street to the sound of the fluttering cape.
What he saw in her face startled him, and the rosary fell on the ground, the beads pushing themselves away from each other. It wasn’t the little girl’s pretty face that opened a new set of doors for him; it was her eyes and what he saw in them.
The little girl was blind.
She couldn’t see him and his many imperfections, the deformities that had brought him to such a life. How could a blind creature shun him as the society had done when he was unknown? How could an innocent little girl shun him for his ugliness if she couldn’t see? Her inability to see closed doors to immediate judgment.
“Who’s there?” she asked, voice trembling, wary of the threat of danger. “Please help me. I can’t find my Mama.”
He wanted to talk to her, to tell her he’d help her, but he thought better of doing such a thing, especially since he couldn’t help her. Instead, he took several steps towards her.
“Monsieur,” she said quickly, recognizing the sound of his footsteps as the kind men’s shoes make, “please, I am blind. Can you help me find my Mama?” she shuddered in the cold wind.
It was then that he decided he wouldn’t kill her.

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Dreams

I’ve recently realized that with the mysterious disappearance of my ability to write, I stopped dreaming. Or is it the other way around? Is it because I stopped dreaming that I can no longer write? The kind of dreams and nightmares I used to have–the kind that inspires me enough to write–are gone. I dream of the most mundane things now, and I find myself wishing for a nightmare to come and scare me. Pathetic, I know, but that’s what happens to a writer who has lost her stable source of imagination. I don’t think I’ll be able to write again until I get a dream that thrills.

I’ve also lost insight, like losing the doors to my subconscious closed my mind. I can’t think as I used to. I feel like I’ve lost something else. Something highly important to me. And if I continue not to be aware of what it is that I’ve lost, I won’t ever be able to find it and get it back. I will go on blindly looking for it.

I can still connect dots, and I still have my intuition with me, but I can feel them diminishing. I can only connect three to four absolutely random things together, and my intuition is proving to be faulty. Things came easier to me before. Now I just don’t know.

How do you solve an internal problem that doesn’t rely on anything else but yourself?

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Preparation

Today, the High School body surprised us, the Seniors, with flowers, chocolates, candies, balloons, singing, etc. Funny how surprises are given to those who are departing. It made us feel special, I suppose, in a way we did not want to admit verbally. I, at least, couldn’t admit it verbally. Even my feelings I procrastinate until later. I saw the whole event–the whole day–as a way of measuring our worth and our value to the school as Seniors internally ready to move on to college.  I liked the measure. There was a sense of happiness in remembering we only have a few days left till we were pulled to “freedom.” There was also a sense of sadness in remembering that limit in time that we have. We are in between the ideal and the real points of view. We want to believe we will all see each other again sometime, but deep inside we believe the chances of this are pretty slim. So we stay in between. We think it’s safer there.

Eight years ago, our teachers would tell us we had to discipline ourselves in preparation for the Intermediate Level. Four years after that, they told us we had to discipline ourselves for High School. Now that we’re about to leave, it’s college we’re being prepared for. I guess life’s a series of preparations. There will always be something to prepare for. Something to anticipate and look forward to. Something to get excited about. Something to get our hopes high up for. We need this anticipation, this excitement, this hope. It’s what drives us to finish what we’ve started, be it voluntarily or not. It’s what motivates us to reach our end. It aids the beginning into reaching the end.

And so, as this day comes to an end, as I think back and recall everyone’s reactions while I had tried to keep mine at its usual unfeeling state, I can safely say that I will indeed miss Batch 2010. I may not miss the school itself or its system, but I will miss the people there–another preparation for all those we will eventually lose in the future.

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