The Article that Funded my Trip to a Black/Death Metal Festival in Belgium is Up

You can read it here.

At the last minute, we decided that I would write an article about why students at my university who will be studying abroad through our sibling schools program should consider Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. However, I did take two trips to Gent and Brussels while in Belgium and did some cultural/aesthetic sight-seeing, so I was perfectly equipped to write an article about why you should go to Belgium/what there is to do in Belgium. But if you are interested in reading about my trip to Belgium, I have a blog entry about it here.

The Kind of Dilemma that can only Arise from being Scatter-brained and unable to make a Decision

There’s a quote from Virginia Woolf that describes me very strongly:

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.” (from her diary on May 11th, 1920)

I’m in the doubt stage currently. I feel like if I could just get over my doubt of my current project and finish part II that I would go on writing parts III and IV smoothly and then the editing process could begin and I would finally have SOMETHING to show to publishers (that isn’t a teenager’s first attempt at figuring out how to construct a novel). But the more time I spend not focusing on my piece, the more my mind wanders and I begin to contemplate new projects. Also, I’m kind of risking damning myself anytime I attempt to write a short story. Thus far, half of my short story attempts in the past two years surpassed 12k words and could go even longer to form a novel. So I had to put the project on hold in favor of my current two projects.

This is what my workload looks like (concerning novels and compilations, I won’t even list the unfinished short stories sitting on/around/in my desk at the moment):

Mind Terrorist

Main Character/inspiration: Lenore, a voice of a character in my head who happened to be the loudest when it came time to write a short story for my Short Story writing course last spring.

Plot Synopsis: Lenore is an American expat living in Austria who is having a very serious breakdown. She is convinced that a specific man has found a way into her mind and found a way to control her thoughts and sexual desires and that he is seeing all of her thoughts. The problem is that she does not know who it is, and is suspicious of any man she comes across because even if they found a way to placate her and convince her that they are not the ones inside her mind, that this could just be another mind trick. Lenore, needing a holiday, is invited to spend the weekend partying with two musician friends in Prague and she accepts. But during the train ride through Austria to Prague, she realizes that perhaps it could be her friends who have been reaching into her thoughts.

Themes: Coping with sexual assault/rape, alcoholism, mental illness, mental illness and sexual trauma, travel, Central European culture and history

Status: I shopped this around in its original form as a short story. It was considered for 3 months to be printed by an American literary magazine, but in the end they declined it because they felt that the word count was too long to be a short story, and that the story needed to continue. When I turned it in to my teacher, she said basically the same thing. . .so here I am trying to finish this novel.

But doubt creeped in and I started a new project while I was dealing with writer’s block:

Short Story Compilation (“The Sea Monster’s Bride” and other Stories)

I found myself writing a lot about love and mental illness in the last six months, and aside from my novel, I’m beginning to move past this fixation. However, mental illness and love are and probably will always be recurring themes in my writing for personal reasons. This particular short story compilation has a focus on love within institutional settings between someone who society has deemed to be mentally ill and someone who isn’t but may be missing some important things. I would like to release it on smashwords, but I’d like to first get some of the stories published in literary magazines and therefore attract publicity and more public interest for the short story compilation in the first place.

Now, within this project I started writing a short story which takes place in a Victorian workhouse, and then later an asylum. The narrator has a romantic relationship with Satan (or she thinks she does) and this is why she is in an asylum. I’ve realized after rewriting it that this story could not be told in its entirety in just a short story, and that since she is in her late teens and I have the opportunity, I’d like to send her to a haunted finishing school in Scotland and extend her narrative into a book series. This is my Darling series, which I posted about earlier this week. Now, I have three projects going because I am still missing a short story since I’ve had to pull Darling from the compilation. Mind Terrorist only has 15,000 words, and I want it to at least have 30k. But these are just the projects I’ve started fairly recently.

During my time on Mibba two years ago, I completed an internet fantasy serial story. My readers on Mibba really liked it and I have been asked to expand each weekly section into a full chapter. I’ve been doing that since 2011, and have ended up splitting the book in half so that now there are two books–both from different points-of-view. The story line is done. The rough draft is written. I am just editing this now and going back and rewriting some passages so that they connect more smoothly and there are less plotholes. I even have an idea for the sequel to each of the points-of-view, a book that combines both by making one of my narrators have a bigger part in the life of the character who shall be narrating. But it’s a fantasy project: imaginary world, intricate religious and cultural beliefs, and a political system, and all. My senior year of college is not a good time to embark on such an endeavor. Though, I will admit that when I’m frustrated with Lenore and writing short stories and queries to literary magazines, I find myself editing my fantasy novel, designing costumes for my main characters, and even writing new scenes. This is a particularly bad habit for me, because it’s taking away from me time that I would be spending working on my projects that I’d like to get done before the end of 2014, when I’ve told myself that this fantasy novel could not reasonably be finished at least until 2016 if I put all my free time into it, and should just focus on one thing at a time.

But no, I don’t listen to myself. I’m too scatter-brained to listen to myself. There are too many voices inside of my mind for me to listen to, and as a result I’m having trouble picking which one I’m going to listen to when it comes to my writing projects.

 

A Very LONG Weekend in Belgium

For the last week, I’ve been trying to finish a detailed blog entry I am writing about my actual creative process and advice on how to bring out the creativity in yourself when you are feeling all “dried out” when it comes to ideas. It’s been a bit difficult, because I’ve realized that there is nothing constant about my creative process. I don’t write every single piece in the same exact way and it really depends on the situation. But I’m still working on that and I hope I will have it up next week.

In the meantime, I had a very long weekend in Belgium, which also took time away from my study, writing, and blogging projects. . .but I needed a short holiday. Originally, I wanted to go on this trip to see my friend from Norway, bassist of Carpathian Forest, Daniel Vrangsinn; my friends Serpenth and Helmuth of Belphegor; and both of these bands performing (again) before I left Europe for a full year. However, a trip to Belgium from the Czech Republic–especially to a rather remote town like Kortrijk-Kuurne, where there are no hostels–would be really expensive. I ended up writing an article about living in Czech Republic for my university and sending them some photos from my travels, and they liked my article so much that they sent me $500 for this trip under the condition that I write another article about Gent and Brussels–where they also have sibling schools.

Well, that trip was this past weekend. I have no photos to share from the festival, because I was too busy socializing with people and headbanging to take very good photos. I ended up meeting some Belgian friends of Daniel’s and my friend, Paal, also from Norway, flew in. I also hit it off really well with Nattefrost and Terje (Tchort). My conversations with Nattefrost that night–like when I talked with his very good friend and collaborator, Nordavind, were very philosophical, raw, and honest in nature. I can always count on an interesting conversation with the guys of Carpathian Forest. And well, I lived with Dan Vrangsinn for 2 weeks. We’ve had all sorts of conversations haha!

I made faces at Serpenth, a former relation of a sort, during the Belphegor soundcheck. He seemed surprised to see me for some reason. . .

Both the bands I came for and the opening bands put on great shows. My only complaint was that someone really messed up the P.A. After the show, I was kind of waiting around for the Belphegor guys to show up because it’s been two years since I’ve talked to either of them in person. (It’s really been two years since I went to visit them at their rehearsal house and I was living in Austria! I can’t believe how time flies. . .I feel like I’ve always been living in Austria sometimes.) I never saw Serp again after the show, but Helmuth appeared eventually at his band’s merch booth and I went over to say hi. It was nice to catch up with him in person and to see that he is doing well. As many of us metal fans know, he was very sick with Typhus last year from Belphegor’s South American tour and he very nearly died. As a fellow Sagittarius, I can imagine that it was difficult for him to sit around for a full year and purposely resign himself from doing what he loves and achieving his goals. Sagittariuses are very driven, passionate, but quiet and reclusive people–and I get that vibe from him very strongly.

On Sunday, I spent the day partially in Gent and partially in Brussels. I didn’t really do any tours or see any sights. I just wanted to walk around and take as many pictures of the architecture and historical sites as possible. Both Gent and Brussels are beautiful cities. Unfortunately, it was raining on and off all weekend. It was also much colder in Belgium compared to the very comfortable 25 degrees we had in Brno when I left.

Here are some photos from Gent:

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And here are some photos of Brussels:

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