‘You will never make any money, writing stories.’
My mother made that comment one day. I remember the disdain in her voice. My step-father used to spy over my shoulder when I tried to write as a child, to see if I was writing any swears so they could both sneer and tut disapprovingly about it over dinner. Where they sighed and broadcasted their disproval in whatever obnoxious way they could, without ever acknowledging the content of the story. I didn’t have the happiest childhood. But I’m proud to say my first sale was for $25 bucks. I’ve made more since then, and I’ve no doubt it will continue as long as I stay hungry.
I’m hesitant to talk about my work, since I prefer the work to speak for itself. Different people read different things from the same story, and see different shapes in the same painting. Subjectivity is a big facet of the piece “Remember Backwards.” It was, of course, based on a dream. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but when they come through, they’re usually quite vivid and strange. This was no exception, but it also had something in it that was quite profound; it had something to say.
My dreams are dangerous places; a coagulated mess of unhappy thoughts that bite. I have frequent night-terrors that I don’t often remember when I wake up, thanks to a strong sleeping medication. I’m thankful for that. So very thankful. Some of the greatest writers had some form of mental illness, which gave them such a unique voice in their writing. Or they were cultural outcasts, who held disdain for their limp-dicked peers in the genre. I’m probably a little column A and a little column B, if I can say as much without trying to sound too self aggrandising.
I was raised by a narcissist, so I’m used to apologising for everything. I can slam my own foot in the door and apologise for yelling in pain too loudly. That’s a pretty severe guilt complex.
Regular life operates on several levels of privilege higher than I have ever experienced. I often feel as though I’m a sub-class of person by comparison. So comparisons aren’t really apt. I’ve never been able to hold down work, thanks to panic attacks. I hear someone speak my name in a certain tone of voice, and I’m crippled by fear so powerful as to instantly reduce me to a wild animal caught in the sights of a gun. You feel like you are experiencing your own death – that instant – with absolute certainty. No ifs. No buts. No doubts. It’s happening: you are about to die.
You can’t breathe; you can’t speak. You can’t move. Pure, unfiltered fear rips you away from the controls. It’s impossible to imagine until you’ve experienced it.
On the topic of death – this does factor into my story. But it’s not just the fear of death, but the way we cope with it. People think they can look death in the face and walk away unchanged. You’re a child if you think so. I can’t stand it in movies or books where a character dies, and someone who is supposed to be very attached to that character is suddenly okay one scene later. That’s bullshit. You know it; I know it – and the goddamn writer should know it. It’s disrespectful. Some people never stop mourning. Some married women die of grief after losing their husband of forty years. Death shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Death is featured in my story in it’s purest form: time.
Eventually, we will be erased in one way or another. But so long as we live on in the hearts of those we leave behind, we cannot be extinguished. Our time here won’t be measured in what we leave behind, but by who we leave behind. The memories that are passed down to those we love, and those who loved us.
As surreal as I think the writing itself is, my work is quite sentimental. People are afraid of sentiment. That’s the true horror these days: emotion. We can’t stand the idea of being seen as weak enough to feel. Its a vulnerable, uncomfortable feeling. One I’m used to. It’s a strange old friend. The melancholy of vulnerability.
Hopefully my work horrifies you in this way, makes you feel even a glint of some strange spark of empathy. If you do enjoy my story – I’m happy to talk about it or anything else over e-mail.
If you want to check out more of my work and keep up to date, I’m setting up a mailing list through my website to keep you posted on what I’m up to.
I don’t usually write blogs. On occasion, I may pen an essay about something important to me when there’s a big release I have to announce or something else prominent happening. But I prefer to just ebb away and get the work done, then come back when I’ve actually got something to show.
Be sure to check out some more of these guest blogs – you get a wide selection of views and thoughts from an anthology of voices. The novelty of that alone is worth a look in my view. It has a “collected essays” feeling to it that is very post-modern. Plus, they come with author interviews. (Who doesn’t love a good interview?)
Now – I’m off to work on my novels (among other things), lots of love to all those creative souls and avid readers seeking out the books off the beaten path and the stories too strange for traditional publishers.
The stories, they all said: ‘You’ll never make any money’ writing.
Maul Allan Hewish is a Australian, Brisbane-based author and visual artist, who dabbles in Sigil-crafting, Tarot, and Western Occultism. His fiction, art and poetry deciphering the horrors of waking life, mirror his own experiences with mental-illness and childhood trauma. His works have been published twice in Grotesque Quarerly Magazine. He lives with his loving partner Katya. They spend their free time having long discussions on the merits of bad horror movies, video-gaming, and collecting obscure miniatures. For more updates, check out his website: www.themaul.net
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