Ryan Baron North
Wanting to be a writer blows. Wanting to be any type of artist sucks. There is this little, nagging need that some force of nature inserted into you, and it gives you this nigh-impossible benchmark for success that you will always aim for, rarely achieve, and continually compare yourself against. It’s no way to live a life. I love writing, and at gunpoint, I’d never give it up, but every once in a while, I’ll quietly wish that I could be happy doing anything else.
Probably the unhappiest part of being an artist is the gradual acceptance that you are going to need to get a job. If you want to live a life of any sort of comfort, you need to pay the bills, and seeing as it’s not the 80s anymore, you can’t survive off the odd magazine article or dive-bar gig. So the question becomes: how do I keep the dream alive while the realities of life are tearing me down? Outside of bourbon, I’m going to go into a few ways to get after it. The methods may not be groundbreaking, but let me try and explain them in a way that will finally get through to you.
REALISTIC WRITING GOALS
I hear this little tidbit a lot. It’s a mainstay of every blog post I’ve seen that tries to help out the struggling writer. It is absolutely true. A writer needs to work with what they’ve got. We’d all love to tackle our stories for four hours a day, Stephen King style, but for most of us, that’s just not realistic. If you only have an hour a day to scribble something down, then you need to adjust your expectations. Knocking out a paragraph in a day is always better than knocking out nothing.
What people don’t address about this piece of truth, however, is that it fucking sucks. This piece of advice suggests a realistic concept to a group of people with an unrealistic goal. We have a dream, we want to write books, and we want to be famous for a medium that fewer and fewer people are
One of the frustrating parts of writing a novel about vampires is that when you tell someone you are writing a vampire novel, they assume you are writing a genre title around dark sexy things having sex with other dark sexy things. And for my novel Strix, that is not the case.
For vampires, you originally had your Draculas, your Ruthvens, and your Carmillas, and the stories tackled a fear of reverse colonization for Europeans, and it confronted the concept that a person could lose salvation—lose their ticket to heaven—by no fault of their own. Even if you did everything right, a vampire could steal paradise from you.
These fears don’t mesh with the modern day. Vampires in Strix are a commentary on the ethno-nationalism of self that we experience in modern society, specifically when we are grasping at our pasts. The vampires are a metaphor for the actual possibility that in the desperate search for self-actualization we hurt the people we love. Vampires, for me, are the fear that we may cross a line in our lives that leaves us trapped reliving, in our heads, the “golden years.” And that memory most likely never existed the way it is remembered.