Of Dark Crystals and Brooding Hollows Traveling Down the Late Night Road

The thing about “there,” is that when all goes well you come back again.

I meant to write this the very … night I came back from my trip, but then I realized after talking with a friend that I was more tired than I believed. And then today I felt energized with purpose but now the exhaustion segment of this burst energy and gall on my part is coming into play: so much so I’m now writing this past Monday.

I even had this post all planned out to an extent but then I just felt like … I don’t know, tired and repetitive. Nevertheless, there are some things that still need to be mentioned. I was on the Greyhound bus back from Ottawa and, finally, I got my borrowed laptop to link into the free wifi connection. After catching up on a wide variety of Facebook messages and even some new Twitter followers, I went on the Broodhollow website and I found something there: that on the very day of my impromptu trip my Sequart article got linked to and mentioned in an update by Kris Straub himself.

It shouldn’t have surprised me, and I was secretly hoping that he would mention my work, but it’s one thing to hope and think about it but it is an entirely different situation altogether to see it staring at you right in the face–on a Greyhound bus back to Toronto in the fading early autumn sky–and just say, “Wow.” Before this point, I did comment on the site like everyone else, but here was name again, connected to my writing, associated with Sequart and–for that time and that time alone–front and centre. I found this a few days or so after another Twitterer suggested my work be printed as a “Forward” to the upcoming Broodhollow Kickstarter, to which Kris Straub replied:

“@MKirshenblatt unfortunately there’s no room! but he is worthy of it”

It was at that point that I went on my Facebook and wrote another status down–linking the exchange from above–and I wrote, “I hope that this is the longest Day of my life.”

And I still mean it.

Of course, I’m not perfect. After I found Kris Straub’s post, I saw two comments. While one of them caught onto a run-on sentence I made, the other pointed out an even more glaring factual error. It turns out, I actually made the Belgian cartoonist Hergé have an untimely death: in that while he actually died in 1983, I wrote that he died in 1938. One simple reversal of numbers read the wrong way–some dyscalculia (a word I also apparently misspelled on the Broodhollow site) if you’d like–but ultimately a goof on my part. I spent our fifteen minute rest-stop replying to both comments, thanking the posters, and then emailing Cody Walker and Julian Darius with the good and the bad–but quite fixable–news. The mistakes have long since been corrected.

In the past, this error would have positively mortified me but I realize that everyone makes mistakes and it is admitting to those kinds of errors, thanking the people involved for pointing them out, and then taking steps to correct them that let others know just what kind of professional–or person–you really are.

The highlight of seeing that post of Kris’ is one other fact for me. I was first introduced to Kris Straub’s work when my girlfriend sent me “Candle Cove.” After seeing it for what it was, I realized I wanted to make something like this: something that wasn’t just a run of the mill creepypasta that is a variation of so many others. And I realized that the best way to make something like this was to figure out how Kris made his. You can look at Horror as a Universal Power and Horror as Collaboration to see some of the process right there. I have yet to unleash my precious horror: to make my monster.

So I found the Ichor Falls site and read some of the stories I found there too. I eventually found Broodhollow as well though it took me a while to get around to reading it, but when I did I began to see some … connections to things and after following some of Kris’ own exchanges on both sites I realized that making an article on an author’s creative process–aside from it being a Mythic Bios thing to do–was, and is, a great phenomenon and opportunity to witness and document. I also believed that Sequart would really benefit from an article on a webcomic like Broodhollow in terms of its aesthetics choices and implications and so I sent it to them.

On Stories

But the real highlight of this entire thing is that moment when I saw that Kris Straub referred to me as an author. He didn’t have to do that. He could have called me a scholar or a critic. Hell, he could have even called me a writer: a title which I’d been referring to myself as for quite some time anyway.

No. Kris Straub called me an author and that makes me know, if I didn’t know it before, that I have a future and I am seeking it right now even as you see this post. It means that much to me.

While I was staying with my friend, I was also thinking more about my own creative process with regards to my Dark Crystal Challenge. In the post directly previous to this one, I talk about and link to my short Story Sketches on the Dark Crystal Forums. I already mentioned how I decided to challenge myself and attempt further immersion of my creative imagination into the world of Thra by writing a story about YiYa: the first urSkek and subsequent pair of Skeksis and urRu to die before the Crystal is even cracked.

Mainly, what I sought to do was show that his death was not arbitrary and I realized I was being influenced by something I’d seen or heard about. It was only when I was at my friend’s by myself that I remembered. In Tezuka Osamu’s first volume of Buddha, there is a story about a wise man–a Brahmin–who is meditating in the wilderness and begins to starve. There are animals he befriends that help him but it is the rabbit that throws itself on the fire to provide him sustenance to survive. Yet instead of eating the rabbit, the Brahmin sobs and holds its body and, in that moment, attains enlightenment. Tezuka obviously got this from an older source that he incorporated into his Buddha manga series, but it stuck with me to the point where even when the names and images faded from my memory, the idea remained.

So I thought of urYa–the Mystic segment of YiYa–being of a philosophical bent and respecting and even loving all life on Thra. I thought of his counterpart, SkekYi–that part of him that always felt belittled or held back–wanting to greedily take everything on that world and destroy all of its meaning. And then I thought about the other Mystics and the Skeksis and how, at the time of the Creation Myths second volume–when they are recently split–and how they didn’t know or remember that they were all connected. I made it clear that YiYa had a limited form of precognition and that both of his aspects inherited this. But while SkekYi was enamoured with a future of despoliation and obliteration–so much so that he was so busy dreaming of those moments while freshly born from the Great Division–urYa was also seeing the future but had that presence of mind to know how to act in the here and the now.

The fact is: he knew that the Skeksis coming to kill him–SkekHak (that part of HakHom)–was destructive enough to eliminate him and urHom: the urRu segment of the original HakHom. UrYa could have defended himself even at that stage, but he chose not to. He chose to die so that SkekYi’s evil would never happen, and he knew that as a result SkekHak would kill his brother urHom and thus destroy himself: as they are both linked. But more than this, urYa knew that his Mystic brothers would see his and SkekYi’s simultaneous deaths and learn the lesson: that everything is connected. Those are the very words that UngIm tells Jen at the end of The Dark Crystal itself. In addition, urYa also knows that there are Podling and Gelfling representatives present at the Division and he hopes that this moment will teach them something about their future with the urRu and the Skeksis as well as the nature of their world and themselves.

UrYa is the rabbit that has attained enlightenment–or already had it–and he sacrifices himself so that others might have it as well. The Skeksis only figure out that they are connected to the urRu, however, when SkekHak throws his other Mystic counterpart–urHom–into the Lake of Fire and ignites as well. They only see it as a crude sort of material warning: something in keeping with their own nature. The urRu gain something else out of it entirely.

The thing about Dark Crystal, from what I have already observed is that you need the right amount of mysticism and exploration–along with characterization–to make a story there. And the story I made, as a sketch, was rough and I will admit that. But this is an insight I wanted to share with you all: just as I wanted to tell you that I wrote those articles for Broodhollow on Sequart to learn from Kris Straub. I am learning.

And one thing I want to learn is how to make a living, how to make some money in addition to recognition and fun, from what it is that I do. I have a few friends who say I should totally be doing this and while writing for free has its advantages, I would like to see if I can support myself from what I’m more than capable of doing. As such, I have some plans and I hope you will all stay tuned for them.

In the meantime, after my absence I have some other things to do and catch up on. As tired as I am, it’s good to be back and I hope to speak with you all soon once more.

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About matthewkirshenblatt

I am a writer and blogger living in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario in Canada. When I'm not writing for the Sequart Research & Literacy Organization and GeekPr0n, I tend to write science-fiction, epic fantasy, horror, literary and mythological revisionisms, and generally weird fiction stories though I have been known to make poetry, television and comic book scripts. Also, when left to my own devices I tend to write weird and strange hybrid creative opinion piece articles like those you will find on this Blog. I am also very interested in comics, video games, Star Wars, table-top role-playing games, Neil Gaiman's works, H.P. Lovecraft, vampires, zombies, and budgies.
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3 Responses to Of Dark Crystals and Brooding Hollows Traveling Down the Late Night Road

  1. Kristina Gadin says:

    I wish i could write storied ad good as you guys do it… but i’m always a failure… and I’m not as intellugent and smart to be a writer

  2. Kristina Gadin says:

    Error in typing…. stories… intelligent… as…

    • Hi Kristina. I got your comment a little while ago and I have been trying to figure out a suitable response. The thing about stories and writing is that they take time to develop: just as the ideas behind them also take time to grow.

      Believe me, I did not start out this way and I know with time I am still going to keep changing. I still have a lot to learn. We all do. I don’t know you, but I can tell you that you are not a failure. Perhaps you made a story that needed more time to form, or you needed more experiences to develop your writing, or you just didn’t find the right audience. Really, what you need to do is look at an idea that you find interesting. Look at what interests you and what you think about and focus on all the time. Or find something new that looks intriguing and learn as much about it as you can.

      Then write what you want. Write it for yourself. Keep reading things that interest you and also surprise and keep writing. Write something that *you* would like to read. Write something your past self wanted to see as an article or a book or a story. Share it on a Blog. Just write as if you are one of the most important people in the world and your opinion and work “just is.” Show it to your friends and people who know you. Go to workshops where you feel comfortable and just, as Neil Gaiman says, write and keep writing. And even if you do not get commercial success or popularity or no one visits your site, you will always know that you made something. You made something by yourself and for that part of you that is interested in it. Not all people can do that and no one can take that achievement away from you.

      Practice and enjoy what you do and tell the story–or several stories or a hundred–that are in you. Basically, you are not a failure. You can fail, you can always try again and if it’s something you want to do or tell or create, then do it. Thank you for your comments and I hope that you have an excellent day,

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