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Writing Where It Hurts

It is no secret that writing good stories is not as easy as many people believe it is. If translating your thoughts into words isn’t hard enough, the first draft is followed by numerous rewriting and editing rounds. A writer revisits every one of their stories ad nauseam before – and if – it ever sees publication.

What happens if a story is particularly painful to write?

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Structuring the Archives

Impatient as I am, I created The Kalbrandt Institute Archives series to cover as many subjects as possible within one project. As a consequence, the classic story structure doesn’t work.

The standard 3-act (or 5-act, if you prefer) story arc is designed for a single plot with subplots. When you weave multiple plots together, you have to switch focus between them. Just look at Game of Thrones.

But where the Game of Thrones intersects the plots, permitting a classic structure for each plot in itself, the stories from the archives were going to be stand-alone stories that do not touch on one another. Their only link – at least initially – is be Eva, who reads them.

All Plots Are Equal

Assembling apparently unrelated stories into a single, coherent story is a unique challenge. The answer, however, was obvious:

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Why I created the Kalbrandt Institute

When I turned my writing hobby into my profession, I faced a precarious situation for a writer. Because from thereon out, I needed to create projects I would want to stick with until the bitter end.

A prickly problem indeed. Over the decades, I have always had too many story ideas. Furious scribbling to keep up with the plot bunny farm spewing subjects, themes, characters and settings earned me a hard drive full of unfinished stories, but little else. Deciding to write for publication didn’t change that.

I’m also terrible at choosing one thing when I see a way to have my cake and eat it… Cue maniacal laughter!

Articles, Blog

Humans Are Animals

humans are animals - evolution skulls
Photo: Steve Johnson @ Flickr

We humans love to beat our own drum. We just love to proclaim how smart and resourceful we are. How we’re a unique creation, made in God’s own image. According to Judaism and its derivatives, anyway. Different religions, different opinions, of course.

Philosophies are beautiful, but so are the laws of nature. And those laws state, with irrefutable consistency, that humans are animals. Of the species homo sapiens sapiens, to be precise.

Evolutionary Basics

Homo sapiens sapiens, or “the thinking man”, is the last survivor of the otherwise dead human family tree. The first members of the homo family appeared approx. 1 million years ago, but during the last Ice Age, only we and our cousins homo neanderthalensis still existed. All other humanoids had long gone extinct, and at the end of said Ice Age, so had the Neaderthals.

Compare that to sharks, which have been around in abundant varieties for 420 million years.

So not only are humans animals, from a genealogical point of view we’re not even particularly successful.

Articles, Blog

The Pain Game

Not quite the blogpost I had planned for today, but clear thinking is impossible when you’re repeatedly curled up in foetal position for days on end. However, that little setback did put me in the perfect position to study the mind’s response to pain. Especially excruciating pain…

pain game - excruciating pain and how it affects the mind
Photo: Vincent Bozzo

A bout of enteritis brougth on some terrible and very painful cramps. They were only cramps, I kept telling myself. But even “only cramps” proved sufficient to hotwire my brain.

In short, my body threw a Happy Potter-style Cruciatus Curse on itself. This is what it did.