Progress

C R Dudley Author - Orchid's Lantern

Exciting things are happening behind the scenes at Orchid’s Lantern!

I have finally decided to independently publish under the name C R Dudley: some of you have already noticed I’ve started changing my social media accounts to reflect this. Orchid’s Lantern will be the name of my publisher and I’m having a logo designed for it, which will appear on the back of my books and my website. 

I am currently editing and compiling a selection of flash fiction for my first official publication. I expect there will be 30 – 35 stories included, many of which have already featured here on my blog but some are brand new. I am working with the title Fragments of Perception which I believe captures the essence of my work, what do you think? I’d also be interested to learn from my regular readers what genre you would describe my stories as? This could play an important part in how I present them.

Once the editing is complete in about a months’ time I will be looking for a couple of beta readers to look over the collection with a critical eye. If you’d be interested in doing this, please drop an email to orchidslantern@gmail.com so we can discuss. I will gladly return the favour if anyone is in need.  

My novel is progressing and about to enter a second draft stage. This will involve a fair amount of re-writing from the first draft as I now have a stronger, clearer idea of what needs to happen to achieve my vision. I’m working under the title The Enlightenment Machine for this. Broadly, it is about a man taking part in experimental therapy living underground with similarly afflicted individuals. The world he is exploring is changing his outlook but something unknown is slipping through the cracks that no one is yet equipped to deal with… 

Some of you may be pleased to know I have also done some more work on The Old Woman, The Stag, And Me (working title only as it’s grammatically incorrect among other things). Looking at the outline, I think this will likely end up at novelette length but could be slow progress as I am desperate to press on with the novel foremost. 

Lastly, I’ve written a couple more flash fiction pieces to submit to anthologies which I hope are fruitful.  

I hate to be creating new work and not sharing it straight away, but hopefully it will all be worth it. Once I have Fragments of Perception nailed, I will be back to putting my flash fiction straight onto the blog as it is ready. A big thank you once again to everyone who follows and interacts with this blog (almost 500 of you now!), your support is my confidence.

The Gardener

Orchids Lantern, thoughts of a writer

Ideas grow in the mind organically, like flowers in a garden. Now and then a gardener comes along to sprinkle some water and tear out the weeds, and we are grateful that the more exuberant species can thrive once more. Sometimes the gardener cuts the heads off the fullest of rosy ideas, and though we mourn them for a time we know that he only does so in order that more will flourish.

But sometimes the gardener does the strangest thing: he takes the best of all the different kinds of flowers – picks them right out at the root – and puts them together in a vase until they die. He draws pleasure from this act, as though he were honouring his produce in allowing it to fulfil its purpose. As though declaring them beautiful and arranging them in his preferred manner makes them more valid. Those flowers, those ideas, are complete. In their final configuration they are the best they will ever be, and the gardener prides himself on capturing that moment. Because he knows, I suppose, that more will grow.

*****

The key to raising orchids lies in their roots. We need to understand what makes them different to help them to grow in a potted environment.”

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You can now follow me on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on my writing projects and inspirations.

An Interlude

Hello! This is a rare post in which I update you on my writing projects instead of leaving said projects to speak for themselves… normal service will resume shortly.

Firstly, I wanted to let you know I have shared 100 posts on WordPress as of this week, and I’m quote proud of that of little milestone. I am truly overwhelmed by the support and positive feedback I’ve been getting on here, and I’d like to thank each of you who has taken the time to read, like and comment on this blog. I would especially like to thank Paul at Two Voices In One TransmissionThe Modern Leper, and Jac Forsyth for their continued encouragement – without you guys I doubt I’d have the confidence that my particular brand of strange is appealing enough to pursue. If you haven’t had a chance to check out their blogs I highly recommend all three of them, they are very talented writers indeed. Please remember that constructive criticism is also welcomed on my fiction, because I am always striving to improve.

I also wanted to tell you that I now have a Facebook page, so please pay me a visit over there if you have an account. I plan to post links to my fiction, interesting articles I come across over the course of my research, and highlight other authors I think are worthy of recognition. I will also use it to share my creative progress. I am on Twitter too, if that’s more your thing.

Continue reading “An Interlude”

Phantom Pain

“Here we go, is this it? Are we starting? Are you sure, because it doesn’t feel like my spine is straight. And my shoulder itches. And I need to swallow. Is swallowing allowed or does that count as moving the body?”

“…”

“My eyes are closed, but they don’t seem closed closed. I mean, I can see my eyelids I think. Is that ok? How do you close your eyes when they’re already closed?”

“…”

“Oh damn, I forgot to check the volume of the alarm. I could just go and do it now? It’ll undo all the good work if it startles me too much.”

“…”

“OK, point taken. Dum dum de dum dum de dum de dum de dum. Hey, what’s that song that goes ‘sometimes I feel like despair is my only friend…’? You know the one. It’s by The Mission, I think. Let’s go and look it up. It’ll take, like, two seconds and then I’ll be satisfied and you can have your peace, OK?”

“…”

Continue reading “Phantom Pain”

Everything and Nothing

Some people find comfort only in the most complex of situations. They will try to engineer the circumstances under which they believe meaning to arise; often destroying their relationships with others and leaving an ugly trash pile of rejected consequences in their wake.   

Life really is much simpler than that. Meaning has never been something to hunt down, for it is everywhere, all of the time. It cannot be detected using instruments and tools and mathematical formulae; what they create for us is at best a map. But meaning can be experienced through the senses, and they are our best shot at being one with the territory. 

Of course, meaning itself is a man made concept. It is not absolute. Repeat the word ‘meaning’ enough times and it loses all… meaning. And therein lies the trick. Surrender yourself to your senses, to the here and now, and you will soon find that meaning is in fact meaningless. Furthermore you will laugh at yourself for ever thinking otherwise. 

Everything and nothing, wisdom and folly: they’re all the same.

Staring at the Sun

On days like this I begin to feel that even those who I considered to be my kin are set against me. I look into their eyes and I see snakes coiled up and ready to bite. I have no choice in this case but to retract into myself, to find solace on my own beach of calm. I must soothe myself, heal the wounds imagined and real, and rebuild my tower of strength from within.

He is here, on the beach, as the waves lap gently at the sand. He is crafting a crown for me, smoothing out its imperfections and dents. There is no doubt in his mind that I should wear it, that I am worthy. In fact, he sees no other possibility.

“You can rule,” he says, “or you can lay down on the ground and turn to ash.”

I sit down on a lone deck chair beside him, closing my eyes momentarily and taking in a deep breath of cool sea air.

“When all seems misaligned,” he goes on, “it is madness to expect the rhythm of all that is beyond you to change. That is like swimming against the current and you will drown for sure. Better to take stock of your own beat. Take back control of your own frequency.”

He wears spectacles today, and clothes akin to rags. I wriggle my feet in the sand, watching as he polishes the metal and jewels on my headpiece.

Remember the periphery, I think to myself. I have been storming ahead with my focus, I have been bullish. But there is another landscape on the edge of consciousness that never ceases to exist; that opens up a whole universe of possibilities and versions of this. I just have to relax into it.

He looks up and smiles kindly, sensing my realisation.

“It is no use staring at the sun, you see. Not only will you risk becoming blind but you will surely miss the beauty in the shadows.”

He stands and stretches out his arms to admire his handiwork before passing it to me. “Here, try this.”

Searching for the Self: Somewhere

The beach. Where water meets earth. It is damp, flat, open here. There are steep, grassy cliffs leading back up to civilization. I think I’m supposed to feel something in this place: happiness, excitement, or humbleness towards our great planet. I think creativity is supposed to bloom here, born of a new found appreciation of the small things and just being. Of smelling the ocean air, of feeling the sand between my toes. But the truth is, I don’t feel any of that. Instead of beauty I think of soliloquies, Stephen Dedalus and sulking. I feel uncomfortable; my mind awash with greyness and a longing to be Somewhere Else.

I look along the coast to the bustling amusement arcades and eateries. That isn’t the Somewhere either. I’m starting to think the Somewhere doesn’t actually exist.

Children play happily on the beach. They don’t mind the cold wind that tangles their hair into impossible knots or the stony sand that clings to them head and toe. They don’t mind the long walk back to comfort that lies ahead of them, or the grains of earth in their sandwiches that they grip with their seawater-soaked hands. Is childhood the Somewhere? The mind of the child has experiences without the multi-layered analysis we all apply years later. It is a home no one can return to.

Run. Breathe. Centre.

A walk across the rocks. Find the balancing point, make a stack. All the colours, all the textures, all natural. Then the water comes forth; aggressive, ready to swallow up the manmade designs into its chaos. No more sandcastles, no more stone stacks. Keep it random, the sea says. Entropy will always trump empathy.