Today was eye-opening for me. Granted, it was a lesson I thought I’d learned long ago, but no matter. Something like this is worth relearning.
Believe it or not, there is a reason for my infrequent updates. I have already started work on my next-next book, and am about 9k words in. I’ve also had my least productive day in a while: after clearing up my schedule to write like mad, I’ve only managed to produce some 1.1k of usable material within the last 24 hours. This is beyond bad, and annoys the hell out of me. Oh, I’ve had slower days before, but never slow dedicated days.
But as night fell and I prepared to lay my laptop to rest, I reread what I wrote and thought, “hey, this is pretty damn good.” Even better, I seem to have tossed a couple nifty hooks in there that may, with proper planning, develop into something I can make great use of somewhere down the line. I admit, most of the time I felt like throwing up, even started doubting my capacity to keep doing this for a living, but once that unpleasant, slow part of the text was over and done with, I snapped right back to normal. Eager to continue and give it my all.
Giving up the fight, any fight, is a dead end in every sense. Conflict and tension aren’t things to shy away from or fear. It is only through facing adversity that we grow in strength and reach greater heights.
Incidentally, the main character of my upcoming Culling series has also learned this lesson. In fact, he has internalized it, and in doing so became… estranged from his own humanity. The best (and easiest) parallel might be drawn between him and another, infinitely more famous monster hunter: one Geralt of Rivia.
A good while ago, before I ever got around to reading the man’s work, I ran across an interesting quote by Mr. Andzej Sapkowski. It went something like, “This world doesn’t need a hero. It needs a professional.” Edgy, catchy, and to the point, yes? It would be, if it were applicable to the character of Geralt, his protagonist.
But no matter how many times he insists otherwise, the eponymous Witcher is no professional. He is an idealist at the very least, and many people (myself included) would argue about him being every bit the hero that his own creator insists he isn’t. Aside from some early installment weirdness of him starting a fight in which he decapitates a man only to get the king’s attention, nearly every decision he has ever made was more moral than utilitarian. And by the point where Ciri enters the picture, he loses his last drop of venom.
I am not here to argue the quality of Mr. Sapkowski’s books. The success of his work speaks for itself. But what I am here to do, is assess that in a world overrun by monsters and filled with difficult choices, a man making decisions based on values and emotions is likely to get killed. He may be superhuman. He may be led by fate. But I will tell you what he is not. He is no professional.
Getting tossed into a meat grinder tends to do one of two things: it either breaks a person or makes them stronger. Sometimes it does both, which is also excellent story fodder. Bottom line, human beings, not normally wanting to go through that experience, tend to minimize their daily amount of unpleasantness. But what happens when said unpleasantness cannot be avoided? When there is so much of it that a market has sprung around dealing with it, so regular, saner people don’t have to?
You get your professional, of course. Your person whose job consists out of happily jumping into the meat grinder, again and again, for money, services, pleasure. But what kind of person would that be? Who would agree to get broken/stronger, again and again and again? Moreover, who would they become with time and endless repetition?
The answer is simpler than you’d expect: they’d become the main character of The Culling series. A cold, calculated killer who lives for his work, who always picks the most efficient option, and whose displays of affection are few and far between. Granted, not all monster hunters are the same (that would be boring), but I particularly wrote this man to fully embody what I think a human would become after a lifetime of horror scenarios.
“But where is the story in that?” I hear you ask. A protagonist who fears nothing isn’t all that exciting, I agree. This is why I have a multitude of characters, one of which is not only the most normal person in Brotherhood of the Worm, but also has the highest number of POV chapters. It is through her wide, terrified eyes that I will let you see the monster hunter. It is through her questions and assumptions that I will let you learn his story (or what little of it he is willing to share). And it is through her struggle that I aim to make the monster hunter’s fight your own.
This is all incredibly vague, yes, and perhaps even a little bit pretentious. I get that. It comes with the territory of immersing oneself into a world crafted from nothing but one’s thoughts. Creation is never an exact science, but neither is it completely a work of passion. Rather, I believe the best stories are made by the careful tempering of an intense fire. Balance is key. So I will stop myself now.
TL; DR: Brotherhood of the Worm will have several main characters, two of which will provide points of view. One of them would be considered extremely sociopathic by polite society’s standards, so I have the other one there to balance him out.
A cathartic rant if there ever was one. Funniest thing is, it consists of almost as many words as I wrote into the manuscript today. This is why I rarely update.
M. T. Miller