Dragula, How Do I Love Thee?

They don’t know it, but the Boulet Brothers and three seasons of Dragula have joined my private and exclusive cluster of “writer’s muses” for my fantasy novel in progress, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. (Here’s the Season 1 premiere of Dragula, on YouTube. Season 2 and 3 are on Netflix.) The goal of Dragula is to create “the Next Drag SuperMonster.” Their guiding principles are “drag, filth, horror, glamour” (and “punk” in the first season).

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Boulet Brothers Dragula owns the rights to this image. Used in blog commentary about the show.

My goal is to complete the first draft of my second novel in the Ornamental Hermits fantasy series. My guilding principles are “magic, punk, art, glamour.” (I’m not so down with “filth” as I’ve changed far too many diapers in my time, and currently empty seven cat boxes twice a day… so there’s that.)

Right now, I’m in  the middle of my annual participation in November’s  NaNoWriMo. Since November 2nd, I’ve written 30,000 words out of a 50,000 word target. This is a writer’s competition–a challenge to pit my tendency to over-edit in first drafts against raw inspiration and creativity.

Over-editing in first drafts is the result of fear. It’s an unwillingness to commit to the entire plot, to put characters in jeopardy, to give all or lose all in love and hate and war, to race toward the exciting climax of the book. Much like the contestents in Dragula, I deeply believe in my writing, just as the contestents deeply believe in their drag. They create personas, constellations of characters, facets of being, visions, a “world” in which their drag selves are at play–suffering yet triumphant, always rising from the ashes. Damage breeds creation. Yet so often those hidden fears can mute or dim our full commitment, our performance of our art. Dragula challenges its people in just about every way imaginable. The Boulet Brothers’ constant admonishment is “do better, commit fully, show us who you are.” If you don’t, you “die” on the show.

Writing–world and character building–is my salvation, just as drag is theirs. Many of the Dragula contestents could feel right at home in the artsy, queer haven that is my imaginary “Hermitville Farm and Arts (and Magic) Collective”–and if not Hermitville, they’d enjoy “The Realm,” a place where there are at least twenty-nine genders among the Elves, and almost every Elf is capable of shapeshifting and summoning irresistable powers of glamour.

I am writing to create a home and a community for myself, even if that home is not manifest in the physical world and my book friends are all invisible. Drag performers participate in an already created, yet constantly mutating demi-culture of art, but acceptance is not necessarily ready-made. Still, I envy them.

The Boulet Brothers are not in the business of coaching writers, yet I am keeping them before me as inspiration. I imagine them telling me to not be lazy or play it safe, to expand the limits of my imagination, and to bring this into my writing (otherwise, Elimination Challenge!). And I love their witchiness (’cause, you know, I’m witchy and my books are all about the discovery of magic), and I love their mischief (’cause, you know, my divine S.O. is a Trickster), and I love their sex and gender fuckery (’cause, you know, I’m a sexologist–but there are compelling personal and creative reasons besides).

So in a moment I will leave this blog post and open up my first draft, and plunge into my daily word count challenge (about 2,100 words or so). I will light an imaginary candle (though I could light a real one–I have plenty) and summon my muses both inner and outer. And the magic of world and character building will contine. It’s my deepest joy.

Thank you, Boulet Brothers, for shining your dark so that others may begin to sparkle in chthonic depths, clawing their way into the limelight as fully realized creatures of art.

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Loki The Muse

Loki has always been a “muse extraordinaire!” People love to write and sing tales of the exploits of Loki Laufeyjarson, the Northern trickster. From fan fiction to published novels, modern writers are no exception. I didn’t plan on making my second  Guild of Ornamental Hermits  fantasy novel all about Loki,” but he stepped into the plot during last year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve been working on the book since then, and now, in the 2019 NaNoWriMo contest (goal: complete 50,000 words in one month), I am certain I’ll complete the first draft of the novel before December. (The book already weighs in at about 68,000 words.)

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I’ll try to provide a short glimpse of the book without too many spoilers. In the first book, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, my plucky gang of intentional community oddballs, known as “the Hermits of Hermitville,” were living happily on twenty acres of jungle and agricultural land in Pahoa, Hawai’i (the “Big Island”). But tragedy struck, Elves showed up, and chaos prevailed. The book is “a tale of mid-life magic” and if you’re over the age of fifty, you perhaps can appreciate the challenge of learning magic(k) in the midst of a (mid-life) crisis.

This second book, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, finds the Hermits fleeing to another location, here in California. And Loki, in his guise of “Lucky LaFey, a drifter,” bursts into the book from the very start. And my writing life will never be the same.

The Witching Work has a lot to do with Loki as a parent. He’s the mother of witches (in my book there are seventeen), a co-father to one of my book’s characters (that’s a bit of a spoiler), and also the heartbroken parent of Váli, the son who was transformed into a wolf by the Aesir, and who then killed his little brother, Nari. Nari’s entrails were used to bind Loki to a rock, while he writhed under serpent venom whenever Sigyn had to empty the bowl she held above him (to catch the dripping poison).

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[Note: in some versions of this tale, Váli is named Narfi. I thought it would less confusing to use the name Váli.]

Loki’s seventeen witch daughters also appear in the book. They call him “Mapa” as he gave birth to them. Loki’s ever-complicated love life is also on display.

Loki the actual “Norse god” can be very interactive with those who pay him any attention. Since he is my “most trusted one” in my polytheist pantheon, he gets quite a lot from me. He seems to be quite willing to serve as a muse as well as my beloved deity and teacher (especially when the book is “all about him”). I enjoy his shameless delight in his own stories.

The beauty of this is that Loki, a shapeshifter, changes shape as a literary character too. “My” Loki (written and worshipped) is very different from “your” Loki, or the Loki of any other writer or devotee. He actively invites the union of my imagination with his inspiration, and laughs happily with the results. With his help, I’ve produced over 13,000 words in five days since Nov. 2nd. And the results are amusing and gratifying.

And now–I leave you to dive back into my manuscript, which is will get much more attention this month than my blog.

Hail Loki!

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