Saturday, August 25, 2012

Introductions, or Who's Sleeping and What's So Enchanting About That?

First, welcome to The Enchanted Sleep. I hope you stick around awhile. My blogging may be a bit rusty-- I've left the realm alone since my angsty teenage MySpace days-- but I hope to offer something you can hide in your heart and carry away into your life, even if that something is merely the knowledge that there's someone else out there as clueless and crazy and yet ardently in love with writing as you are.

Let me introduce myself. Professionally, I go by K. J. Neal. We're all friends here, so you can call me Ki. I'm currently a senior Creative Writing major at Ball State University with a minor in Philosophy. In person I'm very shy and reserved, but in writing I tend to be everything from outspoken and snarky to occasionally eloquent. My main interest lies in YA (young adult) fantasy. I have written two novels (excluding my "drawer novel", a heavily Narnia-influenced grotesquerie which I still shudder to think of) neither of which have been published. One is called Blood Red Mask and the sequel is Lunatic Moon. They are the first two books in a trilogy revolving around a magically gifted young woman named Mykala. More on that later.

When not writing, I'm probably working out. I exercise every day and do a full workout 4+ times a week.

Oh yes. Nerds can (and should) be fit too.

Otherwise, you'll catch me philosophizing (I'm the editor-in-chief of Ball State's international undergraduate philosophy journal, Stance-- it's a big deal), working (I won't talk a lot about my job at PetSmart, but let's just say I get pooped on by parakeets and mauled by hamsters on a regular basis), reading (just about anything), listening to the same music as when I was fourteen (MCR, The Used, you get the idea), and watching old shows on Netflix (currently, The X-Files). I'm into almost anything that could come under the classification of "nerdy," including but not limited to video games, anime and manga, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, animated movies, etc.

But enough about me, you're here for the writing.

The idea of an enchanted sleep is a common one in our favorite children's stories (think Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rip Van Winkle) and it holds a sort of fascination mixed with terror for us. Some dreams we would like to become lost in forever, while some sour into nightmares we desperately want to end. Either way, an enchanted sleep implies some sort of inescapable fantasy created within our own minds.

A well-written story is like an enchanted sleep. We close ourselves off to the real world, the waking world, and wander in the dreamland the author has constructed for us. Fantasy, in particular, has that ethereal quality that makes us feel as if we have been transported out of our own lives and into a place that is wondrous and alluring and strange. One of my favorite professors refers to a (good) story as a "vivid and continuous fictional dream." It is that dream which I seek to create and perfect, and my journey toward that goal will be charted here on The Enchanted Sleep.

Secondly, remember those books I mentioned, and that girl, Mykala? Well, her magic power centers around the ability to see into the past, present, and future, through visions that only occur while she is unconscious and which often cause her to sleepwalk. Mykala's enchanted sleep-- and its consequences-- have been the central focus of my writing life since I was about sixteen years old. As you can imagine, it's pretty important to me.

A last and less crucial purpose of the blog's title is to serve as an homage to my favorite book of all time, which is Robin McKinley's Spindle's End. It's a beautiful and refreshing take on the old tale of Sleeping Beauty, and I recommend it (along with all Ms. McKinley's books; my other top picks being Sunshine, Deerskin, and The Hero and the Crown) to any of my fellow fantasy lovers.

In closing, I'm no writing expert. Far from it. Guess what: there aren't many people who are. We're all flopping around like fish in an overcrowded tank, fighting for the next gasp of precious oxygen, whether that be an idea or a finished manuscript or an agent or a publisher or a favorable review in the NY Times. But hopefully together we can learn something, cry over our failures, laugh at our mistakes, and someday, rejoice at our successes.

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