So, we all realize that a deadly crossover between Harry Potter, Star Wars, my favorite epic, symphonic, and power metal bands (Nightwish, Xandria, DragonForce, Dark Moor, Two Steps From Hell, Epica, Within Temptation, Delain, and many others), The Last Airbender, Lost (TV Series), and a few others influences such as Greek mythology and alchemy created this epic tale called Once. What one may not realize is how exactly the plot really, really came together. I’ll be honest, it took years, literally years, as I’ve stated in previous posts. A lot of erased text over the course of what I believe to be three different laptops, which is a pretty impressive feat. It was also demoralizing, as I had wanted to write this work for such a long time yet I really couldn’t quite figure out exactly how I was going to do so, since I started, stopped, sputtered, and stalled more times than the Cleveland Browns change front office regimes. Then, in the middle of 2015, everything clicked. Late last year, everything was completed. But of course, with every great work, especially a manuscript that is four-hundred and seventy pages long, at least three edits are in store. After two edits, I sent the work to beta-readers and after their feedback, I went back through hard copies for yet another edit. After this edit, which is nearly over, one final edit should do it in. For my demo work, Comeback Kid, which can be viewed in its entirety on the site a few posts back, it took me a good ten edits. However, it wasn’t even half the size of Once, since it was a side project. In fact, I’d love to bundle Comeback Kid with Once once I search for and secure a publisher as a bonus.
Yet I typically get the same question from friends, family, gym members who know (or in a case knew) me well, training clients, and at random times, strangers. This question, of course, is “How did you manage to come up with such a confusing, yet interesting plot?” These people didn’t read anything crazy except for a simple plot synopsis, so they really would have to read the book itself in order to know what exactly will happen. Also, my beta-readers are the most honest, secretive people I know, so no one will be handing out any spoiler alerts.
To be completely honest here: I really had to dig deep inside my mind, and as unique and according to some, strange, us writers all have our own preferences for developing the strong plots our works possess. Sure, my workouts are more than just workouts; they’re personal thinking times for me to develop something in a book plot. For instance, I typically listen to either Nightwish or Xandria on Pandora or at times YouTube, depending on whether or not I want the band or genre. And at times, particular songs. For instance, if I want to think of, say, the relationship between the main antagonists and the protagonists, the 2002 Nightwish album Century Child is high on my list due to the rather darker, serious themes attached to the album, which to this day is my favorite from Nightwish. However, Thomas Bergersen and/or Two Steps From Hell are my favorites when it comes to battle scenes and at times, just picturing the scenery of my setting itself.
Yet, if I dig even deeper into my ever insane mind, one of my favorite activities to do is to go to sleep with my music on. Since I live alone these days I can do this all I want, as long as I don’t get too carried away with the music. For some odd reason, many people find symphonic metal to be rather gothic in nature. Actually, it is for the most part, but too many people mistakenly intertwine gothic with satanic. Okay, huge difference, as black metal leans towards the satanic side of things. If anything, symphonic metal is typically the most pleasing of the heavy metal genre, along with power metal. Back to my original main idea, which is the fact that certain songs, genres, and bands trigger something within our minds. Since Once is a dark fantasy war story, symphonic metal is the perfect genre for my scenes, as the genre puts the pictures of what I want within my mind, and all I have to do is manipulate my laptop’s keyboard and my scenes come to life. String several scenes together, and you have a plot. If the plot is strong enough, you have a tale.
Imagine laying down, supposedly to go to sleep at night, but with your very own book scenes playing right out in front you in an extremely vivid manner. In fact, my mind can be so vivid at times that I simply prefer to read and write rather than watch TV, as with a TV, I am limited. Limited to picturing over and over what I see on TV. However, if I have a good song such as Away by Nightwish playing, I have an epic scene playing out in front of me as it relates to the work. That work being Once. Needless to say, it’s rather tough to sleep at night, yet my reason for lack of sleep is that I cannot wait to lay down to go to sleep because I’m so overly psyched up and excited about what I can possibly cook up in my mind as it relates to Once. And again, when all of these scenes are strung together, you have one epic tale.
Yet, to be even more honest, as a lot has been coming out in this post tonight, I think the basis of Once actually started a long, long time ago. Bear with me now, as we are all exposed to different environments when we are younger. Well, when I was younger I was exposed to a lot of fantasy, such as practically every single animated Disney movie ever made. In fact, I was so obsessed, I literally remember (and any family who reads my blogs can vouch) watching the same flicks (seriously) day in and day out. I would stop them at a certain part in the movie, take our the VHS tape (been that long ago), and pop in the next one. I was three, don’t judge me! Pair this obsession, and I mean obsession, with Disney at a young age and the fact that I have a very powerful long term memory, something amazing occurs in my mind. But it wasn’t until I discovered Harry Potter back in 1999 did my love for all things fantasy come to the forefront. Sure, I have literally specialized in Disney and Harry Potter among all others, but when my discovery, love, and obsession with symphonic metal came around, Once became something that I knew was just going to happen.
After much trial, error, starting, and stopping, and starting again, an amazing tale is born. And in about one month, this work will be submitted. If no one picks it up, then I guess I’ll publish myself and sell it on my own website (which is nearly completed as well) and will also be linked with this .blog site. Keep an eye out, it’s nearly finished.
As for my fitness obsessed followers, I haven’t forgotten about any of you. I’ve just been ultra busy with Once that I really wanted to promo it was much as possible. Therefore, when it does hit the shelves, people have something to look forward to. Also, I always find it so weird that anyone who lives inside a gym for the most part has this very negative stereotype attached to them. You know, the Planet Pizza inspired lunk, egohead, egomaniac, hardcore bodybuilding, macho stereotype that comes with the lifestyle. And sure, my bodyfat percentage is low and my workouts are rather epic, but in all honesty I tend to dress like a gothic gypsy outside of the gym who wears a pagan symbol around his neck. And did I mention I wear a cloak too? Yeah, it’s a little bit off of what a stereotypical gym addict would dress. And after one reads this post, I think the last thing they would be thinking is that Yours Truly hits the gym twice per day and works as a trainer. Hey, it’s in the name MatthewsFit! MatthewsFit means more than fitness. It’s a brand. My brand.
And I also want to say it’s also appropriate to admit that my ultimate fitness goal is to look like my book protagonist in Once. You all know him as Cain. Cain was the very first antagonist in the Book of Genesis and therefore, in the history of mankind (yes, I wear Pagan symbols yet I am in fact a conservative, literal, Young Earth Creationist). But I’ve always loved the name Cain and I love irony, hence the conservative Christian in me who loves gothic dress and symbols of paganism. Why not love both? Just loving Christianity more, as in my own belief system, it is eternal. Always and forever.