Monday, January 29, 2018

Oliver Baer on Summoning Results of an Eldritch Composition

Writing is rewriting. This is something that many writers say when asked about their process. Editors tend to speak about their craft in sculpting or smithing terms.

I’m a born editor. I think I’ve been editing myself and other people since before I knew that’s what I was doing. I also love languages and grew up in a multilingual household. So, I guess editing was my way of trying to figure out how to convey ideas across languages. Or to figure out why people thought of things the way they did. It really is part of who I am. Sometimes so much so, it can be annoying. It actually gets in the way of my writing.

I start with a concept in my head. Instead of just writing my ideas down, I do a lot of writing and rewriting in my head. Then after a period of time, sometimes weeks or months, I put it down on paper. These words also get edited, fleshed out or rearranged. There’s a point where I have to tell myself to stop doing this process and let the story or poem be what it is. The next step is to get an outside opinion because once I’ve stopped myself it is hard for me to make any further changes. I believe outside opinion is a crucial tool in helping one decide to rewrite a piece or not.

Unlike editing, writing is a magical act. It is ritualistic, requires specific components and many times what you have summoned has a different interpretation than what you intended. These summonings are the result of good storytelling. Good stories are a series of relatable events with believable characters. Even if the characters are fictional, the reader needs to believe the characters’ interactions within the universe that is created. Once this is established, you can work on the originality of how the story unfolds. Sometimes this originality takes the shape of the style or format in which the story is presented.

My story, “Results of an Eldritch Composition”, in Hell’s Bells is a result of taking elements from some pulp fiction authors and reworking them into a different format. While it is written in the format of a letter to the editor of a magazine, the idea for this came about when a friend of mine suggested we collaborate on a story together. He suggested that it be in a letter format because we were both fans of how Dracula was written as well as the idea that all the Sherlock Holmes stories are Dr. Watson reporting Holmes’ cases. We had also discussed how we liked stories that were written in the first-person perspective such as in much of genre fiction. My friend wrote the first letter, I was to respond, then him to me and the story would evolve that way. We were hoping for a sort of verbal Exquisite Corpse. It took me several years before I created the response because I had joined another friend in creating a magazine called Cthulhu Sex. We were trying to figure out how to get people to let us know what they thought of the magazine when I suggested creating a “Letters to the Editor” section. I mentioned that people might be tempted to write in if they saw “Letters” already there. I decided this would be the opportune time to continue the collaboration mentioned earlier. The story did flesh itself out to the point where “Results of an Eldritch Composition” is actually a slight modification of an excerpt of a larger “Letters to the Editor” story. Hopefully, this story will soon be made known to the world.

Make your stories known to the world by repeating the ritual of writing. It is best to just do it, then let someone else read it. They will let you know what you have summoned. Then, you can send it on its way.


Oliver Baer does many things. He was the editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine and Two Backed Books. His writings have been included in Cthulhu Sex MagazineDream People, Bare Bone #8, Horror Between the Sheets, Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase Vol. II, Boog City and Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Crazed Instruments. His book of poetry, Baer Soul came out in 2011. His CD of poetry set to music, which came out in 2013, spawned a biannual poetry set to music show A Conclave of Baer. His true face has been seen periodically at the Lovecraft Bar. He is also visible using the virtual spectrum of social media. Follow him on Twitter @obaer and/or Facebook Much of his work can be found at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Krampusnacht Run Blog Hop — Meet Phillip T. Stephens

On 21 October, 2018, April Grey's latest horror anthology, Hell's Heart: 15 Twisted Tales of Love Run Amok  was published. In ...