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The Strange Task of Creating an Epic


It is a word which carries both its own presence and resonance. It is a word of weight and atmosphere which has, somewhat, been robbed of its impact in recent years. If falling off of one's skateboard on video or part of a celebrity's anatomy unexpectedly revealing itself during a live awards ceremony can be called epic does that not, perhaps, detract from those things which truly are? EPIC NOUN 1A long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation. 1.1 noun The genre of epics. ‘the romances display gentler emotions not found in Greek epic’ 1.2A long film, book, or other work portraying heroic deeds and adventures or covering an extended period of time. ‘a Hollywood biblical epic’ 2. informal An exceptionally long and arduous task or activity. ‘the business of getting hospital treatment soon became an epic’ Epic means scope, it means details, it means big. An epic battle is one involving more participants (willing or otherwise) than the observer can count, one which changed the course of history. It saw one empire fall and another rise, perhaps? It means a work or event of proportions never previously imagined.

An Epic Undertaking

We have examples such as The Iliad of Homer, Beowulf, Lord of the Rings...epic.

The Chronicles of Enoch strives to be among such illustrious company as that; to cover a history spanning the vast period of time from the very First Day to what is prophesied by many to be the Last Day as well as everything in between. That seems like quite the straightforward endeavour does it not? When one adds to that the long stories of immortal beings, ancient heroes, and ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, then perhaps not so much Those more observant among you may be aware of the rather large cast the Chronicles currently has. We have angels, demons, half-demons and demigods, hybrids, creatures of unknown origin, demiurges, concepts anthropomorphised, supposedly ordinary humans, and a child with ASD who has his own super power. We have our supposedly safe and normal world cracked open and its dark secrets laid bare.

You see, we will let you in on a secret; the title Darkness Within does not refer to a 'dark agenda' or hidden evil within our society, not entirely at least. It refers to what could be called the 'darkness behind the eyes'. The darkness within ourselves that we know nothing about, that the light of our consciousness does not shine upon. That, though, is a complex philosophical discussion for another day. An epic is, therefore, somewhat self-sustaining, it simply requires discipline. The Chronicles of Enoch began as one book but it became quickly clear that it would need to be a first a trilogy and then what is known in some circles as an "Adam's Trilogy" or a Pentad, to use the old terminology.

A series of five.

Perhaps that is not entirely due to a lack of the aforementioned discipline? Then, of course, the self-published Preludes of Enoch arose and made the series of five a sequence of six. It may well not be possible to place a number of the final size of the Chronicles. Their only limitation may, indeed, be the lifespan of the chronicler. Of course the Chronicles must first be completed and the first book published before being considered worthy of such a title. This throws some light upon the greatest challenge of the epic, ensuring that all those storylines, foreshadowings, connections, and threads not only connect but do so in a coherent manner.

The Tapestry

The metaphor of the tapestry works very well in this case. A million dyed threads can, if seen individually appear as no more than a mess but when woven together, they make a picture, a history, a complex image to be studied. Of course the story must also be compelling, the colours bright, the texture rich, the details well defined. That is where the discipline we discussed earlier comes into play. One will be tempted to put in every detail, every scene, every event one has envisioned. Such an epic work will be one's vision and one's great passion and, as one is the Creator of this little universe of paper and words, one has free rein over what it includes is that not right? No, it is not. The discipline and the skill lie in overcoming one's own needs in favour of the needs of the story. One must sacrifice to it in order that it becomes the best version of itself it can be, rather like raising a child.

Too many details, too many disparate threads and your Bayeux Tapestry becomes a one of those modern woolen rugs that no-one will admit to buying or liking.

Someone wise once answered the question "how do you know you are writing an epic?" with the following statement "when it is bigger than you"

Set Them Free

Bigger than you means that your are not its god, its dictator nor its master but its servant. You must be its parent, its gentle steward, preparing it for the wide world, doing everything in your power to make it prosper and succeed once it has left the safety of your computer, your notepads, your mind. The hardest part for us all, we feel, is that very conscious act of letting go. That painful separation when your child, your tapestry, ceases to be yours alone and takes its first tentative steps towards being what it was meant to be.

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