More than I could chew?

The process of writing a novel, is not just sitting at a keyboard and banging out pages. That's the fun part. But like anything you do that means something, for anything to have substance, you have to put in the grinding time. In the words of Armin Vit, a graphic designer I admire, "To do the things you love, you have to do the things you hate."

My father used to be fond of saying 'Beta, yeh tapasya to aapko karni hi padegi. Uske bina kuchch nahin ho sakta' (in English: son, you have to go through this penance. Without it, you can't succeed). There is no secret to success. You just have to put in the work. (The secret of success, without putting in the work, is still a secret.)

So yeah.. writing a novel.

The book I'm writing (so far titled Blood Whispers), is a fantasy novel (think RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, maybe a little Stephan King and JK Rowling), set in a magical world of demons, vampires and magic. It is basically about a young boy called Rukshus, who is trying to find his way through the journey of life. Born in a palace, but into penury, protected by, and later embraced into the brood of a vampire, he comes face to face with his fears, hopes and desires. The book (and it's increasingly starting to look like it'll be a series of books!), is about the trials and tribulations he faces along the way.

I released a preview of it a couple of weeks back, and happily, the comments and advice were all positive. So I think I'm doing the basics right.

As I delve deeper into the plot, the development of characters and locations, I find myself having to do things I had not anticipated. Essentially, as a novelist one is a storyteller. And stories are believable/interesting/intriguing only when there is a foundation to build on. Merely saying "Bob was a kind man" isn't as convincing as saying that in the context of his philanthropic work, his treatment of people, some examples, etc.

So, to make my novel believable, I'm in the process of developing a language for vampires; I am concocting up a history of a world, of countries and of families; I am defining the culture, boundaries and geographies of different nations; I'm even creating a religion! This last one has me gobsmacked. Me, and a religion? In the immortal words of Borat, "Wowaweewa!"

Family and fiends, allow me to introduce Nethralum, a religion founded in the Empire of Chhayaan.


In the lush valleys of Chhayaan, where the rivers sang melodies older than memory and the mountains whispered secrets to the stars, there thrived an ancient religion that wove the fabric of the land's very soul. This was a world touched by magic, where the veil between the divine and the mortal shimmered thin, and the reverence for the Six—deities who once walked the earth as sages—permeated every stone, every leaf, every breath of wind. The religion became known as Nethralum.

Long before the age of empires and the march of armies, six sages stood as pillars of wisdom, courage, and compassion beside His Majesty Reshaam, Emperor of Chhayaan, guiding an era of unparalleled peace and prosperity. But to the people of Chhayaan, they were more than mere advisors; they were the embodiment of the divine, each representing an essential aspect of existence itself.

Giyanne the Ancient, cloaked in the mysteries of time, was venerated as the God of Wisdom. His temples were libraries, vast repositories of knowledge where the air was thick with the scent of old parchment and the quiet murmur of seekers whispering ancient incantations. The followers of Giyanne sought understanding above all, believing that through knowledge, one could navigate the complexities of life and the intricacies of fate.

Isaf the Just, with eyes that saw through to the heart of truth, presided over the halls of justice. His was the domain of balance and order, where every voice found an ear and every grievance a remedy. The scales—a symbol of Isaf—hung in every courthouse, a reminder that in fairness alone could peace truly flourish.

Sayaam the Mindful, whose gaze pierced the veils of the heart, guided her followers on paths of introspection and emotional wisdom. Her gardens were places of serene beauty, where one could meditate upon the murmur of streams and the rustle of leaves, seeking harmony within.

Rudir the Fearless, whose roar echoed in the clash of shields and the clash of wills, was the patron of warriors and protectors. His shrines stood at the gates of cities and in the heart of battlefields, sanctified ground where courage was kindled, and fear was vanquished.

Dayl the Kind, whose touch healed wounds of flesh and soul, was revered as the gentle guardian of all who suffered. Her followers were healers and caregivers, tending to the sick and the broken with the same devotion with which they offered prayers at her altars.

Numi the Fortuitous, the enigmatic weaver of luck, whose whims shaped the fortunes of mortals. To follow Numi was to embrace the unpredictable dance of destiny, to find the hidden blessings in every trial, and to trust in the unseen paths that led to the morrow.

Together, the Six illuminated the path for the Chhayaani people, their teachings a beacon across the ages. Temples dedicated to their worship rose like jewels across the land, each a testament to the enduring bond between the divine and the earthly realm.

In the tapestry of Chhayaan’s history, woven with threads of magic, valor, and wisdom, Nethralum stood as a vivid strand, a reminder of the divine spark within all and the eternal quest for understanding, justice, compassion, bravery, kindness, and fortune that defined the human spirit.

As the ages turned, the legacy of the Six endured, their deities not relegated to the annals of history but alive in the hearts of those who walked the lands of Chhayaan. Their divine essence, manifest in the beauty of the world and the complexity of the soul, continued to inspire, to guide, and to illuminate the path forward, a beacon of hope in the ever-unfolding journey of existence.

In this way, the ancient religion of Nethralum, with its deep reverence for the Six, transcended the bounds of myth and legend, becoming a living, breathing essence of the land and its people, a testament to the enduring power of faith and the unbreakable bond between the earthly and the divine.

To live in accordance with the tenets of Nethralum, one had to embark on a continuous cycle of self-improvement. This cycle was based on the notable characteristics of each of the sages, distilling their individual messages into a single simple phrase.

I will strive to be informed, fair, mindful, brave, kind and calm.

Be informed

Let the pursuit of knowledge be your guiding light, as Giyanne the Ancient teaches. Cherish the wisdom of the past to navigate the present and enlighten the future.

Be fair

In the spirit of Isaf the Just, act with fairness and integrity. Let justice be the cornerstone of peace and prosperity, treating all beings with equity.

Be mindful

Follow Sayaam the Mindful's path, observing the world with deep understanding and compassion. Acknowledge the impact of your actions on yourself and the world around you.

Be brave

Rudir the Fearless inspires us to confront challenges with bravery. Stand firm in the face of adversity, upholding honour and protecting those in need.

Be kind

Dayl the Kind exemplifies the power of kindness. Heal, comfort, and uplift others, recognising the shared humanity that binds us all.

Be calm

Numi the Fortuitous reminds us of the unpredictable nature of life. Embrace the twists of fate with grace, seeing opportunities in challenges and learning from every turn of fortune. Trust in the path set before you, but also use wisdom to guide your steps towards a future bright with promise.

Living by the Vows

These six vows formed the bedrock of Nethralum's moral and spiritual life, guiding its people towards a harmonious existence that honors the divine attributes of the Six. By living according to these principles, individuals not only cultivate their inner virtues but also contribute to the collective well-being of their society, fostering an environment where wisdom, justice, mindfulness, courage, kindness, and fortune flourish.

Embracing these commandments in daily life ensures that the legacy of those revered deities who once guided an empire to its golden age—continues to inspire and shape the hearts and minds of all who walk the lands of Nethralum. Through this spiritual framework, the people of Chhayaan navigate the complexities of life with a sense of purpose, unity, and respect for the divine forces that watch over them.

Yet, as with all faiths, Nethralum, faced its trials. Schisms born of differing interpretations threatened to fracture the unity of belief, and external crises challenged the convictions of the faithful. Fewer and fewer Chhayaani people took Nethralum in it’s entirety. People chose to follow one sage’s teachings above that of the others, and cracks began to manifest themselves in the erstwhile harmonious Empire of Chhayaan.


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