It cries for more, it begs and pleads with me, tears that won’t end. Gripping it in my hands, I beg for it to stop. I can’t release it, can’t let them see. What they know is only part, I can’t let them see it all. Meekly it resigns, a smile in place where once the truth was shown. It will escape one day, one day I won’t be able to stop it. Someday it will realize it is stronger than me. What will that day be like? Will they scream? Run away? Will they try to fix it? Make it better with a kiss and soft words? This beast I hold in my hands, flowing out the tip of my pen, smiling knowingly, crying in pain mischief and fear, sadness and hope and love, changing colors, knowing the words will someday release it, biding its time. Cackling loudly now, like a witch bending over her cauldron, taunting me with every stroke on the paper until i give in, releasing it only to hunt it down again and reclaim it. But it is too late, it has been seen and freedom has made it stronger. I wait in fear, our roles reversed, I beg and plead and cry, trying to take it back an reclaim what is mine.
*First Draft story idea #1 for Womanthology. Read the previous post for how I write when writing for comics. Would love to hear feedback/comments on any of the stories I post.
The rain fell fat and unrelenting, dripping down the sides of the tent. The flashes of lightning illuminating everything for a moment in time, stripping away the brave faces to show the fear and excitement underneath before only the glow of the lamp remained. The group huddled around the table, going over the plan once more. For months they had been out here, unearthing the ruins, pouring over the bits of lore they could find, and researching all they could.
Finally, it was time. The four women gathered their gear as the thunder burst, a bomb exploding in the dark, the lightning flashing in the aftermath. They stepped outside, silently beginning their trek. No flashlights or lanterns were allowed, they saw the forest through heat signatures and outlines. Deeper into the forest they went, silence their shield, the rain blocking their scent. Kat took point, signaling to the others the way to take, keeping an eye out for the sentinels the lore told about, not entirely sure they were real, but wary nonetheless.
The ruins loomed before them, covered in a phosphorescent glow. Lighting struck again, closer this time. They removed their goggles, relying on the light from the ruins. Four stone pillars stood up from the ground covered in moss, vines and runes. Silently, nervously, the four women began setting up their equipment, modern versions of the ancient tools used when the creature was contained centuries ago. Technological upgrades to monitor the surroundings and energy output, but the tools themselves were the same. Each woman took a pillar. Gail took the first pillar, preparing to recite the ritual pieced together from the pillars and the lore. Miranda stood at the second pillar, pouring over her calculations once more, not quite convinced that the time was right. Marie stood at the third, recording everything they did. Marie was the dreamer, the one who believed without a doubt that it would work and that they could regain the world the creature once inhabited. Kat took the fourth, weapon at the ready, wary and watchful as the other women set up. Belief or not, she knew the dangers of what they were about to do. Marie expected a kind creature, but centuries of captivity could have changed the being. She would protect the others to her death. These four women were the only family she had left. Kat made one last sweep of the perimeter before resuming her spot at the pillar and nodding to Gail to begin.
“From the earth we crawl, relying on her to nourish and sustain us. To the earth we return to nourish and sustain others. In this way we are all one.” Gail nodded at Kat, hoping her translation was correct. Kat jammed her rod into the pillar between the runes. The runes began to glow brighter. Excitement permeated the air. Kat scanned the grounds as Gail continued.
“The air gives us breath, filling us with the sweetness of life.” Gail nodded to Marie. As Marie jammed her rod into the pillar, the air shimmered around the pillars. A beast leaped forth from the pillar, razor sharp claws swiping at Kat.
“You will not free her.” It said in a guttural voice as it lunged at Kat again. Kat leapt back just in time and raised her gun. She shot, emptying her clip in the beast with no effect. The beast lunged again swiping at Kat. Kat dodged too slow and felt the scrape of the claws along her arm as she grabbed her knife from her belt. She attacked the beast, swiping the beast across the throat. The air shimmered again and the beast disappeared as another beast leapt from the pillar Marie had opened. Marie rolled out of the way as Kat threw her knife. The beast leapt again, but not fast enough. The knife took it in the leg, knocking it down. It howled in pain. “You must not free her!” It screamed before it too disappeared.
“Continue!” Kat yelled, knowing there would be at least one more beast through and hoping she had enough time to destroy it before the poison from the claws completed its course. Her arm was numb and it was spreading fast. She grabbed another knife from her pack, ready and waiting for the beast to come from Miranda’s pillar.
“Fire warms but also destroys; it heals and harms. Fire teaches us balance.” Gail shakily finished the recitation and nodded to Miranda. Miranda jammed her rod in the pillar, nervously scanning the area. For a heartbeat, nothing happened and then the air shimmered around Miranda’s pillar.
“Quickly Gail! Finish it!” Kat yelled as she threw her knife. The knife wobbled in the air, slamming into the beast’s belly. The beast turned toward Kat and kept coming. Kat couldn’t move, her left side completely numb from the poison. She could hear Gail reciting the last part, but her eyes were focused on the creature. She slowly pulled her last dagger from her boot as the beast reached out, wrapping his paw around her neck and lifting her from the ground.
“You will die. She is ours. We hunger for her. We need her. She is our prisoner!” The beast snarled at her, increasing the pressure on her neck as she jammed her knife into its throat with the last of her strength. It screamed in pain, relaxing its grip and dropping Kat to the ground before shimmering out of existence. Kat pulled in deep breaths of air, unable to move as the poison finished its work. She stayed huddled on the ground as Gail plunged her rod into the pillar. Miranda began to move to Kat’s side as a crack filled the air. The ground shook and the pillars radiated beams of light, joining in the center and shooting upward. Miranda froze mid-stride, staring into the light. The women stared, transfixed as the light burst outward, revealing a woman. Made of earth, filled with the breeze, fire her clothing and water her hair, the woman fell to the ground. Marie and Gail took a tentative step toward her as Miranda reached Kat’s side.
“Kat? Kat can you answer me?” Miranda checked her pulse. Kat groaned, trying to speak but she was still numb everywhere. Miranda checked her bag, pulling out the scanner and ran it down Kat’s body. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“Paralysis. Hang on I think I have something…” She rummaged around in her bag and pulled out a syringe. “Ah ha!” She pulled open the syringe and injected Kat. “Give it a minute Kat. You’ll be good as new.” She said, turning back to see what was happening with the woman. Marie and Gail where standing over the woman looking bewildered. The woman, the creature, lay prone on the ground as she pulsed and radiated with the elements. Miranda walked over as she heard Kat rustling behind her, getting to her feet shakily.
“I never suspected the creature would be so…beautiful.” Whispered Gail as the other women neared her.
“She’s hurt. Can you help her Miranda?” Asked Marie.
Miranda scanned the creature, looking at the machine in frustration. “She’s not human. She doesn’t register on my sensors.” She got down on her knees and reached for the woman, her hand drawn to the fire around her, hovering over the fire before reaching down tentatively to touch her. The other women gasped as Miranda touched the flames without crying out.
“I can feel her power. She needs us. They did this to her. They turned her into this for their own desire for power and control. We have to help her. Come closer she needs our energy or she will die.” Said Miranda.
The other women gathered around her, kneeling and reaching out to her.
“They contained her in human form. They took this poor woman and destroyed her and they took the soul of the earth and shoved her into a body.” Marie said shakily, near to tears as the creature filled her with her memories. Her memories, her world before and her life in captivity, the human inside her crying out in pain for thousands of years, all of this filled the women as they poured their energy into her.
The creature pulsed with the power, growing stronger, before finally breaking free. The world around them lit up with color and the women shielded their eyes from the sight. The ground beneath them rumbled as the wind blew in gales and lighting struck the pillars, lighting them on fire. Rain fell, dousing the fires, leaving only piles of ash where once the pillars stood. Just as quickly as it began, it was finished and before them laid a woman, no longer filled with the essence of the earth. Above her, the spirit of the earth hovered, coming nearer to the four women and brushing each of them with a gentle breeze. She leaned in to the woman on the ground and kissed her, healing her and giving her life once again. The four women stared in amazement. Marie reached out to touch her, but the spirit only smiled before bursting outward in a shower of light and color, absorbing into the world around them.
Miranda turned her attention to the woman, scanning her. Relief and amazement on her face as the woman groaned and sat up. She looked around at the women, her eyes ancient and filled with understanding. She had absorbed their memories as they had absorbed hers.
“Thank you. I feared I would never be free. All I hoped for was death, but when they trapped her inside me, She kept my body alive. It was her only way to survive. We kept each other alive in pain for centuries, and now we are free because of you.” She looked at them each, not a trace of hatred for what was done to her.
“What will you do now?” Gail asked. The woman walked over to where one of the pillars once stood and touched the ground, tiny wildflowers sprouting under her hand. She looked at Gail, her eyes filled with determination.
“Change the world.” She said.
When I sit down to write Nyctalopia, the graphic novel I am writing, my writing process is very different from that of a short story or novel-writing. The only similarity is that it still starts with prose. I begin as if I am writing a story, but with the idea in my head that pictures will take place of the descriptions. I focus a lot on describing the scenes from the beginning. Dialogue rarely factors into the beginnings, knowing that as the process goes along, I will add dialogue based on my artist’s drawings. I keep tidbits in the back of my mind, and as I continue writing the story, the dialogue begins when I need it to. Sometimes it’s a matter of needing to see the drawings first before I know what the characters will say, or sometimes they really don’t have anything to say and I would rather have narrative in that panel. But I am getting ahead of myself here. In the beginning, I don’t think in terms of panels but more in telling the story. I just need to get the story out on the page, trying to make scenes that I want a certain way as vivid as possible, leaving others with less description because I’m unsure how exactly I want it to look, and what I need from the beginning is the bones of the story, with some bits of fat hanging from them. This is my first draft. Occasionally, my artist sees them. In fact, she drew the first 5 pages of Nyctalopia from prose, not script. My first draft is messy, filled with typos and errors, but it’s still a story. These first drafts are usually handwritten, although they are occasionally typed as I sit on the floor, glorified typewriter on my lap, with a cup of coffee next to me. I finish the scene or the short story or the page in prose form, breathe a sigh of relief and walk away from it. I’ll work on something else, or work on a different character’s scene but I always leave it to sit for a while, even if it’s just a few hours (but more likely a few days, or a week, it depends on how much my artist has done and how soon she needs the pages).
I revisit the pages and start the script. I go through the prose, editing the typos, writing notes in the margins for changes I want or crossing out entire sections altogether. I start writing out the script, going through each panel and describing the scene in detail. Occasionally, I’ll only write a bit about what is going on, knowing my artist can draw that particular scene better than I can describe it with words. As much as I love words, sometimes a picture says so much more, showing an idea in all its glory, full color, in a way that my words can’t capture. That’s the point of a graphic novel though isn’t it? If the words worked better, well… there wouldn’t be the need for the pictures. My script is her guideline, but it’s really a way for me to understand the layout of the scene and see the flow of the pages before I see the pages. I fully expect that my artist will take the panels and draw them the way I want them, but change it up. She may take my script for one page and turn it into two pages, or she might combine panels together into one. She will call me if she thinks something should actually be changed, but I expect her to bring the pages to life in her own way. It might be my words, but it’s our story. I’ll write what I think the character will say, or think, or narrate, or the sound effects. This helps me see the panel in its entirety, and it also gives my artist a story to read.
Once I have the draft of the script finished to my liking, I send it off to my artist and wait, talking to her about anything she needs changed or any clarification. She sketches it out and sends me the sketch or comes over so we can go through the pages together. I tell her if I want anything different, but that’s pretty rare, and then I take copies of the sketch pages and start writing all over them as she works on the finals. I decide loosely where I want the text, now that I have the images to work from. These pages get scribbled on, and maybe one day I will remember to do this part in pencil so that I can erase. I change wording, give new dialogue altogether or leave it as I wanted it. I might give these pages to my artist, but usually I wait for the finals to do my final draft. I fill in the text, send it off to her and let her put it in and finally have a finished page (hopefully).
What is the point in going through all this? Well, if you are like me, I actually like to read about other’s processes, but I also had another motivation. We (my artist and I) are currently working on a project for Womanthology. This will be a short story, 3-4 pages in length and I have been writing out a few of my ideas. I write them as prose, using the same method, but as a whole story, not just a scene or chapter. These stories, just like Nyctalopia, start with a lot of description. These are my first drafts, before I take the pen to them and turn them into scripts for my artist. I decided I wanted to share them on this blog, in all the first draft glory that goes along with them, so that I could invite feedback and comments, share my work with my fellow creators and anyone else who cares to read them, and hopefully make a decision. The first one will be up in the next day or two, followed by another when I have it finished. I wanted to share the process as a sort of apology for the roughness of the stories. First drafts are never the prettiest. Read, comment, and don’t forget to check out the Womanthology page to see what the project is all about.
In the last day and a half, I have watched Americans react to the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. What I see all over the social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, is a division between the people as they try to decide what it means to them. There are a lot of political views being thrown around, misunderstanding, joy, hate, confusion, disbelief, etc. etc. I am not interested in sharing my political views on the matter or judging the government for how it was done and the decisions they made. Overall, I try to keep politics out of my blog, so please realize that I am not in any way making a political statement here, this is a statement about what I see going on with the people of this country and not the government of this country. My reason for this post is to hopefully shed some light on this for those that are disgusted with the reactions of Americans for celebrating the death of a man. You see, Osama was not a man in the eyes of America. He was a symbol. A symbol of hate, of terrorism. A symbol of fear. He was trope of evil if you will. This is how he was viewed by America. While he was alive, this symbol lived. Dead, there is a lightening of the fear he inspired. Some of the reactions are poorly phrased, or show hate right back, but overall, there is a sense of relief that this evil is gone from the world. The “good guys” prevailed. Look around you. Look to the books on your shelf, the action movies you watch or the comics you read. There is always good triumphing over evil. This is what we as people want to believe in; we want to think that good will always triumph and evil will always fail. Overall, yes the network of terrorists is still there, they still harbor hate for America, and they may make Osama into a martyr, but they don’t need that reason to continue to hate the people of America. They will or they won’t. Do you think that if we had been able to capture Bin Laden and put him on trial, that the terrorists would stop? That they would see justice and realize that America is right? Of course not. So while they may make him into a martyr and use his death to fuel their passion for hate, we have the ability to use his death to fuel our passions as well. Our passion for justice or peace, our passion to believe in freedom, our passion to understand the attacks that took so many lives. Try to understand the views of your fellow Americans. Try to understand where they are coming from and why they are celebrating. A symbol has died and we can take what we will from the loss of that symbol. We can use this to our advantage to come together as Americans, or we can use it to increase the divisions between the people. I can hope that we will take what we will from it and move on together, that we will move on as a stronger nation seeking true freedom for all, including ourselves. That we will try to foster understanding and try to see both sides of an argument in order to come to agreement. Heck, I hope that one day there will be peace on earth and a social revolution for the betterment of mankind. But then, I have always been an optimistic pessimist. I may expect the worst, but I always have hope for better and will do what is in my power to work for that goal. What will you do? What will you take from this? Will you see it as an opportunity for more discord, or party-line division, or will you see an opportunity for closure, for moving forward and making a new beginning? What symbol will you use to replace the one Bin Laden represented?
Return of the Dapper Men
By: Jim McCann
Artwork by: Janet Lee
Published by Archaia 2010
Envision the world the way you did when you were eight. Picture the sights, the sounds, the smells. Remember school and parents and bedtime. Think of scary stories read by flashlight under the covers and remember dreams; dreams of tomorrow, of what will be, of hopes and fantasies. Now transport your eight year old self to Anorev, a place where time has stopped and nothing changes. For a little over an hour, I did just that with 23 eight year old children. As I read Return of the Dapper Men to them, I watched as they entered the world in their own minds, I listened to the gasps of surprise and wonder and observed the overall silence of enrapture. That in and of itself is amazing review. Kids are honest. They don’t suffer boredom or disinterest. They sat so amazingly quiet, so entranced were they by the world of Anorev, that they only spoke to ask a question for clarification.
After reading the book, I passed the book around so they could look at it up close and we discussed the story from their perspective. We talked about the world, about how much they liked the book, including a few minute interlude where we talked about Fabre’s hats (everyone had a favorite), they asked questions, answered each others questions and they marveled at the artwork in the book, discussing their favorite pages and scenes. They loved the underground city, and they enjoyed trying to find all the different components of Fabre’s home. Most of what we talked about included spoilers, so just know that your children will love it, and so will you. I have read the book over and over again as it has quickly become a favorite with both of my children, and each time we notice something new.
I will leave you with this exchange I overheard:
Child 1: “Why did they live underground instead of in the city?”
Child 2: “Underground was more fun. They could play all day and have all that cool stuff”
Child 1: “Not me. I would want to live in a house, even if I had to clean it myself.”
And a few of the flurry of questions that were asked:
Why did he ask so many questions? (I loved this question, especially because they were asking so many questions!)
How did they come up with the characters?
And what happens next?
I look forward to reading the future installments to my own kids and bringing them in to their classes to read to the group as they get older. I think my next craft day in the classroom may just have to be decoupage since they loved the art in the book so much and though the style was “really cool” when we talked about it. Thank you to Jim McCann and Janet Lee for creating such an interesting and thoughtful world that I can share with all those around me.
First, let me inform you this is not a traditional review of the comic-con, what they had there, how it differed from last year or others, or why I was happy/disappointed with the experience. I went to the convention with a very specific reason in mind. It wasn’t to see all of the amazing stuff throughout (which I didn’t have time to do), or go to a bunch of panels (I went to one), or to get cheap light sabers for my kids (which I did). It was to promote myself, get an understanding of the industry, and meet some like minded individuals, whether as established graphic novelists or beginners like me. We arrived later than intended (by we I mean myself, my artist/cousin, and fellow writer/note taker/sister) and immediately met up with some other fellows we knew who were also attending and began immediately whipping out our portfolio and talking about our story shamelessly whether they wanted to hear it or not.
Lunch time came fast, and while we sat there eating our salads and talking about the weird things kids do, we started to peruse the panel lists for the day. Really, we should have come better prepared with a schedule of events and what not, but the fly by the seat of our pants approach enhanced the day’s outcome I do believe. (On a side note, fly by the seat of our pants is a very weird phrase when you think about it. And I really wish I could fly by the seat of my pants. I wonder if butt wings are necessary, or if it just happens?) After attempting to watch the costume contest, which when you are 5’2” tall and in the back is really impossible, we took the trek to the Archaia Comics panel all about writing indie graphic novels. In that one hour panel, I learned quite a lot about the industry, and what to think about when submitting a proposal. Things that as a beginner in the field I never would have thought about, like page size, and color scale for printing. (Another side note. If my cats keep popping holes in the fabric of my couch, I am going to murder them and fry them up for dinner.) The culmination of the day came when we were informed at the panel that Mark Smylie would be doing portfolio reviews at the Archaia Booth.
I had done some research on the possibility of getting anyone actually in the industry to review our work, and it seemed like the possibility was pretty slim . I had no hopes of it actually happening for us. (OK so I may have had an extremely slim hope of it happening, just like the daydream that they would immediately pick it up, it would become an immediate best seller with a high budget movie to follow, leading us to become multimillionaires in a matter of a year, but hey, who doesn’t have dreams like that?!) I was happy to show our measly 4 completed pages, 3 more inked, and a sketchbook of script and sketches to anyone that happened to look in my direction. (I tried to get R2D2 to look at it, but he just made some beeping noises and flirted with my cousin.) So anyway, we made our way down to the booth, got an appointment with Mark to take a look at our stuff and spent an hour in unbridled excitement over the opportunity we just landed. We wandered, we talked to a friend in Artists Alley, I called my husband, we fretted, we were flushed, nervous, excited and scared. In short, we were everything a newbie would be in this position.
Finally, the time came to go back to the booth. We got there a little early and were able to sit down with him early as someone along the line didn’t use their whole time. He takes a look, says “Oh, post-apocalypse, huh? We are actually looking for something like this.” The amount of air that filled my head at that moment could have powered a hot-air balloon. He then went on to tell us how we could improve the work and artwork for a submission, talked about the story and gave us some advice on that, and 45 minutes later someone else from the booth came over to tell him they were getting backed up. 45 minutes?! No way, I thought. It was over much too soon, even though we had overstayed our welcome and were getting glares from others standing around waiting, large portfolios in hand. The rest of the day was spent wandering around, not really paying attention to the comic-con itself, (which I’m sure was awesome. Please C2E2, don’t leave us in the hands of Wizard World alone!) babbling about everything he said, what we could do, and telling anyone who would listen that we actually got a portfolio review. Including the 3 paragraph text I sent my brother-in-law who had already left so I wasn’t able to babble in person. I am sure we annoyed some people, probably got some aggravated looks, but for all that I examined all of Mark’s body language while he talked to us, everyone else could have disappeared for all the attention I paid them.
Now maybe Mark Smylie really is just that great of a guy to be able to talk to all of us trying to break into the industry in a helpful manner, or maybe he actually saw some potential in us. I don’t know. Either way, I am still a little high on energy, my regular freelance writing gig is taking a big hit, as are my finances, as I devote more and more time to the graphic novel. We are beginning to self-promote, get a web-site started, work on the facebook page, and write and draw so that we can submit the first chapter, summary and all that good stuff by the fall. The name of the graphic novel you ask? You are on the edge of your seat you say? You can’t wait to see some of it? Well, I won’t keep you in suspense then. Head on over to our Nyctalopia Facebook Page and “like” us. The first 4 pages that we showed are up there for all to see. Leave some comments, tell us you loved it, or tell us why you didn’t. All we ask for is that you play nice and be constructive in your criticism. Or I’ll send my cats over to your house to pop holes in the fabric of your couch.
Tags: bouquet, craft, flowers, kids craft, valentine craft, valentine's day
This is an easy craft to do and makes an adorable decoration that you can hang on your wall for Valentine’s Day. All you need are a few supplies, most of which you may already have in your craft cabinet. This craft is simple enough to do with your children, allowing for them to use their own creativity in placing the hearts and blooms. Using pre-cut hearts makes this simple, but you can also cut out your own hearts using foam sheets.
A piece of cardboard cut to desired size Scissors
(I used a sheet of cardboard sized 7″x14″) Tape
Valentine wrapping paper Tacky glue
Foam hearts in at least 3 different sizes
Small fake flowers
1 Wrap the cardboard with wrapping paper and set aside.
2 Using the template link provided, print out the vase shape or draw out a vase shape on a piece of construction paper. With three pieces of construction paper layered on top of each other, cut out the vase. Glue the vases together. The size of the vase will be determined by the size of the cardboard. Set aside.
3. Take two medium size hearts and glue them together with a pipe cleaner “stem” between the two pieces.
4. Decorate the medium size hearts with smaller hearts as desired.
5. Pull of a couple of blooms from the small fake flowers. glue them together using a leaf wrapped around the short stems to stabilize the blooms.
6. Glue the blooms onto the medium size hearts
7. Make a couple more bouquets following the directions above. The number you will want depends on the size of the cardboard.
8. Assemble the background by taking large hearts and gluing them onto the wrapped cardboard if desired. Take your bouquets and lay them out onto the background to determine how best to glue them, keeping the stems close together so that they fit in the “vase”. Glue them onto the background.
9. Glue the vase over the stems from the bouquet, centering the vase on the cardboard background. Set a heavy book on top until the glue dries. Hang where desired and enjoy a bit of color in the midst of winter!
Crisp, white paper, college ruled, a thick ballpoint pen, a mug of hot, dark coffee, thick and creamy, my ripped up writing pants, denim and thirteen years old, an ugly green sweater, worn in with hard use. These are my tools. Some days, I can go without the pants or the sweater, some days I may even be able to write a first draft at the computer, but when hit with writers block, or if I just don’t have the motivation to do what I should do, I fall back on these few things as a way to get me going. I assume that we writers all have little things like this. Sure there’s the music we write by, or maybe the scents we desire, but the clothing is just as important. It is tactile pleasure. When I am writing, I want my environment to exemplify my own desires and wants. The changes happen depending on what I am writing. Currently, Sonny Rhodes and blues is my music of choice. When working on my novel, I prefer the Enya style of music, or just some tried and true classical. The different characters of my graphic novel define their own musical melody. Writing is a passion just like any other, where some days it doesn’t matter what is around you, the passion overtakes you and it just happens. Other days, the mood needs to be right, and some preparation is involved to make it perfect. Getting the words to flow some days feels like beating your head in with a rock, others, breathing deeply the scent of fall. Yes, the routine is important, finding the time to write no matter how much laundry you might have to do, setting a schedule and sticking to it to the best of your abilities, but how do you get into the routine in the first place? Or, how do you get back into it after a hiatus, whether it be days, weeks, months, or years?
I see writers all the time giving helpful tips to do just that, but what about those of us who are more chaotic, more prone to randomness than routine, who find routine to be stifling and oppressive at times? That is where my senses come into play. When the routine of my day breaks apart, or I just can’t focus on writing no matter how long I stare at the blank sheet or the chapters of prose, I go back to what ignites my senses. Life is random, unpredictable and uncontrollable, and sometimes your writing has to feed off of that. Trying to force order where it doesn’t belong only works some of the time, the rest of the time, you control what you can, and let the chaotic forces take you where they will. When life gets in the way, sometimes the best thing you can do is let it. Take a break, pay attention to the daily drudgery, let yourself wallow in sickness with a blanket and a good movie, maybe have a few days where it seems like all you do is take care of someone else and learn to love those days. That’s life and it is necessary. Trying to omit it doesn’t work, feeling bad about the break from your routine certainly doesn’t work, so learn to love it all. Every dish you wash, every scrape you kiss, every whine that vibrates off your skull, every sick day, every kiss goodbye or hello, every “I love you” spoken, and every bit of life uncontrollable. Take it in, love it all, and when you can, set everything up to your pure enjoyment, and use all of that pandemonium to guide you in your writing.
Tags: flash fiction, short story, writing practice
“If its edible, wearable, or useful, kill it.” That was his motto. He was dirty and smelled from the animal furs covering his skin, and when all was said and done, mostly insane. He had lived a solitary life for the past fifteen years. Cast out at 12 years old, he learned to fend for himself and learned rather quickly to stay away from other humans. Up in the mountains, in a small one room cabin he built, he lived off the land. When she showed up his first thoughts were “Is it useful? Scrawny, no meat and thin-skinned, killing it will be more trouble than its worth.” He turned away from her, leaving, until she spoke.
“Hey, can you help me? I’m starving, and so very cold. I’ve been wandering these mountains for I don’t even know how long. Can’t really believe I’m still alive really. Been trying to find someone, and you’re the first person I’ve seen since getting lost. Do you live up here? Is there a village nearby? a town? Anything? Please?”
He turned back, shocked and afraid by the sound of the only voice he had heard in years beside his own. He had almost forgotten what he was. Had almost forgotten that sound. She had a voice like the wind whistling through the icicles that hung from his beard. A comforting sound, and terrifying all at once. The sound of a person he once knew, who cared for him and loved him. The sound of a person who made him leave, who sent him off to live on his own and fend for himself, to live or die, because he did something…something they called bad.
He looked at the girl then, raven haired and pink, lips blue from the cold, her clothes tattered and worn, and a feeling came over him. A desire to keep her safe, to warm her and protect her. He stared into her eyes curiously.
“How are you here?” He said haltingly, his voice rusty from disuse.
Fear and curiosity filled her eyes then, warring with each other. She summoned her bravery, realizing that no matter what her decision, her life was in his hands.
“I got separated. I wandered off to explore, got lost, and when I finally found my way back, they were all gone, leaving me alone. I tried to search for them, but then the snows came, and I did the best I could just to survive until I found you.”
So many words, all at once, they hurt his head, vibrating off his skull.
“Come” was all he said in response, reaching out a hand to her, wondering all the while why he did it. She put her hand in his, too cold and weary to question her decision.
He led her to his home. She stayed silent the whole way there. Silence he knew, silence was comfort, yet a pang of sadness hit him when she didn’t speak. She was barely able to walk by the time they got there. He brought her inside as the last of her strength left her. She collapsed into his arms, unconsciousness claiming her. He put her on his bed, wrapping her in furs and starting a fire with the embers that still glowed.
She slept most of the time for the next few days, only waking long enough to eat and she spoke rarely. He never responded with more than a word or two, but he started to crave her waking hours and the sound of her voice. When she was back to full strength, she stayed still, talking of her life. He never questioned her. He realized he wanted her for himself. He needed her to stay with him. He didn’t want to share her with others. He didn’t want her to leave. With a growing fear, he knew that she would. The day would come when she would want to go back to her people and she would ask him to take her there. She would want him to go among others, with all of their noise and pain, and he knew he couldn’t do that.
She looked into his eyes and just stared. She took his hand and held it to her cheek. They stayed that way for an eternity, for a passing moment in time. She leaned in and kissed him tentatively at first, and then longer, deeper. Too soon, she pulled away. Love filled him, and pain. He wasn’t ready. She had reminded him of what it was like to be human.
“I lied to you.” She said, surprising him with her unexpected words. “I didn’t wander away. I came to search for you. For fifteen years you have lived here. All know your story, but I know your truth. Just a boy you were. So young, and I was even younger. All they knew was that you killed them all, sneaked into their homes in the dead of night, slaughtering them while they slept. What they didn’t know was that you did it for me. You did it to save me. To protect me. I was so young, and so scared, and I couldn’t tell them. I don’t think it would have mattered if I did, not really, but I still curse my cowardice. I watched as your mother cast you out, and I watched as she withered and died at the loss of you, and still I kept silent. I have lived my life with you in my heart and in my head. And now the time has come for me to return to them, to live out my days alone yet surrounded by people, loving you from afar, knowing that I have destroyed you twice.” She turned to go then, guilt in her heart that would never leave. When he saved her that night, he had also destroyed her.
“No.” He said. He reached out to pull her back. “No.” and “Forever.” Holding her to him, he remembered, remembered pain, remembered vengeance, remembered love, and peace, and happiness.
Christmas break has ended, and with it the 2 weeks of running around like crazy, the kids opening a ridiculous amount of presents, and the seemingly endless hours of video games enjoyed by all in my household. How will I endure my time without the sounds of Legos breaking and battling, Mario music that won’t get out of my head, Jasper’s voice in the sanctuary, or the jumping about of animals you can virtually pet? Back to work, back to school, means going back to a quiet house, a lower electricity bill, and a bitter sweetness as the kids return to school.
And this is all, quite obviously, not nonesuch.
How about getting a sitter on New Year’s Eve so you can sit at home with a couple good friends and some good beer and kill zombies together? No?
Then how about getting back to work on my graphic novel that has been moldering for much to long? Most definitely.
Writing is my passion. Any sort of writing is enough to keep me happy, so getting back to work on a project that means so much to me, while it may not be profitable, is still a dream come true. I love words. I love to write them, use them, and even abuse them. They don’t mind. They always come back, no matter how horribly you treat them, and they will happily sit in your mouth, popping out when you need them, or even when you least expect them. In our house we love silly words, mispronunciations of words, any word, as long as it makes our mouths happy. And that is ultimately what this blog is about. Whatever words I feel like, whatever topics come to mind on any given day. I’ll write what I want to write, and feel free to comment, using whatever words make your mouth happy. I may ramble, I may be random, but isn’t it our rambling, random, individuality that makes us all nonesuch?