For the past couple weeks, Mondays have become “clean the entire house” days. My big project for today was to go through a big stack of papers and toss out the old junk. There was a lot of junk.
I found several copies of some work that I’d done in high school all marked up in pretty colors. I’d forgotten that I’d written these short (SHORT) pieces and about the group of writers who took the time to look them over. Just looking at the names of those writers brought back a lot of great memories from that group, and a lot of not so great ones of the divorce I was going through at the time.
I think after I get my to-do list caught up on (if I ever) I may go back through those old things and actually read them. Maybe I’ll even tweak them and make them better. Who knows, I might even post one of them.
I’ve always liked going through old stories. It’s like going through an old photo album. You get to re-live the moments. Some of them aren’t always great, like remembering how you tortured yourself over coming up with the perfect word for any given sentence. Or how late you stayed up trying to remember what you’d written on a draft that your word processor decided to dump.
Some of the memories, though, are wonderful. You don’t forget the thrill of having found that perfect word, getting lost in the draft, and being able to see nothing but the scene before your eyes and not realizing that you’ve written for hours and the rest of the house has long since gone to bed. Its moments like that which make writing more addictive than any drug. It make you a crazy person.
I wouldn’t wish this addiction on anyone who hasn’t already had a taste. To those that have, revel in it. There’s nothing else on earth like it, and don’t get discouraged when people look at you strange when you start talking to yourself. Usually, that means you’re doing something right.
So, perhaps later, I will relive the moments nearly 10 years old now. I wonder how horrible I used to write. LOL It will really be fun to see what kind of progress I’ve made. (Because writing is both a craft and an art, and still requires practice at any stage.)
The new year has been here for a while now and so has my new daughter. She was born on Christmas Eve. Despite several attempts to get me to name her Holly, Noël, Eve and many other clichéd festive names, we stuck with the first name we liked: Fallon Evangeline.
As far as writing goes, I’ve had a lot of time during my “maternity leave” to think about the things I’d like to do and the projects I had going on at the time. Some of them no longer seem as important as they did two months ago, and one in particular hasn’t left me alone. Every time I think about writing, I get the images in my head of a couple scenes I’d thought of.
For the first time in my life, I’m going to have to really become a self-motivator and learn to balance my work life and my home life, while I’m at home. I’d forgotten how much attention babies require, and while I love every minute with my daughter, some moments are very frustrating. There are times when I would love to sit at my computer picking out colors for a new jewelry design or jotting down thoughts about character, setting, etc. and I just can’t. These times are also made even more frustrating when you add in a five -year old who wants to know everything about everything and chooses that moment to ask all the wrong questions.
Priorities are so important now, and I need to stick to them or I will get lost in yet another year flushed down the drain. I fail at a lot of things I attempt, but I value those failures. They teach me my limits and my short comings. My biggest short coming is sticking with something. I give up easy, or rather, I like instant gratification.
Storytelling is not instantly gratifying.
Another thing that might need work is consistency. I’m pretty spontaneous. I do what I want when I want to and drop everything and go somewhere when the mood strikes me. Usually, this makes for fun times. Most of the time, it makes for unfinished projects.
In an attempt to get one of these “flaws” under control, I will be attempting to update my blog more regularly. I am not going to say that I will do X amount of posts every X amount of days. What I will say, however, is that I will do at least one post per week and try one book review a month. (I say try because I do have a five-year old and a newborn. Time to read isn’t always an option.)
You might ask yourself why you should care what books I review or why you would read the books. Well, you don’t have to. No one is going to make you. If you do choose to read what I’ve read and reviewed, you should do it because you enjoy reading new books; or seeing if others have had the same thoughts that you did about books you have read. A bonus to reading my reviews is that I tend to read books that I like (duh) and I write books that I like. (So if one plus one equals two…) Theoretically, if you enjoy the same books I do, you’d enjoy the books I write (short stories are a whole different issue).
Now that all that is off my chest, I really should use little girl’s nap time to push out a page or two for the launch of Enchanted Storytellers in three weeks. Yipes!
February’s theme/prompt is “Fairytales and Legends.” I have no idea what I’m going to write for it! LOL I came up with a few ideas, but March’s theme is “Destined for Death” and I’m having a field day with that one. There are more ideas than I need.
I’m really excited to see what the other girls come up with. I’m really excited to see what I come up with! LOL
Like most writers, I have the compelling need to research as I write. On this 6th day of NaNoWriMo that research comes in the form of sounds (and really, that’s no big surprise as I most often will research the way something sounds. Memory is faulty and popular media lies).
I have researched two sounds this morning. The sounds of the barn owl, and the cello. Not all owls hoot, and from my time in band, the school never had the money for an orchestra. If they had, I would be a violinist instead of a clarinet player.
Note to self: Pick up violin lessons again. Also, save up about $300 for a cheap beginner’s cello. (My violin is purple. Maybe I’ll get a black cello with a white bow…or neon pink. Watch as my crazy skills transform the bow into a streak of color across the strings.) Just thinking about playing again brings back memories. I used to be pretty good. I wonder how things may have been different if I had practiced, lol.
While I was listening to random tracks online of cello music samples (read as: 30 seconds is not long enough) it occurred to me that as soon as possible I needed more. The music, played on a loop, began to fuel me. I could hear one of my character’s voices in the notes. I have no way to describe this feeling. I can only compare it to an experience that not many have gone through.
A few years ago, I went through Air Force boot camp. This charged up crazy feeling is like how I felt after exiting the gas chamber with my mask off. My skin burned with the fumes (it was a hot day and every exposed pore on my body dripped with sweat which seemed at the time like it was what activated the burning, because my eyes, nose and lips also stung). It made a lot of people throw up, and everyone looked like they were crying. Me? I felt alive.
It was a thrill ride and I wanted to do it again. I was tempted to get back in line, but being boot camp, you don’t do crazy things like have an opinion, a mind or your own, or speaking those opinions…much less be this insane person that enjoyed the thrill of a gas chamber.
This is how I feel this morning. Alive.
The hard part of this is translating this feeling into prose. A blog post is easy. You can stumble and mutter. You can use the words “like” and “as” too many times. You can make references to something like a gas chamber. In prose, you can’t do that. You’re limited to the voice and experiences of your characters.
Anyway, I have a busy day ahead of me and I have wasted too much time sharing this adrenaline-like experience. The story calls.
Today is the first day in this strange sort of torture that some of those of us that enjoy writing partake in annually. (Wow, what a sentence!)
This month, hundreds of thousands across the globe attempt to write a novel in 30 days. Not everyone wins. It really isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve trunked a lot of would-be good novels writing this way. Sure, I could have taken my time with them and gotten some really amazing novels out of it, but where would be the fun in that?
This year I’m trying something a little different. I’m writing a story that has already been written…many times. When I read this story, I knew right away that I wanted to see it in novel form. I’d never heard of anyone writing this into a novel before, so I vowed that I would be the one to do it. I’m a little wiser now. There are several adaptations of it out, one of which seems to be pretty popular. I’ve never read it, though it is on my list.
I could be setting myself up for a huge failure here, but where is the fun without a little risk? I’ll write the story, and then read East. And why yes, I am thinking of posting the chapters on Gone with the Pen. If you’d like to follow my progress, feel free to. You can see how awesome I am when I win, or a horrible fail and laugh with me when I try and figure out why in my busiest month of the year I’m attempting this.
So, I was doing some goofing off and playing around with character sketches and throwing my characters into situations to test their reactions. I had no intentions on my two main characters meeting, but they have and there’s no going back now.
Here it is, a teaser of what’s to come in a month or two:
Oz wandered through the rolling plains of stunted trees and dead grass with his stepmother’s words resonating through his mind. The sun was high over head, beating down on his furry back. Dry twigs cracked beneath his furry paws and stuck between the soft pads making him wince. His once useful fingers, groomed nails and soft skin were now deformed into this – a bear’s fumbling brute strength. What was he to do with these? He couldn’t play music, write letters, open doors or any of the other things he once took for granted. He could wander the wilderness and smash things.
“Try and find a wife now,” she had said. “You will wed Princess Teneale.”
“I still have a year to find a woman who will have me,” he had said. Princess Teneale was a monster, but the only monster who would marry him, thanks to his stepmother. She’d done everything in her power to see to that.
It wasn’t that Teneale was unappealing, far from it. She was perhaps the most beautiful creature Oz had ever seen – until she smiled. Her gorgeous features couldn’t hide the rows of sharp teeth she hid beneath those alluring lips. Inside her mouth was the truth of her nature, she was a troll, and like all trolls he’d ever met, she was selfish, heartless and cruel.
Oz sat on a patch of moss and looked down into the valley. The entire place was a barren wasteland, except for a small colorful grouping of wild flowers that were growing in front of a quaint farm. He wondered why anyone had chosen this place to live, unless they were like him, useless, hopeless and doomed to lead a life married to a monster princess.
The wind blew from the north, pushing chilled air through his overcoat and into the soft down of his new fur. It felt good. Standing, he shook himself and grunted, his new voice still unfamiliar to him. Slowly, he ambled down a path that was cut into the hillside towards the farm. The wind carried smells of onions, bread and the sounds of many people hard at work pounding at nails and earth.
When he had reached the farm, he saw that it was not quite as large as he had thought it was. From the shelter of a cluster of stunted trees, he counted as many as nine people going in and out of the farmhouse, barn and fields. There was another that he could not see, but her voice carried to him on the wind from inside the house.
She didn’t have the lyrical, sickeningly sweet voice of Teneale, but it was no less appealing to him. He moved around the outside of the tree line, failing at his attempt to stay quiet. Oz cursed his stepmother for bewitching him with such clumsy paws.
A loud crack shattered the tranquility of the glen. Instinctively, he crouched low to the ground. Behind him startled voices shouted at one another.
“Did you hear that?”
“Yeah. What was it? A gun?”
“Don’t be stupid. Who would hunt out here? It was probably another tree limb falling. Maybe one of us got lucky and was crushed under it.”
The other voice laughed, “Yeah, lucky bastard got out of here.”
“Shut up and get back to work,” a third voice bellowed. In minutes, the sounds of pounding and digging returned to their monotony as before.
After waiting for the people to forget about the noise, Oz crept closer to the cottage window. Inside he saw a girl sitting on the floor dressed in and surrounded by rags. She was humming now, quietly, to herself. She was something unlike any he’d ever seen. Underneath the dirt and mop of tangled reddish blond hair there was a beautiful young woman. Her voice even now haunted his ears. Her eyelashes caught the sun and glimmered gold over her green eyes.
She had lips that were full and turned down in the corners in the slightest of pouts. Oz was consumed with the desire to be closer to her, to kiss her lips and erase the sadness from her face. He just wanted to touch her, maybe to see if she was real, or if he was.
He dropped down below the window, so he couldn’t see her. He pawed at the ground, leaving small scratches in the dirt. He had to get closer to her somehow. It was then he realized that he was already enamored with her.
“What is it, George? The soup will burn.” It was a woman’s voice.
Oz’s heart froze in his chest. There were others dangerously close. He should have heard the people coming before now. Bears had better senses than people, didn’t they?
He risked one last glance at the girl, one paw on the window’s flower box, for the briefest of moments before using it to push off and away into the trees again. He winced as he made another loud crack of destruction in his wake. He thought he saw, on the edge of his vision, that the girl had looked up and seen him leave.
He should have run, and kept running until he was safely away from the farmhouse and the people that lived in it. Instead, crouched again at the edge of the trees and listened for her voice again.
“Did you hear that?” It wasn’t hers, it was the other woman.
“It looks like the last flower box has finally decayed and broken away from the window.”
“Why didn’t you have one of the boys fix it? Lord knows we have enough children that we shouldn’t be living like this.”
“It’s been another fruitless harvest, Sarah. I’m not worried about flower boxes. What are we going to do? We had barely enough to live on through last winter, and this year seems it will be worse.”
“You never should have taken Laurent’s farm. You should have never retired from the military. You should have had the foresight for this. You’re not a farmer. You don’t have farmer’s hands. You are a soldier. A retired good for nothing soldier. Is this why you pulled me away from the soup? I swear, George, worrying is going to do nothing for us now. You have eight children, a barren farm, and so help me if you add burned soup to that list…” she didn’t finish her threat. She mumbled back all the way towards the house, something about her mother and Paris.
The man sat on a withered old stump, and Oz placed one tentative paw out into the open, past the trees, into full view.
For those of you who’ve not heard yet, my good friend Jill Jenkins is holding a couple contests. (We’re all about the contests aren’t we?) Entering is simple, the instructions are simple, and it’s a ton of fun. I’d be entering myself if I weren’t a friend of hers and didn’t think that would be unfair for the rest of you all. To check it out, go to her blog post here at Jillypuff’s Journal of Joy.
The prizes are pretty cool!
Fun things first! There is a new story up! Be sure to visit Gone with the Pen – the website edition to read all about it.
Now, for the sad news. I’m not perfect; I’m not a story machine with a slot to put in a quarter. 17 Stories in 17 Days Self-Induced Masochism…or whatever I called it was a complete failure. I know you can’t force the ideas; I know that you can’t inflict Chinese water torture on your muse to make words fly from your fingers…I just hoped it might work anyway. =)
My baby is due at the end of December, so when the stories run out, they run out. I will do my best to keep them coming, but I have no idea what type of child this will become and how my time for writing will transform.
There’s also some talk amongst the voices in my head for a contest either in December or January, so stay tuned for progression on that front.
One last thing. You can now find me on Facebook, LiveJournal and Twitter.
…at least not until you’ve written everything down first.
I am awake, I have pilfered fruit bars and carbonated caffeine. I am showered, dressed, bleary-eyed, and so not ready for the day.
Sometimes when you wake up at 5am, and you know you don’t have to, and just before you fall back asleep you ponder what it was that woke you up in the first place you don’t question your sanity. You just don’t.
You already know that you’re crazy; writing by the meager bedside lamp light with a fine point permanent marker (because that’s all that you could reach in your scramble to simultaneously hold on to the thoughts in your head and not fall off the bed onto the floor)…
…when you’ve scrambled to get everything down with as much detail as possible before it all is lost…and twenty minutes have gone by, you’re still not done writing and you’re actually debating with yourself on whether or not you should just stay up.
Here’s to hoping that I’ve been woken up at the right time, and made the right choice to seize opportunity instead of going back to bed once the thoughts were immortalized in ink. I wonder, if I had gone back to sleep if I would have been rewarded with more to go on.
I think I did. I have a beginning, two characters that are amazing, a plot (Oh My Gosh!), and the ending. I’m sure I can puzzle out the middle.
A good friend of mine, Pam Maclean, announced yesterday that she is holding a contest! I know a lot of people love going to Renaissance Faires, and this one’s for you. Hurry though, it’s a contest with a short expiration date. The deadline is tonight at 11pm EST. The really awesome part is that there is a mystery prize from the Faire. So hurry up and head over to her blog and put in your entry so you can tell me what the mystery prize is!
Another fun fact about Pam: She and her sister, Crystal Maclean, have co-written several novels and short stories, which they post FOR FREE on their website Two to Write. Be sure to check that out too, you won’t be disappointed!
Just a quick little note on a day off:
My 17 Stories in 17 Days thing? Yeah, not so hot. It was great in theory, but in practice? That’s a lot of mental strain!
There is approximately 5 days left in the 17 days, and I’ve written a total of one short story and there is one that seems like it might be about a quarter of the way done (which I’m totally falling in love with).
Maybe next time I challenge myself with something utterly insane, it might be a good idea to have at least a handful of ideas to start with…you know, instead of none. =)