Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Of Lists and Flix

Here's how distracted and muddle-headed I've been lately. I wrote this post yesterday, and then posted it to the wrong blog. Can we say D'oh?

Every time I go to type “wordage report” I hear in my head “creature report,” as in the Creature Report that’s included in every episode of The Octonauts. In case you’re not familiar with The Octonauts, it’s an animated children’s show about a team of underwater explorers - Captain Barnacles the bear, first mate Kwazi the cat, and Peso the penguin, among others - who explore under the sea, meet various sea creatures, and generally protect the ocean. Clearly I spend a lot of time with the granddaughter. ;-)

Anyway, this week’s wordage report is pretty slim pickings, especially when you take into consideration it’s been two weeks. One flash story for the Brazen Snake Books prompt that you can find HERE and a long letter to my sister.

Quite frankly, you’re lucky to have got that much out of me. Between a bad sinus cold that blew a hole in my eardrum and other assorted stumbling blocks life threw in my path, the last couple of weeks have been pretty stressful. And while I work well under pressure, stress is a whole other can of worms.

Sometime on Friday I made out a list of all the things I wanted/needed to get done on the weekend. It was quite a long list. The story wasn’t on the list but I wrote it in one session, despite the railroad spike like pain in my head. However, by the end of the weekend I was able to cross exactly zero items off my list. And here’s the reason:

A week ago Saturday my sadistically evil daughter had the hubby and I babysit so she and her hubby could go to the movies. That wasn’t the evil part. The evil part was leaving her Netflix cued up with the first episode of Stranger Things, a show she’s been recommending we watch. So we watched it. And the next episode. And part of the next. And when we got home I continued watching until 3 a.m. I finished watching the available episodes the following day.

Here’s where the sadistic part comes in. That’s all there is until the end of October. Now if you’ve had the pleasure of watching Stranger Things yourself, you’ll know that while they wrapped up the major story lines pretty well, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. And if you haven’t seen it yet, do so! If you don’t have Netflix already you can try it free for a month. Trust me, it won’t take a month for you to watch those eight episodes.

But back to my list. Despite my neatly written, well organized list, the daughter and I indulged in some out-of-town shopping therapy on Saturday. Then instead of tackling my list, I tackled the first six episodes of The 100, a show I’d wanted to see when it first came out, but it wasn’t offered on our regular TV channels.

Unlike Stranger Things, this show is well into its 4th season and there’s (I think) 13 episodes per season. So that’s a lot to catch up on. I’m going to have to learn to pace myself and get organized if I want to get anything else done.

Maybe I should put that on my list. ;-)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Quotable Quotes - February 27 through March 3

02-27
The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.
~ William Faulkner

When you're a writer, the question people always ask you is, "Where do you get your ideas?" Writers hate this question. It's like asking Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, "Where do you get your leeches?" You don't get ideas. Ideas get you.
― Connie Willis

02-28
A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.
~ William Faulkner

Writing- the profession in which you stare at a computer screen, stare out the window, type a few words, then curse repeatedly.
― Drew Goodman

03-01
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
~ Oscar Wilde

A story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader's. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.
― Ian McEwan

03-02
The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
~ John Steinbeck

There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you.
― Beatrix Potter

03-03
My idea of a writer: someone interested in everything.
~ Susan Sontag

I write
Not
For the sake of glory
Not
For the sake of fame
Not
For the sake of success
But for the sake of my soul
― Beth Nimmo

Monday, March 6, 2017

Of Good Intentions and Story Derailments

Is it just me or are these wordage reports not only perpetually late, but actually have very little of wordage in them? Well at least this time I finally have some words to report.

Two thousand and twenty-seven. That’s how many words I wrote last week, not including emails, a rather lengthy letter to my sister, and blog posts. That’s pretty good considering my mind has been a dust bowl lately.

However, the story was supposed to be a light, fluffy, humorous piece written for the Brazen Snake Books Weekly Story Prompt. It turned into something a little more complicated and a whole lot more serious. Seriously? *sigh*

Last week’s prompt concerned a fountain in a park, and the habit young girls had got into of taking selfies of themselves kissing the stone frog that was attached to the edge of the fountain. Originally I thought about writing the story from the frog’s POV and how he was cursed by a witch and how no matter how many girls kiss him he’s never going to be free because he’s gay.

Trust me, it was going to be really funny.

So I started the story. I cursed my character. I had him sitting in the park, enduring the slobbery kisses from giggling girls. And then I realized my story was at a thousand words, it was really late, and there was no way I was going to make the deadline. Oh, well. Tomorrow was another day and I could finish the story at my leisure for my own amusement. Except that the next day I made it up to two thousand words and I wasn’t done yet.

I only have myself to blame. I started writing some back-story for the main character and he became a whole lot more interesting. And then the story itself turned into a quasi love story and took a darker turn and then I found myself questioning the sex of his love interest. I’ve written gay characters before, that wasn’t the problem, the problem was the whole point of him being gay was for the humour of the situation. Since this is no longer a funny story, I’m wondering if the situation the love interest ends up in would work better if it was a woman instead of a man.

Or maybe not. Even in this day and age there’s still far too much discrimination going on, and gay-bashing, and just plain ugliness. And there are way too many messed up, angry people out there. Should I give the story a happy ending? A tragic ending? There’s a thought, the story could take an even darker turn and become really tragic. Hmmm.

You see how easy it is for me to derail a story?

Maybe what I need is a bigger train. ;-)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Prompt Me - The Wall

Did you have fun with last month's prompt? I hope it inspired you to write something interesting!

This being the first Friday in March, here's a new picture I hope will spark your creativity:



Remember, you can write anything you like: a story, a poem, even a non-fiction piece.

I'd love to see what you come up with, so when you're done feel free to email it to me at crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com. With your permission, I can even post it here so others can enjoy it too.

Good luck, and have fun!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quotable Quotes - February 20 through 24


02-20
Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’ – which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.
~ Maya Angelou

There are certain half-dreaming moods of mind in which we naturally steal away from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt where we may indulge our reveries and build our air castles undisturbed.
― Washington Irving

02-21
It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.
~ Anais Nin

I like the idea of coming up with a story that never existed before, but I don’t really want to be in charge. I don’t want to be famous. I guess I like the idea of sitting in the dark and knowing that I created the thing on screen, that it’s my story, but, like, no-one else has to know it was me. Does that make sense?
― Melissa Keil, Life in Outer Space

02-22
I suppose there must be idiots who dream of signing deals with publishers while fully intending to drink martinis in cool bars or ride around on skateboards. But the actual writers I know are experts in neurotic self-torture. Every page of writing is the result of a thousand tiny decisions and desperate acts of will.
~ Helen Garner

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.
― Natalie Goldberg

02-23
However great a man’s natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.
~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.
― Roger Zelazny

02-24
Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t “try” to do things. You simply “must” do things.
~ Ray Bradbury

Why am I compelled to write?... Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger... To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit... Finally I write because I'm scared of writing, but I'm more scared of not writing.
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Monday, February 27, 2017

Prompt Me ... Um ... Sunday?

So here’s the thing. For some reason I thought I had another Friday, so I was planning to work on my story this week and post it Friday. Only this Friday will be March, and the first Friday of the month is when I post my picture prompt. So my story is late, but at least I managed to get it done.

Here’s a reminder of the picture prompt I used:



Now you may wonder about the title. It’s loosely based on the fable by Aesop called The Scorpion and the Frog that goes something like this:
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too." The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp "Why?" The scorpion replies: "It’s my nature..."

It was that last line that stuck in my mind. The picture made me think of forest faeries and tea parties. And that got me thinking about the nature of faeries and how they’re often thought to be soulless. And THAT got me thinking about a story I started (but it petered out pretty quickly) a while back about a man who finds a faery in his garden. So without further ado, here’s my story for the month of February:

Frog and Scorpion

His friends thought him mad, buying the cottage set in the woods on the cliff side, and yet they were often to be found wheedling an invitation to visit. There was something peaceful about the murmur of the sea, the shushing of the wind in the trees. It was almost magical.

Despite being surrounded by nature, he created a garden - for the faeries, he said. There were sunflowers and daisies, lilies and lavender, foxglove and tulips, honeysuckle and heliotrope, and set in the midst was a low, round table with eight diminutive chairs padded with moss. On a whim he set the table for tea with mismatched china.

He found her there, at the bottom of the garden, a broken thing - lost, injured, just a shell - like so much flotsam cast up by the tide. At first he was not even sure she was alive, lying as she was amidst the stones, cradled in the illusion of tattered remnants of gossamer wings.

The friend who had accompanied him to assess the damage left by the great wind storm the previous night told him to leave it there, no good would come of aiding such a creature. But he believed in magic and faeries and all the good that came with them and would not be dissuaded. When he brought her into his home, the friends who were waiting for the damage report advised him to cast it back from whence it came. He stood as they barred his way, the weight of her in his arms as insubstantial as a puff of smoke, and looked at them reproachfully until they stood aside.

“It’s a wild thing,” they said, calling back to him over their shoulders as they left his home. “It cannot be tamed.”

“Nonsense,” he said softly, otherwise ignoring their departure. “She’s lost and helpless. She has no need of taming, just love and care.”

Love he had in abundance, and was always willing to share.

She was almost transparently pale as he carefully laid her on the cot in the sunny guest room. He built a fire in the fireplace for warmth and washed her and cleansed her scratches with witch hazel. With the gentlest of touches he combed the detritus from her long dark hair.

For a long time she lay unmoving on the cot, her slight form barely discernible under the faded patchwork quilt. Patiently he spooned milk, warmed and laced with honey, into her mouth. More often than not it dribbled back out again, but his quiet persistence was at last rewarded. She swallowed, and he all but wept with joy.

When he spoke to her, she opened eyes that held a forest of green, but she made no sound in return. He named her Shaelyn, meaning ‘from the faery palace’ in Gaelic. He continued to feed her the milk and honey when she was awake, and when she dozed he read to her from slender, leather-bound volumes of poetry.

“One day you will regret your impulsiveness,” she told him, when she could at last speak. “You should have left me to die.”

“Nonsense.”

“You think to bind me with your kindness and a name of your choosing. But I cannot be bound. I am not what you think I am.”

“You are one of God’s creatures in need of succor; that is what I think and that is all I need to know.”

It was several days before she was able to stay awake for any length of time and he left her side only once, to go to the village to buy more honey and oatcakes. On the fourth day she was able to sit up in the cot, on the fifth she was able to stand. On the seventh day she was able to walk to the door and back and he knew that soon she would leave him. The thought saddened him.

On the ninth day she stepped outside, holding her face up to the sun, the gauzy rags she wore floating in the breeze. He stepped up beside her.

“You can stay if you like,” he said, almost shyly, for in the short time they’d been together he’d grown to love her.

She turned to look at him and he felt a sharp pain in his chest. Looking down in surprise he saw the slender knife she’d slipped between his ribs. His hand went to the crimson stain blossoming on his white shirt. He looked at her in confusion.

“Why?” he gasped with his last breath.

She looked at him dispassionately as the light in his eyes dulled. “Because it is my nature,” she replied.

And without glancing back she turned away and spread her ragged wings.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quotable Quotes - February 13 through 17


02-13
At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.
~ Michael Law

An admirable line of Pablo Neruda’s, “My creatures are born of a long denial,” seems to me the best definition of writing as a kind of exorcism, casting off invading creatures by projecting them into universal existence, keeping them on the other side of the bridge… It may be exaggerating to say that all completely successful short stories, especially fantastic stories, are products of neurosis, nightmares or hallucination neutralized through objectification and translated to a medium outside the neurotic terrain. This polarization can be found in any memorable short story, as if the author, wanting to rid himself of his creature as soon and as absolutely as possible, exorcises it the only way he can: by writing it.
― Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

02-14
If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
~  Vincent Van Gogh

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.
― William Makepeace Thackeray

02-15
A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.
~ George R.R. Martin

I read anything that’s going to be interesting. But you don’t know what it is until you’ve read it. Somewhere in a book on the history of false teeth there’ll be the making of a novel.
― Terry Pratchett

02-16
The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life and one is as good as the other.
~ Ernest Hermingway

There's nothing on Earth like really nailing the last line of a big book. You have 200 pages to tickle their fancy, and seven words to break their heart.
― Alex de Campi

02-17
The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.
~ Shauna Niequist

Prison always has been a good place for writers, killing, as it does, the twin demons of mobility and diversion.
― Dan Simmons