Tuesday Muse-day

I’d like to apologize to all those who read these posts and were looking forward to this weekend’s post. I shouldn’t have planned on weekend posting when this Monday was one of my worst Accounting deadlines. Each year, right around 3/15, 4/15, 9/15, and 10/15 my life gets so busy with tax returns. I ended up working most of the weekend and unfortunately, did not even touch my writing book until yesterday. This means that I will not be posting my stories until at least tomorrow.

On a slightly more positive note, I was thinking about how stories are made and crafted by each different person. Everyone has a different style, different method, and different expectation. In my mind, it was fairly easy to associate this with pottery and molding on a potter’s wheel. The one thing the pottery analogy can’t express well is the struggle of all those little threads of life that an author has to weave. The depth or shallowness of a character can change a whole world. The involvement or abandonment of an item or place can shape your entire story. That’s a lot of pressure, you know? I know that there are a lot of books out there that may be poorly written or have a narrow or faulty plot and my books may end up being among those, but to each person that has ever taken pen to paper (literally or not) and shared a story with the world: Thank you. The world needs more story tellers.

With that, I must be off. I super extra promise to get better with my writing deadlines for you guys. I know a super extra promise isn’t the highest tier of promise (Everyone knows that gosh), but it’s pretty high up there, so you should know I mean business! If any of you would like to share anything with me, my door is always open. Short stories and random musings and criticisms on the human condition are all welcome! Have a great Tuesday everyone.

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Consistency is Important!

As the title says – consistency is your friend. I even capitalized important so that you know I mean business. For example, I consistently post late and that makes me dependable! (We all know I’m just calling myself out because I feel bad) In all seriousness though, it’s important to keep up your writing with a schedule where you’ve carved out a writing block. It will help you to write where normally time might get away from you. It’s also a habit forming experience and it will become easier to set aside that time and get your creative juices flowing (suuuuch a weird phrase)!

I’ve been trying to set up a schedule for this blog for that very reason; sometimes I’m not feeling creative or productive, but as long as I’m making the attempt, I’m moving in a positive direction. I know it won’t always feel fun or like you’ve made much progress, but it will get better! Since I know you agree that consistency for your writing is important, I’ve volunteered you for a bonus homework assignment: Look at your weekly schedule if you have one or think about your general busy times/breaks. Find a window that you can consistently commit to and set that aside for writing. It can be  15 minutes to an hour to more if you want it. Start small if an hour feels like a nightmare. Heck, you don’t need to write more than a paragraph or outline something that you want to write next time. It’s about taking baby steps and then toddler steps and then finally… DINOSAUR STEPS! Won’t that feel great?

As I’ve been writing on this blog, I’ve been trying to find a system that works for me. Most of the time, I’ve ended up writing on my lunch break at work and then scrambling to edit and finish when I get home at night, but as we can all see, that hasn’t worked out in my favor. That means that I’ll need to readjust, but I’m slowly finding a time that works for me. Take that to heart – it doesn’t have to be an instantaneous perfect fit. Maybe the time block works, but you just never feel motivated during that time. It’s your own personal little Goldilocks situation. Enjoy the process if you can!


 

As a thank-you for your never-ending patience, and at the request of one reader, I’m going to be writing a version of my last short story (Mattias & Jayne) from Mattias’ perspective on top of my weekend assignment this week (I’m hoping to get that done today – fingers crossed). If you took a stab at that prompt and also think your interaction was one-sided, feel free to do the same!

You now have two small assignments to do if you’d like and if you have the time. To follow that up, I have the actual writing assignment I have planned for this weekend:

Animate an object! You could use a random object generator (I swear the internet has a random generator for everything) or you could just pick an object at random that inspires you to write about it. I have a stapler at work that I use every day; maybe I’ll write about how he thinks that I use way too many staples and should switch to paper clips. He gets a break and I do more for the environment; it’s a win-win situation. Maybe he even has a lisp, because there’s nothing cuter than an animated stapler with a lisp. There are no rules other than the object has to be a non-sentient object that is now alive and it has to have an opinion about something it was/is used for. If you want to share yours, I’d be happy to read them! There’s no page limit, but if you want a guideline, I plan on making mine about a page long.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Mattias & Jayne – Part Two!

As promised, here is the second half of my Mattias/Jayne interaction. I hope you like it and if there are things that you notice could be better, awesome! It’s good to write and practice on your own, but it can be helpful to see/analyze the good and bad in other peoples’ writing as well. Take a minute to see what sounded natural in the story and what didn’t. Why did those parts stand out to you? Remember, nothing is bad. It’s just a work in progress! Hopefully some of this helps/helped you somewhat. Now, before I type your ears off (that’s a weird phrase, but go with it) here’s my ink, nice and fresh:


The damn librarian was eyeing me again. She hated when I came in here and always found some reason to try and kick me out. Well that was not happening today. I’d kick up a fuss if she tried anything nasty today and she’d have to back down. I was so focused on her, I didn’t realize that some twerp was trying to talk to me. He looked like he had barely hit puberty and he was freakishly gangly. I rolled my eyes and turned up the volume on my headphones and tuned him out. I’d been playing Solitaire on the computer for maybe 3 minutes before he tried to get my attention again. He was persistent and I wanted to tell him off, but that would send the librarian swooping down. I didn’t need the hassle, so I cocked one headphone off my ear and gave him my best ‘what the hell do you want?’ face. He didn’t seem to notice and immediately launched into some long drawn out story. Halfway through I put my headphones back on and went back to my game. Thankfully, he got the hint that time and I was left in peace for the next few hours.

When he got up to leave, he turned to wave at me like we were friends or something. I just stared until he walked away. Some people really couldn’t help sticking their noses into other people’s business. It wasn’t like I was wearing a sign saying ‘Come talk to me!’ or anything. Damn. I felt a tap on my shoulder and whipped around. The kid was there again and took a step back out of surprise. Could he really not take a hint??

“What the hell do you want? I’m trying to mind my own business and you can’t stop bugging me for five minutes!” Even though I was getting aggressive, he didn’t bat an eye.

“In class today, we learned about the warning signs of depression and loneliness and you seemed like you showed a bunch of them, so I wanted to make sure you were okay. Lashing out is common,” he stated confidently. He was so proper, it was like he was reading out of a flipping textbook.

“Yeah, no. I’m not any of that crap. You did your good deed for the day; you get a gold star. Now, if you could be so kind as to go away, that’d be great.” He wouldn’t stop smiling and it was really starting to get on my nerves. He hadn’t budged, so I got out of my chair and loomed over him as best I could. “Look, I don’t know what else I can say, but you’re seriously starting to piss me off. Shove off before I make you,” I threatened. He needed to know I was serious. I wasn’t planning on shoving some kid who was half my age just because he was annoying, but it was tempting.

“How about you just tell me something that’s bothering you and we can talk through it?”

“Okay, fine. I’m frustrated by people who can’t stop pestering strangers and asking stupid questions. There was this one time, I was at the library and some kid wouldn’t leave me alone for hours and they never found his body. The end,” I finished pointedly. I could tell that he was getting uncomfortable, but he just sat there.

“That was a strange story. I don’t think you’re going to murder me though, so I’m not worried. You’re deflecting. That’s when someone avoids serious stuff by not being serious and changing the topic or avoiding questions.”

“Great. Awesome. You caught me. I guess I’ll deflect somewhere else now.” Before he could comment, I grabbed my bag off the floor and headed out toward the front of the library. It wasn’t worth it to get in a fight with some kid who wanted to play therapist. When I got outside, I realized it had started raining. There hadn’t been any news about rain, but that wasn’t surprising. The weather here majorly sucked. I sighed, thinking about if it would be better inside than out here, dealing with the rain. I heard someone behind me, clearing their throat. Even without turning, I knew who it was. He was holding out a small, folded up, yellow umbrella.

“I had an extra one in my bag. You never know, right?” He asked. The ridiculous grin was back and my desire to smack his face was also back. I grabbed it anyway. He was going to be annoying until I took it and I didn’t want to get soaked. Kids could be ridiculous sometimes….


And there you have it! Prompt – complete. Story time dance moves? Probably not, but we all know that I’ve got the moves. You don’t get to see them though, because this is not a vlog, but you can imagine it and that’s good enough right?

For the story, I wanted to write from both perspectives in depth, but I spent way too much time working out Jayne’s character development and didn’t develop Mattias as much as I could have. Jayne didn’t come naturally to me, so I kept writing from his side, hoping to get a good flow going. I think it turned out better than expected! Feel free to comment, critique, and ask questions. My next content post will be on Thursday for the weekend’s assignment, but I might try and sneak something in on Wednesday too.

If you guys did your stories, feel free to message me the answers to your questions or your interactions – I’d be happy to read them. For now, I’m off! See you Wednesday and/or Thursday!

Mattias & Jayne – Part One

Your first thought reading that title might have been “Why is this part one?” and if it was, good on you for catching that! Life has made my weekend a little more packed than I’d like and unfortunately, my writing suffered for it. It took me all weekend to come up with my character blurbs and they’re still a little rough. It’s still hard for me to write outside of my own personal style and mannerisms, so I probably tried too hard in a couple spots. That’s okay though – This whole experience is about making sure to practice and to have fun! With that out of the way, here are my two character summaries:


Mattias:

Light – Hearted, not too serious, happy. Resonant – introspective, intelligent, well spoken, knows what he wants. Charming – friendly, easily makes friends, knows what to say in most situations.

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

I like to sit on the back porch with a good novel and read for a couple of hours. If I’m outside, I like going for walks in the rain if I’m feeling active and stomp in the puddles like I used to as a kid. It’s the perfect weather for hot chocolate too! Inside or outside, that’s my drink of choice!

What is one weird or quirky thing about you?

I’ve never told someone that I hated them, because I don’t think I’ve ever felt hate before. I barely feel anger. I didn’t think that was strange when I was younger, but I’ve been told more than once that I’m too happy and it made me think about feelings a lot. I think it’s important to be introspective fairly often.

What was an event that shaped your life heavily?

When I was 11, over summer break, we found out that my younger brother had a lung disease that was pretty much incurable. It was incredibly hard on the whole family and the person who kept us all together was my brother. He would never let us see it when he was frightened. His humor was contagious and we spent more time smiling than crying because of him. It made me realize how important a good attitude was. I try and carry that attitude with me wherever I go.

 

Jayne:

Unequal – Prideful, unbalanced. Harsh – Overly aggressive, cold. Homeless – out of spite/pride/misguided sense of machismo.

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

I’d probably be at the library or a diner or something. I don’t wanna get soaked and the library lets you use those computers all day if you make a fuss. I don’t really care though.

What is one weird or quirky thing about you?

That’s a dumb question first off. If I had to answer though, I’d probably pick something about my desire to live without a house to shackle me down. The rolling stone gathers no moss, right? I like being free and people don’t get that.

What was an event that shaped your life heavily?

I don’t know. These questions are ridiculous. My dad’s ex used to flick her cigs at me when she got mad and she pushed me around a bit. Had to grow up quick in a dump like that. Is that touchy-feely enough for you? This is boring, so if we’re done….


Okay, so there you have it. I would say that trying to get into character was harder on Jayne’s questionnaire since he and I are less alike than Mattias. Also, I kept thinking of Jayne Cobb from Firefly and Serenity which didn’t make it any easier. If you’re a fan of the show and/or movie respectively, we’ll clearly get along. It didn’t help that the character in the show was pretty abrasive and harsh at times. It might help to use character references to base your character’s actions on. Observing someone act a certain way can help you write about it if you’re stuck. On the reverse of that, some could argue that it becomes a crutch if you never develop your own ability to make and interact with different types of characters so be wary! In the end, pick what works for you and make sure you’re comfortable with your characters.

I will be putting up part two – the interaction between Mattias and Jayne – tomorrow. As of right now, my plan is for it to be based around Mattias wanting to give Jayne some money and it not going as expected for either of them. I haven’t developed more than that, because I’ve been trying to practice impromptu writing instead of my normal “outline everything” mentality. This is being posted as of 12:06 on Monday morning so I was a tad bit of a liar when I said it would be posted on Sunday. I hope that as I iron the hiccups out in my routine, you all can bear with me! Thanks for being here and I’ll see you tomorrow…. ehhhh technically later today, but no one’s going to nitpick that right? Good, it’s settled then! Tomorrow it is!

It’s Thursday! Time for a Prompt!

Hello companions! I hope your week is wrapping up nicely and you’ve been feeling productive. If it makes you feel better about your various levels of productivity, I’ve had an iffy week – I just couldn’t get up the energy for a ‘gung ho kick butt’ kind of week. It’s important not to let that kind of stuff get you down and I have to remind myself of that fairly often. That aside, I want to introduce my next writing activity to you! I will be doing mine tomorrow or Saturday and WILL be posting it on Sunday. I’d say drumroll please, but who just carries around a big drum set just for this kind of setup? Now… I’ll have you know that joke was funnier in my head and after typing it, I cringed. However, we’re all friends here so I’m gonna leave it there for you to enjoy (you’re welcome). Moving right along to the rules!

  • Pick a random name [I used https://www.behindthename.com/random/ so shout out to them for being the first Google result. I went with first name only, but if you want to get full name-y, be my guest] – For me, it was Mattias.
  • Pick three adjectives [ https://www.randomlists.com/random-adjectives is my google result – set the quantity to 3 instead of 12] – For me, they were light, resonant, and charming.
  • Thus far, I have created an individual named Mattias who is light, resonant, and charming (whatever that means). I’ve chosen to make this person male, but you can decide on their gender or nongender or even species if you enjoy animal or alien typed fantasy stories. (nudge, nudge – the point is to have fun, don’t forget!)
  • Ask this character these three (I was going to randomly generate those too, but I think you guys need a constant) questions:
    • What do you like to do on a rainy day?
    • What is one weird or quirky thing about you?
    • Pick one event that shaped your life heavily; what was it?
  • Make sure that each answer is at least a couple sentences. That is the brunt of the prompt. It seems simple at first, but you really need to try to understand the perspective of the person you are writing rather than your own. I know we often write from what we know, but it’s good to try and shift into other pairs of shoes. When answering these questions, answer them from the perspective of the character and try not to influence them from your own personal life as much as possible. This is their backstory we’re creating.
  • You can leave it there and pat yourself on the back for a job well done and I will be so happy and proud of you guys and I’d love to read some of your characters! ORRRRRRRR
  • You could play on hard mode and do it twice……. Having your characters meet in/at [INSERT YOUR CHOICE OF LOCATION HERE]. Write a one-page interaction between those two characters. This is harder since you have to be two separate people at the same time. You might already know how the conversation or interaction is going to go, but you can’t lead your characters too heavily. They have to be able to fall into a natural rhythm of their own. That doesn’t mean they have to be charming or get along – they can be awkward, angry, or just plain rude – but they shouldn’t be forced into a one-dimensional rapport just because it would be easy to do!

Now, I picked my first character in the course of explaining the instructions and I’m going to now pick a second one (I typed that and then went and made my selections hence the present tense): Jayne – unequal, harsh, homeless. I will be writing my answers to those three questions for both characters as well as a page-long interaction between them and I will post those on Sunday. This gives any of you fancy-pants readers out there a chance to do the same. Once again, feel free to comment or ask questions or message me with your submission. See you Sunday!

Three Word Wonders- Bear, Office, Page

Greetings everyone! This post is getting uploaded riding on the coattails of an enjoyable three day weekend (yay Labor day). I hope that you all had a great weekend and that you weren’t too upset that I hadn’t uploaded yet. If any of you wrote or started your stories this weekend, way to go! It’s always hard, but it’s worth it. If you want to share, I’d love to read some of them! As promised, here is mine:

~~~~

As Theo stood outside the brawling circle, he thought about why he had agreed to this ridiculous plan. It would, without a doubt, get him killed. In a sense of wayward pride, he had agreed to serve as a Page to one of the knights in his region even though he was a few years past the age that they started training (13 to their 8). It hadn’t been his plan when he was forced to relocate to the Capital City, but it was happening and he needed to remember his place. His infernal pride was the only reason that he was up before the crack of dawn for the third day in a row, tired and bruised. His mentor, Lord Becker, knew that most knights trained pages in numerous arts, activities, and skills to round them out for an eventual graduation to squire and knight. His mentor also knew that most pages would be ahead of Theo in every regard, because of his age difference. Unfortunately, that training was not Lord Becker’s whim and so it did not happen.

If Theo had been given a choice of Lords to follow, Becker wouldn’t have been his first choice. He had a no-nonsense attitude that was jarring to say the least. He was known for his combat skills and not much else, but he was well-known and that mattered in this life. His trainees ended up fighting in Arenas more often then they ended up reaching knighthood, but he wasn’t breaking any rules so the Capital allowed it. Theo was startled out of his thoughts by the sound of a shrill whistle. The day’s training had begun…

 

*Six Years Later*

 

“I will never get used to this sight” Theo muttered quietly, looking up at the vaulted ceilings. The Palace of Capital City was one of the most intricately designed buildings in the entire Nation and many people came to the Capital just to see it. The ceiling stones were inlaid with flecks of metal that formed spiraling designs extending down the walls. His reason for being here, unfortunately, did not include gawking at the ceilings and soon he was called before the King.

Although he was busy, King Matheson took time to speak to all those who needed guidance from his Council. Most of these meetings took place in an ornate office to the side of the throne room so that participants may discuss their issues in private (or relative private considering that the King had a number of guards stationed with him to protect him from attack). Today’s meeting was held here before a small audience of Lords, Knights, and graduating members of the Knighthood. Theo would soon stand next to them as today was his Marking ceremony.

He walked forward to stand mere feet from his King, bowing as was customary, with his heart pounding. The King instructed Theo to kneel, starting the ceremony.  He had seen this ritual a dozen times before and could perform the rites in his sleep. Just as the King was about to begin his speech, a war horn sounded from far off. The soldiers and all but two knights ran to the main room, while the knights and knight-elect stayed behind to protect the King and Lords. Theo finally snapped out of his shock and turned, rising and drawing his sword in one motion. Before anyone could make it to the Palace doors, a dozen lightning bolts erupted from nothingness, arcing from person to person. Each person touched by the lightning vanished as if they had never been. The lightning bolts cracked out of existence without any more bodies to strike. The doors groaned as they swung inward.

Through the doors came six hulking men surrounding what Theo could only describe as a massive phantom bear. It had to be two to three times the size of a regular bear and was mostly see through with specks of light and swirling darkness intermittently flashing within it. The only comparable image that he could associate with it was the night sky, but even that could not hold a candle to the sight of roiling blackness within the creature. The men circled until they held the perimeter of the room between them. As they did this, the bear lumbered forward until it reached the center of the throne room. A deep echoing laugh rose up from within the creature, followed by a low voice.

As men fall before me and your world falters, would you draw steel across me? You protect avarice and pride, wrath and gluttony. Why not change the fates instead of falling before them?

No one else seemed to react and, with a jolt, Theo realized he was the only one who could hear the voice. He turned and looked at those behind him. He could see that everyone looked afraid, even the knights guarding the King. Why had he heard the voice when no one else had?

You are the only uncorrupted mind in this wretched hive. You believe as no one else believes. I would have you stand beside me instead of falling with the rest. You, as all the others I deem worthy, have a choice. Only six have chosen to follow me out of all the pure-hearted. Would you be my seventh son?

Without realizing it, Theo had wandered from the office, sword hanging limply from his hand. The voice was so powerful that he could not resist the urge to get closer. As he stared up at this great beast, he pondered the words. He had sworn loyalty to both his Lord and King until death took him to the Beyond. Would he break that oath for a phantom? Could he break that oath? As he pondered this, he stared into the swirling darkness before him. He could see himself in those stars, strong and immortal. He realized what power he would be given if he stood beside this phantom-god. Almost as quickly, the images faded.

“I must decline”, Theo declared loudly. Tightening his grip, he raised his sword and began speaking the rites of Knighthood under his King. “I swear to follow my King through this life and into the next and I sw-”

YOUR OATH IS SETTLED! The bear swung its paw, straight through him. Looking down, he saw where the bear had touched, his body was crumbling. Instead of pain, he felt relief. As his body fell, he heard a small whisper in his mind, just before he faded completely.

 

A hard choice, and yet the right one. I will see you soon young one.

 

I hope you all enjoyed my story. I was trying to keep it short since my writing tends to take a turn for the long if I let myself run away with a story. I didn’t have a plan when I sat down to write it, so my plot formed as I went along and I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end until I got there. This was an uncomfortable experience for me since I usually write with an outline, but it was good practice and I’m thinking I should do more of these.

If you have any critiques, questions, or comments, just let me know! Any advice you want to give, would be received happily and any advice you’d like from me will be imparted just as happily. I will have another post up on Thursday. That one will be the setup for this weekend’s writing and some musings. Stay well everyone!

Busy Season & Content!

In my world, work is cyclical in nature – busy during spring and fall and slow during winter and summer. For me, that means it’s hardest to get writing done and to make progress in my hobbies in my favorite seasons (which we’re currently heading into). That’s always been a struggle for me and I want to do better, so I’m writing this to show people that A) everyone struggles with their projects once in a while and B) it’s possible to get through it even when it doesn’t feel like it. I’m honestly still in the doubting B mindset, but that’s anxiety brain for you! So, this weekend I am going to be posting my first CONTENT POST – woot – for the world to see. It is going to be a short story that I haven’t developed at all. I used a random word generator pick three nouns that need to be involved in the story somehow (I used WordCounter for this process, so tiny shout out to them here) and I’m going to write the story with these rules in mind:

  • It has to be written in one sitting.
  • It has to use all three nouns in a reasonable and fairly important way.
  • I’m allowed one hour to edit and revise after the ‘one sitting’ so that my brain can see it fresh, but I’m not allowed to drastically change content – only edit.
  • I will not cherry-pick words from the generator, but if I think a word makes absolutely no impact, it’s alright to re-roll or interpret it differently. For example, I got the word page. I could either have re-rolled or decided to interpreted it the individual title page (as in a novice knight) instead of page of a book which generally wouldn’t impact a story much. I picked the latter in this case, but you shouldn’t feel trapped with a terrible word. This is supposed to be a fun experiment.

With those being listed, I am posting the three words below so anyone who wants to also take part now or in the future can see what story they come up with. No matter how raw or rough they feel, be proud of the projects you make. Not everything needs to be perfect to be important or wonderful! Good luck to all of you (at this moment that’s just me, but I’m writing to the future readers who find this fossil of my mind)!

My three words: Bear, Office, Page

See you this weekend!

Start at the Beginning

Welcome! This is the first blog post of my life so maybe just tone down your expectations of genius okay? I don’t need that kind of pressure…gosh. Seriously though, no matter how small a step is, moving in the right direction can be an incredible leap. To each of you who read this, thank you for being here. I’ve always been nervous about sharing myself and my writing with the world, but a dear friend of mine has shown me just how necessary it is. My posts will most often fall into the short story and/or writing-based informational or interesting tidbit type post. If you ever want to see something specific, send me a message or comment on one of my posts. With that said, it’s time to start our adventure!