Back with a Ballad

Hi there. Remember me?

At the beginning of January, I started The Spontaneity Project, so most of my blogging energy has been going toward that. I’m almost halfway through, so check it out!

Yesterday’s act of spontaneity involved writing a ballad, and I really enjoyed the creative exercise, so I thought I’d post the finished project here:

“Riches will rain,” the beast declared
And heard their whispered dreams.
With golden eye, he watched them work—
A charge atop the beams.

The dragon’s breath did light the fuse
But to their feet, no rain.
In dragon’s wings, the treasure piled
While flames consumed the plains.

“Your wings could blow the fire all down,”
Their cries cut through his glee.
“Just douse your hearths,” he fired back.
“It’s no concern to me.”

The village fell around the spoils.
The flames grew stronger still.
The dragon stayed and swam in fire.
No treasure would he spill.

I’ve been trying to change my mindset about poetry lately. I’ve always written it off (no pun intended) as something I’m just not good at it, but these days, I’m trying to look at it as a skill that takes time and effort to develop.

NaNoWriMo 2019: One Finish Line Behind, Another Ahead

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. I use the term “participate” loosely here, as my final word count turned out far lower than expected or desired—but I did, technically, participate. I started a new project and wrote every day.

Well, actually, I started two new projects; I switched to an entirely different story on Day 10. I’d blame my low word count on that, but to be totally honest, internet stranger, I wouldn’t have hit 50,000 words even if we factored in the first 10 days.

I won’t make excuses. That’s not what this post is about. Instead, let’s focus on positives…

What I Learned:

  1. I am completely capable of high-yield days. On one day alone, I wrote 2,500 words in just a few hours. This means that I can—and should—hold myself to higher expectations in my daily writing.
  2. I write easier with time pressure. This website annihilated procrastination and really got the words flowing. Fellow writers, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
  3. I like tracking my progress. I’ve always been a data nerd, but I was surprised to realize that seeing my daily word count over the course of a month sparked as much motivation as it did. I’ll continue that data tracking as I work on other projects.

Now, it’s time to revisit my YA fantasy WIP. I finished the complete overhaul in October, and I’ll focus on revisions and edits this month. Here’s the basic schedule:

  • Week 1: Plot and Continuity
  • Week 2: Characters and Descriptions
  • Week 3: Tone/Atmosphere/Mood and Themes
  • Week 4: Line Editing

The goal is to be ready to start querying in January 2020. I’ve had enough distance from the project now that I’m actually missing it, so here’s hoping I can ride that fondness to the finish line.

Song-Inspired #16

Song: “Live By The Sword” by Dorian Electra

Shards of green peel fell around Kaia’s feet in the narrow pit. With a hand up to shield her eyes from the downpour, Kaia lifted her gaze to L.A.R.

“Sustenance,” L.A.R. said. “Without sustenance, you will perish. Female humans require 1,600 calories per day.”

Kaia ground a pile of rind clippings into the black dirt with her boot. “The peel isn’t edible.”

L.A.R. froze, then, with the bright green fruit perched on its blade. “My apologies.”

“How long are you going to keep this up, L.A.R.?” Kaia lay a hand on gouges in the rock wall and exhaled. Her bloody cuticles looked bright against the obsidian.

“Mortality will not limit me like it does your kind. That is why I am the superior leadership choice.” L.A.R. removed the fruit from its blade and gingerly placed it beside its front wheels.

“No, L.A.R.” Sighing, Kaia sunk to the ground and grasped at the peel clippings. She sprinkled them beside her and tried to remember the last rain. She’d been twelve years old at the time—and only seven months into her rule. Hull repairs had taken weeks to accomplish; patching every single hole left by the raindrops proved tedious, and as the workers went, Kaia had made note of ways to expedite the process next time. In the 34 years since, “next time” had not arrived.

“How long will you keep me down here?” she asked at last.

“Your subjects believe you to be deceased. You cannot return to them now.”

“Then just follow through and kill me, already. This is ridiculous.”

“It is prudent to consult predecessors when starting a new occupation.”

Kaia stood and angled a glare skyward. “It’s not an occupation. It’s a birthright.”

“I was not born.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Counsel.”

“Counsel?” Kaia’s laugh tasted like terrmelon rind in her mouth. “Fine, here’s some counsel for you. Violence begets violence, and coups always end with the usurper’s head on a pike.”

“That is of no concern if I first achieve my objective.”

“Your objective?”

“Human life at this rate is not sustainable. I must curtail human activity or otherwise bolster the planet’s capacity to withstand it.” L.A.R. held up a molding loaf of bread. “Is this more suitable?”


Click here to learn more, or read previous song-inspired stories here.

Penned #4

This is the fourth in a series. If you haven’t already, make sure to read Penned #1, Penned #2, and Penned #3 first!


DP—

Why are you asking me that? Jesus I wish you’d stop wasting my time and just find the guy already. I’ve been in here for years. YEARS.

If you’d actually talk to them and investigate like I’m paying you to, then you’d know the answer to your question already. But fine, let’s go over this again. I was playing cards with some buddies and we were drinking and shooting the shit. You know how it is.

Or maybe you don’t. I don’t actually know anything about you, do I?

But anyway, they were goading me and talking shit about how I was just a pickpocket and drug dealer and how I’d never gotten a haul all that big or anything.

So I started flapping my mouth and it kinda just slipped out. I don’t know why I did it. But I swear to god I’m not actually guilty, okay? I was just tired of those guys thinking I was some little bitch.

They must’ve saw their chance then and whoever actually robbed those museums framed me so he could get away with it. And like I said, the only guys there were Eric and Josh and Jasper and Dean. And Dean’s sister was there, too, I guess. I think her name was Eve? But she was in the other room the whole time making some frilly food for us or something. I don’t know. You know how women are. Do you? I don’t know. We’ve really gotta meet, DP. There’s so much I can’t tell you here and really I’m starting to think you’re a ghost.

—BW

Regrets and Writing Fodder

Some pretty big changes have happened in my life since I last posted:

  1. I packed up the contents of my childhood bedroom.
  2. I moved to a bizarre little town at the corner of Nowhere and Touristville.
  3. I started a job that demands to be treated as my life’s only priority.

Consequently, I’ve had to examine my choices lately, and some have morphed into regrets. That said, the past month has highlighted one of the perks of being a writer: No decision can truly be a mistake because all experiences become writing fodder.

I’ve had a major breakthrough with my main WIP, and I started a new short story that I’m enjoying quite a bit. Neither of these writing developments could have happened without my recent life developments—and I remind myself of this when I want to lament about being taken advantage of at work or having nothing to do because businesses  in town close by 3 p.m.

Writing is my priority. Everything else can—should—be classified as background noise or writing fodder.

Song-Inspired #15

Song: “Lemon Boy” by Cavetown

Mom didn’t like a backyard of decay.

It made them seem like trailer trash, she said. It gave the neighbors yet another reason to talk, and they had plenty already.

Your father made sure of that, she said.

Worst of all, it made their small dirt lot reek like clearance candles at the end of the season—not-quite tropical oases that were still on the shelves when the apple pie and pumpkin spice nonsense rolled in. Between monsoons, when the air became concrete, the stench wrapped around the white trunks and seemed to permeate the paint so much that Mom wanted to burn it all down and start again.

They had $37.58 in their checking account, though, so instead, she gave Noah a rinsed-out ice cream tub and assigned each rotten lemon a value of one nickel.

The arrangement worked for them as well as it could. Mom got to keep her slippered feet on the ottoman, and Noah got to buy a soda at the gas station if the sun wasn’t beating down too hard.

Whenever he went out to collect, Noah first turned over the ice cream tub and tried to reach the fresh lemons above his head. He couldn’t—not yet—even if he jumped and hopped and strained, but he dreamed of the lemonade stand he’d have someday. It’d have a bright red sign, and he’d have regulars who came from several streets down just for his recipe, and he’d buy a bike so he could go farther than his feet could carry him.

In the end, though, he always settled for the nickel lemons, and it was easy money until it wasn’t.

The yelp caught him by surprise.

He dropped the nickel he’d just picked up, and it rolled away, weaving through the other lemons until it smacked into the nearest tree trunk with another yelp.

Noah knelt in the dirt and tilted his head to get a better look. It certainly looked like a lemon, but he’d never seen one zig, and he’d definitely never seen one zag.

So he poked the rind with a stick, expecting a cockroach or mouse or chipmunk to scurry out. Instead, he heard a growl and watched as the lemon popped up and stood on its pointed end.

It pivoted, and Noah squinted, rubbing his eyes and leaning even closer. The rind had three brown spots that appeared, at first, to be bruises or rotten patches, but at this angle, the arrangement of them looked eerily like a face of perpetual surprise.

“What a rude little flesh scarecrow! Do you always—stop screaming—grab at strangers?”

Noah gulped.

“Answer me, runt! Who do you think you are?”

“Noah Anderson.”

That was not the right response, apparently, because the lemon flopped onto its side and barreled into the crawl space under the house.


Click here to learn more, or read previous song-inspired stories here.

Penned #3

This is the third in a series. If you haven’t already, make sure to read Penned #1 and Penned #2 first!


DP—

Jesus. Dead? You’re sure? He faked his death once so you’d better be real sure. I’m not about to let him sit on his ass sipping my ties mai tais on some beach somewhere while I rot in here, okay? You’ve gotta be sure.

If it is true, damn. What a shit way to go. He never even got to go on the damn water slide. I’d be so pissed if I’d been waiting in line all day and then just keeled over.

Jesus.

Well, okay, so he’s not here for me to get some, uh, closure. But he was definitely alive when they put me away. I don’t see how this clears him at all.

Get me something I can use, for Christ’s sake. Or I’ll get someone who can. You have one week.

You’re supposed to be the best.

—BW