Just Keep Swimming?

I can count on two hands the number of people in my life who know that I write. I don’t even need to use my toes.

Some of my closest friendspeople I lived with for yearshave no idea I spend much of my free time writing.

Aside from family and friends (and my cat, of course), writing is the most important thing in my life. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I could hold a pen, and it has been the only constant in a lifetime of “maybe I’ll be a vet lawyer architect diplomat journalist lawyer journalist teacher.” And yet, despite thisor maybe because of itI keep my writing aspirations as a closely guarded secret. I’m not even sure I do it intentionally. It’s not a series of lies and spy maneuvers; I don’t duck under the table if I’m spotted writing in a coffee shop. I just look up one day and realize I’ve never mentioned my writing to a friend of five years. How do you bring it up at that point?

Of course, we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t broadcast, but I’m tired of feeling like two versions of me are constantly dueling for dominance: the respectable one that makes all the safe, responsible choices and the self-actualized one that pursues what matters to me. I’ve been working for years to resolve this duel, but clearly, I’ve still got some work to do.

I made this triptych two years ago for a class assignment. Admittedly, visual arts are not my strong suit, but I liked how these illustrated my feelings about my identity at the time. In the years that followed, I brought more aspects of my identity to the forefront, including coming out as bisexual and addressing and destigmatizing my mental health issues. Still, my writingarguably the part least likely to ruffle any feathersis the last piece of me I’m keeping hidden. For a while, I thought that it didn’t really matter, but I’m now realizing that my refusal to be open about my writing has set me on a career path that I don’t want.

I’m suddenly coming across to people as adrift, and many of them don’t understandbut, the truth is, I’ve been adrift for a while. I don’t know where land is, but it’s time to start swimming.

Song-Inspired #17

Song: “Cassiopeia” by Anju

Juliana felt a measure of relief when she found the beach deserted. The only thing worse than Cassie’s absence would’ve been her presence—that smug little crooked smile.

The clouds unleashed their burden as Juliana sank down onto the sand. She watched a raindrop roll down her arm and remembered the day she’d met Cassie.

“Hi, my name is Juliana, and I’m an alcoholic.”

“Hi, Juliana.”

The creaking of folding chairs had stopped altogether when Cassie took the podium.

“Cassie. Alcoholic.”

“Hi, Cassie.”

Their stale coffee had grown cold as they’d talked. Juliana eventually yielded to the church staff’s passive-aggressive chair folding. Cassie either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Juliana realized later that it must’ve been the latter; Cassie noticed everything and cared for nothing—except maybe Juliana. Once.

They’d reached their cars as it had begun to rain.

Juliana felt the rain roll down her back now and did not move to take cover. The waves pulsed before her like a heartbeat, and she sat transfixed.

Jules!

Juliana recognized her roommate’s voice but didn’t turn to look until Joan sat beside her.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

Juliana felt the bottle slide out of her hand and watched as Joan tucked it into her purse.

“Come on, Jules. Let’s go.”


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

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.