Some weeks, things just don’t go the way you want them to. In case the conspicuous lack of new stories hasn’t already given it away, this week was one of those weeks, mostly due to a nasty cold that took up residence in my throat and sinuses and completely sapped my energy. And, if I’m honest, it did a number on my motivation as well, so long story short (ha…) I’m afraid I don’t have any new full-length stories this month, for which I beg your forgiveness.
I also have an offer to make! In lieu of the longer stories that are still on their way, I’d like to write short (100-200 word) stories based off of writing prompts from all of you. What sort of writing prompts you ask? Pretty much anything! One word, a phrase, a scenario– whatever comes to mind. Just post it in the comments below and I’ll get respond with a story! I do reserve the right to refuse a prompt, but I’m not expecting that to be an issue. I can’t wait to hear from you guys!
Different landscapes have always made me want to write different sorts of stories. Show me a sweeping vista, full of dark forests spilling down the sides of jagged mountains and all half hidden beneath the shreds of cloud left behind by last night’s storm, and I’ll tell you that there are dragons there, coiled in lairs just out of sight. Catch me staring out the window while caught in traffic somewhere in LA, and I’ll be imagining what it would be like to wander the interchange on foot after something has rendered all cars immobile*. Let me watch the sun rise above the desert and paint the sagebrush golden and the mountains purple, and I will muse on what it would be like to ride a horse at a gallop there in the cool of morning, and why you might do such a thing.
Some of this, I am sure, can be attributed to growing up on The Lord of the Rings and the Peter Jackson adaptations. Between Tolkien’s descriptions and so many hours of footage filmed in New Zealand, it was bound to happen. But I don’t think it’s the only reason. I suspect most people find inspiration of one sort or another while looking at the world around them. Some of us will be driven to create with our hands or our words. Others will have our souls filled in different ways.
For me, I’m not sure if there’s a setting that doesn’t spark my imagination in this way. Mountains, cities, rolling hills: every place has its own sort of story. All we have to do is find them.
Speaking of stories, I apologize for the terrible lateness of the one that was supposed to go up last week. It’s on its way, but it’s coming slowly, Hopefully, I’ll be able to post it and the next Tanner and Miranda story next week.
* Well, more immobile than they already are at 5pm on a workday.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, that picture is an animated gif. Like this one:
Back when Facebook flair was still a thing, I had one that looked a lot like this that enjoyed a place of honor on my little virtual bulletin board. It just perfectly sums up what it feels like when the words refuse to come– which is probably why it ended up as a piece of flair in the first place*.
At the time I didn’t have a daily wordcount that I was trying to reach, so the impudent blinking of a few pixels on a blank screen usually had no trouble derailing me. And truth be told, it still succeeds more often than I’d like even now, with the only difference being that I’m a little better at pushing my train of thought back onto the tracks. Or at least better about coming back to it whether I want to or not.
As you may have begun to suspect, today is one of those days when the cursor seems to be winning, sitting intransigent about halfway down the page of my document with half-finished bits of story lying in shambles all around it. The joke’s on it, though, because while it’s busy over there, I’ll stay here and work on something else. I always knew there was a good reason to have a couple projects going at once!
* Oddly enough, I’ve had a heck of a time finding it since then, and were it not for someone’s old livejournal account (link), I might not have been able to at all.
Movies never used to make me cry. And if I’m being honest, that was something of a point of pride: other people might cry at movies, but not me. I was too strong for that. And while I don’t think I looked down on people who did, I do remember teasing my mom about it, especially when it was a commercial that would get her all choked up.
Normally, it wasn’t that hard for me to maintain control over my emotions. Sure, when I watched The Lion King and got to That Scene, I’d recognize it as really sad, but I’d never have to fight a lump back down my throat or try to keep my eyes from welling up while my nose started to tingle from the effort. That would happen every now and again, but I’d always assume that it had more to do with me being tired or sick or otherwise compromised. Oddly enough, I don’t remember ever considering it a sign of good writing, or if I did, I just saw it as a bigger challenge– “Even great stories don’t make me cry.”
But then I grew up. (Well. More or less…) I learned. I experienced. I met people who would teach me what Solomon meant when he said there are friends “who stick closer than a brother.” I grew closer to my parents. I traveled and came home again, and I saw how much had changed and what had stayed the same. I won, I lost, I tried again. In short, I lived.
And somewhere along the way, I started crying, too. Not all the time, and I still usually try to hold it back when I’m watching something with other people, but that scene where Simba finds Mufasa, instead of just making me sad, now leaves me with wet eyes and a distinct ache in my throat, because I’ve got a great relationship with my dad, and I can’t imagine the pain of losing him when I was just a kid.
That, I think, is the crux of it. I found it easier to keep from crying when I was younger, not because I was too strong to cry, but because I didn’t have the experience to understand the full meaning and implication of a sad scene. Or the really happy ones that do the same thing. (And no, I don’t now, either, but I’m a lot closer.) Now, I have some idea of the strength that can come from a deep relationship with a friend, and what it’s like when that friend comes through for you, or what it’s like when you have a chance to come through for someone else.
Now, it’s easier to put myself in the shoes of the characters I’m watching and to have some idea of what they’re feeling. Which is really cool, and also helpful for doing the same thing for the people you encounter in your day to day life. It also means that if I still wanted to tease my mom for crying at commercials (I don’t), I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. Because now I do it too.
Just checking in with a quick update for March! February saw two new short stories, one a sci-fi one-shot about the trouble that can arise when a small and mischievous girl starts running around a space station (click here to read Aruri), and the other a new Tanner and Miranda adventure, this time telling the story of their first job together on the colony planet Verdant (click here to read The Verdant Wildlife). If you’ve got a moment, give them a read and tell me what you think! I’d love to hear from you.
Now that I’m (finally!) getting back into the swing of regular writing, this month should see another couple of new stories with the first going up next week, so keep an eye out for those. Also! While I have you here, what sort of story are you interested in seeing more of? Fantasy? Science fiction? A more in-depth look at the world from a previous story? Let me know!
According to the calendar it’s been ten weeks since I left Armenia, and for the last several days, my thoughts have been wandering back there more and more frequently. I find myself missing Yerevan: the kebab and shawarma stalls on almost every corner, the families coming out to enjoy all the parks and public places every evening, even the busy chaos that fills the streets. It’s all the surface level things that make up my memories, almost inconsequential in and of themselves, but part of a much greater whole.
In so many ways I’m still just processing, and those simple surface things are the useful handholds I can use to figure out what I found in the land of my heritage. Or rather, if that’s too melodramatic a turn of phrase (which I think it very well might be), they’re concrete examples that I can use to better understand what I found there and how I changed.
It would also be pretty cool if I figured out how to incorporate it into all those stories knocking around in my head. That might not be for a while, though. I can’t remember which of his essays I read it in*, but Ray Bradbury talked about how it took years for themes from his time in Mexico to start appearing in his stories, and he was a great deal more prolific than I am. Right now, I’ve just got ideas that I want to use, but I haven’t figured them out nearly well enough to be able to fit them into a piece of fiction without it sounding forced and cliched. Of course, the flip slide is that trying and failing to write about it the way I want to is the best way to get it figured out, so maybe that’s no excuse after all.
* If memory serves, it was one of the ones in his collection Zen in the Art of Writing. Even if not, I highly recommend that particular book to anyone interested in writing and Bradbury.