Tag Archive: Writing


Well, folks, tomorrow is the big day. At 12:01 am tomorrow morning, National Novel Writing Month officially begins. I won’t be able to start writing until I get home from work around 4:00 or 4:15 tomorrow, and    though I have an outline, and I’ve done a plethora of research, I just don’t really feel ready. I will, however, dig deep and embrace this experience with all of the enthusiasm with which I normally embrace writing projects.

Several of you have asked me what the book is about. While I have had three or four good ideas, and all of them will be placed in the idea vault for future projects, I have settled on writing a metaphysical fantasy story. Basically, I’ll be writing about the things in life that might exist, but are not easily seen, or are only seen when the circumstances are right for them to be seen—things such as fairies, goblins, and elves, or creatures from past mythologies of the world, or even angels and demons. Beyond that, I don’t want to reveal too much of the story line, for two reasons. As I have mentioned before, talking about the plot of one of my stories tends to kill the tension of the story for me, and makes it harder for me to finish it. Also, plots change according to character whims and also necessity sometimes, and therefore, I don’t want to reveal too much and have readers be disappointed when something changes.

One thing that you should know about the world of my story is that little is as it appears to be. Many things  turn out to be something other than what you might think they are at the beginning. For now, that’s all I can tell you, but I will check in periodically with updates, and I hope you will all keep following along to learn more. 

That is the question, isn’t it? For some of us, it isn’t really a question. Or maybe it is, but there’s no real answer besides the one we know, have always known in our hearts to be true. Writing is the only way this chaos, this insanity that marks our crazy lives makes sense. My joke with friends is that I row crew because I like to row crew, and I teach because that’s my calling, but I write because I can’t help it. I can’t not. I can’t imagine a life without writing–a life without the words or the worlds of my imagination, a life without the ink-on-paper people who are more alive than many “real” people to me, or a life without the adventures and misadventures of these same people.

The fact that these people exist in my head makes no difference, nor does it render them any less real. If that seems crazy, then what I am about to say is even more so. I picked up the gauntlet thrown down by a couple of very good friends, and accepted the challenge of trying to write a 50,000 word novel in one month’s time. I SIGNED UP FOR NANOWRIMO. And what a challenge it is, too! Apart from a full time job, trying to get my business off the ground, and responsibilities at home, I will be attempting to write an entire novel (or most of one) in 30 days. The level of my success remains to be seen.

I will use the rest of this month to plan and plot and outline. Will it be a mystery story? Science fiction? Fantasy? Or something else? What of the characters dancing around in my head, half formed? Which will take the starring role? Who will the supporting characters be?  Where will the plot lines bend and twist like the branches of an old tree? Will this story follow the path of those before it and grow too complicated to finish in 50,000 words and thirty-days? Or will it fizzle and die in its infancy? I will brainstorm ideas, adopt them, and then discard them, and adopt others. I will outline and chart and plot. I will make notes and then tear them up and make more. I will come maddeningly close to throwing up my hands and walking away.

Then, on the evening of Friday, November 1, 2013, I will start to write, and the characters will finally have their say. At the end of it all, and as much as I might not want to admit it, I am simply their messenger, transcribing the story they wish to tell. If I do that well enough, it will be a story others want to read. If I don’t, well…

So, what do I need from you? Encouragement mostly. Motivation. To some degree, accountability. To reach the goal in the time allotted, I must write around 2000-2500 words per day. That translates to approximately ten to twelve pages. Every. Day. Feel free to inquire as to how it is going, or kick me in the pants (if I seem to need it) to get it done. You can ask what I am writing about, but please don’t be offended if I don’t tell you (not immediately, anyway). In my experience, sharing my work lessens the tension building as I work, thereby killing the motivation to finish in order to relieve said tension.

Thank you for your help, and I hope to see you on the other side of this coin with more stories to share. Happy Fall.

 

 

A/N: This is the prologue to a new story I am working on. I welcome constructive comments from readers. Please let me know if anything doesn’t flow well or if there are any problems you see. I appreciate your help.

Prologue

The darkening sun settled below the horizon and the surrounding hills, which were once rosy golden with the sun’s fury, now sank into the purple blue shadows of night. The stately old Romanov mansion sat atop the highest hill in the tiny town of Silver City, which was actually part of a larger city, though the citizens would never admit it. All that could be seen of the house from the road were the two gables on either side of the roof. The rest of the house was hidden from view by the thick growth of trees that framed each edge of the property along the road, and a high stone wall that surrounded the grounds immediately around the place. The tall, forbidding wrought iron gate creaked on its hinges between two crumbling stone columns, and the gravel drive meandered way back through the trees and disappeared from sight about halfway to the house. The part of the house that anyone could see seemed well kept, but it almost seemed to have an invisible shield around it that would not allow anyone to enter there. Almost.

For you see, this house was no ordinary house. Families had come and gone over the years, most of them progeny of the Romanovs, but some family friends as well. Visitors came and went from the old house, and it was even rented a time or two. That was before the house had burned some years back, and now it simply lay in ruins. This house had many secrets, like old houses do, and some battle scars too. Many of the folks in the town below claimed to have, in their youth, been guests of one Romanov or the other, and to have stayed in the house with the family. None of them would talk about their experiences in the house, but none of them could be persuaded to return either.

The groundskeeper was an old shriveled little man, skeletally thin, who looked in danger of being blown away by a puff of wind. He resembled a large, upright turtle. Not being blessed with much of a neck, all he could do was move his head from side to side in an arc when he wanted to look around. The strange thing about the gatekeeper is that no one ever saw him in town. He never went into town for supplies, he never even left the property to visit a restaurant or tavern in the tiny town below. In fact, the only glimpses folks got of him were in passing, when he passed near enough to the gate while mowing grass or pruning flowers. That was the only way they knew he was real, and not just some story made up next to the bonfire, to scare the kids.

The dusky sky had reached that delightfully white time after twilight and before nightfall. This is the time of changing, the time outside of time, when lines are blurred, when boundaries grow ever thinner and thinner, and some with the power in such things can see through to that other world. Some with the power to do so can even step from the realm of that world into this one, and vice versa. One must be careful to return before the time of changing ends, and time begins again, or else risk being stranded somewhere one might not wish to be. No one really knew what would happen if one got stranded, and no one really wanted to find out.

Good Dr. Romanov was one such man, or so it was rumoured anyway. He was an ageless figure, overly tall and overly thin, with the look of one who was slightly ill, as though he’d not completely grown into his body or else suffered long years of malnutrition. He wobbled slightly when he walked, although there was no evident explanation for this. His demeanor was slightly careworn, and his clothing smelled of dark, dank places, and mothballs. Indeed, there were small patches in places where the moths had eaten through various pieces of clothing upon his person. His face was creased with worry lines, though he did not act old, but his warm brown eyes blazed with the knowledge of things and places no one else would ever see. His expression rarely changed, and he never smiled, as though he had forgotten how to work the muscles that would cause the deed to happen.

People generally fear that which they do not understand, and so, Dr. Romanov was often seen walking through town at nightfall, a solitary figure in a long, black cloak. He carried an old fashioned medical bag with him wherever he went, a testament to his chosen profession. As far as anyone knew, he had no patients, so what he carried in the bag was a mystery, like most things about him. People could often be seen crossing to the other side of the street when they saw him coming. For his part, Dr. Romanov wished the world at large no harm; in fact, he had dedicated his life to trying to help people. He simply chose to meet the world on his own terms. He tried to help where he could, and otherwise just wished to be left alone.

As far as the folks in the village below were concerned, leaving him alone was all right by them. In fact, most of the parents forbade their children to play anywhere in the vicinity of the old house, going so far as to tell them the house was inhabited by ghosts, in order to keep them away from it. Children, being what they are, were more curious about the house than frightened by it, and their parents dire warnings of ghosts just made them want to play around the old house even more.  An old, winding road ran up the hill in front of the house and drew on a little further along to the top of the hill.  It became a sort of gathering place where whispered conferences were held about the strangeness of the house and its elusive inhabitants before they zoomed down the hill, racing their friends until the house was out of sight once more.

On the evening that our story begins, we find Dr. Romanov seated in his library, in front of a tall cabinet with darkened glass doors. The library was hidden between several other rooms in the house, and a visitor would never know it existed unless they were invited to enter. Dr. Romanov warmed his feet in front of the fire, sipping something in a mug on the desk in front of him while he did so, and perusing the papers he was holding in his hand thoughtfully. Though the room appeared empty except for him, he was talking to someone.

“Yes, yes, I realize that we need someone new. Time draws short. It will not be long before she comes again, and we must be ready to face her.”

He paused, as if listening for a response, still deeply absorbed in his thoughts. Then, he spoke again. “It’s not so easy anymore. The stories scare them. The stories and the cloak. Yes, I know that both are necessary…” He stopped talking again, and sat still, now reading the papers in front of him in earnest. When he spoke again, his voice was grave, and yet, there was a question there as well. “Well, did you have a suggestion for who we need to bring in?” He suddenly grew rigid, and sat on the very edge of his chair, staring at the glass in the door, and holding onto the desk with white knuckles, as though it was the only thing keeping him up off of the floor. He shuddered, and without warning, he reached forward, grasped the key sticking out of the drawer below the glass doors, and turned it. Then, he opened the drawer and withdrew the file that lay in the bottom.

He rose and paced rapidly over to the window, where he stood staring out onto the sprawling grounds below, his back to the desk and the cabinet, as though he cannot stand to look at them. This time when he spoke, he did so very softly.

“Kathleen McCullough—why she’s just a child. We can’t. It wouldn’t be right…No. There’s always a choice.” He was silent for a long time, hoping somehow he had misunderstood, had heard wrong, and running rapidly through the other choices in his head. Finally, he said, “If we must, we must.”

Truth is not a finite thing; some feel that there is one truth to any matter, and all else is falsehood.  Others can only be convinced of the truth after seeing what they call proof.  If, as I said before, truth is not a finite thing, then time and space are even less so.  One moment time crawls or hobbles along, and the next it flies as fleet as gentle Mercury, with no set or stable pattern.  Sometimes, past becomes present, and present becomes past, and space thins to the point where those who have studied such things can pass between worlds.

“Yes, I agree, her quiet nature is a virtue,” said Dr. Romanov.  “It will take ears to hear what needs to be said.  And so, it begins again.  Let us prepare, old friend.” He covered himself with the cloak and awaited the inevitable thinning.

 

A/N: This post was originally published last week, and for some reason, it disappeared from the feed. I suspect this had more to do with operator error than any mistake or inefficiency on the part of anyone else. I am reposting it in the event that potential future readers might like to see it.

 

Ray Bradbury died this week, y’all, and the world lost a mighty fine literary talent. I don’t know too much about him, other than the fairly obvious. He was a writer, a defender of books, and an opponent of censorship in any of its various forms. He was a true gatekeeper, and that’s one of the best compliments I can give him. Why a gatekeeper, you ask? Gatekeepers guard whatever is behind the gate, and in the case of books, it is thousands of years of knowledge and history passed down through the eons of mankind’s existence. All of what we are, all of what we have been, and all of what we have hopes of becoming lies there, behind the gates of the human experience. Thus, writers are gatekeepers.

Ray Bradbury inspired me to read, because it was through his books that I first began to understand that reading is important to an educated mind. Reading is its own type of freedom. It awakens the imagination, delights the fancy, and opens our minds to ideas we might not have considered before. Perhaps more importantly, reading helps us realize that we are not alone in the human struggle, but that our hopes and fears and adversities are the same hopes and fears and adversities with which man has been dealing since the beginning of time. Suddenly, we are no longer alone in the universe, but a small part of some larger something.  More than inspiring me to read, his books became a strange kind of obsession for me.

I don’t know how many people can point to someone else and say, “I do what I do because of him”, but in some ways I can. He wasn’t the only writer about which I can say that, but he was one of the first. Ray Bradbury inspired me to write, to create worlds beyond imagining, and to provide the social commentary that is the keystone of a free and democratic society. His characters were the voice of reason for several generations of our humanity. Rest well, Mr. Bradbury, and know that we appreciate your legacy.