Tag Archives: Musings

Process, Self-Doubt, and…a Published Piece!

It’s been another solid week of editing…however, this week proved a bit more challenging for a handful of reasons. The first noticeable obstacle was the three-trip adventure to the mechanic for my mysteriously overheating car—sadly, this resulted in a loss of a lot of editing time, and also no verdict on the car (hmph). It also led to a bit of meandering around on foot and thinking, which then rushed me right into the monster obstacle of the week: a giant case of randomly and inconveniently induced self-doubt.

Generally I’m a pretty confident and ambitious person. I mean, it was only 8,000,000* changes, and my years performing circus led me to believe that I’m part Superwoman, so really, how hard could this be?

Ha.

I was editing, then I was up, then I was editing, then I was off in la-la land, then I was editing, and…well, you get the picture. Sure, I suppose I could attribute some of it to my self-diagnosed adult A.D.D., but as I stewed and fretted and wondered “Really, really, can I ever truly finish this book?”, I started thinking maybe it wasn’t the five-year-old trapped in my head after all.

I read some good blogs on getting motivated, and a great post on Letting it Go that I bookmarked and kept referencing (you should too). I had lunch with my talented author and graphic novelist friend MariNaomi, who handed me Stephen King’s On Writing (she’s also the third person to recommend this book to me). I made a deal with myself that I would definitely peruse this memoir right after I entered the 8,000,000* changes in my book but before I gave it a last touch-up read, since I might actually learn something helpful from Mr. King. And then when all that still didn’t seem to make me any calmer, I busted out my Kaiser medical handbook and learned how to belly breathe.

Sadly, all good monster stories tend to contain the really scary moment when the beast goes haywire. And that moment happened. Hard.

I happened to be on the phone with my cousin. I don’t usually like to refer to her as my cousin; she is more of a best friend than a relative, and she is also one of my treasured beta-readers/editors. She’s sassy and smart, and despite our familial connection, she can critically (but kindly) tear apart most any text I throw in front of her. We keep telling her husband that the two of us are going to quit our jobs so he can support us while I write in their basement and she edits for me full-time, but alas, he seems a little slow on follow-through…

All of this aside, the darling dear had something I really needed at that moment: patience and a good ear. I told her my frustrations—because “life” happened, I shelved this book so many times and for such long intervals (read: years) that my first novel had now been with me for the better part of two decades [belly breathe], and I have so many great ideas bouncing around and waiting for me to hurry up and finish that it was distracting and frustrating me [belly breathe], though of course I love the book I’ve been carrying around for more than half my life, but would I ever stop finding things to change on it [belly breathe!], because it simply feels so drastically different from the style I’ve been writing on the side for the last ten years, and how would that ever work? [BELLY BREATHE!]…Wah wah wah, cue violins, play a sad song, and then I dropped to the floor to belly breathe again.

After my cousin ascertained that I was indeed alive and breathing like a normal person, she said, in the wisest and calmest of voices, “Eva, you’re doing fine. It’s your first novel. Of course it’s going to be the hardest. So finish this edit, get it out there to some agents, and then feel good about it no matter what. You owe it to yourself to finish and move on.”

Before I knew it, I was on my feet with that last little sentence on a post-it hanging on my mirror (no I’m not kidding). I was ready to go full-tilt and finish this little baby.

And honestly, I realized the end is not so far away. In fact, here’s a pretty little visual for how many of the 8,000,000* changes I’ve entered:

So close!

I cooed to my cousin for about ten straight minutes with lots of thanks and a threat to send her cookies in the mail, and then I pulled out more pages to enter. Before I started, I checked my email and got the real kick in the pants to cheer up and get to work:

The wonderful anthology that Susi Holliday had worked and slaved over from April’s Once Upon a Time Flash Fiction Contest was in print and ready to order!!! I mean, could I get any more inspiration than that?!

So, in summary, I think I need to spout a few great lessons I learned here.

1. Surround yourself with good people.

2. Listen to the wise words of your cousin/friend.

3. Belly breathe. Often.

4. Don’t let the Self-Doubt Beast win when it comes to writing. So the book takes forever, and maybe it doesn’t get published, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. And if it doesn’t work, okay, move along. In fact,

5. “You owe it to yourself to finish it and move on.”

6. And finally, always celebrate good things—like, for example, my first ever published piece. Yippee!

If you would like your very own copy of this fantastic anthology, you can hop on over to Amazon to order it here: Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales. Edited by S.J.I. Holliday and Anna Meade, this anthology contains 89 tales by brilliant authors on the theme of “Unexpected Fairytales,” and it’s only $3.70 plus shipping. The proceeds beyond production costs even go to charity!

So, I’m off to edit now, with a big smile on my face and no belly breathing necessary. And thanks to all of YOU for going on this journey with me. 🙂

*Special Note: A week later, I am still fessing up to my tendency to exaggerate, often with the number 8. But shhh, don’t tell, or I’ll have to pick another number. 😉

Advertisements

The Readathon

This morning I woke up, rolled out of bed, and finally realized I’m on summer vacation.

Really—it can take that long. And I will probably have this realization every week when I remember I don’t really have to set my alarm clock (which I’ll still do, because I can’t stand wasting the whole day). Fortunately, I’ve done a pretty good job of “chilling out” as I threatened to do in my last post.

To start, I locked myself in my house to do nothing but read for three days! Okay, I did take some breaks—I did the housework, I went to the gym everyday (and worked it so hard I’m still having trouble walking), I ran a couple errands (and by ran, I mean hobbled from my car into each destination because my legs are so sore), I planned with my collaborating teacher about next year, and I also went to a few appointments—but otherwise, I did a darn good job of reading, reading, and more reading. I don’t think I’ve done that much straight reading since my teen years, and I have to tell you, it felt fantastic!

Only eight of twelve…but you’ll want to read them all!

I started by finishing Charlaine Harris’Deadlocked. It’s the twelfth book of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series, the very series on which HBO loosely based their True Blood series (I stress loosely). The books are a real treat, and though I can tell, and understand, that Ms. Harris is winding down the series, I still find the characters and their adventures incredibly entertaining. Sookie is a telepathic waitress in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. With the frustrating ability to read everybody’s mind, she is thrilled to discover she can’t read the minds of vampires—so naturally, she takes up with one. From there she takes up with a whole slew of vampires…and eventually, a whole collection of interesting beings. Also important to note is that vampires are now mainstreamed into society, thanks to the creation of a synthetic called “True Blood” that keeps them from having to feed off humans (except for fun).

Hilarious? It is. The joy of Harris’s series is that she manages to intertwine all sorts of fantastical creatures in a modern setting, mixing race (humans versus supernaturals), southern town culture, love, government (vampire politics), and the dealings of an average southern girl as she handles some not-so-average events. The series is fun, genuine, and clever, and I have delighted in the whole thing. I will admit I had trouble really getting into it until the second book, but since then I’ve been hooked. I also watch the show, but only because I love a good train wreck, and this show is by all means a train wreck that jumped off the book storyline halfway through season one (Why? Why?!). View at your own risk, and know the books are about a hundred times better…eh, the Math teacher in me needs to revise. Make that a million.

After my delightful adventure in Sookieville, I decided to tackle some of the blog posts I’d missed. I’m still catching up, but it was refreshing to have a bounty of posts waiting for me in my inbox from my favorite bloggers. Some of them were funny, some thoughtful, others clever or artistic—at some point in the future, I will showcase all my favorite blogs here. I really love the people whose writing I’m reading, both because they’re amazing and because most of them are some truly fascinating people with the best hearts in the world.

Next up: half of the final reflections I asked my Precalculus students to write at the end of the year (still going through those, too!). This assignment is one I started a couple years ago, and it is the very one that made me want to teach English. The papers are honest, thoughtful, and interesting, and I get a kick out of reading my students’ page-long descriptions of what they learned/hated/mastered, and how they grew (or didn’t grow) as students. In the math classroom, we don’t often get to see this reflective side—and so I suppose now you can see why I figured out English was the way to go. 🙂

Finally, I opted to tackle one of the books from my reading list to prepare for teaching English in the fall. Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons, is one that some close colleagues weren’t sure about because they hadn’t yet had the opportunity to read it. I am so glad I picked it up! Brave, warm, and heart wrenching, the tale is written in Ellen’s 9- to 11-year-old narration as she leads you through her troubled life. The story bounces a bit between her present life and her old life, carrying through the death of her mother, her abusive father, her discovery of a “new mama,” and all the experiences in between. The book also covers issues of race, the culture of the South, and of course, domestic violence. Ellen is definitely an endearing character, and I can’t wait to explore the book more (and again, and again…) in the fall with my students. It’s a fast read, so I encourage you to check it out.

What’s next? I intend to spend a good chunk of tomorrow editing my book, but naturally I’ll need to pick another book to read. My to-read stack is a bit out of control, and I haven’t decided on fantasy or literary just yet…

Only time will tell. If, that is, my muscles will let me get out of this chair.

Ow, ow, ow…

🙂


Sweet Summer Blessings

I’m sitting here with a great big grin on my face—because my summer vacation started about five hours ago. Hurray!

You may know a teacher or two—heck, you may be a teacher yourself—so it probably isn’t much of a surprise that as much as we love our jobs, we also delight in our summers. Teaching is intense, no matter what age or subject, and I’m certain that most of us would lose our minds without the summer break.

Of course, while we love summer, we must first ride the rollercoaster that is the chaos of the end, that final stretch to get our kids as prepared as possible before the screeching brakes of finals, grades, and the inevitable close of shop. Honestly, I have no recollection of where the last two weeks went. I appear to have dropped off Twitter and most of my other social media outlets. My dishes are piled everywhere. My laundry could take days. My poor, poor house could use a heavy-duty cleaning. (Uh, did I pay my bills?)

Fortunately, sweet summer is here! It’s a wonderful job perk for which I am eternally grateful, and one I also don’t like to waste. It’s a time I morph into a completely different being: I stay up late, I socialize more, and my creative output is seemingly endless.

And what will I accomplish this summer? For starters, I have a few shorts whose submission status I’m due to check on. I’m also almost 75% done with my last edit on Kyresa, and I plan to wrap that up by late next week so as to start querying agents. Then there’s another novel and a couple more shorts in the works…nevermind reading about 100 posts by my favorite bloggers that I’ve overlooked in the craze of the last couple weeks. I have some preparation reading to do for my start as an English teacher next year, and of course, there is the very exciting Cascade Writers Conference I’ll be heading to at the end of July. All in all, it should be a fantastic summer!

Now while I’m very excited to do all of that, I will need a transition out of the madness and into the summer. It’s that ever-so-important “chill time” to break down the teacher brain and regrow the full-time summer writer brain…a little bit of relaxation and recuperation to get all the gears aligned and working properly.

So, I guess I should start by tackling those dishes. 🙂


More Seniors Moving Along…

Just a short one today.

It is 3:30 p.m., and I am on a bus with 52 seniors (of a total of 250+) on our way back from the Senior Trip to Great America. No injuries, no trouble, no drama, and the kids are nice and calm after a fun adventure with their classmates for what will be one of their last times together.

I’m not going to lie–I love a break from campus here and there, but the main reason I asked to chaperone this trip is because this group of seniors has been my favorite, hands down, in ten years of teaching.

Some of them inspired me, others just worked really hard in my classes, and some were truly exceptional kids that I am proud to usher out into the world. Life is a great big opportunity they’re about to embrace, a chance for them to flourish and grow, and to demonstrate how much they’ve learned in their four years here at Tam High.

Awesome work, kiddos. I am so grateful to have met you, honored to have taught you, and delighted to see what you become.

Congratulations, Class of ’12!


Launch Countdown to SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN!

We all grew up with fairy tales, those mesmerizing stories that gripped our imaginations, first read to us by our parents and later, tales we read (and maybe even reread) on our own. Then there were all the movie versions and spin-offs that we probably saw, and of course the figurines, games, coloring books, tea sets, costumes, and pink sparkly bikes with characters on the basket that we no doubt collected. No matter how much we may try to downplay them, fairy tales are a part of our culture—little pieces of magic that live within us even beyond the years we knew them by heart.

That said, I am in full countdown mode for Snow White and the Huntsman!

The dark version of the classic tale is directed by Rupert Sanders and debuts this Friday. Starring Charlize Theron as the malevolent Queen, Kristen Stewart as Snow White, and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, it promises to be one heck of a show. I will admit, there have been a few movies that I’ve been eagerly anticipating this year—The Hunger Games and The Avengers, to name a couple—but this one is by far the most exciting for me. Take a little girl who loved all fairy tales merged with a grown woman who loves a solid dark fantasy, and there you have it!

Based on the preview, the movie looks like a fantastically decadent new take on an old tale. You can check it out here: Snow White and the Huntsman preview. I’ve actually re-watched this clip about 30 times myself, I am that excited! 🙂 I’ll be back to share my thoughts this weekend, but I don’t expect that many of us will be disappointed.

So the question remains—will you be heading out to see Snow White and the Huntsman?

🙂


Dance as a Story

After a long day of editing yesterday, there was nothing I wanted more than to curl up on my couch and finally watch Wednesday’s season opener of So You Think You Can Dance. SYTYCD has been one of my favorite shows since the day it first aired, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I recommend you do. I’ve long wondered how so many people who watch American Idol don’t watch SYTYCD, but I suspect it’s because they simply haven’t been awakened to the beauty of the dance world yet.

So perhaps I can be the one to awaken you.

My love of dance started when I was young. I wasn’t a good dancer, you see—even now, the best you’ll get out of me is a good “club dance”—but my sister was amazing. She could emulate nearly every style, and I remember her hardly needing to practice for any of her classes or performances. The kid even beautifully choreographed my first talent show performance of Mariah Carey’s “Someday”—oh yeah, I sure did—but the kicker was that she choreographed when I was 11…and she was 8. (What the heck?!)

A couple years later, my sister ended up with a performance after having had minor surgery to remove a large mole. She was terrified to go onstage because she didn’t want to rip open her stitches, and we’d wrapped her leg in a careful attempt to prevent it. The time came for her to go on, and we cheered and cheered—until we suddenly realized that her ace bandage was dangling from the end of her pant leg.

Now, I need to remind you that my sister was ridiculously talented, and though I’m sure she’d tell this story quite differently than I do, here’s what I remember: she kept right on dancing, not an ounce of terror showing in her face as she kicked and emoted and threw that leg at all the right cues until finally she snapped it hard enough that the stupid bandage flew off onto the stage. And then she kept right on dancing, lovely powerhouse that she was, ever so triumphant over that lame little ace bandage. I squealed and cheered from the audience, of course because she was fantastic, but more because I’d never seen such determination and poise (especially in a 10-year-old) as she managed to maintain her artistry and still beat that damn bandage off her leg. She was in that moment, telling her story in her dance, and it was stunning.

Years later a little show called So You Think You Can Dance aired, and I was hooked. I admit, my first interest was all the hip hop…but I soon came to love so many styles, from contemporary to jazz, Broadway to salsa, and more than anything, the effort these dancers put into their performances. Several of them had emotional stories of how they came to dance, having persevered through intense hardship to follow their dancing dreams.

But the reason I watched was not because of their personal stories, or their struggles—it was about the story in the dance itself. Within a few episodes I started to understand contemporary and lyrical dance, and I was mesmerized by choreography that actually told a story. It went beyond “put this leg here and that arm there” and into a whole new world of acting and story-telling, something that gripped my heart because the dancers moved about the stage without ever saying a word, and still they could tell the loveliest story.

I suppose this is why two of the show’s choreographers, Mia Michaels and Travis Wall, have earned so many accolades. Their pieces are dramatic and artistic, driving the dancers in a mind-boggling physicality that will leave you breathless almost every single time. They don’t create dance as something to fit the music and look pretty—they fashion dance as a story, a complex tale in one three-minute segment that will grab you by your heart and take you places you’ve never been.

So after nine seasons, should you start watching? Yes. Absolutely, yes, yes, yes. The dancers that make their way onto the show are phenomenal, and since the show is evolving and growing, dancers are coming in with new and unique takes on dance. Sure, some of them “just” dance, and they look pretty and have a good time and everyone is delighted—but then there are those who tell a story with their dance, choreographing a full arc, from exposition to climax to denouement, and you can feel it all the way into your soul.

There were a ton of great auditions in the first episode Wednesday night, but one I wanted to share with you was a dancer that fans are rather excited about. His name is Hampton Williams, and what he brought to the show is indescribable. To be honest, when I watched his explanation of what he was about to do, I rolled my eyes—and then when the dance was finished, I wondered why everyone was crying on the show…until I realized I was teary-eyed myself. His piece was fascinating, and his style was something I’ve never seen before. It’s definitely unusual, but what is clear is that this dancer has put his whole heart into sharing a compelling, engaging story—and that is exactly why I love dance.

If you’d like to see a clip of his audition, you can do so here: Hampton Williams. I hope you find it as riveting as I did!

In the meantime, happy Memorial Day everyone, and you know where I’ll be on Wednesday night. 🙂

And much love to Sisser Face!


What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

—From Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

I’ve been editing my WIP, Kyresa, for the last time (and yes, I really mean it!). Since it is a fantasy book, it has a collection of unusual names, as do many of the books I read in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. Add to that my plethora of friends with wildly interesting names, and I got to thinking—what’s in a name?

Parents often spend months coming up with a suitable list of names for their soon-to-be-born, one that will need to stick with the child as she grows up, takes on her own unique traits, and eventually becomes who and what she is as a person. So how is it that parents pick the perfect name?

And in a similar manner, how is it that we, as authors, pick our characters’ names?

We almost have an easier task, I think: we have a vision for a character, a set of traits, experiences, and journeys already in mind as we set about to write, and from this we can choose a name to match. Sometimes, we may already know the name in advance—and like the choosing of a baby name before parents know anything about their child, somehow, the name tends to fit. (And if it doesn’t, we can always change it later without the hassle of legal paperwork. Thank goodness!)

When I write, I usually have a vision of a character and then suddenly the name just comes out on paper. I really can’t explain how this happens—I see the character doing A, B, or C, and start typing, and then suddenly said character’s name is right there, typed in front of me. Usually, the name sticks. If nothing’s called to me immediately, the name will be a placeholder. I won’t lie—[the chick], [sassafras], and [what’s his face] have been used as temporary holds before. 🙂 Still, it’s generally pretty rare for me to not feel the rush of a suitable name. Even rarer is a name change—Kyresa actually underwent a slight change a year ago, requiring me to undo over a decade of pronouncing her name the old way as I talked about her character. That was tough. But tougher was finding a new name for a character I’d known so long. (Envision post-its with different spellings of names all over the house for a month and you’ve nailed the experience.)

Since I usually feel the name as I write, I suppose that explains how parents can look at their newborn and know the name they’ve chosen is the right one. So I’m curious—how do you pick names for your characters? Do you flip through baby books, or keep a catalog of names alphabetically? Do you sound out syllables until they match the feeling you have for the character? Or, do you simply drop them on the page like I do, changing them only if they conflict with your vision of the character?

Please feel free to share your methods in the comment section below. Whether it be for baby names or character names, how do you smell a rose? 🙂


Anatomy of a Broken Heart

All right, time to get back onto my more traditional blog schedule…and today I’d like to take a slight detour from my usual themes.

I’ve come to learn a lot of things about myself over the years—I can talk a lot, I can be impatient, I have a slight flair for the dramatic, and I can get a little snappy on occasion, et cetera, et cetera (who needs to hear more flaws, seriously?)—despite all this, there is one thing I know for certain: I’m incredibly protective of my friends, and when they hurt, I turn all mama-hen and want to take care of them. It can be as simple as an ear on the phone, or maybe it’s an ongoing attempt to supply cookies everyday for a week. Others it’s heavier-duty, requiring me to threaten to throw myself in front of an oncoming bus or duke it out with a 6’5″ male (I should mention I’m 5 foot 6 and a measly half)—the point is, I’d do just about anything to help a friend in need, because watching the hurt of someone dear can often be more upsetting than hurting for your own reasons.

So, you may ask, where is this going? Since I’m not a fairy godmother with the ability to wave my wand and fix things, I can want to make it better…but it is also important to recognize that everyone must experience his or her own pain, even if it’s something we’ve already felt ourselves. And though there are many shared experiences among us humans, one of those emotional things we all eventually have to trudge through is the end of love.

Crushes, puppy love, teenage love, casual love, tragic love, transformative love, or just true, real love—we all know about it, we’ve felt it, we may even hunt it. There are thousands of songs written about it, stories told about it, movies made about it, and dreams formed over it. Love, the power of love, the ache of love…all of it can be momentous, deeply gratifying, and ever so joyful. Remember that first crush? So sweet, so real, but eventually, it ended. And then there was the next one, and the next one…many of them ending and mourned, and then of course followed by the oft bitter sting of a broken heart.

Sometimes it’s just a headache, others, it’s a 2×4 with a plethora of jagged, rotting nails slammed painfully into your gut. Repeatedly. It hurts! It stinks! It can make you wail into your pillow, slam a fist into a wall, eat more garbage than one should possibly, reasonably consume, or even just wish you’d found a better brand of waterproof mascara. The anatomy of a broken heart is a mixed and troublesome one, eventually marking us with something unforgettable: that one time, that one person, that one deeply horrible pain that left us grieving for too many days and nights…

But from darkness springs morning, and there comes that one day where we wake up, stretch our arms gleefully above our heads, and climb out of bed thinking that today is that day. The day that we can learn to smile again. To embrace a new future, a new happiness, and to forget all that pain and agony we just felt. Each time, the end may have hurt even more—but every time, we recognize the sensation and may get over it a little faster, or grow from it a little sooner. We begin to identify the things that didn’t work and how to avoid them in the future. We find a way to take what went so, so wrong and use it in the future to make something so much more right.

I am by no means an expert on love. Far, far, far from it. (Did I mention far?) I’ve been kicked in the teeth like all the rest, sometimes so badly I didn’t think I’d recover, others so terribly I’ve been scared away for a long time—but truth be told, all of those bad experiences were something I learned from, trials that made me who I am and what I want to be. They made me embrace what I really want, whether in life or in love, and to let go of all the garbage that didn’t work in the past. There is no dismissing the pain of a broken heart, its pulsing, beating agony spreading tainted love through your veins and making you sick with hurt and anger—but eventually, it all melts away and leaves you anew, fresh to find something better, more wonderful…and, first and foremost, seeking that peace in yourself to love you before anyone else.

We’re all searching a little something in this world, our own happiness and contentment, joy and love. There are definitely some bumps and detours along the way, tiny spikes in the road that cause us a bit of agony—but eventually, we’ll find our way there.

In the meantime, we may just need to remind ourselves to keep our chins up, our friends close, and a big, delicious pint of ice cream in the freezer.

Much love to all, and a giant hug for my friend.


Playing with Setting

Writing setting is all about creating a location and making it as real to the reader as possible. Some authors spend a great deal of their exposition on setting, while still others choose to infuse it more gradually throughout their work. No matter what the method, the act of building setting is essential, since it helps to create the very atmosphere and tone that will embrace the readers approaching your work.

This week I flew to visit some of my family. Most of us have been on an airplane at least once in our lives, making it easy to identify several common features: cramped seats, narrow aisles, tiny bathrooms, packaged peanuts or pretzels, miniature drinks, grouchy people, rickety tray tables, and colorful emergency pamphlets. As I sit on the plane, I always try to find some enjoyment in elaborating on these features. I think of it as playing with my setting.

I’ll start with a simple statement: It is 8:40, and I am on an airplane. Then I’ll begin to add some key details.

I am on an 8:40 p.m. flight, wedged uncomfortably into my uneven seat due to the broken spring beneath my left thigh. The plane reeks of stale pretzels and a potential sanitary issue in the nose-end bathroom.

As the flight attendants begin their speech about the procedure should we experience a sudden change in cabin pressure, I add in a few more details.

The air that spews from the vents above is doing nothing but suffocating me with a steady stream of hot air, making it more difficult to breathe against the surrounding stench.

The man next to me sneezes without covering his mouth, and after stealing a quick glance in his direction, I add more to my mental image.

The hum of the jet steadily increases, but not as rapidly as the sound of breathing that pours from the stuffy nose of the man to my right. He squirms in his seat, sneezing repeatedly until I’m forced to peer away. At the same moment, the little girl to my left tugs off her sweater, her sleeve nearly smacking me in the jaw.

Suddenly I realize that the dismal light above is not going to provide much to read by, leaving me little to do but continue my imagined ride. I do, after all, write fiction. Why not make this airplane scene go in a slightly more fantastical direction?

The girl looks up to me, her eyes glowing a light shade of green. She grins, her teeth sharp against her rose-red tongue and her lips pursing together when the man to my right sneezes again. She peers past my shoulder, her eyes slitting narrowly at him as the plane hits some turbulence. It bounces us violently in our seats in a manner that somehow does not seem to affect her.

The man sneezes. The girl licks her lips. Across the aisle, another man stands from his seat, so I add this in too.

Despite the captain’s direction for us to remain in our seats, a lanky man across the aisle stands from his chair, beginning to chat up the flight attendant before he heads toward the nose-end bathroom in a near run.

Then:

A thud sounds from the left of the airplane, as if something hit the plane and bounced repeatedly along its side. A shadow passes over us, the darkness outside creeping in, mimicking the growing smile from the girl in seat 7A. The chill looming over our row makes the sneezer in seat C and me in seat B start to shiver convulsively….

The joy of setting is that it can effectively set the tone for the work to-be. I have  no idea what to do with my airplane vision so far, but when I make a few tweaks and tie all the setting details together (as well as a little characterization and some information to build a scene), here’s what I have:

I buckle my seat belt on the 8:40 p.m. flight, my body pitched at an uncomfortable angle thanks to the broken spring beneath my left thigh. The plane reeks of stale pretzels and a potential sanitary issue in the nose-end bathroom, and the steady stream of hot air from the vent above makes it even more difficult to breathe against the stench. While the hum of the jet steadily increases, so does the ragged breathing that pours from the stuffy-nosed man next to me. He squirms, rocking our seats as he sneezes repeatedly, forcing me to peer away. As I turn, the little girl to my left tugs off her sweater and nearly smacks me in the jaw with her sleeve. She mutters, “Sorry,” before looking up at me, her light green eyes glowing. When she grins, her teeth press sharply against her rose-red tongue. The man to my right sneezes again and the little girl purses her lips together. She peers past my shoulder at him as the plane hits some turbulence and bounces us violently in our seats. She is not affected, her eyes slitting narrowly when the captain directs us to remain in our seats and a lanky man across the aisle stands from his chair. He chats up the flight attendant before running toward the nose-end bathroom at full speed.

A repeated thud sounds from the left of the airplane, as if something hit the plane and bounced along its length until it flew off into the nothingness behind us. Immediately a shadow passes over, the darkness outside creeping in, mimicking the growing smile from the girl in seat 7A. The sneezer in seat C and I start to shiver convulsively…

Though it is most certainly not a finalized scene, the setting aspects already have me thinking of where I could go from here. Playing with setting like this is a good practice to hone in useful details for writing, even if this particular piece never comes to life in a real story. The feel of the plane, and the random acts of the people around me on the plane, are all items that could be stashed in a mental rolodex of story components.

As I’m thinking about this, the lights above the walkway randomly start flickering, causing a gasp from some of the other passengers. I smile, then close my eyes to take a nap before we land…the sound of 7C’s stuffy breathing in my ear.

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!


Don’t Just Do…Live!

Since I was a little girl I’ve been a storyteller, a writer, and a dreamer, always planning to one day be an *author*—that very person you imagine when you whisper the two melodic syllables aloud…but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve honed my focus, and in the last year that it’s become even more to me: my soul, my heart, my love, and my passion.

So a few weeks ago, just after my first post (“The Journey”), I had an inspiring phone conversation with my mother. We discussed my freshly tuned writing focus, and like a breathless girl admitting her crush I told her my plans—Kyresa, the other books, the blog, the short stories, the networking, all of it. My mother listened patiently, and after a few proud mom compliments she said, in a dreamily soft voice, “Honey, you have it figured out now! You are no longer just doing…you are finally living.” I nearly burst into tears with her sweet words of encouragement, because I realized my mom was right.

Follow your dreams, and live them.

For the first time in my life, I feel like the stars I’ve always reached for are possible. The dreams I’ve always had are right there, at my fingertips, and I will no longer just do; I will live. I have never been more motivated. I have never been so happy and so fulfilled. I truly feel like I have realized what my life means to me, and that I am going to make all of my dreams happen by living this passion. My passion. Tough day, illness, heartache, bills—none of it matters anymore. I have a goal, a dream, and a wish, and it is to live this one life as thoroughly as I can by letting my fingers run across this keyboard as excitedly and quickly as my imagination dreams it, and as rapidly as my heart beats through it.

I have found my peace through writing. You, dear reader—you may be there already, or you may be on the path to finally reaching everything that you dream as well. Whatever the case, I encourage you to follow your heart, to unburden your soul, and to find that true passion within yourself to not just do…but live.

To finally live your fantasy.


%d bloggers like this: