Sooo… It’s still the third week of NaNoWriMo. My little colourful calendar there in the sidebar is starting to look increasingly like a game of Tetris and I’m still winning the word count. I haven’t been behind yet, except for the second day where I was technically a few hundred words behind when midnight came, but I continued writing beyond midnight and by the end of day 3 I was all caught up again. So, this is the week of the 30,000′s. And the great and scary thing at the moment? My week-threes haven’t turned up yet. You know how I said that other people suffer during week 2, they hit a block, etc., but that I suffer during week 3, because that is usually when I run out of steam? I did run out of steam a bit in week one. Well, actually I started low on steam, but now I’m pretty
chilled chirpy. We’ll see what the rest of this week holds. I’m trying to study for English Lit and doing an assignment at the same time and it’s a bit stressful. I write English on Saturday (yes, Saturday, sometimes I hate my university) and I also have to hit 40,000 words that day. And the 3,000 word assignment is due next week. I just want to curl up on the couch and watch How to Train Your Dragon, but all of that will have to wait for December.
We’ll see. But that is not all that happened this week. I found a couple of things that are just yelling at me to hold on and keep writing and studying and creating. One of them was this tweet that appeared on my Twitter dashboard:
Jennifer Persinger (@jp0473) November 12, 2012
It came at the right time. I need to continue writing, even though the odds aren’t in my favour this week. Then… Continue reading
I’m writing! I’m writing! Can you believe that?! When last have I written anything that was not non-fiction? Yes, indeed it was during NaNoWriMo, more than four months ago. That should be the new officially warning for Wrimos: You may be drained from all writing for four months after the challenge. *evil laugh* Just when you have completely recovered, it will be time for the next challenge! Hoho!
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling about the wonder of writing and get to the story. This started off as a story of hope and then did a 180 degree turn and went in the other direction. Then things got a bit political and I suspect it is laughing at things one should not laugh at. Please note: it is not speaking about any specific country. You can apply it wherever you like… or see it as completely fictional dystopia if that is the way you prefer it.
I’m rather unsure about this story. I’m not sure if it’s too fragmentary, too vague, too horrible. Opinions, please! That’s what the comment box is for!
I present to you… Burning.
It is a terrible thing when a country burns. All the people and creatures get scalded and that is not a nice thing to get, after all. Most of the plants die as well, except for those who learn to feed on the liquid raining from the sky. This liquid is no refreshment, for it is not old-fashioned water, but hot oil raining from the sky – and it does more than just make everything slippery. It feeds the fires burning in the earth and it banishes the water. Those two have an ancient feud, you know. In fact, both would have had massive chips on their shoulders if only they had chips. Or shoulders, for that matter.
Some of the people of the country fled before it all started. They were the most foresighted – or perhaps the most cowardly. Who knows? The foolishly heroic who remain behind roam the stricken countryside in packs. There are still a few areas where one can survive, where the wind-patterns turn away most of the oil-clouds. However, ferocious fights break out on the smallest patch of grass, over said patch of grass, of course. When it is done, not much grass is left. It is easy to start a fight in these days. Without society’s restraints, even a look can serve as catalyst. Luckily for the fights, there are not many looks: people prefer not to look at each other too much, no one being much of an oil painting what with all the oil, ash and smoke around.
What else is left in the country? In fact, what is there left for a burning country? There isn’t much feeling: neither mirth nor maudlin. Things just are, without any kind of descriptive adjective. People and creatures still draw breath and just about the most you can hope for is not getting burned today.
There is not much else to say about the burning country. Usually it is as silent as a mausoleum – which is more than a simile. Sometimes you can hear the laughter of hyenas echoing across the plains. But then, those things will mock anything before they tear it apart – alive.
PS. Random fun fact: This is my 50th blog post! Yay!
© 2012. Elana E. All rights reserved.
Welcome to the first post where I am not going to draw anything or share a short story with you, but rather write about how I write. Remember I said I wanted to start sharing more of this, something which I only got a taste of during NaNoWriMo?
This post was inspired by something that I read over on Bethie’s HASH. She is busy with a writing challenge on different questions (Check it out, it’s really interesting if you are a writer!). The one that matters now was the one about writing and music with the question:
Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?
I was obviously all hugely excited by this post and eventually Bethie convinced me to make one too. So now I’m doing it. And probably blaming it on her as well.
(This is going to be long.)
Certainly I listen to music whilst I write. What would I be without the music I write to? That was a tad overdramatic perhaps, but it makes my point. I need music whilst I write – it is very seldom that I would write in silence.
I am also not the only one who feels this way, and neither am I the only one that begins to hear stories in music. One of my favourite authors, Diana Wynne Jones, said,
The Magicians of Caprona was odder than most, because I heard a piece of music and thought, ‘That ought to have words,’ and the story came into my head as I thought it.
I tend to pick what I listen to by need and theme, rather than any other reason. And I’ll admit it: I don’t like conventional, modern music. There will be the occasional pop song that I like and also the occasional rock number. But in general, I don’t like having to listen to those things. What I do like, is soundtracks. I’m crazy about the things actually. I believe that soundtrack-music plays such a large role in any theatre experience (it builds everything from emotion to tension) that it should get more recognition than it does. The only part of the Academy Awards that I am really interested in is the Oscar for Best Soundtrack. I remember being furious at the judges’ choice last year.
Thus, this means that the title of this post has a double meaning: not only does the music serve as a soundtrack to my writing, the music is also a soundtrack in its own right. And yes, before someone points this out to me in the comments, I do know that the correct term for the music to a film is “score”. I just don’t like that word. It’s not descriptive.
Though soundtracks do make up the majority of what I listen to at any time, not just when I’m writing, I do listen to other things as well. I like a bit of instrumental metal sometimes and also some folk (don’t judge). Also, I like to listen to trailer music, which is even more of a niche market than soundtracks. It is similar to soundtracks in that it is used in films (mostly only their trailers, hence the name) and commercials to create a mood, but different that they do not come in a series that, as a whole, tell an entire story. Trailer music is like a snippet out of a bigger story and I like it, because I can fill in the rest with my writing.
I listen a lot to the Lord of the Rings soundtracks (my favourite), How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter (especially the final soundtrack), the Tangled soundtrack and The Three Musketeers soundtrack.
Now… on to the specifics!
The first time that I actually started connecting certain tracks with writing and actually made a point of noticing that I did this, was during the first time that I did NaNoWriMo. That was when I set myself the challenge to do it at another time of year, because I could not make it in November: thus June/July 2010. The novel that I wrote during this time (and still have not finished) was dramatic, overly dramatic, satirical and verbose. I’ll tell you more about it someday, when it makes more sense to me.
Anyway, it was also during this time that I found an album by Two Steps From Hell, a production company that specializes in trailer music, Illumina. Then I went on and listened to it a lot.
Therefore there will always be a couple Illumina tracks that I will forever associate with writing:
The good news is… that that was not all that I listened to. There was one certain track that I used to write a death scene. What was it? Oh yes:
Remember When… This one is by Future World Music, another trailer music company. Future World Music actually became quite important to me during this time of my writing, because their track Dreamscapes and Wishes actually became the theme song to my novel.
During one of my other novelling adventures, which I named Arcana for the lack of better ideas, I never realised how much I based the ending of my story off one of the songs that I listen to so much: Send Me a Song, by Celtic Woman. I believe it is sung by Lisa Kelly.
Without telling you the entire plot (which I still have not written the middle of), it was roughly a story about music and the awkward relationship between a girl and her boy friend (emphatically two words). There was lots of music and he broke the law. For which he was banished. So yes, if you listen to the lyrics of that song, you’ll hear another story very much like it. I only realised what I did much later!
My latest escapade into the world of music and writing was, of course, during NaNoWriMo 2011. This was certainly the story that was most influenced by music, of any of those that I had written. You see, I got my idea for the plot when listening to Now and Then by Blackmore’s Night. When I heard the lyrics, especially the bit that said “I’ll heal in time”, I knew I was going to write a cross between historical novel and science fiction, telling the story of a girl going time-travelling to make sense of the death of her husband. Snapshots of Time was born.
Whilst I was writing this novel, I listened to whatever was on hand and had a fast beat. I would do anything that could make me type faster, because I only had an hour each day to write, and I was trying to do 1,800 words every time. It was a challenge. I went through quite a lot of the Harry Potter soundtracks in that time. It kept me going. I have the complete collection, 1-8. I listened obsessively to Weasley Stomp, because it was the fastest track from it that I could find.
When things were a little calmer in NaNo land, I turned to Tuck Everlasting. I have never even watched this show, but the soundtrack reminds me of open fields and buttercups. Why buttercups I don’t know, because I’ve only ever seen a few in my life. I wouldn’t know why I have an association with the things!
When my novel turned sadder, I also had my go-to tracks. Schindler’s List of course remains one of the ultimate tracks, and then there were also things like Hymn to the Fallen, out of Saving Private Ryan.
I should really stop now with this post. It has gotten completely out of control! I won’t even get started on favourite composers!
I hope everyone who read this far enjoyed it in its pictureless-state. You’d better. You’ve no idea how long it took me to write this thing!
Hey! I’m here! I’m still blogging!
Today’s fare is a snippet that I wrote on 750words.com. Sometimes when I just can’t decide what I could ramble on about for the length of 750 words (You should know by now that I’m good at rambling!), I look me up a picture somewhere on the internet, and then write a story based on that.
So one of them appears here today. The edited version of course! (I’m looking at you, Idiotphotographer! ) Keep in mind that it’s just a snippet of whatever I thought up when looking at the picture, that’s why is appears to be the middle part of something with no proper introduction or end. It also has a bit of a tense-identity crisis. But I thought it seems to work that way,
I’ll try my best to blog next week, firstly because it’s Hallowe’en, and I can’t not do something for it, can I? And secondly because I have some news to share! Stay tuned and see you then!
Original artist: Lukas Jevcak. All copyrights belong to original artist.
The world glowed through the mouth of the cave. After the dead blackness I had grown used to inside, nothing had ever looked so bright to my eyes. As I looked at it, it seemed to positively glow in shades of blue and purple. I looked upwards towards the top of the cave mouth where the purple rays of the sun curled around the lip of rock – almost like a halo. Oh, the glorious sun! My eyes swept lower down and I saw that the sea beat against the rocks down there. The light fell and sparkled on the ripples, sending blue hues of light to dance against the cliff wall. How long had I been wandering in the darkness? Days, maybe? I really could not say. There was no definite way for me to tell the passage of time when I was lost in the dark. But all that I definitely could say is that this is certainly not the place where I went into the caves. Some transition of time and place had definitely taken place since last I saw the light. In fact, I had been wandering in the dark for so long that it was beginning to play tricks on my mind. I began to wonder if there really was something such as time, for if there was, I reasoned, I should not be able to lose track of it so easily and not be able to tell where in it I was, or how much of it has passed me by. But there is no explanation for Time really, I think. I went into a cave in some high sandstone cliffs, and there I wandered, lightless, foodless, hopeless… And now I stood over a village, looking down on it from high up on another cliff. It was winter. The ground was snowed over, the air freezing. It was most definitely not winter where I went in. Where was I? How far had I come to emerge into another world?
I have never seen such colours before. Or maybe I just never noticed how bright the world is. Everything contrasts so beautifully with everything else. Far below my feet, the sea crashes against cliffs made from black rock. It foams and makes spray that flies up high into the air and turns to mist as it reaches its zenith and blows away in the icy breeze. I could see some frozen-over steps leading up from the tiny jetty, up the cliff and away from the dark ocean. There were lights burning in the windows of some of the rough houses that made up the village. These yellow splashes of colour bled to my exposed, bleary gaze and it fills my vision. It seemed to spread across the cold white snow and warms up everything around me. The largest of the houses is apparently an inn, to judge by its many windows. There are icicles hanging from its roof, and for a moment I wondered tiredly why they did not melt in the face of the fire, not thinking that the candles were all behind glass on the windowsills and that the air was bitterly cold compared to the power of the little heat generated by candles.
I studied the village. It was built up a slight slope, with a large building on its summit. This one was not built as crudely as the huts, but appeared to have been lovingly made to last. Just before this building, and framed by one of its great arches, burned a powerful flame on a pillar of stone. The pillar put me in mind of cenotaph monuments and at its peak this great flame pointed proudly towards the sky, burning away the ice and the cold, it seemed to me… it seemed as though it was growing rapidly in size… it expanded horizontally… and reached almost to my feet. I saw ice running into water, huge chunks of ice falling… falling into the sea with a splash. Then I blinked and snapped out of the vision. The flame returned to its normal size. It sent up a pillar of dark smoke that contrasted against the white mountains behind it and beyond the village. Yes, there was still true beauty in life, I thought. The frozen fir trees with their hard, white limbs. The houses with icicles hanging from the thatch. The glowing yellow windows contrasting against the white snow. The crashing, booming ocean. And, finally, the grand building up on the hill, with its impressive architecture and the harsh white mountains behind it, all framed by the edge of my dark cave mouth…
I took a deep breath before starting down.
Hi guys! I thought it was time again for a new short story. I don’t know what it is that is lately happening to my writing, but everything that I write seems to turn out as these dark, surrealistic stories… I’ve definitely been studying and reading too much Modernism this year! Bleh.
Oh yes, if you have read this little guy on my Goodreads shelf, you might recognize the title of the story. And maybe the end as well. And if you have read one of my all-time favourite Agatha Christie stories, Sleeping Murder, then you might just recognize the… claws…
Anyhow, I’m talking too much and not getting round to the story. Here you go! Hope you enjoy it and leave a comment to tell me what you thought!
All copyrights belong to original artist, Laurent Ménabé.
The library was deathly quiet at this time of the evening. There were no other people, no other movements – only me… and the little noises. Just the little noises to break the dusty, deathly silence. You think I’m hearing the creaks from the bookshelves’ wood cooling down after the heat of the day? Let me tell you that this is not so. The noises do not come from the bookshelves, but I do not know where they come from. Sometimes it sounds like creaking and sometimes like rattling, and sometimes they seem to come from just about anywhere and sometimes they seem to come from overhead.
Outside, the golden light of the westering sun fell in standing pillars through the limbs of the trees. They were ancient trees with heavy, knotted trunks and twisted boughs which formed a canopy high overhead. As the light fell through them, the leaves glowed and sparkled: mostly green and brown, but also with hints of red, gold and silver.
Over the great double-volume main hall of the library, a glass dome stretched. It was inlaid with delicately carved frames of metal and panels of different coloured glass. The evening light also fell through this skylight and drew mandalas of coloured light all over the ground floor of the library. I stood on one of the first-floor balconies, looking down at the floor below. Then I saw another speck of light dancing in front of my eyes. I blinked and it shimmied off to one side. I squinted and tried to focus as it flickered closer to my nose again. It was a firefly – a little glowing ball of light with wings attached. When I opened my eyes after having blinked again, it was gone – this time for good. I sighed and turned back to the bookshelves behind me.
I picked up my bag and started walking through the shelves. It was narrow and dingy in there and the shelves were absolutely stuffed with books. The spines bristled like that of so many hedgehogs.
I was heading for the English Literature shelf. Which was right at the very back, of course. Right at the very back, where the lights were faulty and the little noises intensified in volume in the stillness. When I reached the correct shelf I started to browse down it, running my fingers along the dusty spines of the books.
Directly behind my back, the creaking noise started up. I thought it came from both behind my back and overhead at the same time. I spun round and looked up, but I didn’t see anything. Shrugging, I turned back to my shelf and then spotted the book I was looking for. As I dropped my bag and pulled the book out of the shelf, the overhead light started flickering and the creaking redoubled. This time it was definitely overhead. There was a sound as if someone was filling a paper bag with gravel and shaking it very hard. With the book in my hands, I looked up again and this time I saw a light bobbing across the ceiling.
It was a firefly again, though if it was the same one as previously I could not possibly tell. It was bobbing close to the base of that flickering lamp and by its light I could actually see the base of the lamp for the first time. The lamp was partly pulling out of the ceiling, leaving gaping holes around the base where the screws had torn out of the compressed wood. By the light of the firefly, I could just see inside one of these holes. There was a faint movement in there and I could see the edge of a shadowy shape that was just illuminated by the firefly. The shape was indistinct and at first it drew back out of the tiny circle of light, then it seemed to make up its mind and approached the hole.
All this time I had been standing with the dusty old book in my hands, staring upwards at the hole in cold, frozen horror. I don’t think I would have been able to make myself move at that moment, even if I had thought about it. My brain was so occupied with trying to keep my imagination – which had leapt into overdrive as soon as it saw that firefly – under control that it had basically shut down all other functions, including breathing.
I stared at the approaching shape; I watched it grow distinct. I saw it become a pinkish-grey, hairless paw. I saw its digits curl into spastic claws. I saw it trying to squeeze through the hole in the ceiling, felt my legs finally regain the power and I ran. I dropped the dusty old book and heard it clatter on the floor behind me as I scooped up my bag and took off.
I flew out from between the shelves, through the – suddenly very quiet – library and clattered down the stairs. I raced across the dark main hall and wrenched open the great entrance doors. And moonlight spilled into the library.
During my time inside it had grown dark and the stars glittered and flickered in the sky – like little fireflies. The cool night air washed over me and calmed my racing heart. But then I looked down at the trees – those beautiful trees of this evening – and saw, to my horror, that they had grown faces. Huge, knobbly faces, with shadows dancing between them. And their branches creaked like that sound inside the library and their leaves whispered in the wind. Once again I stood frozen in horror – caught between the horror inside and the horror outside.
That was when I knew I was having a nightmare. And all I wanted to do was wake up. But the problem with this nightmare was that it was reality. The world was the nightmare and the nightmare was the world. And I was wide awake – there was no waking up from this. As I stood there, cornered on the steps of the library, I knew that I had to face at least one of these horrors to find escape. I could go back inside and face the horrible claws. Or I could get off these steps and face the horrors of the dark night. But I could not make myself move. I could not face up to these horrors and so escape from them.
I was in reality and reality was a nightmare. I could not overcome it. I remained on the dark steps.