The Second Fragment

Heistar Kadlis’ Story – Part One

From the personal writings of Heistar Kadlis, Warden of the Prison Mines, Sector 5

I liked my job. It had a comfortable, easy pattern that defined my every working day. Morning roll-call: deal with mouthy cons, mid-morning weigh-in: chase up shirking cons, lunch: break up fight, afternoon weigh-in: ignore whiny weaklings and hand out punishments for under-performers, supper: break up another fight, lights out: hand over to the night-shift. Simple, predictable, routine. A bit of variety in the details maybe, but you could pretty much set your hour-glass by this lot. Even the escape attempts were reassuringly repetitive.

Until that day. I still don’t know exactly how it happened. I mean, Earther 27 had always been so easy to handle. His routine was as unshakable as mine, and he never, _never_ plotted with other prisoners. He barely even spoke to them, to be honest. Preferred to be on extra work shifts even, rather than sit with them. Some old tribal grudge, so far as I could figure out. Still, so long as he wasn’t starting fights over it, the old boy could be as insular as he pleased.

Of course, his “non-Earthers are scum” attitude carried over to the Thodan too, as well as us Avlem. He was no more polite with any of the guards than he was to the other cons, growling at everyone equally. He was especially rude that day. I wonder now if I should have been suspicious of that, but at the time it just seemed like regular grouchiness.

One of the props needed replacing, and of course Earther 27 knew better than the rest of us about how it ought to be done. That’s the only drawback with using the earthers as we do. They may make the mine safer, but the responsibility goes straight to their entitled, muddy heads. I ordered a team to pull out the rotten beam, with the new one all ready to go in, and Earther 27 comes barging in to stop them. The nerve of it!

I saw red, I really did. It’s one thing to give the old lag some leeway about his hours, but there was no way I could let him challenge my authority like this. What the cons don’t understand, even the half-decent ones, is that if I had anything less than total control over my sector the result would be chaos. There are anarchists all over who are just waiting for the first sign of weakness on my part in order to stage a bloody coup. I had to think fast, and act faster.

“Back in line, Earther 27!” I shouted, giving the big man a shove to emphasise my point. I really, really hoped that he wouldn’t fight me; my Talent is sound projection, not moving mountains. For a moment it hung in the balance, but he finally took a step backwards. I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief, but I felt it all the same. I signalled the team to haul down the old prop. When Earther blasted 27 spoke up again, I used my Talent to shout him down.

“BACK IN LINE, MUD-FOR-BRAINS!” I roared. That’s when it happened.

All this stalling and arguing had delayed the second team getting into position with the new pit prop, and the ceiling chose that moment to come down. I had to move quickly to avoid the avalanche, and some of the second team weren’t so nimble. When the dust settled, I could see that Earther 27, the pull-down team, and the workers in that sector were trapped behind a floor-to-ceiling rockfall. I began to mentally organise a crew to dig them out, when I realised that this was a good punishment opportunity. I raised my voice so that the trapped cons would be sure to hear me.

“Alright, you lot, listen up! Your little rebellion has ended with you trapped in a dead-end shaft, which is a lighter punishment than I’d have chosen if I’d had my way.”

I could just about make out sounds of movement, and a few groans. So, they weren’t all knocked cold. Good – then they could listen some more.

“You’ll stay there until we get around to digging you out. And if I don’t find your mineral quotas filled and waiting, it will go badly for you. We won’t be able to get your supper to you, but you should have thought of that before you started all this, shouldn’t you?”

This time the groans were louder, but I didn’t hear Earther 27’s distinctive burr among them. With any luck, he was in the doghouse with the others, and that would be the end of any rebelliousness on his part.

I waited until after morning weigh-in to assign a team to clear the tunnel. There were only a few workers far enough ahead of quota to be spared, so the work went slowly. By mid-afternoon, there was only a small passage near the ceiling. I halted the diggers to call through to the trapped prisoners.

“Any litt’luns in there, pass ’em through the gap,” I called. No need to use my Talent now, as they would hear me well enough through the hole. To my surprise, there was no answer, not even from Earther 27. In fact, apart from the trickle of falling earth, there were no sounds at all. I couldn’t even hear the pit mule.

The clearing team soon had a hole big enough to send a man through. As his chain rattled over the rubble, I realised that I was holding my breath. That was not on – no showing nerves in front of the cons. They’d see it as weakness and take advantage. All the same, I couldn’t help worrying. The occasional death is unavoidable, and blame is rarely mentioned, but it would be embarrassing to lose over a half-dozen workers – not to mention a valuable animal – in a punishment gone wrong. I wondered what was waiting for us on the other side of the wall? Bad air? But we’d be able to smell that by now, with the wall down. Maybe a poisonous animal had been unearthed? In which case, we were all in danger. Best case scenario, they were just knocked out, or even sleeping.

They weren’t sleeping. They weren’t there at all.

The wretched scumbags had broken out. They’d found a seam running along the inside of a hill and worked it almost to the surface, then used last night to break through the last barrier and escape. The whole thing must have been in planning for months – and the Earther must have been in on it. How else could they have known exactly where to dig, or been able to cut through so quickly?

As the pieces came together, I realised that Earther 27 had been playing me for a fool – maybe for years! Pretending to be so unfriendly with the other cons, being so biddable and predictable to lull me – all of us – into a false sense of security. He worked his way into a couple of trusted positions, not to mention that he’d been assigned to posts all over the mine in his time here. Whenever we needed an extra mud-head, his name was always top of the list. Of course it was, good old trusty, plodding Earther 27. Who knew he could be so sly?

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The First Fragment

Falerian’s Story – Part One

Falerian Deveral of the Clear Ice Peaks lived by one rule: Go with the wind.

When she was a child, her father took her and her brothers beyond the glacier fields of home out to the Greener Lands. Falerian hated the Greener Lands. Everything was dirty and smelly, and the tepid air felt almost too thick and stodgy to breathe, let alone fly through. She hovered carefully above the dirt-tracked roads, and ignored her brothers’ attempts to splash her as they jumped from puddle to muddy puddle. Her father walked, or at least seemed to. When Falerian got closer, she could sense the protective layer of cool air flowing around his body – including under his shoes, keeping him barely a finger-breadth from the ground. She privately vowed to learn how to do that for herself.

They came at last to a tree, covered in leaves that were still green despite the approach of autumn. Falerian’s father called up a strong wind, and shook the branches until the tree looked like mother’s broom when she took it outside to shake out all the dust and cobwebs. The massive branches creaked, and the smaller ones whipped back and forth in the fierce gale. Most of the leaves held tight, but some were torn loose, or fell as the twigs holding them broke free from their parent branches. The wreckage lay at their feet, but the three children were watching their father shake the tree. Trees were rare in the Glacier Fields, and they were enjoying the sight of this massive, powerful earth-thing being shaken like a baby’s rattle.

Then, suddenly, the wind dropped. The tree shook on for a few seconds, as if confused by the loss of motive force, then was still. The children were disappointed, and looked to their father for explanation. He crouched down and put his arms around their shoulders.

“Look at these fallen leaves,” he told them. “They were either too weak to hold tight, or they placed their trust in a weak link. As a result, when the wind shook the tree, they fell.” He picked up a few leaves and twigs and gave them to Falerian and her brothers.

“Take these as a reminder,” he told them, solemnly. “And when the wind shakes you, as it shakes us all, be sure to have a firm hold on the strong tree, not a weak twig.”

The boys nodded their understanding, but Falerian was not looking at the ground, with its (ugh!) dirt and twigs. She was watching a single flash of green, edged with yellow, fluttering in the sky above her. The leaf had blown from the tree, but instead of falling down, it had flown up and up – first using her father’s strong gusts, then transferring to a prevailing current somewhere below the clouds and above the treetops. It whirled and faltered, almost falling at one point. Falerian put out her hands to save it from the dirty earth, and she managed to generate enough of an air current to raise the leaf back to the sky. Now, as her father talked of holding tight, she only dreamed of flying free. Of chasing her leaf out, past the familiar Peaks and out into the unknown world. One day, she would be as free and fierce as the element she controlled.

* * *

“Having fun yet?” Falerian cackled as she raced past the drowsy Avlem guards. OK, so they’d just pulled thirteen hours on the night shift; didn’t mean they had to be all grumpy about it. She allowed the air playing under her feet to spray sideways as she ran, showering everyone but her in leaf-litter (and worse).

Uren emerged from her tent just in time to get hit full in the face. “Nobody likes you, Deveral!” she groaned, but it was purely reflex by now. The Air Elemental laughed again, and looped the sound in the air so that the clearing seemed to ring with the evidence of her amusement.

“But you do need me,” she retorted. “Which is why I get to do this,” she blasted a gust of dusty air into the Thodan’s face, and laughed helplessly as she turned red from coughing.

“And this,” she added, pushing air under the soles of her shoes and knocking her over, still coughing, to lie on her back under the shady canopy.

“And… oh stop making that noise,” she snapped. Abruptly, she yanked the dust-laden air from Uren’s lungs, and streamed clean air in. “There, now shut up hacking and wheezing and listen to me, because I’m only going to say this… well, OK, yeah, I’m going to say it a lot, because it’s true, and important and about me, so yeah, you’ll be hearing this a lot but you still need to listen because it’s me saying so, alright? Good.”

Falerian smirked. “You need me because someone let a dirt-eater escape the Prison Mines. And, as you know, the Air tribes, specifically those of us from the Peaks, like myself, are the only force that has ever overcome the defences of those Earther rats. You got an earth rat at large, you need an Air Master to take it down. So, you can complain all you want but you’re stuck with me, and with being the target of any ‘practice’ I might need to do.” The self-proclaimed master of air smirked again and turned to swagger away, when a voice behind her said,

“I trust that your little tirade was not addressed to *me* in any way, Falerian Deveral of the Clear Ice Peaks?”

The voice was like liquid darkness, and as compelling as a single lamp burning on a dark, hopeless night. Falerian hesitated, then turned and bowed, extravagantly, to a tall lady dressed all in black with the merest hint of dark green at the collar and cuffs. Her face was perfect, her hair was perfect, and her golden armour shone like polished obsidian. But what really drew the eye was the seven-foot-long oak-wood staff that she held at her side. The tip glowed purple-black with a power that seeped into the air, and clung like tar.

“Never, Great Lady Leshah, Mistress of Darkness from Before Time,” Falerian assured her, with sarcastic respect. The Air Master bowed low, allowing her wild hair to obscure her face, but both women knew that there was fear etched on that face. Leshah was an Arallan, ageless and powerful, who could shape matter to her will as easily as Falerian could make the wind blow. No-one in their right mind would invite the anger of an Arallan, especially one who had chosen to specialise in Darkness and Destruction.

Falerian maintained her bow, going lower and lower until she was looking at the Avlem guards behind her, pulling upside down faces at them between her legs. Falerian turned the bow into a forward roll, then lifted herself on the air to dive upwards into the morning sky. She gave the impression of careless freedom, but she controlled her performance so that Leshah was not touched in any way. As the Avlem were blasted by the backdraft, the Air Elemental was careful not to disturb one hair of the Lady Leshah’s immaculate coiffure.


 

Well, here it is. Look for the next instalment on Sunday, 10th May.

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A Farewell to BADD

Why I Won’t Be Here Next Year

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post where I refused to tell you whether or not I was disabled. At the time, I wanted to establish this blog on its own merits, without labels or expectations. Now, however, I find myself moving from writing on broad, general topics, to writing about more specific things; and that means that certain details about myself will inevitably emerge. Such as: Yes, I consider myself disabled.

When you are part of a minority group, there is pressure to support everything that the group does, especially things that aim to educate the public, or gain recognition for the group. The reasoning goes that, since many of the rights and freedoms I enjoy today only came about because of campaigning and protesting, then I should be doing my bit to support all campaigns and protests that are happening today. To do otherwise is somehow disrespectful.

The pressure is there, from all sides. People outside the group expect me to speak for all of us, and people inside the group assume that I will automatically agree with everything they say and do. But I’m not a spokesman, and I’m not a pawn. There are groups that I belong to through choice, and I will gladly support and speak for them. But there are also groups that I am assigned to, based on things that I can’t control. Other people may expect things of me based on these labels, but I don’t have to conform to those expectations.

I have many labels.

“Artist” isn’t there.

It can be hard, pulling away from a group that claims natural ties, especially when that group is under threat. Even harder when other members of that group have fought hard to give me liberties and privileges that I can now take for granted. But, the fact is that these heroes of oppression exercised their right to choose, and they chose to fight. I choose to put my energy into other things, and define myself in other ways.

BADD is a wonderful thing, and I will continue to read and recommend the insightful posts that it generates. I salute the people who continue to write for it, year after year; all more so now that I realise it is a choice, not an obligation.

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Thinking and Doing

This year was going to be the year I wrote all my A-Z posts ahead of time, and had them scheduled to appear by 06:00 every day. That was the plan. It fell apart when the time came to stop thinking and planning, and start acting.

And… I didn’t.

And so it got to be mid-April, and I was still floundering. I had just over two weeks to write nearly 30 blog posts, not to mention writing and editing my webnovel, ahead of the planned release of part one on May 3rd.

Now I have exactly one week to go, and I’m almost ready with the first post. I’ll be working at breakneck pace, writing and editing up to the wire for a good few weeks at least.

The plan was to have the whole thing written by the end of 2014. The plan was to spend March and April editing the manuscript and splitting it into post-sized pieces. The plan was to avoid stress.

It was a good plan. There was only one problem: I’m pants at following my own plans. This does not bode well for my attempts to have a career as a freelance writer.

Identifying a personal flaw carries mixed feelings. On the one hand, it hurts to acknowledge being less than perfect; on the other hand there is a sense of tremendous pride borne of being self-aware enough to see the flaws in the first place.

It goes something like this:

“I’ve maturely identified my problem – look at me being all grown up!”

 – Great. So, what now?

“What do you mean? Now I get to feel good about being mature. That’s it.”

 – How are you going to fix the problem?

“Fix it? Oh, come on. Nobody’s perfect, right? Isn’t knowing myself enough? How grown up am I supposed to be, anyway?”

 – Knowing yourself is the first step. There’s still a whole journey ahead. You can’t stop here.

“But…”

Yeah, I have parent-child conversations inside my own head. Doesn’t everyone?

So, how do I fix this one? Not by making another plan, that’s for sure. At least, not a grand, far-reaching one. For the last two weeks I’ve been making a list last thing at night of exactly what I need to do the next day. ONLY the next day, not next week, or next month, or next year. When I wake up, I review the list and pick something quick and easy that I can do at once. Then I do it.

This has worked well so far. Some days it has taken me longer than I would like to get to the first task, but each day has seen me accomplish something. Not as much as I would like, but then I could write 10,000 words, edit 5 chapters, and complete 3 in-depth reviews and still end the day wishing that I’d managed to fit in some music practice.

Because holding myself to impossible standards is another of my failings; albeit one I have decided to do absolutely nothing about.

After all, nobody’s perfect.

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Cyinicism Tropes

A-Z challenge; letter CCynicism is the bitter, estranged child of scepticism and fear. In their place, both of these “parent” emotions have a useful role: scepticism can pour doubt on certain knee-jerk reactions, and fear can be a protection against recklessness. However, when they come together and take over they bear sour fruit: the cynic.

The cynic never has to test out a theory or take a risk, because disaster is a foregone conclusion. The cynic never has to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, because there is no doubt: everyone is evil, petty and stupid. The cynic is never wrong.

The cynic is a jerk.

Cynicism tropes can reflect the attitude of the characters or the writer (or both). Cynical characters can be fun, but if overused they can negatively affect the tone of the story. Cynical writers are like lemons: refreshing in small doses, but not something you’d want to take straight in large quantities.

Some common cynicism tropes include:

Cynical characters can express these views, then find their assumptions challenged as the plot unfolds. A cynical writer might play the tropes straight, especially if they reflect the writer’s genuine world view. A good story can have a cynical edge or two, without drowning the whole thing in snarkic acid.

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Blue and Orange Morality

wpid-b.jpg

Most characters in fiction can be classed as Good or Evil, or a complex mix of the two. Wherever they fall along the axis of morality, we can use the same basic parameters to describe their actions: selfish or philanthropic, bigoted or accepting, hateful or kind. It doesn’t take long to figure out the heroes and the villains.

But then along comes an outsider. Maybe an alien, maybe a member of a different species, or maybe just another human with a different mindset. For whatever reason, these characters live by their own code; and it’s utterly bizarre. This is a case of “Blue and Orange Morality”.

Introducing a whole new dimension

They are not amoral, nor acting out of a desire to shock. They simply have their own ideas about right and wrong, which do not map neatly onto ours. Often they are as confused by our moral code as we are by theirs, which can lead to drama, comedy, or even tragedy, depending on the story being told.

Done well, “Blue and Orange Morality” can hold up a mirror to our own world, questioning or reaffirming the moral standards that we take for granted. It can be used to show people with different values trying to find common ground, or even the misunderstandings that can occur when people assume that everyone has the same moral framework.

Done badly, it descends into “We’re right, you’re weird, they’re evil” – a disturbingly common theme. If the “Blue and Orange” mindset is portrayed as irrational, self-defeating, or otherwise untenable, then the whole story becomes a soapbox for proclaiming that anyone who disagrees with the author is wrong, and probably also insane.

Like most tropes, “Blue and Orange Morality” is hard to do well, but very rewarding when pulled off successfully. Follow the link (at your own risk) to see some examples of this trope in action.

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Averted and Inverted Tropes

A to Z challenge: letter AAs I said yesterday, tropes are not bad. However, they do create a level of reader expectation, to the point where a savvy reader can often tell where your story is going. So how do you keep the reader interested? Why not throw in a clever twist? Appear to be following the trope, then… WHAM! Trope averted!

And this can be very effective, especially in stories where suspense is key. However, unless you have genre-savvy characters, you will have to be careful to build a logical, in-story reason for averting the trope. Doing it just to be different is not enough, it has to fit the story.

The same principle applies to inverting or subverting tropes. Basically, all -versions should be handled with care. Done right, they can enhance the story wonderfully; done wrong, they break the narrative completely with a cry of, “Look at this writer being so clever!”

Ironically, an overused trope aversion becomes a trope in its own right – sometimes even a cliché. However, that’s a topic for another day.

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Back in the Saddle Again (Again)

Well, that plan didn’t last for long. It was mostly sound, I just didn’t manage my time well. Still, in the spirit of never giving up, I’m about to attempt another A-Z April. Because I’m stubborn like that.

Banner and link for "Blogging from A to Z: April" 2015This year’s theme is tropes, and there will be links to the TV Tropes website, which will serve as the source of most of the definitions. WARNING: TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life. Follow links at your own risk.

So, what is a trope? The dictionary gives this definition:

“A figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression;
A significant or recurrent theme; a motif.

TV Tropes says:

“Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.”

Tropes are not:

  • Clichés
  • A genre
  • Proof of bad writing
  • Proof of good writing

Tropes simply are. They emerge naturally in a culture, sometimes independently in several places at once. They show us what we were, what we are, and what we want to be. And, once seen, they can’t be unseen.

I repeat: TV Tropes will ruin your life. It’s not just a time-sink, it’s a gateway into a whole new way of looking at stories. Read on… if you dare.

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The Physical Writer

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and time to talk about writing – literally. As writers, we spend a lot of time inside our own heads. We value our mental strength, the size of our imaginations; and are generally less concerned about being physically fit or impressive. The pen being mightier than the sword, we focus on exercising our brains, sometimes at the expense of our bodies.

All well and good but, like most things, this attitude can be taken too far. Just as the greatest athletes and body-builders need to train their minds, writers and artists need to take care of their bodies. After all, even if our stories live and grow in the mind, we need some way to communicate those stories to the physical world. Since brain-reading technology is still in its infancy, we rely on pens, keyboards and the like to bridge the gap between the minds of the writer and the reader.

Hello, hand cramp. Or, for those who prefer speech-to-text software, sore throats. Not to mention tight shoulders and lower back pain from poor posture; or eye-strain headaches from staring fixedly at unco-operative words day and night. The occupational illnesses of a writer are insidious, and tend to be things that we brush off lightly when we are young and fit. Well, spoilers: They still get you in the end. Caffine and pain-killers are the quick-fix solution, for when you are racing a deadline, or trying to work through a killer cramp. But it’s better to avoid the pain in the first place, if at all possible. A few small stretches and exercises throughout the day can work wonders.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER – PLEASE READ!!      

I am neither a doctor nor a trained physiotherapist. All I can do is share what I’ve been able to research, and say how well it works for me. If you have existing health trouble, or even an old injury, be sure to consult a professional before attempting the exercises in this post. And, EVEN IF YOU ARE IN GOOD HEALTH, take the stretches and exercises only as far as your body will allow.

Note: This is not an “office workout” – there are plenty of those available online if you’re interested. Most of these moves are not exercises at all, simply stretches. If you have the time, energy and inclination, then these stretches can lead into more vigorous exercises. However, they don’t have to. The idea is just to loosen up and prevent stiffness.

1. Wrists and hands

Hands and armsLift your hands from the keyboard and make a fist. Squeeze for a couple of seconds, then shake out both hands, making sure to stretch your fingers, and get plenty of movement in your wrists. Splay your fingers wide and hold for two seconds. Repeat at least twice.

2. Neck and shoulders

Head and ShouldersRoll your shoulders backwards to counter the effect of hunching over your desk. If you can, lift your arms and do a mid-air backstroke to really unwind your shoulder blades. Let your neck go with the movement, looking up and down, left and right. DO NOT roll your neck right round – stick with half-turns. Finally, shake out your arms, and tilt your head left and right, as if you were trying to touch your ears with your shoulders.

3. Back and legs…

Time to get up, and get down. Get up from your chair and lie down on the floor, flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Keeping your head, shoulders, and lower back firmly on the floor, and your knees together, twist your legs so that your knees are on your right side. Don’t pull a muscle by trying to push them further than they’ll go, just twist to the right, then the left. Make sure to keep your back still and flat. This should help undo any tension that builds up in your lower back.

If you can’t lie down (or don’t fancy your chances of getting up again without help) you can try a variation of this stretch that you do standing up in a doorway.

Back and LegsStand in the doorway with your back to the hinges, feet shoulder-width apart, looking at the door jamb. The door is there to give you a frame (hah) of reference, to make sure you don’t tip forwards or backwards. Twist your upper body, keeping one hand on the door jamb at all times. Don’t try to twist too far, just turn to gently stretch the muscles in your back. SLOWLY turn the other way. Repeat no more than four times.

Whichever stretch you do, take the long way back to your chair – give your legs a chance to move a bit.

4. Posterior…

No picture for this one, because it’s an invisible stretch (almost). Clench your buttocks like you were trying to hold off using the toilet, count to four and relax. Repeat as often as you remember. This is a great way to avoid stiffness in your hips, and prevent pressure from building on your tail bone.

5. Eyes…

Preventing Eye-strainEvery hour or so, close your eyes for thirty seconds, then open them and look at something as far away as you can. If you don’t have a line of sight on anything far away, then close your eyes again and imagine yourself stargazing, or bird-watching – anything to get your eyes to focus on distance, rather than close-up. This can help reduce eye-strain, and who knows? You might see something in the distance that inspires a new piece of writing!

6. Feet and Ankles…

Lift your feet from the floor and roll your ankles a few times, clockwise and anti-clockwise. If you can, hold both feet off the floor for a moment. This is another stretch that you can do without interrupting your writing.

For more stretches and exercises, see: http://www.wikihow.com/Exercise-While-Sitting-at-Your-Computer.

Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and eat healthily – which means different things for different people. There isn’t a “right way” to health and fitness, any more than there’s a “right way” to write a novel. It’s about finding your own style, and refining it. Following this advice won’t give you killer abs and toned thighs; that’s not the purpose of exercise for a writer. What it may do, though, is give you enough physical and mental energy to let your brilliant thoughts flow more easily from your brilliant mind to your brilliant prose, or poetry, or blog post.

May your writing be as painless as possible or, if there must be agonies, let them be of the creative soul, not the body.

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The (Revised) Plan

I had a plan. It was a good plan, and I was all set to follow it. Then life happened, and… yeah. Well, this is the last Wednesday – in fact, the last day – of 2014, so that makes it time for a look back (briefly) and a look ahead.

What Went Wrong

To quote my sponsor, Ember Rain, from Writing.Com:

“You went into this hoping you would win but not really expecting it.”

This pretty much sums up my entire year. I faced a lot of minor challenges, and each missed target sapped my energy for the next. I loaded all my failures onto my back and tried to take on yet another challenge – NaNoWriMo. My failure was not unexpected – and that’s the problem. As Ember Rain very kindly didn’t say, I set myself low targets and consistently failed to achieve them. With this model, failure is virtually guaranteed.

So, next year, my motto will be: “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Of course, my brain – being the dangerous cynic that it is, immediately adds, “…or, you could fail to achieve escape velocity and burn up on re-entry”. Because my brain has no concept of when to shut up.

Last time, I also leapt into the plan with my posts outlined, but not written ahead of time. This was a mistake, and is the reason why most of next month’s posts have been written in the last week of December, needing only status updates and last-minute checks before they go out into the virtual world.

The New Schedule

As before, the plan is to update this blog every Wednesday, with a different theme for each week of the month, like so:

Week One: Writing
– Anything from SPaG mechanics to motivation tricks

Week Two: Reading
– A review or two of what I’m currently reading

Week Three: Story-telling
– In any medium, the principles of telling a good story remain the same

Week 4: Free day
– When there are five Wednesdays in a month, this is the “extra” day.

Last Week: Summary
– Look back, look ahead. Speaking of which…

January

Writing goals:

  • 2k new words per day
  • 6 hours editing per week
  • 3 hours research per week

Current projects: Fragments and Silver Tongue

Other goals:

Well, that’s the plan. Will it survive contact with the new year? Only time will tell. See you next Wednesday for some thoughts on writing.

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