Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Word Count Wednesday

                                                               What am I working on?

     As far as creative writing goes, I've written very little this week. In fact, I think I scribbled out one sentence...
    Rather than writing, I've been having scraps and pieces of story ideas drifting around in my head. They're just tiny little flashes of scenes that have been coming to me. This week, I hope to collect my thoughts and pen them down in some form or other.

                                                     How do I feel about the process?

I'm feeling pretty disconnected right now with all my ideas. I'm not sure if they're pieces of a whole, or if they're just pieces from different stories. They all have a medieval/fantasy sort of setting so I suppose I could put them together if I wanted to.

                                                             What am I reading?

Pat of Silver Bush by L. M. Montgomery

The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

Nothing has changed in my reading, except that I actually have been reading! Normally I just read a few sentences before bed as a wind-down, but I decided to try to get back into reading at least a few pages a day. I love to read books - real, printed, paper books - but it's been harder for me to set that time aside during school semesters.


Total word count: 26 (Looks like it was two sentences, actually. Yay, hurray).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

First Short-Story

                                                            SOLACE


From the moment sixteen-year-old Rosie Portman woke up, she felt a yearning to

hear her brother’s violin music. Rosie’s brother was an exceptionally gifted violinist, but

he only played when he felt that the Portman’s really needed him to – when he felt that

they had all been having an especially trying day. Waking up with a terrible head-ache,

and a drab grey sky out her window, Rosie fervently hoped her brother would oblige

them all with his music. Her headache lessened only slightly throughout the day and was

nearly gone, but not quite, by the time dinner was in the making.

Rosie now stood between the kitchen, where her mother was busy making

preparations for dinner, and the living room where her two brothers sat side-by side. No

one would have guessed that David and Ben were brothers. David, who was studying to

be a pilot, was tall and bronze with a fierceness in his blue eyes that told of his great

strength and determination. Benjamin was small and delicate. The red fringe of hair

visible under his cap stood out against his marble-white skin. In his deep brown eyes

there was an indefinable something that almost made Rosie sad.

It was a well-known fact that Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Portman’s youngest child did

not speak, or rather would not speak. Though he was nearly eleven and a half years old,

Benjamin never said a word, save for on rare occasions when he replied with one or two

words in response to his older brother David. David never pressed him to speak, or

reacted with surprise when he did, and so he became the only person Ben ever opened his

mouth to speak to.

            David was speaking animatedly while Ben listened intently, occasionally nodding

his head. As the clock struck four, David stretched and yawned, thoroughly exhausted

from his own chatter.

“Go get ‘er,” he said, giving Ben’s knee a playful whack.

Ben got to his feet and crossed the floor to the front door. Every day at four-o’-

clock Ben went to get the mail. He never missed it, and he was always punctual.

However, Ben got no further than opening the door before he was met with a sight that

made his pale face whiter still. Mrs. Nettle, the neighbor lady who knew everything about

everyone, or thought she did, was just huffing up the front steps, on heels that were much

too high for her.

“Benny, dear! How are you?” She said loudly and deliberately, as if speaking to

him with enough volume would somehow restore his powers of speech.

Ben’s only response was to draw his eyebrows together, tighten his thin lips, and

raise his shoulders defensively. At this flinch-like gesture, Mrs. Nettle merely chuckled

and reached out a glossy nailed hand to ruffle his hair – a feat made difficult since he was

still wearing a hat.

            Rosie and David instinctively came to his aid.

“Hello, Mrs. Nettle,” they said together.

David was an especial favorite of Mrs. Nettle’s and she pounced on every chance

she got to shower him with praises and to reaffirm that he would go far in his life simply

because she said so.

“Ben, will you help me in the kitchen? There are a few things I meant to wash.

Excuse us, Mrs. Nettle,” said Rosie.

She took Ben’s white wrist and pulled him away from the door where he had been

standing as if rooted to the floor. Mrs. Nettle prattled on to David, as though she had not

heard Rosie.

In the safety of the kitchen, Rosie let out an exasperated sigh and passed a small

stack of dishes to Ben.

“Don’t do any more than these,” she advised, only half expecting him to obey.

As Ben ran the water and started to scrub a large mixing bowl, Rosie pulled a

batch of rolls out of the oven that had just finished baking.

“Who is that, Rosie?” Mrs. Portman asked.

“Mrs. Nettle. She must have found out David was coming home today.”

“Ah.”

Rosie began setting the table, catching a few words here and there such as

“…always top of the class…know you can do anything you set your mind to…very

capable…always so easy for you…never had trouble…whereas, poor Benny – ”

There was a splash followed by the tinkling of glass shards.

“Ben,” Rosie came to his side, taking his hand and turning it over. His palm was

red and raw. A blister was just forming on his index finger.

“You’re doing more than I gave you. Don’t push yourself.” She passed him a dry

rag. Ben started to pluck pieces of glass from the sink but Mrs. Portman firmly told him

to rest a while. He was frequently being told to take a rest, and more consistently still he

was admonished to reapply his special ointment to the sensitive skin on his fingers and

palms. He needed no reminding this time and promptly took a small jar out of his pocket.

Rosie sank into a reverie as she watched Ben work the ointment in soothing circles

around his distressed skin.  

The best that doctors had been able to do for Ben’s sensitive hands was to

prescribe him this special ointment, which provided temporary relief. This ointment he

now carried everywhere he went. In his childhood, Ben had acquired an unknown skin

condition that only affected his hands, but it kept him from doing a wide variety of things

that most boys his age had no trouble doing. He would get blisters and raw spots on his

hands even after performing the simplest of tasks for short durations of time. Rosie knew

he didn’t feel sorry for himself; she knew that what he was most sorry for was that he was

not able to help in the ways David and Rosie were able to. While Ben kept a brave

countenance in public, Rosie would sometimes hear him crying in his bedroom at night.

On these occasions, she would tiptoe into his room and gently hold his hands in hers,

staying up all night or until the pain subsided enough for him to fall asleep. Some nights

were worse than others. If he had tried especially hard to be helpful, he was scarcely able

to pull his covers back at the end of the day; the lightest touch was agony on such nights.

            Rosie was shaken from her reverie by the sound of David’s voice, hollering a

cheery farewell after the clip-clopping footsteps of Mrs. Nettle. David appeared at Ben’s

side in the kitchen and swiped the hat off from the hidden flames of hair. Ben snatched it

back with a reproachful grin. As he clamped it back on his head, tugging it around his

ears, Rosie stifled a sigh. She wished he would leave his hat off sometimes; he had such

beautiful burnished waves of ruby hair. But that hat stayed on all day, everyday. Rosie

often had to remind him to take it off before bed.

“David, will you go knock on the study door? I think we’d better sit down to

dinner soon,” said Mrs. Portman, wringing her flour-dusted hands in her apron.

“‘Course.” David swung himself about and headed off to the study.

Mr. Portman had taken to spending long hours in his study as of late. It had been a

hard year financially, and he put whatever time he could into figuring how the Portman

family were to meet their expenses. As Mrs. Portman placed a cold platter of ham on the

table, next to the rolls and salad, David re-entered followed by his father. Mr. Portman

rubbed his forehead and said nothing as he fell into his chair at the head of the table.

The meal that ensued was a rather grim affair. David kept up a lively chatter all

throughout it. He told his mother, who was surveying her husband with concern, anything

amusing that he could re-call his pilot buddies saying to him. Rosie picked up the slack

when no one laughed. Ben never laughed, just as he never spoke; besides, Rosie could

tell this would be another of his agonizing nights. He really had been pushing himself

over the edge all day. Mrs. Portman smiled weakly, and Mr. Portman continued to frown

at his plate as though it had just given him very bad news.

            The same tone permeated the small living room they congregated into

after dinner. Rosie looked about the room at the faces of the people she loved most – her

father, resting his tired head in his hand – at her mother looking fearfully at Mr. Portman

as if she wanted to say something to him, but did not have the words. She looked at Ben,

sitting cross-legged in front of the low embers in the fireplace. Rosie thought he looked

rather wistful as he sat there, staring at the dancing shadows on the hearth. What was he

thinking, she wondered? Finally her eyes fell on David. Everyone that knew him said that

there was not a thing he couldn’t do – that they were sure he could, and would, do

wonderful things with whatever he chose to pursue. He seemed to instantly become adept

at anything he picked up. Anywhere he went praises met his ears. Any place he left good

thoughts and well wishes went with him. But David was modest. Not once had Rosie

caught the faintest glimmer of pride in her older brother. Rosie gave one last sweep

around the room and was then quite sure: this had to be a violin night. She turned back to

her brother and whispered confidentially, “Do you think – I mean – ”

It seemed he had been thinking the same thing for he nodded and leaped

energetically to his feet. In a moment he was standing with his instrument elegantly

poised on his left shoulder. Everyone seemed to straighten a little and, before he had even

begun, Rosie felt lighter in her heart.

The song started at a gentle pace and gradually picked up to a riveting rhythm.

The strains from the violin told a vivid story, one more enthralling than could be told in

words. Rosie felt deep admiration for this accomplished musician that was her very own

brother. Every note fell like a healing drop of balm. These private violin concerts, held in

the dim light of dying fire, not only melted the cares away from once furrowed brows, but

also worked to imbue all with a feeling of greater strength and power to overcome. Rosie

knew that, when her brother played, his music became the crowning event of the day,

though he would never say so. He was always modest. Now, as the music played, his face

was kind and sweet.

As Rosie sat listening to the song of the violin, rich and soulful in its very

simplicity, her glance fell on Ben’s delicate face, his red hair brushed back under his cap,

and his pocket bulging with the jar of his special ointment. Ben had a deep way of

listening. More than once, while the music played, Rosie thought she saw a flash in Ben’s

eyes that looked as if he had just seen something awe striking. She knew that, more than

merely entertaining, the violin music inspired, lifted, and strengthened him. He needed to

hear it. Mr. and Mrs. Portman finally seemed to find ease as they listened to the

performance of their son, to whom this gift had come so naturally. Parental pride beamed

from their faces and shone in their misty eyes.

The song ended on a high ethereal note and faded away. A general sigh of

satisfaction seemed to wash over the close little room. Rosie clapped her hands along

with her father and mother. David smiled. Then he pulled the ointment from Ben’s pocket

and began to massage it into his brother’s sore fingers.

“You play magnificently, Ben.”

A slow smile spread across Ben’s small pale face.


“Thank you,” he whispered.

Word Count Wednesday

                                                              What am I working on?
                         
     This week, I finished my first short-story called Solace. My goal for the next few days is to work on two things: evaluating how Solace turned out, and creating something that's at least one step up from it.              

                                                   How do I feel about the process?

     I go back and forth with how I feel about my short-story. Being the writer, I feel a personal connection with the characters and that, at least to me, is what really makes a story. If I relate to or can sympathize with the people in the story, then the story itself means more. However, in trying to honestly evaluate this story, I find myself wondering if most readers will get to the end of it thinking that what "happened" in the story was...nothing! Quite frankly, I'm not of the opinion that it's an especially eventful story. It isn't! The important parts are not obvious. I worked in hidden messages through symbolism and even in the twist at the end (which, by the way, is easy to miss). I don't like stories to shout the moral in my face or completely abandon the elegance of simplicity. I do wonder though if, as a result of this preference, I write in an overly illusive and simplistic manner.

    I might try my hand at fantasy for my next writing project, but I foresee that being challenging since that genre seems to demand epic/adventure/action elements, and I don't know if I can write like that. Apparently, strong plots are not my forte!

                                                              What am I reading?

Same two books as last week...

Total word count: 2,005

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Word Count Wednesday

                                                          What am I working on?

     Sometimes I find that the tip of my pen is dry and it blocks the ink flowing. In such tragic cases, before I'm able to write anything, I first need to viciously scratch on a piece of paper, leaving deep grooves of nothingness followed eventually by black zig-zagging lines. I think that this is a sort of commentary on how writing in general goes. This week I've been doing a bit of pen scratching, trying to get the ink to flow (actually, I alternated between pencil and keyboard, but you know)... One of the things I've been scribbling out is a short-story. This may not be a good sign but I don't quite know how to summarize what it's about. There's nothing "Earth-shattering" about it. The story, message, and twist are all very simple.



                                                   How do I feel about the process?

     I'm enjoying creating lines that make my characters more believable and real.

     Everything else is hard.

                                                            What am I reading?

     "Pat of Silver Bush" and "the Two Towers" are still stacked on my nightstand. Those books really don't go together at all but, as I've mentioned, they're a couple of my favorites!


Total word count: 1,000+

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Word Count Wednesday

                                                           What am I working on?

     Currently, I'm trying to figure out my writing genre. I've been revisiting some old notes I scribbled out in my notebooks of both fiction and fantasy stories to see which I feel more like writing. My project for the next few days is going to be to experiment with both and see if I come to a conclusion.

                                                  How do I feel about the process?

     The process of trying to choose one of two very different genres feels somewhat daunting. I suppose I could keep writing in both genres but that seems kind of bizarre...
     I can go for months with fantasy front and foremost on my mind. These are times that are very exciting and magical to me, where ideas just keep coming about new plants and creatures for the different planets I've created. Occasionally, a scene will play itself out, but this doesn't happen as often for me in the fantasy genre as it does in the fiction genre.
     To me, it's easier to focus on developing relatable characters in the fiction genre because they are faced with everyday situations that can be related directly to the reader. With fantasy, I get so caught up in the creation of the world that the people live in that I don't go into much depth with developing the characters.
     One of my unfinished stories deals with two kids from Earth that are able to visit another world through means of some sort of telepathy. Since these two kids are residents of Earth but have the ability to travel to a world of fantasy, the story has elements of the average, dull, everyday life, but it also contains parts that are just pure fantasy. This idea may have been inspired from my indecisiveness about which world my writing is going to go towards...

                                                         What am I reading?

When I find the time, I read from the same two books as last week:

Pat of Silver Bush by L. M. Montgomery

The Two Towers by J R. R. Tolkien


By the way, those two books are perfect examples of the two genres I go back and forth with in my own writing. L. M. Montgomery is my favorite author because her characters feel very real to me and I relate to the things that happen in their lives. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite of all fantasy stories! I think it's amazing how thoroughly it was all thought out, and having all those background stories makes it feel just as real as stories like Pat of Silver Bush.



Total word count: 1,000+