Posts tagged writing
Posts tagged writing
“It’s only eternity, Sachiel.” The way Metatron shrugged and smiled was infuriating. He knew as well as everyone else in the Host what the consequences were.
“So you’ve never been tempted to do it, either?” I challenged him.
He just laughed and sat back in his chair. “Come on. We watch these people every day for our jobs. You can tell me honestly that you’re envious of that?”
“Well…” I thought of Teresa’s sad face when she came back to her empty apartment. Of the times she hovered the blade over her wrists in the bathroom sink. Who knew whether it was my inaudible whispers in her ear, or Metatron’s, that drew her hand back. But that was not something to envy.
But then, the determination on her brow the next day, as if she knew she had been given a second chance. Small good things. Small smiles. A desire to see more of those things in her life. And also be a part of them.
Metatron sighed. “I know, I know,” he said. He rubbed his forehead. “It’s the sort of thing He might want to do. But we’re not Him, and we’re not them either. That’s not what we’re about, you know? We’re in between beings. Someone has to be in the middle.”
“I didn’t ask to be in the middle.”
“And are you sure you’re not just doing this to get some of the credit for yourself?” Metatron was smiling again, but blinking in curiosity. “I mean, you know that’s how—”
“You know I’m not like that guy.”
“I didn’t say you were. He wanted to keep his powers too, not like you. And it’s not like you’re asking for the army too.”
“Can you imagine me at the head of the Host? That’s a good one.” I chuckled. “Anyways, I already put in my application. They’ll approve it, I’m sure.”
“The very act of applying pretty much guarantees it.” Metatron sighed. “Well, as much as an angel can miss someone, I’ll miss you, Sachiel. I’ll try to say hi to you every once in a while, but who knows if you’ll ever hear me.”
“Probably not, no.”
“Well, shoot. And think about what you’re leaving behind. I’m going to have to hear another boring sermon from Gabriel about dangerous female charges and temptation and ‘This Is How The Angel Drowned’…”
My spark of divinity, I knew, was going to fade in a day or two. But as Metatron continued talking about the inconveniences of losing his partner, pretending to be annoyed even though it wasn’t possible for angels to be actually annoyed, I realized I would miss him too. Maybe that was the first sign that I was changing. He sure likes to work fast on some things.
Another piece inspired by 2DTeleidoscope’s writing prompt. This is fiction.
“Jeez, you haven’t changed at all, Peter.” Rachel’s first words to me in ten years sounded more disappointed than surprised. But she held out her arms anyway: “Come here, you,” she said, and we embraced. “How are you, anyway?”
“Good, good,” I replied. “So what are you up to these days?” I caught a whiff of alcohol from her breath as we let each other go and the pleasantries continued. The other old classmates slipped themselves around us as we talked.
“To be honest, I didn’t think you’d come,” Rachel said. “This didn’t seem like your sort of thing.”
“Oh. Well, I just thought—you know—”
“That I might be here?” She grinned slyly.
“Hey, this wasn’t your sort of thing either,” I said. “But.” I stared down at my shoes sheepishly. “I guess so?” I looked up hesitantly.
Rachel laughed heartily and hugged me again. This exuberance was new. “You’re such a sweetheart, Peter! Why did we break up again? Anyways, let’s—” She reached over for the cheap plastic wine glass she had set down on a table behind her, half filled with chardonnay, and raised it. “—have a toast. To our reunion. Hey, where’s your glass?”
“I don’t drink anymore,” I said.
“Oh. Ok.” She seemed flustered for just one moment, the clichéd reunion scene having gone off-script. Finally she spotted a nearly empty cup and thrust it in front of my face. “Here.”
“Okay…” I took the cup gingerly, trying not to get used to holding a wine glass again, and raised it.
“To our reunion,” she said. I echoed.
We clicked plastic glass to plastic glass. She never used to make me do stupid ritualistic stuff like this. We made fun of the people who did. But now: the flush on her cheeks, bobbing her head to the Sugar Ray song.
“You seem energetic these days,” I finally said.
“Really? I don’t feel all that different. I still don’t know what—”
“It’s ok.” I put the glass she had handed me down. “Listen, it was great seeing you and—”
She tugged at my sleeve. “So soon? Don’t you want to, you know, catch up a little more?” Now I saw the sadness, the same forlorn flicker in her eyes when we left for our different universities, the one that knew that our emails, phone calls, and visits would dwindle into nothing.
“Well. All right.” I tried my best to shrug coolly. “Let’s ditch these losers and find somewhere to talk, ok?”
“Yeah.” The old smile returned. “Let’s do it.”
“But I can’t have anything, all right?”
“That’s ok.” She somehow found a bottle that hadn’t been drained and grabbed it by the neck. “I’ll have enough for both of us.”
“This is going to be a long night, isn’t it?” She just rolled her eyes and laughed again.
We found a quiet corner away from the crowd and we talked. The party ended and we moved to the front seats of my car and talked some more as she would drink and drink another. Between night and blue dawn the hours flowed freely with the memories and the pain.
Prompted by 2DTeleidoscope’s writing challenge.
I was never good at keeping time. “You’re playing too fast,” my piano teacher would tell me as I ran through Bach’s “Minuet in G” for the fourth time, and she would wind up the metronome, set its weight to adagio, and let it go. Tock. Tock. Tock. Tock. If it was slow enough, I could follow the regimented time, my fingers pressing harder on the keys on the downbeat.
But the rhythm in my head and the rhythm of the metronome never stayed in sync for long. It was like my brain was telling my fingers to hurry up and get to the end of the measure, the end of the piece.
Some time in high school, I stopped playing classical music and started playing jazz. Now there was a drummer to keep time, but the thing with jazz is that sometimes you don’t play on the beat: you slip the notes between the snare and the bass drum, fills and chords and riffs dancing atop the rhythm section. It is a delicate and precise syncopated dance, though; even a quarter or eighth note early or late and it sounds as clumsy as a dancer with leaden feet, fumbling and stepping on his partner’s toes.
And so I would sometimes come in too early. “Watch your tempo. Feel it,” my band director said. And I would try. I would get it right about, oh, 75% of the time. I’d practice the entrance over and over, but I’d still slip. And every time I tried to feel it, it would be off.
But when I was alone—either at home when my parents were away, or when church youth group had ended and I sat by myself in the dark with the piano while the rest of the kids played, socialized and did other things that didn’t come naturally to me—I would play what I wanted. They were just chords, cadences, and arpeggios, flowing out of my fingers, the sustain pedal pulling back the dampers and letting the notes echo through the empty room. They were pop melodies, I-IV-V-relative minor languid sappy concoctions that reeked of virginal angst.
Often, I’d close my eyes when I played these musical doodles, and with no metronome, no drummer, no teacher telling me when to start, I’d let myself go. I played as fast and as slowly as I wanted, following the tempo of my own emotions. Years of lessons and practice had taught me where things were on the keyboard; it was up to my mind, heart, and fingers to explore, in silent rhythm, the curse of being out-of-sync with the rest of the world.
I made a cover last week for the novel I just Nanowrimo’d. It’s not done yet as a story, but I hit the 50k monthly goal. More thoughts on this later.
When I was younger
I traveled a quarter of a mile up
to the top of the South Tower.
It was cloudy then
and the city loomed below, the view shrouded
in gauze. I wrote in my class notebook,
“Not much to see,”
and we went down again.
Six years later the sky was silent
Just for fun, and to show off my improved Photoshop skillz: I designed a simple cover for my novel-in-revision, The Breaks. It was my Nanowrimo novel for 2010, and is undergoing some reimagining. I reread it recently and there’s definitely salvageable material, though I want to make it bigger and deeper. We shall see.
The cover looks nice on my Nook Color, though!
I promised “more to come” after I finished Nanowrimo 2010 the other day. Here it is: some thoughts on my process, experience, and possible plans for the future.
First, some background. The Breaks is a sequel to a nearly-finished and endlessly reworked teen angst novel I wrote a while ago called Soul Music. It features the same three main characters, albeit one primarily in absentia. I remember racking my brain trying to think of new ideas, but then November suddenly arrived, and on a whim, I decided to start with an image from a song I’d heard recently (“Jimmy Had a Polaroid,” by Math and Physics Club), and for some reason, that image contained the three leads of Soul Music. That’s all it took to get started.
I had no outline for The Breaks. This was a huge departure from the way I’d always done stories in the past, in which I would have detailed road maps, character sketches, and other planning materials carefully laid out before I wrote a single word. My previous Nanowrimo attempts always started thus—and they failed. This time, though, I literally made up the story as I went along; I had no agenda other than “what happens to Peter, Alan, and Rachel during their first year of college?” I was surprised how many plot twists arrived, even within the first couple of pages, and how I tried to follow the trail that my characters began to follow, seemingly entirely on their own. Part of the speed had to do, I think, with the fact that these are characters that have lived inside my head for a long time and are thus relatively well-developed. There were certain things they would not do, or had to do. I was taught this is usually a good sign.
Unlike Soul Music, this novel is not even partly autobiographical. Almost no plot points or incidents are based directly on things that happened to me in my college years. Instead, I drew on my memories primarily for color detail—the names of movies, sites, street names, and the like. Since this was Nanowrimo, there are almost certainly embarrassing lapses in believability and emotional truth, which will need much repair during the revision process. For me emotional truth far outweighs literal, exact detail, and I will have to find out just how much emotional truth the novel was able to carry through.
Because this book came at a time of a bit of internal stress and insecurity in my life, for one. Writing has always served a therapeutic purpose for me, at least in part; the original Soul Music was a means to express my delayed adolescent angst that I hadn’t had time to indulge during my busy high school years. The Breaks was conceived in a time of transition and personal insecurity, and inevitably some of that made it into the story as it currently stands. As per the Nanowrimo ideal, I pretty much let myself go, expressed things in words no matter how expositional or “telling” (which, again, must be rewritten later), and I cared not one whit about how Writerly the prose was. It’s probably my most forthright and least pretentious work as a result, as well as my most “telling.”
I am not sure whether I will actually try to salvage this book, or try to incorporate it into the original Soul Music novel. I’ll be reading it sometime next week to determine that. For one, it probably doesn’t stand well on its own, because it presumes some familiarity with the main characters—though I purposely did not read the old novel before I started writing it. I didn’t want to be hung up by continuity issues, especially for a novel that no one has read! Plus, I did not want my 18-19 year old self coloring the way this novel would be written; this was intended in part to be a 29 year old’s look back at those years, hopefully sprinkled with a little additional wisdom gained in the last decade. (Who knows how much, though: I still sometimes feel like a 19 year old!)
Even if I don’t continue any further with it The Breaks represented a milestone of sorts: it proved to me that a little discipline goes a long way, that I can still do this if I had the wherewithal, and that, above all else, writing still brings me joy that nothing else can. As terrible as I know this draft is—and no, I won’t be showing it to anyone!—It was a sincere pleasure to write.
Next year, though, I should try something original and new for a change.
I won. I can’t believe it, but I won.
More to come later.
Yes, everyone, I’m doing Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) again this year, as I have every year since 2004. And for once I’m not far behind at this point—just two days behind, at almost 10,000 words so far. The novel is called The Breaks and it is a sequel/continuation of a novel I wrote more than 10 years ago called Soul Music. It’s also the first non-fantasy/SF story I’ve written in some time and was preceded by the least amount of planning I’ve ever done for a story—I’m literally making it up as I go along, and there have already been quite a few surprises in how the story is turning out.
Would you be interested in me putting up installments/chapters as I continue? It is pretty atrocious at times! However there are some OK parts too, and I’m just happy to be writing again.
Something wild and crazy: my own in-progress novel on a Nook. I’m going to re-read what I wrote and start working on it again.
Update: just finished reading what I had so far. It was, surprisingly, not terrible. Awkward writing in spots, but the overall plot was actually readable (and I haven’t touched it in several months now). I think I will continue it after all!