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July 2013

Writing Keeps Me Sane

I recently discovered something. Writing keeps me sane. Despite its complicated rules—and the difficulty of learning, remembering, and applying them—weaving this complicated tale of betrayal, love, thirst for power, and a desire to smash long-held traditions often keeps me from screaming in frustration at real life.
It makes sense, considering that's how the whole thing began. I was far from home, staying in a hotel with my mom, while my dad lay in the hospital across the street recovering from triple-bypass surgery. I'm a stickler for routine and don't handle emotional family issues very well, so it's no surprise that when I couldn't sleep one night, I conjured up something to entertain myself. A woman in a cage in a vehicle's cargo hold. A man she doesn't know gets thrown into the dingy room with her and is also caged. He manages to escape the cage, and helps her do the same. When the vehicle stops, they attack one of the crew and make a run for it.
Chill out and write*POOF * The beginning of Fate's Apology was born. I found myself replaying the scene over and over, adding details, trying to come up with names, and wondering: who is this woman and what is it they want with this man?
The story is never far from my mind. It keeps me up at night and lulls me to sleep at my computer. It's eaten up countless hours, taught me about things I never would have otherwise researched, and helped me make new friends. It's also helped keep me calm during those times when I would normally be pacing like a caged tiger. That's because whenever I find myself stuck somewhere waiting—at the doctor's office, in the car, on a plane, waiting for a ride, or having a bout of insomnia—I always, always have something to do to pass the time. I often get more writing done during these unanticipated moments of forced free time than I do when I sit down to whip out the next thousand words.
Thursday was no exception. The power went out at work. With a reassurance from the power company that it would be only an hour or so, we stayed and waited. And waited. And waited, as each new hour brought the same reassurance. While co-workers milled around outside, soaking up some sun, chatting, and getting antsy to either get back to work or go home, I sat in the dimness of the emergency lighting, calmly scribbling away on scrap paper. Sure, I wanted to go home too. But rather than pulling my hair out in frustration while being bored and watching the clock, I did what I'd be doing if I were home anyway: working on Fate's Apology. In the end, we were allowed to leave, as the power company seemed to have no clue when we'd get juice again. But during the wait, I wrote an entire scene and mentally plotted the details of what was to happen next. I left not annoyed that I'd spent most of my morning trapped at work with no work to do, but happy to have had the enforced downtime to write, unfettered and undistracted. And on the clock. How on earth can you beat that?
So, in a way it's a good thing I'm not to the end of the story yet, because sanity is nice. I even have a second story bubbling in the brainmeats, so the sanity will continue. People close to me will be happy to hear that, I'm sure. Now... except for those times when my characters drive me nuts… But, that's a whole other blog!

Short Snippet Saturday: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Part of the fun of writing a story in a scifi setting is that I get to turn everyday objects into something slightly new and different. In this scene, Nala learns what a broadflag is, and which major languages are used in the Korl System.


           They rounded the wall and were confronted with an enormous trapezium protruding upon long poles outward and upward from the side of the tower. Its colorful messages glowed in the pre-dusk sunlight. Several words were visible, and along the top was a running feed.
            "It looks like a huge RAW board," Nala said.
            "Same tech, different info. The broadflag tells passing pilots—in seven different languages—which district they're in, the name of the structure they're passing, and the conditions of the skylanes below."
            "I recognize Po Krotan."
            Rey nodded and read off the others, pointing to each in turn. "Korl Prime, Valoshain, Drivarese, Kirnite, Riknardi, and Shish."
            "No Tendaran," she observed.
            A frown flitted over his features. "It's presumed there're no Tendaran pilots."
            "They would not be given control of a vehicle," she guessed.

It Could Be Worse

I feel like I got hit by a freight train. Normally I use the analogy of being hit by a bus for those days when everything feels overused and under rested. But today, it's a train. Why? Because yesterday morning, I fell down and went boom.

Falling down stairs.Descending the stairs as I do every morning, I thought I was on the floor when I still had one step to go, and when I began walking, I found myself tumbling through the air and crashing onto the living room floor. My first thought was "how the hell did that happen" followed by a shout of "I'm okay!". I was. I hadn't even spilled my open water bottle, which was pretty miraculous, as was the fact that the only injury I sustained was a bruised knee which I promptly put on ice to prevent it from turning into a huge, ugly, black-n-blue lump. It could've been worse, and I shudder to think how close I came to whacking my head on the coffee table. Once more, I'd taken a bad fall, lived to tell about it, and now get to walk around for the next few days with our old piano roll "I Faw Down an' Go Boom" stuck in my head.
I find falling down to be quite unnerving. It makes me feel powerless and mortal. I mean, as kids we all take tumbles and bounce like Bumbles, but as an able-bodied adult, it's something that just doesn't happen. Not normally being a clumsy person even under the worst circumstances, I can count on one hand how many times I've taken nasty spills that I can remember. But I must be part Bumble, because they all could've been much worse. Here's a list I came up with:
1) Being tackled from behind when attacked by my cousin's dog, a huge German Shepherd/St. Bernard mix. I don't know if that counts as a fall, but it certainly took me by enough surprise that I peed my pants and developed a bit of a dislike of big dogs, especially if they're not very well-behaved. But it could've been worse.
2) Falling in the gravel at grade school while running at top speed playing tag. A ripped dress and black elbow were my reward for that one. I guess it could've been worse. Could've been my face.
3) Falling from a porch swing hanging in a giant oak tree. Well, the chain broke, but that's still a fall, and one that cost me an intact tailbone. Ouch. Not sure how that one could've been worse.
4) Tumbling into my bathtub while trying to take a pee while OMG-stupid-drunk. Yeah, not one of my prouder moments, but always good for a chuckle with my sister. Luckily for me, my head missed the faucet. That could've ended much worse.
5) Meeting the pavement the one time I got hit by a car. Crossing on my bicycle in front of stopped traffic, this guy in an enormous, black truck edged forward and knocked my back wheel. All I remember is staring up at the Darth Vader-like grille and hoping to hell he didn't drive right over me. Fortunately, I escaped that one with only a scrapped elbow and bruised knee, and two days of feeling like I'd been hit by a train. That could've been way, way worse.
That's it. There might be more, and there are of course the expected bumps, bruises and bounces one sustains when learning to bike, roller or ice skate. Those don't count. It's when you're just going about your business and suddenly the ground jumps up to smack you in the face that you realize you're not as in control as you think you are. Hopefully, you shout "I'm okay!", jump up, brush yourself off, and continue walking as though nothing happened.
It could be worse.