MY FRIENDS MADE ME DO IT

Okay, that’s not entirely true, but it’s true enough. One friend talking about it last night, another friend posting about it this morning, and then visiting the website…

Yeah. It’s the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

You know you want to sign up, too.

So, the first friend has most of her posts ready. The other friend has hopes to get hers ready.

I have to admit – getting everything ready ahead of time is appealing.

So very appealing…

*homerdrool*

So I signed up, and my theme is “Catching Up”, because of course it is, you fool! I am behind (understatement) in my 1,000,000 word challenge. I got sick in January and then got sick again after that and I fell off the wagon, and it feels impossible to get back up and do it again. But since there was a trickle of interest sparked by friend one’s convo and friend two’s blog post, I feel like it’s important to grab on to that interest and ride it hard until the words catch up and I’m back on track.

That’s the theory, anyway.

I have the remainder of March to write 30 short stories on the theme of Catching Up and somehow incorporating the alphabet and schedule all the posts because while I managed it before (somehow) writing/posting a story a day, I’d like April to be a bit less frantic this time.

The first time I tried the A-Z challenge was 2016, I believe (nope—2012), and you can buy the book that came from that event on Amazon (affiliate link), Barnes & Noble (print only, apparently), and Smashwords. (Apparently I never posted it on Smashwords?! I’ll fix that at some point. I’m sure I have the files for it.)

I was thinking…

I was thinking about trying to write more next year. I had a heck of a lot of fun (as I always do) writing this November (when I finally got around to it — when life settled down enough to let it happen) that I want to keep it up.

Of course, that feeling might wear off.

It seemed like a really good idea, though, after the Last Minute Marathon our region hosts every year for NaNoWriMo, where I wrote at least 23,000 words (maybe 25,000? I didn’t keep track as well as I’ve done in the past), and I wasn’t even writing hard all day. I had moments of writing hard, of course, but part of the day I had to be at home with the kids doing parental things.

The day was not easy – don’t get me wrong. But I’m blessed to be a relatively rapid typist, especially when I’m writing things I enjoy.

And I usually enjoy writing so much. I enjoy the stories I create, and not enough of them see the light of day, off my computer and in places where people beside me can enjoy them.

So I was thinking about writing more next year. It’s 2020 – the start of a new decade. A leap year, even. It’s a nice, “pretty” place to start a goal like this.

1,000,000 words for 2020.

2,740 words per day. And if I bumped that up to 3,000, I could take an entire month off.

I’d write with the intent to publish everything written no matter how silly, or bad, or whatever (after editing to make it the best silly, or bad, or whatever it can be, of course), and also attempt to get things created with those 1,000,000 words published before the end of the year.

I’d only count fiction words, not blog words as I’ve done in the past.

And, the most critical part in this, is that I have a partner willing to do it with me.

Because I’ve tried such things before. In 2017, I wrote nearly 300,000 words, and it was powerful. I published 10 short stories (about 45,000 words) under a pen name that year, and I still earn a steady $2+ every month or so from those stories. Imagine what it could be if I kept writing and just didn’t stop.

A partner gives me someone to cheer who is on the same path I’m on. A partner will be someone to be accountable to who is trying to do the same hard thing I am. A partner will know how hard it is and will have the same stories about squeezing in words when there doesn’t seem to be the time.

So. What’s the point, right?

I really like the stories I write quickly. They end up a little silly, and maybe a little rambling, but they’re so much more me than anything I take more time on. I’m silly, I’m rambling. I like that about myself. When I write quickly, I don’t have time to self-edit, I just get it done. Sometimes I get stuck and I take a wrong turn, but I usually find something fun along the way, and I can always edit the really bad stuff out.

So that’s the plan. Write 1,000,000 words in 2020 with a friend, counting/tracking fiction words only, with the plan to publish every story I end up with whether it’s under my name or a pen name (and it’s not required that I publish 1,000,000 words, because I have a feeling I’ll lose some to editing).

I’m so excited.

It’s not working (Writer’s Group, No Writing!)

My writing group isn’t working for me. It’s not even a writing group like it was when we started. When we started, we got together and were quiet for giant swaths of time as we wrote, stopping to ask a question, get it answered, and move on. Sometimes we talked at length about someone’s story – asking questions, probing, learning – but it seemed to always be about writing.

But the group evolved and changed, as things do, and now it’s a social group. I like everyone who comes. They’re my friends. I like talking to them, learning about them, etc.

But it’s no longer a writing/editing group. It’s a group of writers who may occasionally happen to be able to get some writing in (usually by attending earlier than the rest of the group, thus avoiding the lure of conversation by eliminating other people to talk to).

When I want to write, everyone else wants to chat. When I want to chat, everyone else somehow manages to bury their heads in their projects.

That happened last night. I went and just wanted to write a blog post. My Chromebook battery was low – I hadn’t charged it fully the week before and hadn’t pulled it out of the bag to recharge it this week. My writing goals are meager these days. All that was on my plate was my response and ponderings about the amount of water I’ve been drinking lately.

And I got drawn into a conversation. Maybe I even initiated it after someone made a noise, I don’t remember. I enjoyed the conversation. I learned new things. I’m excited about what I learned.

But I am so fucking frustrated that at a writing group meeting I couldn’t even write a damned blog post. I’m frustrated that the things I want to say are so fucking fleeting that I can’t hold on to them after I get interrupted. I’m frustrated that the time for writing that I need isn’t there anymore because I can’t manage my time.

I’m frustrated. I don’t know how to “fix” this, or if there is a solution that doesn’t involve me ceasing to attend this event filled with friends. That’s a possibility, to be honest. One I’ve considered quite a bit but hesitate to mention out loud because of Reasons.

Well, at any rate, something needs to change. I’m a writer who doesn’t write, which essentially means I’m now just a gamer who doesn’t get paid for Netflixing while playing Skyblock in Minecraft. I write because of the potential to let my words pay for my life, and to free myself from the constraints of being someone else’s employee.

Maybe that reason isn’t good enough anymore.

Thoughts.

Words

I found a lovely place to write today!

“Easter Sunday”

I wrote on Twitter on Thursday that I wanted to write a book this weekend and of course that didn’t happen but I did write more than 800 words of fiction and it probably sucks but I don’t care so here it is if you’re interested.


Easter Sunday

Wanna hear a story?

Me, too.

Let’s tell each other a story – I’ll start.


Once upon a time, there was your average, everyday hooman and her name was Rence. It’s pronounced “WREN-see”, in case you’re curious. I always like to know how to pronounce character’s names in books, and I thought you might like it, too.

Anyway. Rence was pretty much average in every way. Her hair, her clothing (but not her footwear), her apartment, and her bank account were all as you might expect from a 40-something who worked a desk job at a family oriented company with tons of flexibility but not always the best pay.

Her footwear, being not average, was a spectacular pair of combat boots with pink piping up the back and sparkly pink laces. They sported steel toes and the leather was soft from kind treatment and years of wear.

Rence was saving for retirement, as one does, and had put away enough money that she probably wouldn’t have to take a job in retirement, but would also probably have to pinch more than a few pennies.

Rence was always telling herself she should look for a better job but figured she’d never find the extra benefits anywhere else so she was probably safer where she was.

Rence attended a weekly book club at the library but never really got settled into friendship with anyone.

Rence had no pets and didn’t particularly want any.

Rence played way too many video games, and her friends through them were always at arm’s length, as was wise for single women to do when playing online.

See? Ordinary hooman.

In addition to spectacular boots, though, Rence had a pretty active imagination. Sometimes she thought she should channel it into painting or maybe crochet, but those things never stuck. Instead, on her walks to work, she had fantasies.

One time a perfectly normal man held the door for her at the bank when they approached the door from different directions at the same moment. She smiled her thanks and then went about her business, but the whole time she stood in line her head started spinning stories.

The man who had opened the door for her might be trying to rob the bank. What would she do? He was standing just behind her, so perhaps he’d grab her and put a gun to her head. She, having taken a self-defense class because – hello! Single woman living alone, duh – would be able to drop to the ground, get the guy off guard, get his gun, and save the day.

Or maybe he wasn’t the attacker. Maybe he was just a guy, but the bank was being robbed but the teller couldn’t hit the silent alarm because the robber had a gun pressed to the small of her back. Rence would have her turn and see the teller’s panic and her sweat-soaked brow and be the only one who noticed there was a problem. She’d take care of her business, quietly, and then saunter out of the bank. The moment she cleared the doors, she’d pull out her phone and dial 911, and the guy who had held the door for her on the way in would be so grateful he’d ask her out on a date after everyone was safe.

More than once, Rence left the bank quite wound up from the fantasies she’d spun in her head.

Or the coffee shop, or the corner store, or wherever she’d been caught up inside her head.

Rence sometimes felt like she was prepared for anything since she was always imagining random scenarios of doom, destruction, and generally anything where she could save the day. Someone with a degree in psychology, she imagined, might diagnose her with some kind of savior complex.

Maybe. Ultimately, though, she came back to reality. She knew she only had three years of self-defense, and that was enough to scare off the stupid criminals but not the determined ones.

She had three years of self-defense, and a really big hole to dig in Minecraft.


o/


Rence was looking forward to the long Easter weekend. She hadn’t been invited to Easter dinner at her grandmother’s house in years, and it was entirely possible that her grandmother was dead at this point, and she actually hadn’t been invited to her mother’s Easter dinner in years.

After twenty years of non-contact and more than a few changes of phone numbers and addresses, it was hard to keep track of people you didn’t give a rat’s ass about.

She was going to be free from work for three whole days and decided to spend her time online. Rence considered the project she was working on in her video game. She had taken some inspiration from the stepped wells in India, and was in the process of, as previously mentioned, digging a really big hole. It was a serious project, but if she worked for the 72 hours available to her, minus six hours a day for sleep, two hours a day for food and walking around, and minus the odd minutes she’d lose going down to check on her laundry, she stood a chance to get the excavation completed and the steps at least started with some of the stone that would end up overflowing her chests.


And that’s it. It doesn’t go anywhere, it was clearly looking to be a book but didn’t make it, but oh well! Something horrible was about to happen, I’m pretty sure.

Prompted: broken

gin. on Twitter has a Patreon and I’m a patron of hers and she sends me a writing prompt every Thursday. I’m going to try to use every prompt this year and publish them here, and at the end of the year I’ll stuff them together in a book and see if anyone will toss money at me in exchange for reading them all in one place.


I wish I knew what to say, but I don’t.

I never do.

“I’m sorry” gets old.

It’s never enough.

“I’m sorry,” I say anyway, because saying nothing is worse.

“You don’t have to apologize,” she lies.

I can be silent now that I’ve apologized, so I stare at my feet, which is a mistake. I can see the shattered pieces of whatever it is that I’ve just broken. Evidence of my unfortunate talent.

How do I know she’s lying? I can hear you screaming the question at me.

Because they always are. Polite words betrayed by sighs, irritation radiating off like heatwaves that cause the air to ripple in the distance. What else can I expect, though, when my mere presence causes such havoc?

I can’t blame them for being angry. They have that right.

I’m not just clumsy, you know. It’s more than that. I seem to invite fragile things to leap into the air and fling themselves against hard surfaces when I’m near. Floors, walls…bathtubs (more than once).

It’s a problem.

I’m so lost in my thoughts that I’m ashamed to say I nearly jump out of my skin when she puts her hand on my sleeve.

I’d forgotten she was still there.

She snatches her hand back, but her body doesn’t move.

My eyes stay on my feet, despite being startled, and so I see her crouch down to examine the carnage. The pieces catch the light and look like they want to dance, and she picks up some of the larger pieces to examine them.

“They’re perfect,” she says.

Wait. What?

“I can totally use these. They’re exactly what I needed!”

“What are you talking about?”

She picks through the sparkling pile and gathers particular pieces. They’re all broken, I can’t imagine what good they are to her.

I start again when she jumps back to her feet. She has ignored the smallest and largest pieces. They lay in the street, in the sun, evidence of my destructive power.

Damn it.

“Come with me,” she invites. She’s got her shards gathered in the pocket of her shirt so they don’t cut her hands. One holds the pocket together, the other beckons me to follow.

I’m curious enough to do it, maybe because once I offer a slight nod, she turns and starts walking and doesn’t look back to see if I follow. It makes me feel a little less intrusive. A bit less guilty.

She really doesn’t seem to mind.

Then again, maybe she’s taking me to a trap, where she can beat the price of whatever I broke out of me.

But she doesn’t seem like that type. She seems sweet and genuine, and yes, there’s no way to be able to tell that, but it kind of sits on her like a hat.

Or maybe an aura, but I can’t see those. Anyway, it’s just a feeling.

She doesn’t dart, but she doesn’t dawdle, either. She leads for long enough to make me think I should stop and let her go on ahead, to let the crowd swallow her up. I’m about as good at second guessing as I am at breaking things.

Just when my feet are ready to stop and I’ve convinced myself that she didn’t really mean it, and she was just being nice, she pauses. She looks back, and smiles, and hooks a sharp right into a doorway.

And because she looked and smiled, my feet keep moving.

She’s disappeared from the doorway once I reach it, and I’m as careful as I can be as I move through it. I’m careful of my elbows, and my feet. My hips tend to brush against tottering tables with expensive vases, so I keep an eye out for any of those.

I’m so busy trying to keep track of my parts and make sure nothing fragile encounters me, that I don’t notice the space.

“Over here,” she calls.

She’s across the room. I look at the expanse I have to cross, and then forget to be careful.

It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to break – everything has already been broken.

Mosaics made of of broken pots and vases, and other fragile, breakable things cover the floor, reassembled from their pieces into illustrations of themselves. One doesn’t walk on art, but there’s no choice. The center path is worn smooth but is no less vibrant for that fact.

The sun falls through a window and illuminates a spot ahead, and I walk toward it. Toward her.

“I only get to keep the pieces that break,” she explained. “And I can’t bring myself to break them, even when they’re not usable.”

She gestures to a shelf, and I look.

Malformed mugs. Collapsed vases. Magnificently painted and fired, but imperfect.

“I can’t break them,” she says with a sheepish smile. “I love them too much, but when they are broken, they become beautiful again.”

Oh.

“I can help with that.”

Prompted: indulge me

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter lately and there’s a person there promoting her Patreon (as one does), which I have an odd fascination with, and she’s very motivational, and I thought…okay. I’ll be her patron for a small monthly amount because A) I can use some extra motivation, and B) it looks like she’s close to a goal and maybe I can push her over the threshold. (I didn’t, actually, but it was worth a shot.)

One thing gin. does is she puts on Patreon a creative prompt one day a week, and I’m going to start doing the prompts. I’m not going to edit them or think really hard about them, I’m just going to do some creating.

Buckle in.

Prompt complements of gin. (@showupforthis and showupforthis.com).

indulge me

“I’d like a room, please.”

“Of course.” clickity clickity “We have one room available tonight.”

“What kind of room?”

“The most expensive kind, with the softest towels and bed linens, and the largest shower, and the most luxurious bath.”

“Does it come with any free things?”

clickity clickity clickity “In fact it does. There are many free things. Would you like to activate them?”

“I would, please. Thank you.”

click click…stab “Very fine. Your free things will await you in your room. Is there anything else?”

“No, this should do just fine.”

“Very well.” click print whrrrrrr “If you could please sign over your firstborn child.”

scribble scribble…return “Here.”

“Lovely.” beam “I hope you enjoy your stay at our fine establishment. Use extension 9 if you need assistance with any of your free things, and extension 6 if you would like to spend ridiculous amounts of money for any reason. We would love to take your money from you.” lusty sigh

elevated eyebrow “Thank you?” back away…slowly

step step step step

finger trails on walls

slight finger waves toward surveilance cameras

step step step…button push

wait

elevator

step step step step

“I believe this is my room.”

“Indeed, it is.”

“Are you one of my free things?”

“I am.” blank face…no eyes, no nose, no mouth, just an almond shape meant to imply an actual face “I am your butler.”

“Will you open my door, then?” pause “Thank you.”

“Your room contains all the free things available at this ridiculously expensive level. Your free computer with six bonus monitors and faster than fast network connection is resting on the antique desk in the corner. The chair has been upgraded to the Special Elite Gamer Chair with Reclining and Waste Removal function so you never have to leave it if you desire.”

“That is a rather attractive feature.” face scrunch resembling disgust

“As I have been told. Your very tall and very large bed has been made with the sumptuously soft bedding – another of your free things – and a small elevation panel has been installed to assist you in getting in to your bed to sleep.” pause “However, taking in your height, it’s possible you may not need it as many of our patrons do.”

“That is a possibility.”

“Indeed. Continuing, the closet, just over there,” point “contains an entire wardrobe that is customized to your measurements that we received when you signed over your firstborn at registration, including – but not limited to – a ball gown and appropriate prescious stone laden accessories worth more than your firstborn could ever manage to pay back in its lifetime, a replication of every item of clothing you have ever worn, and a super suit.”

“A super suit?”

nod “In case you find yourself in need of disguise while fighting crime. We also received the most likely possibilities of what your superpowers would be by analyzing your history of entertainment consumption.”

“I hope it’s pink, with sparkles.”

nod “It may also contain a rainbow cape. I couldn’t possibly say.”

bounce excite…cough “Is that all?”

“Not in the least. There is a stash of money hidden under the bed in the event you need to ransom someone. A pile of passports and alternate identities are in the lower left rear desk drawer for every conceivable city-state currently in existance, and an additional one for The Place Where The United States Once Stood, if you’re feeling particularly,” pause “inclined to move your expiration date forward.”

“I am not.” thoughtful “May I keep that one as a souveneir?”

“You may. As a reminder, all free things are yours for life, provided you meet all 42-7 criteria in the contract you signed at registration.”

polite “Thank you!”

irritated “May I continue?”

contained “Of course.”

“Any meal you choose to order will be brought to your door in 30 seconds or less, by penalty of death, and your food selection is restricted only by your allergies. There is a full and complete collection of all published books ever in the Library of Infinite Shelving, and it can be accessed through that very narrow door in the corner.”

“That seems inconvenient.”

“The very narrow door is much larger than its description would indicate.”

scoff “If you say so.”

“I do. Now, please remember to feed the Norwegian Forest Cat that we have derived as your pet of choice, as I believe he may be quite hungry after 248 years of stasis and inclined to eat limbs that are not carefully guarded.”

“I will be sure to order for him, first.”

“And don’t let him out of your room, as he has already gnawed through my last good foot while I stood here giving your tour.”

glance “I will make sure to give you an ample head start.” snicker

“And do not, under any circumstances, get the pillow wet with tears. It invalidates your contract.”

blink “The blankets are fine, though, if I feel the need to cry?”

pause process pause search…zero results “The blankets are fine.”

“Then I will be sure to cover the pillows.”

“That is all we ask. Is everything to your satisfaction?”

“Indeed. I feel very…indulged.”

“And that is all we ever hope for. Please call me if you require my assistance with anything during your stay.”

“Thank you very much.”

pause “No, I couldn’t possibly accept your non-existent attempt to offer me gratuity. You are too kind.” sarcasm

“I do what I can. You are excused, now.”

“Certainly.” blip

alone silence perfection

“Brrrowr?”

irritation “How about an android foot for dinner?”

fin