The schedule is working, mostly

 

My schedule is going very well so far! I’ve embarked on week three of my couch-to-5k program; it remains challenging without being impossible. I haven’t been as diligent as I’d like in terms of music or writing, but it feels good to have something back on track.

I did give the ending of Climbing Yggdrasil a good look. It’s rushed and a bit sloppy, and certain elements come out of nowhere. This last will be fixed by a major edit, that idea of tying together a couple of suggestions into something new. I’ve printed out my chapter outlines and made some notes, now all I have to do is open up Scrivener and start changing things.

I like the idea of little exercises, though. Something apart from the main project to keep my fingers flexible. I also like the idea of getting a bit more interactive with readers, so I’m putting a form here where I encourage you to submit a one-word prompt. I’ll take the three that interest on inspire me the most and come up with a short (500 words or so) piece stringing them together.

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Nine of Cups: Happiness

I have written a few hundred words of Destiny over the weekend. It’s not a brilliant start, but it’s something, and I’m proud of it.

I wanted to give myself a chance to try something else. A little diversion that could become a regular way of practicing without necessarily adding to a long-term project.

I have a deck of Tarot cards (the Thoth deck) and I enjoy the imagery of the cards and the meanings behind them. Tonight, I decided to pull one and use it as a writing prompt. I drew the Nine of Cups: Happiness. I went with this line of the meaning: Happiness almost perfect but perhaps temporary.

nine of cups

Here’s what I came up with:

Vera raised the champagne flute to her lips and sipped delicately as the crowd burst into applause all around her, then raised their own flutes in a toast of her victory. She lowered the glass and took her seat next to Edmund, patting his knee. He replied with a warm smile and leaned to whisper in her ear, “They all love you, you know.”

She brushed her lips over his cheek and whispered back, “Only so long as the drinks keep flowing. I should go check–”

Edmund clapped a hand to her back, swiftly but gently. “Dear, you have done enough work. Sit back and enjoy your celebration, please. You deserve it.”

Vera frowned, but acknowledged his point. “Shall we dance, love?”

He rose and took her hands in his. “Anything you like, dear. It’s your night.”

They spun and whirled about the dance floor, exchanging pleasantries with couples as they passed. They swayed to the strings, letting the melodies carry them across the checkered marble.

“What next?” he asked her as they shuffled their feet to a more jaunty tune. “What new conquests lie in store for you?”

“Oh, Edmund,” she said, “do you honestly think I’m already plotting my next move?”

He took her hand and they spun around one another. “Not at all. You’re always three moves ahead, my love.”

She smiled beatifically at him as they turned, back-to-back, performing mirrored movements out of sight of one another. When they turned to face one another again, she gave him a quick peck, barely breaking the rhythm of the dance.

“Wait and see,” she said, “and you’ll be as surprised as everyone else.”

“No one will be surprised if you take another enemy down.”

“An alliance, then,” she replied blithely, “or a resignation.”

Edmund laughed heartily. “You would never,” he declared.

“Sometimes I dream up radical moves and imagine the look on everyone’s faces,” she whispered, leaning close before rushing away again. Then, the players reached the end of their song, the last notes echoing through the hall before dissipating into the corners.

“Worry not,” she said as Edmund took her arm and led her back to their table. “I would not do anything to shock you too terribly. Surprises are meant to be fun, for you at least. My opponents less so.”

They gazed out over the crowd as the next song began, amusing one another with anecdotes and stories, Edmund always rewarded with the clear sound of her bright laughter, Vera by his light touches on her hand or shoulder or knee. They took to the floor a few times more, retiring after several pieces to sip more champagne and nibble at delicacies. The drink flowed on, the trays passed by, and the floor was a sea of smiles.

Until the stranger appeared.

The doors at the other end of the hall opened as the strings died down. A tall man, immaculate in a tuxedo and leaning on an ebon cane, limped into the hall. His pale eyes were fierce, his jaw held at a proud angle, as he made his slow way through the crowd, the partygoers shuffling to make way for him.

“Vera,” he called as he approached the table, “we must talk. Alone.”

Edmund squeezed her hand as the color drained from her face.

100 words: Time

Rushing through, scrambling to pick up an extra minute there, a few seconds there, hoarding precious time until at long last there stretches an expanse of freedom. It begins well, loafing and eating, drinking and singing. Then, silence. All those collected minutes and nothing to fill them. You ask yourself what the point was, why save all this time only to come to a screeching halt? Shame sets in, you are wasting time, not even enjoying idle pleasures or amusing distractions. This is what your garnered moments have bought? Shake off the voice. Leave it behind. Pick anything and go.

100 words: Water

Be it the gentle slosh or the constant hush, there is something calming about water. The whirls and swirls as it parts around the pylon of a bridge, the whisper as it falls over a weir, the strange and fragmented reflections of light it throws back. The curious patches where currents move under the surface, or the glasslike peace broken by a passing craft, sending silvered ripples out in a vee behind it. The countless impact of raindrops as they fall upon it so that nothing is reflected. I like walking best beside water, for my soul is at rest.

100 words: Crimson

I used to belong to a community on LiveJournal whose only rule was that every post had to be exactly one hundred words. It was one of those fun constraints that forced me to say things differently, to reduce a very short piece to its most essential message, to cut words that did not add to the feeling in order to bring my count down. This blog is particularly lacking in creative writing; I write quite a bit about writing, but I’m hesitant to post excerpts from my big projects since they’re very much works in progress. What would be nice is to start a regular exercise, something like 100 words, that I would post here once a week or so.

Of course, I could just shut up and do it instead of making a big deal about it beforehand. Here’s a try:

Sometimes the words don’t come out right. You open your mouth and wish you could take back the stings and barbs your tongue spits out. You gush reassurances, but what’s said can’t be unheard, wounds become scars, reminders of monstrous utterances. Regret and shame fill you, you wish you could go back, tell yourself to stop, take a moment, reflect on your pain and anger, transform it into something less harmful. Make it into art, burning crimsons and angry oranges. Embrace it. Own it. Let it go. Breathe it out with a sigh of relief instead of a hateful hiss.

So I’m no good with poetry. I’m terrible with rhythm and breaking things up into nice lines and stanzas. I do like to play around with imagery and emotions, though. Prose poetry seems the way to go… 100 words of prose poetry.