Yes to Both

I thought of a few sceneless conversations I’m going to just hang here—somewhat—disembodied for now.

This one stems from my speculation that my MC would be young enough to be associating the feeling she was having about her skin writing with having gotten her period only a few years prior. From that came some wondering if her condition might only manifest during menstruation or at least might peak then. In this I’m still thinking of the aged Brother Gaine playing the role of monk.

“Is it possible this particular incident is linked to menstruation?”

She sensed his hesitance to use the long word at the end of his question, but since she didn’t recognize it, she didn’t know why. “What?”

“I apologize. I don’t know the customs of Song as well as I’d thought. I don’t know if speaking of this is proper.” He raised his hands as loose fists near his face like he was trying to hide his face or maybe hit something. She could see he was uncomfortable about something, but it made no sense. So far Brother Gaine, an Outy, had been the only one to understand her skin writing.

“I don’t know what you’re asking. I don’t know what men’s ‘truation’ is.” Gaine tightened his lips into a light smile and shook his head.

“Uh, your monthly cycle,” he offered.

What was so hard about that? “I don’t think so. I think it was barely a quarter moon that day. Or the day before.”

Gaine pressed his open hands to his face and mushed on his eyes. The tight smile opened to a tight chuckle. He seemed like a hooked fish giving in.

“Not the lunar cycle,” he circled his palm in front of her mirroring the moon around the earth. Then pointed directly at her with his eyes closed, “Your womanly bleeding cycle.”

A laugh erupted from her. She caught up his hand like a butterfly at the end of her sputtering and hugged it to her chest. She dropped it gently at the fear she felt from the unexpected closeness.

“The Leaks? Is this what you’re talking about?”

“Leaks?” He looked incredulous.

“Yah. It’s not some fancy word like your, but it’s…descriptive.”

“I forget how practical the Song is. I’m sorry not to have gotten to the point more swiftly. Do you think that may have been a factor?” She ignored his return to the original question. She liked seeing him unsettled and needed to erase [feeling she had earlier witht he hand-hug thing].

“That’s what women here call it. The men say Gon’s Prow. The Gons used to paint the prow of their boats bright red. [One more sentence about that].” Brother Gaine looked like he could wait her out. So she swam deeper.

“At least that’s what they say to us. When their out on the water with just the rest of the boys fishing they use a different word: chum.”

Gaine groaned. “Yes. Well, it freaks some men out. Plus we’re all rather gross.”

“Yes.”

“Yes, we’re gross or yes, the incident might be linked to that?”

“Yes to both.”

Ok, so that ate up all my time this morning. I can’t even recall what the second conversation was going to be. So you just get the one.

553 words on day 498

Rub Some Dirt on It

Nora Jones is gonna be sinking soon on the radio.

I’ve been working on writing, but not writing these past several days. Yesterday I penned something with pen and paper. In the past when I’ve done that I’ve also promised to scan and post those here. Don’t bother looking I only fullfilled that promise once. I’ll not bother now.

What have been up to? I cranked out a beatsheet template in SuperNotecard that goes a long way to illuminating the structure of a story. I also added helpful notes to it that I hope will aid me in following and then understanding that structure better. These notes are paraphrased from Larry Brooks’ storyfix.com site. A site that follows through on it’s pledge to teach story structure. Something I missed out on when I took the novel writing class at Lighthouse in Denver.

I’m getting better at reading like a writer as well. Starting to see how book chapters are more than good places to stop reading and turn out the lights. I now get more of a sense from them that the author scrawled a line across a notecard or a sheet of paper or a monitor like “And then I need the MC to…” As if there were a plan. And then wrote it so well that it only seemed the MC was a living breathing choosing thing clearing her path in a true world.

I feel like I’m getting better seeing the point of conflict in a story. That sounds as dumb to me as I’m sure it reads to you. Let me try it this way: I’m starting to realize that facing conflict is what I enjoy about a character. What makes me like them more. I think as an author I want to coddle my characters. Like I literally don’t want to be too mean to them because I don’t want them harmed.

In this latest story idea I need done by Saturday night I’ve got murder rolling around in my head. I’ve not written it out because I just don’t want to inflict that level of conflict on my character, but I’ve also not let go of the thought. So far I’ve kept that incident at bay with the justification that murder might be a bit extreme for this short a story, but it nags at me: if this were the real world someone could die. Someone could kill. Someone could deflect the blame. Someone could take it. It complains that I’m being a pussy.

“Rub some dirt on it and hike on camper.”

434 words on day 497

The Song on Benhá River

The Song on Benhá River began simply enough: a single dockhouse perched on four columns half it’s height. One man and his two sons carved the holes in limestone thigh-deep at lowtide—chest-deep otherwise—during a spring and part of a summer. The clear flowing water made it easy to see how slowly their efforts progressed as the white limestone billowed from the holes in a straight line to the sea. Later, posting the timber columns was an adventure that began with cursing and screaming amongst the three men, but turned jovial when the first column—nearly sunk—rocketed out of it’s mooring with the man atop like a cork from a bottle. He splashed to the surface several boat lengths away after his short flight. Before his sons could ask if he was unharmed he pointed at the oldest, smiled, and yelled across the water, “You’re next!”

Then as he saw the column flowing with the river out to sea. “Shit. Hook the tree!”

166 words on day 496

Priests Bad

At the end of yesterday’s post I noticed I was one word off of having my word count match my day count. I wanted to say something about it, but that would have marred the coincidence. So here I am today asking, “Did you notice how I wrote 494 words on day 494?”

I did. It felt kinda cool.

Yesterday I told you I’d be plotting more later that day. I didn’t plot so much as brainstorm. Wrote down my three elememts and spawned related words and concepts from each. Writing down related ideas helps me find unexpected connections between the elements while also exploring the greater depths of the elements themselves. Often I sense an idea has deeper details but can’t articulate them because I earworm the element.

From this I came up with a surprising number of common links between dermatographia and my river-place. temporary, fragile, unique. Then, because I knew I’d get hung up on it later, I tried to work out a name for the river-place. I got close but wasn’t overly satisfied with the results: Song of the Benha river. Which typed better than I expected just now. And it’s ironic–not telling why.

I’d hoped yesterday to explore the sacerdotal element in a way that gave my priests some possiblity for goodness, but as I’ve thought about it since, I don’t really have the time to make every element the good guy and find a new bad guy. So: priests bad.

251 words on day 495

It’s Sacerdotalicious

This morning went oddly and I find myself writing later than I’d planned.

Plotting rather.

A friend has challenged me to a writing duel. I think it’s mostly self-serving on his part, but since it gets me writing to a deadline I’m happy to oblige. C, if you want to avoid spoilers then you should stop reading now.

I’ve served up three inspirational tidbits (http://www.evernote.com/pub/palisade14/notes): the word ‘sacerdotal’, a picture of a woman’s legs exhibiting dermatography, and another picture of a cluster of floating docks and pontoons clinging to the side of a heap of jungle in the middle of an Asian river somewhere near the coast. He wanted reality, but I’ve made it challenging not to drift into the fantastic to incorporate all three.

Sacerdotal: of or relating to priests or a priesthood : priestly. The secondary definition includes the intimation that priests are required intermediaries for speaking to the Divine. So far I’ve poised this element in my thoughts as mildly ominous. These priests may arrive with plans to spirit my MC away or barter with her family to take her away. I’d like to at least consider some more positive role for this element, but I’ve not come up with one that doesn’t seem lame. Plus I need conflict.

Dermatography: skin writing. Turns out this is a physical aliment rather than a mental one; I was surprised to learn this. I suspect this is partly why I’ve latched on to the priests as nefarious since this one became neutral. I’m thinking my MC will discover she suffers from dermatography. That she will live in a community small enough that no one has ever experienced or seen it. Or if they have, they haven’t shared such experience. Thus far I think she’ll find the dermatography interesting and something to conceal but not something to be terribly worried about until the priest arrive. Or something else sours her complacence. I’d like to make this magic, but I’m tempted to challenge myself not to–partly because I can’t figure out how it would work and partly to make things harder (maybe).

Islands in the stream: I’ve written to this inspirational photo before though I can’t find where that ended up. Or maybe I haven’t yet. Either way it didn’t stand out. I like pictures like this because they smack me in the face with their foreign, but backhand me with their reality. A small city of cargo containers and pontoons clinging to the steep sides of a hill in a river is just too crazy not to compel writing something. Even something bad. I’ve only considered this as my setting, but I could set it up as a destination or a goal of some kind. Maybe the MC lives inland and needs to get to this river-place for some reason. This bit worries me the most so I’m going to do a maquette for it tomorrow or later today extra.

494 words on day 494