Watching the Wiz

Nodding off watching The Wizard of Oz I realized the Tritti/Johnka meeting and story thus far is quite like the Dorothy/Fortune Teller scene early in the movie.  I’ve not read the books, so I have no idea how it matches up that way.

It struck me that unlike the Fortune Teller, Johnka doesn’t make the slightest attempt to persuade Tritti to return home.  This realization bothers me for several reasons.  It makes Tritti appear old enough to be out on her own and I didn’t really want that appearance.  It reveals the author’s intent in the story of propelling Tritti toward Ah’Taconscientee rather than obscuring it.  And it apes the fantasy trope of gathering fellows for a journey to a prize.

Let me start with the least of my worries first: the aping thing.  My primary goal is to write a good book, but I’m sure I’d be somewhat satisfied with just a book.  I could do worse than to write an entire novel that aped fantasy tropes left and right.  The fact that it’s taken me so long to notice means that it is not as obvious as it feels or that I’m so hopelessly deluded I’m not likely to ever recognize my own short comings.  In any case, I’m not worried enough to stop.  I am glad I noticed.

Continuing to work backwards through my original order and upwardly through my increasing concerns brings me to Tritti’s age characterization.  I know when I initially wrote this I intentionally avoided starting scenes.  Tritti meeting Johnka in the middle of a desert already halfway to where she’s going wouldn’t make much sense.  Except it feels right.  I’ve leapfrogged the adolescent angst of running away and all the characterization to make it look plausible for her to survive.  If she’s there she must have run away and she must have been capable.  I guess the rest falls out as carefully done backstory.  Maybe it’s not so jarring that Johnka accepts her for who she’s becoming rather than turn her away for who she still is.  She’s earned the right.  In that case, I have some insight into what the two will need to discuss along the way.

And now the persuasion part.  Despite accepting her for who she’s becoming wouldn’t it be prudent for Johnka to at least try to turn her around?  Suggest comrade caravans headed back to where Tritti was coming from?  He could still help her out but only by making her life safer.  Which begs the question have I characterized ah’Taconscientee well enough (at all) as a place of ill repute?  As well as am I as an author being too transparent about Johnka’s role in this story.  Do his action need a little more realness to keep him from being an agent of the author?

Day 300

One Sunrise Coming Up Soon

Johnka’s loose schedule and plodding pace left Tritti unconvinced hitching a ride with him saved her any more time than traveling alone, on foot, with no provisions.  He rose each morning at the hour when late sleeping early risers woke.  He heated a brass basin of water and shaved his whole round face vigorously, but without incident.  Then he asked—to no one in particular Tritti eventually realized—”Let us see what we have for breakfast this morning, yes?”.  At which point the same rasher of bacon appeared from the cool-cupboard and was relieved of half a dozen strips with the razor lately employed on Johnka’s double chin and rotund cheeks.  Next he would say, “I’ve rinsed that of course, of course.”

This morning he surprised her by waking early.  So early, in fact, it was still night time.  “The desert is cold tonight.  Bring your blanket up to the cockpit after you get dressed.”

“What’s the hour?”

“Not sure dear Tritti.  It’s one of the ones neither of us sees very often…anymore.” Johnka answered and left.

Tritti wanted to be angry.  After all she’d been woken not long after retiring to her bunk.  But he didn’t sound like he was being purposefully mysterious, just uncertain about the hour.

She stretched and groaned awake as best she could in the short bunk.  When her exertions dangled her legs over the edge more than on she slipped the rest of her weight over the rail and stood naked on the floor.  Immediately curiosity fueled her speedy dressing.  Panties, tank, socks.  Tritti reached for her pants but thought better of it.  She’d worn them for five days in a run so far.  She wrapped the blanket around her body and shuffled out the door.

The earthy smell of roasted coffee greeted her for the first time since coming aboard.  She  continued shuffling to the bow of the sledge and the cockpit.  At the end of the hallway the three-step ladder posed a brief problem because she didn’t want to loose her arms from the warm blanket.  Instead of climbing, she sat backwards on the upper part of the ladder and maneuvered around in a half circle with her feet. Eventually she stood back up.

She flopped in her usual perch—the co-pilot’s chair—but said nothing.

The outside air drifted in cooling the cockpit.  After a while her body adjusted to the difference.  She wriggled an arm out to pick up the warm mug Johnka placed on the dash for her.  She acknowledged his thoughtfulness with a still wordless toast.  He didn’t speak either.  The starry night provided all the conversation necessary.

Tritti set the empty mug back down after drinking all the hot liquid and siphoning off the last dregs of warmth from the mug.  She retrieved her arm to the warmth of the blanket like a rabbit going to ground.  Johnka pointed to the empty mug and raised his head as a question.  Tritti silently shook her head.  Johnka broke their silence, “I know it’s bitter.  I don’t make it much any more.”

“Good that way.”  Tritti rubbed a drop of it from her lips with the blanket.  “I just can’t drink it much.”

 

Did a tiny bit of cleanup in the quoted stuff from yesterday.  You may or may not notice.

Day 299

The Sun Rises Through ah’Taconschientee

Johnka’s loose schedule and plodding pace left Tritti unconvinced hitching a ride with him saved her any more time than traveling alone, on foot, with no provisions.  He rose each morning at the hour when late sleeping early risers woke.  He heated a brass basin of water and shaved his whole round face vigorously, but without incident.  Then he asked—to no one in particular Tritti eventually realized—”Let us see what we have for breakfast this morning, yes?”.  At which point the same rasher of bacon appeared from the cool-cupboard and was relieved of half a dozen strips with the razor lately employed on Johnka’s double chin and rotund cheeks.  Next he would say, “I’ve rinsed that of course, of course.”

This morning he surprised her by waking early.  So early, in fact, it was still night time.  “The desert is cold still tonight.  Bring your blanket up to the cockpit after you get dressed.”

“What’s the hour?”

“Not sure dear Tritti.  It’s one of the ones neither of us sees very often. Anymore.” Johnka answered.

Tritti wanted to be angry.  After all she’d been woken not long after retiring to her bunk.  But he didn’t sound like he was being purposefully mysterious, just uncertain about the hour.

This is not as far as I’d planned to get this morning, but the morning is rushing on a little faster than I’d expected.  You’re getting this posted less than half done because I’m certain I’ll not return to it today.  Be assured that I was going somewhere I hadn’t yet gotten, but will get gotten to eventually.

Day 298

The Pilgrim Meets You

“Inside. ‘nside. ‘nside. ‘nside.  Get. In. Side.”  Johnka chased Tritti into the empty red tent.  He stumbled to the ground trying not to overrun her with his bulk after she halted abruptly in the entrance.  He just lay there in the sand rather than get up.

“What was that?”  Tritti knelt to help him up but he invited her to just sit.  She crossed her legs and rubbed the sand out of her eyes.  The wind pulled loudly at the tent trying to drag it out of it’s moorings like a barking dog straining it’s tether.

“Raish.  That was a raish wind.  a little early in the season I’d say, but a raish for sure.”  Johnka said it like he was trying to convince himself as well.

“I know what a raish is old man.  I meant the woman.  The woman with the gun.”

“You saw that?”

Tritti nodded tightly as if to ask, ‘How the hell could I not?’

Above the noise of the raish they could hear shopkeepers and patrons alike yelling to get in out of the wind.  Curses at the sand for lost income and scattered products out weighed the wailing of a single woman who had just lost her daughter.  All Tritti could hear was that woman.

“She was dressed like me.  She had hair braided like mine.  Anyone not knowing either of us would have thought us sisters–twins maybe.”

“Twins?  Certainly not.  You are much more beautiful…”

“Stop.  Stop it.  Just because I can’t figure out who you really are doesn’t make me stupid or blind,” Tritti seethed, “That woman…that woman was trying to kill me.  And she would have had you not paused to admire that other girl’s scarf so obviously.”  Tritti paused before saying the next thing.  She wanted to hear it in her head first to make sure she wasn’t guessing.  “You saved my life by helping that woman take that girl’s instead.”

Johnka opened his mouth to explain, but something else came out instead.  “Hate me then, but you’re alive.”

“I will.  Never doubt that old man.  Never doubt that.”

Flicking Seeds

Tritti flicked the line up of tellat seeds off the rail of Johnka’s sledge. A solo version of a game she played with her brother. She was supposed to care how far they flew, but each seed dropped over the edge and out of sight like the previous one. Maybe the really good ones were hitting the drag kab on the tail. She doubted it though.

Johnka slept with both feet on the dashboard. Snoring with no intent to hide that he no longer piloted his ship.

A light breeze from the south kept the cockpit fresh and comfortable. It even moved the canopies enough that Tritti didn’t feel like [she was in a painting]. Instead she felt alone. Not lonely [expand that].

It might be three more nights out before they reached Shanty. Johnka avoided specifics about his past, his present, his future, and his schedule. Otherwise he was effulgent[what word am I thinking here?].

Word count: 150
Day 151

Day 75: One of Shanty’s Ends

Thickening the plot remains elusive to me.  After I practice writing I must learn to practice thickening.  Even a runny plot would be better than what I regularly mix up.

If you take the time to read any of what I have written–here or elsewhere–you would likely discover that I dabble in images.  The very brief element of a scene is something I feel I am good at generating.  In addition to setting the scene, I like to think I am able to allude to a direction, to a conflict.  Regardless of your appreciation of my abilities to do that, I have that impression.  The thing is, I don’t have a plot or even a plan.  I just have a finite moment or two.  What I need is a next.

I’ve heard more than a few authors like to determine the beginning and end and then work out the middles.  I have tried that once and still not gotten the middle worked out.  Mathematician’s would argue once is not statistically valid–possibly it’s worth another shot.

What I have in my head while I am writing is this thing with Shanty.  I’ve ended up with three scenes pointed squarely at a single destination.  I think it’s clear that destination isn’t the end of the story, just the site of the initial physical conflict.  I like these scenes and I am enjoying the characters thus far.  I don’t want to let them down.  I don’t want to let them down by composing crap nor by not composing anything at all.  Each of the three began as a simple but concrete point of view effort to describe Shanty.  There was no intention.  Maybe I could just try the same technique on the ending…

Tritti held nothing more dead Johnka’s belt knife.  She held no doubt that she would next kill the Killer.

Gane’s enormous hres finally paid off with the location of his sister.  Behind this door.

You tug at your shackles.  You pray that when they chronicle your journey that they leave this next embarrassing part out then fear for your immediate death overwhelms you.

The young witch resolves from the darkness with only that knife as a weapon.  She imbues it and throws.  No matter how you move or jerk or turn away it will find you heart.  Gane opens the door, sees the knife, and shields you in time.

“Brother!”

Let’s see if we can put that to some use.

I should probably look into what comprises a good paragraph before I spend too much time composing any.  It’s doubtful I’ll discover anything I don’t already know about well written paragraphs, but I imagine the effort will beneficially remind me what I already know.  Not doing so perpetuates bad habits.

Word count: 453

Day 67: More on Johnka’s Sledge

The cockpit/bridge [need a better term and consistency here] of Johnka’s floating sledge underslings the prow.  The driver [captain] enjoys most of the day in the sun.  For early morning and late afternoon sun the driver flies bright canopies.  Some models are equipped with a heliotracking curtain that does the work for the driver.  During light wind storms or gusty days a sand curtain is hung around the entire cockpit.

On brisker days drivers land the sledge, lower the balloons, and anchor the craft as best they can.  The kabs are drawn up on the windward side to protect the craft.  [could go either way on the logic here; maybe the kabs should be leeward]  With the sledge leeward of the kabs there is less digging to be done to get back underway.  I’ve seen 3/4 buried kabs stand and walk away with no more than a grunt to mark their effort.

Behind the cockpit, most modern sledges have a small kitchen: a cook stove, a sink and a low table.  On either side of that one room is a berth or two.  Larger sledges with a crew will have a long narrow hall running the length of the ship to a larger bunk room and small mess.

Clearly I need to decide what sort of vehicle this is: sled, ship, or wagon.  Nautical terms on the web here I come.

Word count: 228