Interview: Ailchas PcKarræ

I’m going to work from a prompt today. It’s not as contrived as it seems, but it is a little dorky.

http://writersdigest.com/article/9-questions-to-ask-your-main-character/

“Today I am speaking with Ailchas PcKarræ, Magna of the Tilted Castle. Ailchas has been one of my favorite main characters since I conjured him up for a truncated short story in college. Sorry about leaving you hanging like that.”

“Just get me some work, no?”

“I’m looking for the perfect job buddy. Hang in there. Let’s just dive in with these questions. I got them from a website.”

“Of course.”

“Ok, so…’how do you learn best?'”

“How do I learn best?”

“That’s what is says…’Observation…participation…trial and error…rumination and cogitation….consulting experts…writing?'”

“Rumination and cognition.”

“Really?”

“No. Brack’s Tears, I’m a soldier, man. I. Do. Stuff.”

“Sure. Of course. No need to get worked up on the first question.”

“I’ve been on ice for some time now, no? I’d like to be doing something.” He rubs his thighs with his hands to warm them up. I move on.

“Good point, Magna. ‘How open are you to new ideas and information?'” He exhales and locks his gaze on me. “Another good point. Number three then. When you walk into a party, what do you notice first?”

“I look for the exists and entrances. I find the man no one will talk to and the man every one talks to. Same with the women. Then I go get some food, yes?” He asks that last for a thin laugh.

“You don’t look for people carrying weapons or…up to something?”

“Yes and no. I don’t need to look for weapons. I can handle whatever comes out—you did say it was a party—so, probably just knives. I once pulled a garrote of a lady in waiting. After you find the quiet one and the talker in the room you’ve got the temper locked, no?”

“OK. You’d know better than me.”

“No. No, I wouldn’t.”

“Yea, thanks. I get it. ‘Is one sense more highly developed than another?'” I can see he’s giving this some thought.

“I don’t know what that question means.”

“It’s asking about your senses: sight, smell, hearing, tou…”

“Oh? Ah. Yes. Then, yes. I see now. Um, I guess everyone is good at seeing things. I don’t know that I’m an expert at seeing though. I will tell you in a sword fight I like to listen to the cadence of the fight. You can gauge quite a bit from the rhythm of those sounds.”

“Same fighting from a horse?”

“Somewhat. Hooves muffle those sounds. And horses, even trained ones, are unpredictable. So they move oddly. Having said all that. I guess I’m a movement guy too. Is movement a sense?”

“Proprioception. Let’s call it part of touch. ‘Do you notice problems around you?'”

“Like it’s too cold or the tankard on the edge of the table is about to fall?”

“Probably not like that. Like social problems. Like Queen Susan wants to kill Lady Gwen because she slept with Steve…the knight…but he’d also been the Queen’s lover.”

“Brack’s, boy! Did you just make all that up? Susan? Steve? Those are names where you come from, yes?”

“I did make that up. They are names where I come from.” He waves a hand like he’s pushing away his accusation.

“I don’t think like that. Those aren’t problems to me,” Ailchas says. He looks around the room. I can see his eyes darting from window to floor to bookcase. He’s already drunk in the layout when he entered the room, but now he’s seems to be looking for something he hadn’t seen yet but knows is there. Somewhere. “I can’t place it. If that’s what you mean by problem—I understand what you’re saying—but those aren’t problems to me.”

He stops talking and I am left to assume he’s not going to continue on to put better words around his answer. “No. I think I get what you’re saying. What’s next here…’are you and optimist or a pessimist?'”

“Kimberelle thinks I’m an optimist. I think I’m a pessimist.” I laugh. I know a little more about why that is, but I don’t say anything. It would be too painful for the old man.

“Number Seven. ‘Are you more interested in the past, the future, or living in the now?'”

“Living in the now? Are you gay?”

“I am not gay—not that that there’s anything wrong with that.”

“So you say.”

I lean in like the roller about to impress a blank page with words of life, “So I do say.”

He sighs. “I don’t think much on the past or the future.”

Which is true. He doesn’t. Sure, he thinks about things like who he might marry and where they might live and how his sons will grow up, but he doesn’t care much for where the world is heading—though he should.

“Almost done here, Ailchas. Two more and we can get you back to what you were doing.”

“Sitting on ice?”

“Uh. I’ll think of something soon. Promise.”

“So you say.”

I smirk back. “‘How do you decide if you can trust someone?'”

“With most people you can just tell. They move like people who don’t lie. Mind, I didn’t say couldn’t lie. Some of the best, most trustworthy men I’ve known were spies. Those guys always seem to be trying to prove they’ve not doubled, no?”

“And what about the others? The…not most?”

“Once you kill them you find out soon enough if they were lying. If you don’t find out it doesn’t much matter anymore, no?”

“No. I guess not. OK. Last one. You ready for this?” He glares, “Never mind. Here we go. ‘Are you a deliberate, careful speaker, or do you talk without thinking first?'”

“Yes.”

968 words on day 547

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

And Many Things He Hopes Not to Hear

I’m writing from a prompt I was to have written to for my writing group last month. So at least you know that I’m behind everywhere.

That prompt: you leave the baby’s occupied car seat on the hood of the car. When you drive away the car seat and the baby roll off the hood and bounce into the street. The baby’s fine but the next day you must fess up to your spouse. Write that scene.

I should note that two couples in our group are pending their first child–I’ve got four. Still.

“Um, so…when I took the baby…”

“Veronica.”

“Right. When I took Veronica to Loews yesterday while you were napping I kinda forgot something.”

“You want me to watch her while you go back to get it? What? The caulk?”

“Dammit now I forgot two things. Well, one thing still really.”

“I’ll watch her. You can go. I’m fine. I put the keys up on the hook and I think I saw your wallet in the door.”

“OK, cool, but this was different than that. I…ileftthebabyonthehoodanddroveaway.”

Everything in the room stands still. Then his wife carefully places the fork on the edge of the plate next to her eggs. It tinks. She’s clearly considering what to say next; he’s running down the list of things he expects to hear and many he hopes not to hear.

The husband wishes he’d admitted to fucking the receptionist at work instead.

“Thank you for telling me that. Now I should tell you something too.”

“…”

“Ididthesamethinglastweek.”

“OK then.”

“We should probably try not to do that again.”

“Yeah. Probably not.”

269 words on day 493

Six Word Suck

Day 476

I’m not even going to bother writing up a plot-ish thing today. This is week two of the new era of the morning. I’m still working out the kinks for writing time and non-writing things. When a non-writing thing clings to your leg begging for cereal abandoning the morning’s writing happens with ease.

At a recent writers’ group meeting I’d not been able to attend Hemingway’s six word story inspired our April prompt: write a six word story. Prompts that restrict my writing in some way—word count, can’t use certain letters, can’t use certain words—rarely draw my interest. Right now I find value in encouragement to do more of what I want to do; less value in doing what others want me to do. I should probably get over that, but for now I haven’t.

So far all I’ve got is this character driven piece that doesn’t have a real ending:

John, Catherine, Larry; surgeon, blonde, geek.

151 words

The Pig Butcher

A glimpse or calotype of the sunlit Spring-greened courtyard would give the impression a wedding or some other such happy occaision had just taken place and the crisply dressed participants disgorged from the event hall, but we had just slain a man.
In truth, a double-dozen or so men and women hadn’t all slain the man.  The court hadn’t judged a capital crime in over a century of years—we had no headsman—so, we hooded up six men from the Livestock Guild and one from the Castle Guard, shuffled them around, and had them draw straws.  The hoods did little to protect the anoymity of any of the men.  We knew each by his shape or height or boots.  Our work fell to a pig butcher.  Hooded, the pig butcher, exercised our justice.  Hooded, he’d remain above recrimination.  Blameless.
In three weeks time no one brought their hogs to Karll.  He had to leave The City to find work.
In the minutes following, while we gathered in groups no more numerous than three—you can’t speak of an execution in large numbers, if you can speak of it at all—the hood had worked.  It had protected the pig butcher and distributed the blame on us, the judges and hangers on.  We had killed the man.
I sat alone on a bench high flower terrace.  I might have been sipping iced Chantacleise wine if it were a nuptial.  Instead my hands hung empty and limp from the ends of my arms.  Later I’d wash the guilt away like the grime gathered on open ride from The City to Sharba, but in that moment that hood and my secret meant my hands were bloody.

A glimpse or calotype of the sunlit Spring-greened courtyard would give the impression a wedding or some other such happy occaision had just taken place and the crisply dressed participants disgorged from the event hall, but we had just slain a man.

In truth, a double-dozen or so men and women hadn’t all slain the man.  The court hadn’t judged a capital crime in over a century of years—we had no headsman—so, we hooded up six men from the Livestock Guild and one from the Castle Guard, shuffled them around, and had them draw straws.  The hoods did little to protect the anoymity of any of the men.  We knew each by his shape or height or boots.  Our work fell to a pig butcher.  Hooded, the pig butcher, exercised our justice.  Hooded, he’d remain above recrimination.  Blameless.

In three weeks time no one brought their hogs to Karll.  He had to leave The City to find work.

In the minutes following, while we gathered in groups no more numerous than three—you can’t speak of an execution in large numbers, if you can speak of it at all—the hood had worked.  It had protected the pig butcher and distributed the blame on us, the judges and hangers on.  We had killed the man.

I sat alone on a bench high flower terrace.  I might have been sipping iced Chantacleise wine if it were a nuptial.  Instead my hands hung empty and limp from the ends of my arms.  Later I’d wash the guilt away like the grime gathered on open ride from The City to Sharba, but in that moment that hood and my secret meant my hands were bloody.

Three Whole Sentences

I am writing.  I have written.  I will be writing more.

The previous paragraph is self referential.  I’m not telling you that I’ve been writing somewhere else and keeping it from you.  The promise at the end of the first paragraph only guarantees that I’ll have written this paragraph and not anything more.  Though I live in hope.

In the past I’ve had varying success at not laying blame on any particular aspect of my life that would have send me off my writing track.  Leaving the blame squarely in my lack of commitment felt truer and more motivating.  I can’t say doing so has been either.

Karen scrubbed the buttery velvet pile bordering a worn area on the arm of a Victorian settee.  She pretended the exposed warp was a continent in a sea of ice-slick green.  Then decided it was the ocean instead.

Obviously Unprompted

I use the tag ‘inspire’ when reading various blogs and producers of content to note intriguing content I find.  I mark between three and five items every day that give me pause.  While the tag isn’t exclusive to visual inspiration—at least it’s not supposed to be—I haven’t yet found enough inspiration from the written word to pin ‘inspire’ on any.

Recently I ran across two blogs listing prompts for writing.  I jump when others recommend such tools hoping they will have found some widget or technique I haven’t.  As I recall both these listed word based prompts.  I checked them all out thinking something might tickle me.  None did.

Part of me wants to find the irony.  I write yet I cannot find inspiration in the words of others.  My attention drops off of this conclusion like a cat skidding down the windshield of a parked car it’s not longer interested in perching on.  So far I’ve found written prompts fall into two categories: questions or demands and poetical near gibberish phrases.

“Someone has replaced your regular coffee with Folger’s Crystals.  How do you feel?”  I feel like hitting the Next Prompt button.

“Describe a garage sale at a haunted house.”  What for?

“thrice packed inside” Ummm…

So these turn out to be mechanical aids that don’t much aid as annoy.  I end up distracted by the inanity asking myself what I’m supposed to get out of that effort.  Maybe exposing my bitter feelings about coffee betrayal will help me cool down after being steamed?  I just don’t understand where I’m meant to go.  Maybe I’m not meant to derive any real use out of the effort.  Maybe I’m just warming up my muscles, stretching out my fingers.  I’m not much for throw away writing.  At least not throw away writing prompted by external forces.  I’m certain I can trash the crap my internal muse dishes out quite easily.

Anyhow, I like pictures.  I can read a beginning in them I can’t discern in canned words.

Day 296