What do you write when you don’t know what to write?

That’s the question.  What do you write when you don’t know what to write?

No, really, I’m asking you.  Because I really don’t have any idea.

In truth, I’ve had this graphic made for months now, this post having sat on a shelf in the depths of my unfinished blog post for that long.  But then, just as I got partway into the post, I realized I actually had an idea, so I went and wrote that and posted it.

But now I am out of ideas, and that graphic was sitting here, and just as I gave up looking for inspiration on Pinterest, I decided to write this.

Hello.  I have absolutely no idea what to write.  Let’s just hope this doesn’t become a common occurrence, because I really don’t think you lot would enjoy reading this over… and over…  and over again.

Anyway, back to the question at hand.  What do you all do when you don’t know what to write?  Do you grab a piece of paper and vent about it?  Do a random prompt on Pinterest and guess it’ll probably be one of the most horrific things you’ve ever written?  Really, what?  I’d love to hear about it.  Any advice is welcome.

Please someone reply.  I’m desperate.

Thanks!

Tally ho! ~Natasha.

 

Advertisements

“For Love of a Princess”

Hello hello, mellons!  I’m back!  Sorry for disappearing on all of you.  I’ve been struggling to come up with anything to post about.  But a writing group with a few of my writerly friends and I did a writing prompt called “broken,” and I decided to write this.  I know it’s pretty loose as far as that word goes, but hey, “shattered” is basically the same thing, and hopefully at least some of my readers will be heartbroken.

I completely accept that some of you may hate me after this.  If you don’t, I probably haven’t done my job right.

Here goes!


Once I was a princess.  Once I had a mother and a father who loved me, friends who played with me, and tutors who bored me to death.  Once I had a normal, happy life, or as normal as the life of a princess could ever be.

That life was stolen from me.  In a matter of hours, enemies had ransacked our city, slaughtered our people, and destroyed the life I knew.

In my old life’s place, I was given a tower.  I was given a single room high above dense forest, with only a dragon for company.  Her name was Xenatlanextra, and she was a mother to me when I did not have one.  She was my world.  She was the one that kept me sane, the one that made me laugh, the one that dried my tears.  She called me little one, and she let me lean against her jaw and nestle into her as I went to sleep, listening to her tell stories or hum the deep, rumbling songs of her kind.  Then, just as I was on the threshold of sleep, she would whisper the words, “I love you,” and before I was too far gone, I would murmur back, “I love you too.”

I always thought I knew just how much that was worth.  I thought I knew how fortunate I was to have her.  If I had known then, though…  If I had known then, I might have tried a little harder.  How could I?  How could I have known things would end the way they did?  I keep telling myself I couldn’t have known.  But when I’m completely honest with myself, I know I should have.
I should have known my parents’ enemies would come for me.

I don’t know how they slipped past Xena.  Maybe we both just got too comfortable, so settled in our peaceful lives that we didn’t think an attack could happen.  We were caught unaware as we sat in our usual spot, her head rested on my balcony, me curled up next to her, getting close to sleep.  Then thousands of men came pouring out of the woods.  At once, Xena roared, ordering me into hiding, and rushed out to meet the onslaught, fire pouring from her mouth.

Her smoke filled the air so quickly I was choking in moments.  I crawled inside, away from the battle raging far below me.  I crawled inside and underneath the bed, snatching up a blanket to wrap my head in, trying to block out the sounds of the battle taking place below me.  I don’t know how long that fight raged on for.  It felt like hours, but was probably much less.  No one could stand against my Xena for long.  Any battle with her, I knew, must be lost quickly.
I hadn’t thought it possible for them to win.

Then she screamed.

I should have stayed where I was, I knew.  I should have stayed hidden, like she told me, but how could I?  How, when I heard such an awful, agonized sound had come out of her?  It was so loud that it shook the ground, but more than that, it shattered me to the core.  Before I knew what I was doing, I had ripped the blanket off my head and stumbled out to the balcony, choking on smoke and ash.  I pressed my middle so hard into the balcony railing that I knew there would be bruises to show for it.

I tried to cry her name, but all that came out was a barely audible gasp.  My eyes landed on a wound in her neck.  It was small, but blood gushed from it and soaked the burning ground.  She was losing too much blood, and we both knew it.  I could see it in her eyes when she turned to me.  I could see the pain. I could see the sorrow.  I could see the guilt.

It was only a matter of time after that.  With an enormous effort, she beat her great, crimson wings, raising herself into the air, caught me up in one of her claws, and bore me aloft.

She flew as far as she could, trying to fulfill her vows to my parents, trying to keep me safe.  I was surprised by how far she made it, but in retrospect, I know I shouldn’t have been.  She was always strong.

Her strength only gave out when she reached the mountains. She swooped into a deep valley and dropped me on a relatively level patch of earth, only to glide a little further on and crash into the hard ground, sending rocks and boulders scattering.

I barely remember what happened next.  I don’t remember running across the uneven terrain to get to her.  I don’t remember getting all these cuts and bruises on my legs and arms.  All I remember is skidding to a halt by her side, placing my skinned palms on her cheek, saying her name again and again, trying to help, but knowing there was nothing I could do.

Then, just like a hundred times before, she shushed me.  She did it so gently it sounded as if she wasn’t bleeding out, as if the lights in her eyes weren’t dimming with every passing second.  “It’s all right, little one.  It’s all right…”

“How can this be okay?” I wailed.  “This  is my fault!”

“No, no, this isn’t your fault.  I– I should have known this was going to happen.  I shouldn’t have fought.  I should have just taken you and gotten away, and–” A deep groan tore out of her throat.  It was a sound I had never heard before, but I knew what it was.

She was crying.

“I’m sorry, little one.  I’ve failed you.  I broke my promise and now you’re on your own.  I’m sorry.”

More groans rose out of her and more of my tears fell.  I wanted to comfort her, but I knew she wouldn’t listen.  I couldn’t convince her this wasn’t her fault, just like she couldn’t convince me it wasn’t mine.

That was when I knew it was my turn.  It was my turn to sing her to sleep.

My thin voice warbled out the words to an old lullaby I knew by heart.  If I could have, I would have sung the songs she sang to me, but her voice was so deep and mine so small I couldn’t hope to reach any of the notes.

So I did the best I could.  I sang and I sang and I rubbed my hands across her smooth, shining scales for the last time.  I pretended I didn’t notice the ever-growing pool of red, just focused on her eyes.  I watched as they unfocused and drifted, as her eyelids blinked more and more slowly.

I don’t know how I knew it was the last time when they began to drift downward again, but I did.  I broke off my song, which was really little more than me choking out the words.

“I love you, Xena.” I pressed my tear-stained cheek to hers, my arms stretched across as much of her cheek as I could reach.  “I love you!”

But I had waited too long.

She was gone.

Doings — July 2016

Okay, so I first tried this one year ago on my old blog, Memoirs of a Taleweaver.  By “this” I mean writing a monthly “Doings” post.  The first one went okay.  I’m not sure if there ever was a second one, or if I just slacked off with my posting so much after that that I just didn’t bother.  But since it’s the end of the month and I really can’t think of anything else I want to talk about, I figured I’d give it a whirl.

After comparing last July and this July to the other months of the year, I’m starting to get vibes that July is consistently becoming by far one of the craziest months of the year for me.  Last year that meant going to events like NYC, teen camp, and family camp.  This year that meant things like going back from New Hampshire from my grandfather’s last knee surgery, moving, renovating a house, working in the family camp kitchen, and coming back for my grandfather’s next knee surgery.  So between all that, you could say things have been pretty busy.

All things considered, the craziest part of the month was the reno.  I got home from New Hampshire, and the first night it was time to dive right in.  That was just cleaning a couple fans of the drywall dust, though.  The next day it was time to start tackling the basement, and that was..  Intense.  There was a lot of ripping out drywall and cabinets and ceilings.  There was also a few minutes that felt like a small eternity in which Mom was having trouble with her phone, called in to Apple, hit #1 for “Contemporary” music.  It may have been “contemporary,” but it was also mostly in other languages, and not even good songs in other languages!  That…  Yeah.  That was torture.  It’s a miracle we’re still alive.

The second craziest part was probably working in the family camp kitchen.  Still, this year was much better than last year.  (Last year was a kind of ridiculous I won’t even try to describe.)  I had a good time with my mom and aunt, who were running the kitchen, and got to spend some down time making friends, hanging out, and taking pretty pictures like the one above.  (Yeah, I took that.  Kinda proud of it.  That and it was just a gorgeous spot, so that helps.)

Still, it hasn’t all been one hundred percent stress and insanity.  Getting to finally put my room together has been fun.  And it’s blue!  Such a pretty, dusky, gray-blue.  I have this gorgeous feather picture in one corner over my reading chair, and a little metal leafy thing over one of my bookshelves, and metal cutout birds in branches over one of my other bookshelves…  I just love it so much.  It’s a little writerly paradise, with all the books (and old books!!), and bird/tree-related art.

The painting that inspired it all was the feather.  It was so blue and gold and gray, and it reminded me of my sirens so much I just had to have it!  And of course I loved the branches and the birds, since the branches make me think of my body snatchers, and the birds are kind of related to my sirens.  The painting just made me happy.

Feather

See?  Isn’t it pretty?

Speaking of sirens and dryads and things, Camp NaNo has also been going well.  Okay, so that’s been kinda crazy, too, even though my word count is only 10K.  Turns out doing Camp NaNo with worldbuilding plus an explosion of a month and only being able to work predominantly on your phone makes even a word count you used to be able to do in a day a bit harder.

But in spite of all that, I still made it!!!  I was cutting it kind of close, but I still managed!

IMG_2473

Now, I know our cabin is a little behind, but we’re all doing our best, and it’s been a really crazy month for all of us.  Shoutout to all my fellow Mitchtams!

Even though it was such a low word goal for me, this Camp has been quite productive.  I’ve gotten to play a lot with my body-snatching dryads, flesh out where the sirens live, describe the handmade mountains of my human-like race, and decide that instead of merpeople, I would have cecaeliae (what I’m deciding is the plural of “cecaelia.”)  What are cecaeliae?  They’re half human, half octopus hybrids.  Kinda like Ursula from The Little Mermaid.  I kind of like them better than merpeople.  I always have a hard time imagining merpeople in a non-cartoony way anyway.  I also got to swap the entire world from being a  frozen wasteland to being tropical.  I get to thank my newly-exposed mantle for that.  It’s quite fun, really.  After all, tropics means a lot more trees, and a lot more trees means a lot more body-snatching dryads, which means MORE DEATHS!!!!!

I’m a writer.  Not a serial killer.  Really.  I promise.

*clears throat* Moving on.

Soo, let’s see, what else is there other than Camp NaNo?

Ah yes!  I actually got to read a bit this month!  I got to finish Douglass Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and right now I’m in the middle of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  They’re all rather amusing, though really weird and kind of blasphemous.  It’s just so completely different from any other book I can remember reading that I just don’t know how to describe it.  I’m considering writing a review when I finish reading the Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which has all the Hitchhiker’s stories in it.  We’ll see though.  Like I observed in my last post, I’m not that good at writing book reviews. 😛

In a bit of rather exciting news, I’ve been accepted to Ohio Christian University’s dual enrollment program!  I’m going to have lots of fun courses this fall, like Introduction to Literature and English Composition 1.  Okay, so the English Composition is probably going to be mostly stuff I learned when I was in like fifth grade, but a refresher never hurt.

The most recent development around here was my grandfather’s knee surgery on Wednesday.  This one’s a lot more sore than the last one, so we’re all just hoping and praying it’ll get better soon.  We’re all confident though, that when it’s healed, he’ll be 100% better, and able to do a lot more than he was able to before the knee replacement.  Prayers are definitely appreciated!

So how have your months been?  Any comments on this month’s Doings?  See you in the comments!

Tally ho! ~Natasha.

Confessions of a Writer

It is time to confess my myriad writerly foibles.

Hoping you lot will laugh and confess with me instead of hurling books and pencils and things at my head.

If you do…  Well, at least I’m sitting behind a computer screen, probably in another time zone, so I doubt you can reach me.

So here it goes

Confession #1: I have read very little of late.

*appalled gasps*

It’s true.  I haven’t.  Between keeping up with working in a camp kitchen, living in a construction zone, spending time with friends, doing Camp NaNoWriMo, and writing blog posts, I have done very little reading.  I am a shame to the writerly world, I know.  But that brings me to my next confession…

Confession #2: I am a chronic squirrel reader.

I think I may have written a post about this on my old blog, Memoirs of a Taleweaver. Uncertain.  When I do actually get past my “reader’s block,” as some  call it, I’ll pick up a book and devour the first part of it, then another book will catch my eye and I’ll start reading, thinking, “I’ll read both at the same time!” In a few weeks, when I’ve finished neither book, my thought pattern is more to the effect of, “You thought you’d finish both at once?? That’s funny. Now go find another book.”

Confession #3:  I have very poor balance.

I’m not talking about walking (though that can definitely apply).  I’m talking about balancing writerly endeavors and all that entails, and life and all that entails.  More often than not, one or the other suffers.  Something I’m working on.

Confession #4: I am not actually supposed to have an “Uncategorized” category on my blog.

“But… You do,” you say. Or do you? I’m not sure at the moment. I have a tendency to forget to categorize my posts, resulting in the existence of an uncategorized category. Every so often I’ll remember to go back and make sure there aren’t any uncategorized posts, but that doesn’t always happen.

In like manner…

Confession #5:  I have a tendency to forget to attach tags to my posts.

Enough said.

Confession #6: I’m never really sure how to handle a book review.

I know I managed it on my old blog, but I seem to have lost the knack for it between then and now. I keep vacillating between being a total fangirl and gushing over it if I liked it, doing an in-depth literary dissection, talking about the characters, or just talking about the overall experience and impression of it. I figure there should be a balance of all those things. But again, balance isn’t my strong suit.

Confession #7:  I am very bad at sticking to projects.

If you read my last post, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s not just novels, though.  It’s other things, too.  Like blog posts.  I have to periodically clear out my “drafts” folder.  That and counted cross stitch.  It’s fun to do, but it takes me years to finish one, I work on them so sporadically.

Confession #8:  All the WIPs I have ever had have been jumbled messes.

Once again, if you read my last blog post, this will come as no shock to you. Lack of developing characters, plots, and worlds beforehand has maimed and murdered many a WIP. All the stages of novel-writing are monsters for me, especially the development phases. (Not that I’ve ever made it much past those. 😑)

Confession #9:  I tend to make my characters a little too perfect.

As an idealist and a perfectionist, this is only to be expected.  I like to make my characters superhumans that are brilliant at everything from medicine to history to botany to swordsmanship to literature to empathy to… Basically everything. *cough*Frake*cough*  Thing is, I know what my characters should do to make the situation come out right for them.  “Don’t say that– you’ll hurt her feelings.”  “Don’t go there– it’s obviously a trap.”  “DON’T DRIVE OFF THAT CLIFF– YOU WILL DIE!!!”  For their own good, they should listen to me.  For the good of the plot and being actual people, they should do the exact opposite.

Confession #10:  I don’t fight writer’s block as hard as I should.

This is another sad truth.  When I should be writing until my fingers bleed, I am instead giving into the little voice that says, “Eh, I don’t really feel like it today.  I’ll just do it tomorrow.”

Three weeks later: WHAT?!!?!  I HAVEN’T WRITTEN IN THREE WEEKS?!???  HOW CAN THIS HAVE HAPPENED???  I AM A TERRIBLE, AWFUL, LOUSY WRITER, AND I WILL NEVER GET ANYTHING FINISHED!!!  *goes and weeks when she should be writing*

Ahem.  Aaanyway.  That’s it for my confessions.  There’s probably a lot more stuff I could be confessing that I’m not thinking of, but that’s what you get for now.  So please don’t leave me alone with my worst writerly sins bared to you.  Do please join in my humiliation.  See you soon!

Patterns

Patterns.  I love the things.  Usually when people think of patterns, they think on fabric or in designs.  Not so for me.  When I think of patterns, I think books, life, history — bigger things that take a bit longer to notice the patterns in.  They are there, though.  Especially fun for me to watch patterns in is my writing.

The biggest pattern I’ve noticed has been in the plot of my books.  Nearly all of my ideas have had something to do with rescue, usually a guy going after a missing girl.

One of the oldest versions of that was…  Pathetic.  I was like nine when I was working on it, and I had recently fallen in love with Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Heartless, resulting in an awful plagiaristic novel I called the Scale of Fire.  Based on how long it took me to remember what I even called that one, I’m guessing I’ve made a largely successful effort in forgetting that WIP even existed.  So if you don’t mind, I’m going to skip past any further detail on that project and go back to my blissful forgetfulness.

The next rescue-themed story was…  Somewhat better.  As it was a few years later and I had done more reading, the writing itself was at least better, though not what it could have been.  It went through a lot of name changes, but the one I remember the best was Lifeless.  Seriously, I don’t remember all the different titles it had.  😛  Somewhat influenced by the Hunter Brown series and Wayne Thomas Batson’s the Door Within series, and probably a few other things, it wasn’t as heavily plagiaristic.  I might even venture a guess it wasn’t at all.  The basic plot was that a girl named Emily got sucked into another world by the bad guy, and her brother and parents went into the world to go after her.  So…  It was a bit of a pseudo-Narnia, and not a very original plot, but it at least wasn’t the same monstrosity as the Scale of Fire.

A while after I had given up on that one, I got the idea for a story I named for the MC, Aelwynne.  This one I started right after reading Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Starflower, so what did I do?  I went and made a mishmash of Heartless and Starflower.  (They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?)  After a few chapters, I didn’t know where I was going in the middle, and that story also took its rightful place on the unfinished pile.

After that I had a WIP I titled Rescued from the Mountain.  (Hah, rescued theme.  Not obvious or anything. 😛 )  This one was the story of a princess who got lured away by the bad guy (who was a goblin), and her father the king had to go after her.  I actually made it to the end of that first draft, if I remember correctly.  I had forgotten I had ever actually done that. 😛  Interesting the things you’ll remember when you take a moment to remember them.  But by then, I wasn’t quite willing to sit down and do the bane of writerly existence — editing.  Therefore, it too got pushed to the wayside.

Now we come to my most recent rescue-themed story — Guardian.  My wonderful, frustrating, feels-wrenching pet.  I still love it.  I still think about it every day.  It takes it’s well-deserved place as one of the very few projects I actually still feel proud of.  I spent over a year working on it, muddling through lots of different versions of it, getting to know my characters, shifting backstories, fiddling with worldbuilding.  Eventually it just got so tangled I had to put it on the backburner — but that’s where it’s at.  The backburner.  Not the “doomed to forever lie unfinished” pile.  Just waiting until I have enough perspective and enough experience to pull off that sort of story.

Guardian introduced its own new pattern, I think.  I don’t know how many stories the new pattern will carry into, but it’s made its way into both my new storyworld and my blog.

That’s right.  Stars.

Like I said in my welcome page, I have a thing for the shiny dots.  So old, yet still hopeful.  But like I said in my last post, I’m completely redesigning the way stars work in my new storyworld.  They’re changeable, predicted by the weather.  They won’t be the same symbols of eternity and immortality that they were in Guardian.  But you never know!  They might become symbolic of something else.

I have to wonder what other patterns will emerge as I keep worldbuilding, then as I start designing characters and plot.  I wonder if the rescue pattern will continue, or if I’ll find some new theme for it.  I wonder if I’ll keep playing with mortality, immortality, eternity.  I’m curious where this story will take me.

Do any of you pay attention to patterns in your stories?  If you do, what are they?  I love to hear from you!

My Camp NaNoWriMo Project

We’re all much farther along than this, but the WordPress app is being stupid and not letting me remove it and put the new screenshot in. 😑

Happy Camp NaNoWriMo!  May the odds be ever in your favor!

Sorry.  I couldn’t resist. 😝

Really, though, happy Camp NaNo, if you’re participating!  I, like many of you, am.  If you’re looking at my super-low word goal and thinking, “Wow, she must be a ridiculously slow writer,” no, that isn’t the case.  Things have just been really crazy recently, and I just wasn’t certain if I could get it all in.  That and I had originally just been planning on writing a short story, but since I had done almost zero planning for it, I decided to nix that idea.

Instead, I’ve taken up a much crazier something.  

I’d had the original idea a good while back, when I started seeing the pins about doing modern fantasy stories, how a few people had been wanting them.  But of course, modern just wasn’t quite enough for me, so I had been playing with ideas of futuristic fantasy stories.  I started tinkering a bit, but nothing really came of it, and I couldn’t make up my mind about things, so I let the idea sit while I worked on… Nothing.  😛 Seriously, my writing just had not been working.  I was having one of the most epic cases of writer’s block ever.

Then after a bit of venting over a video chat with a friend, I got inspiration in the form of one sentence:

The night sky rained light.

And that was what I needed.

I turned on some Ludovico Einaudi and set to work, writing away, developing a substance called starwater that replaces the sun and moon as the main light source.  Before I knew it, I had a workable concept with enough detail to make starwater an actual thing around which I could build an entire world.

I kept working.  Soon I had several ideas for races taken from my earlier idea, just modified.  Sirens that can manipulate starwater with their songs, wyrms that are impervious to the heat of magma, sylphs that can’t keep gender straight, sea monsters that live off starwater.  At the moment, I’m working on some body-snatching dryads.

The technology is coming a bit slower, but that’s no big surprise.  I’ve never actually tried my hand at sci-fi, so that part of the worldbuilding will probably take a bit longer.  It’ll get there, though.  

As of right now, I have absolutely no ideas for a plot, only a couple vague ideas for characters that I’m trying to suppress right now.  The last thing I need is a new bunch of characters chattering away inside my head while I try to piece an entire world together.  That will come in time.

How about you?  What’s your Camp NaNo project, and how are you coming on it?  See you in the comments!


Happy Father’s Day!


Dear Pappap,

I cherish the time I get to spend with you.  The time we’ve spent together, you telling stories, playing old tapes of you singing, going hunting, will always be some of my most treasured memories.  I’ve learned a lot from you, Pappap.  The things you’ve taught me I will carry with me for the rest of my live.

Love, Natasha.

Dear Papa,


Your smile and your laugh are contagious.  You have so many amazing stories I can barely remember them all, so I listen to you tell them over and over again.  You’re inspiring and brave and adventurous, and I love you very much.

Natasha.


Dear Daddy,

I can never be grateful enough that God picked you to be my daddy.  You have been an amazing father for me.  You’ve taught me to take care of those I love.  You’ve taught me to be protective.  You’ve taught me to have a good work ethic.  You’ve taught me how to be confident, to have a quiet strength.  But more than all that, you’ve taught me to seek God no matter what, and that’s the most important thing I’ve learned from you.  I love you, Daddy.  I will always be your little girl.

Natasha.