Writing Exercise: Coffee With Character…Or Tea

1390739938rd1sxWriting is such a cathartic expression. Be it used to create poetry, something literary, or a piece that is completely outlandish and full of adventure, writing is indeed a breath of fresh air.

As writers, even in the face of an activity so purifying we often times find ourselves  locked in a position where our creative muscles have not been trained to go, or rather have no idea how to get where we are trying to go.  This frustration is no different than Yoga.

Original art by Candice Coates

Original art by Candice Coates

Sure, you have got “Downward facing dog” in the bag, but dare your muscles to attempt “Crane pose.” or “Forearm-standing Scorpion,” and you may find yourself stuck in between the attempt and nowhere near where you had hoped to be.

And it all looked to so easy in the beginning.

Original Art by Candice Coates

Original Art by Candice Coates

This writing exercise is all about getting “there,” helping you stretch past the stiffness of your imaginative muscles, especially when it comes to the characters who are the life blood of the writing we may be working on. In order to get there you need to know the folks, right? (I have no advice for the Yoga , besides practice, practice, practice OR get a knew form of exercises ;) )

EXERCISE:

Write down the names of the main characters in your book (and even some important supporting characters). Write them on a piece of paper or even in your computer (your choice) in column style.

These are the names of the folks you are inviting over for an intimate meal or even just a good cup of coffee, one character at a time or if you are feeling adventures, invite them all!

Consider what each character likes to eat. What they don’t like. Who prefers olive oil over butter, how do they take their coffee?

Now think about how the conversation would go with them.

Jot these things down in each column.  Do they tell jokes? Do they like the shakshuka you prepared? Do they even know what shakshuka is?

Have fun with it. Treat the characters as you would any guest you were entertaining.

WHAT IS THE REWARD?

The reward of this exercise is to get to know your characters more intimately. The answers that you find out about these individuals are not necessarily tid-bits you would add to beef up your plot, but they are the gems that really get you in the head and heart of the people who are acting out the story. It makes the flow so much more authentic.

This information will stretch you from “Downward facing dog” into “Crane pose” without locking your muscles.

Cheers!

P.S if you don’t know what shakshuka is, follow this LINK! Happy writing and happy eating!

Ascension Graveyard Future Revisions

It has been nearly a complete 90 days since I began writing Ascension Graveyard, doing my best to bring to life the character of Etta Castle Teague and her story. But like with any “first draft,” revisions are necessary. Ascension Graveyard BANNER

I remember once being told something equivalent to “kill your darlings,” to never be married to your first draft.  I am not at all married to the last 3 or so chapters within this story. I think the chapters hold some great potential to reach the level that they are meant to achieve BUT they are definitely not there, the book as a whole is not there yet.

I am sure you all (those of you reading along) know that already, especially if you are writers yourself. But I promise it will be!

The biggest challenge that I have encountered with writing this novel and posting it chapter by chapter, is the feeling of nerves and self consciousness. I have written novels before but I have only shared them with one or two people in their step by step creation.  Sharing with the world wide web is a whole other world akin to walking naked for all the world to see.

It can give you brain freeze.

In this beginning phases of creating a novel, telling a story, there are a TON of mistakes, gaps in the plot, character under development, waning pulses within the storyline, so on and so forth. This is all a part of the process and I am happy to be sharing it with you.

I do thank those of you who have LIKED what you have read and especially those of you who have left feedback and raised questions for me to consider with the plot. It has helped a lot.

Another thing that helps is with fleshing out the characters, literally. I can see the characters in my head but sometimes they resemble people who really exist. I have created a board on Pinterest to share who I kind of see Etta and how I am kind of seeing Mr. Albert. In other words, if the book were to ever become a movie these two could play the roles. Take a look if you’d like but if you don’t want to spoil your own vision, DON’T FOLLOW THIS LINK!

As of right now I feel like I have at least 35% of  story that needs to be reworked or completely trashed, but I am going to go ahead and finish her up, and keep posting the chapters for you all to read.  Then I will do the hard part of going at the story line by line with my red pen and highlighter, executing the villains to the strength of the plot, and exonerating those parts that I feel are gold.

That being said, I am reading over the first few chapters now because, honestly, I feel like the story has lost either direction or momentum…maybe both. I need to be reminded of the direction. What this means is that as I continue writing from chapter 15 on, there maybe some parts that could be confusing especially since  I WILL NOT be adding the revisions to the web.

Thanks again for reading, liking, commenting, and continuing with me and Etta :) And do feel free to give your creative criticisms .

Cheers and happy reading! I think we are halfway there.

They’re Going to Shine: A Poem

Dropping my words like they’re paint on canvas
Fast forwarding the vision
Because the pace can’t handle it
Filling up the ether with a brand new sigh
My breath breathes fresh life
And its making them high
I got to…
Get my mind right and the space I’m in it’s is too tight
I loosen rooted laces
Sprout my wings and now I take flight
Leaving behind
All the clutter in my mind
My words take on new heights
And in the Son’s Light
They’re are going to shine

DREAMS ARE WHERE IT ALL BEGINS

Original Oil pastel done by Candice Coates

Original Oil pastel done by Candice Coates

I sleep to dream, I dream to be inspired, and through Inspiration I live. Jesus  is my Inspiration.”

I came up with that little ditty when I was 16 or 17 years old.  It was then that I created the image; myself resting and dreaming yet holding on to the Spirit of Peace.  For years I have been gleaning inspiration from the dreams that I live in each time I lay my head on my pillow at night. (Sadly the image didn’t really translate color-wise…I am still working on my picture taking skills.)

But although I understand the importance of dreaming, I often encounter people who have no concept of it all. Either they think you are lazy because you get a full days rest or they do not have the ability to remember the dreams that they have.  Both are sad cases. What is worse, we artist and writers tend to get very little sleep at all.

When I began taking from my dreams to create narratives and art a paradigm shift took place  for me. I was no longer sleeping just to get rejuvenated but I was leaving one world of creative inspiration in order to enter another.  Sleep became more necessary for me than it was before.

When our minds are at rest  (not cluttered with the worries of the day and the chores we still have left ahead of us) we are able to allow the creative power of God to rest upon us. Me, I am a Sabbath keeper. I cease from work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday and I find that when my mind is at rest and peace do more ideas begin to flood. It is truly a gift from God. In my resting in Him, Yeshua grants me greater inspiration.

Think about an apple tree. It does not strive to create fruit, it just does so by its very nature. It rests in what it is and produces what it was created to produce.

This is why rest is so important. We as creative beings need to refuel daily in order to bring forth the fruit that is in us to bring forth.   A friend of mine understands this. She once told me, “I sleep with my contacts in so that I can see my dreams clearly.”Now I don’t recommend sleeping with your contacts on unless you have the kind made for that, but you get the point. There is life in our dreams and to get that life we have to rest to do so.

I know I have kind of gone in circles with this but that is ok I am giving you mental exercise ;)

I live you with this thought, if you are like most artists and writers, burning the candle at both ends, give yourself permission to quiet one of those flames and get some sleep. Your juices will flow with greater ease, and whatever it is that you are striving to accomplish will be more peaceably done.

And don’t mind what the accusatory voices in your head my say or even others around you. You just make sure to rest, my friend. My grandmother always mocks saying “Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream, baby.” And my response now is “Woman, I sure hope so!” Because a dream is all I need.

Happy Creating and Happy Resting!

Cheers!

 

The World From Her Window

The sound of her voice fluttered through the window with the beautiful ease of a leaf upon gentle wind. Travis felt his heart flutter in his chest and his stomach do a turn as the words surrounded him as if in a loving embrace, “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.”  13625924327neml

A smile spread across his face, and just like every day, every time he heard her voice and her song, his back straightened and his stride became more sure, more confident. It was as if he were walking on streets of gold each time he passed her window.

Gwyneth, Gwyneth Archer is what she was called. He had seen the sweet girl a many times, once at the bakery, another time at the general shop and more times than he could count since last May at church.

Travis had never been much for the game of religion for that is how he had always viewed it. It was a game of Russian Roulette dressed up in false hallelujahs and Preachers peddling snake oil just to earn a poor man’s coin every time the offering basket was passed.

That was how he saw things ever since he was a child, his Daddy had taught him so and that was his view until he began to see the world through Gwyneth’s window.

The first time he heard her song as he passed her window on his way to work, he felt an anger rise in him that could have set the whole street on fire. He had cursed her from outside, too late to confront her face to face for disturbing his already rough morning and too eager to get out of the rain to really stop.

He couldn’t remember why he was so angry that day, he just remembered the look in her big brown eyes when she peeped out from her window. Her fingers hardly drew back the curtains, but enough of her round face had been seen to nearly stop his heart. He didn’t know if it was the scar that ran across her face and underneath her nose, stopping right were the dimple of a smile began, or if it was the look of disappointment that froze him like ice.

He quickly pulled his eyes away from her, raised the wet collar of his coat and pushed forward through the rain, his shame tucked beneath his  tail like a chastised pup.

Her face had stuck with him, the sound of her voice singing praise and adoration to her God, replayed over and over throughout the rest of the day, so much so that he couldn’t keep himself from asking anyone he knew, “Who is the girl who lives on Brigs St, blue window frame, sings like an angel?”

The answers came slowly at first, for very few folks knew her, although many new of her. The answers of her identity came in the tune of “The girl with the scar?” “The girl who got cut because of her daddy’s gambling debt?” “The girl who don’t talk to nobody, always hides her face.” “The girl who sings every morning?”

“Yes, her!” He would respond until someone was able to give him her name, only he had to go and ask the Pastor about that.

Travis was nearly completely deterred by having to seek a Pastor to find out her name, but he had become so enthralled by her song, the light in her eyes, the peace with which she sang even though life had been so cruel that he couldn’t help but go.

And each Sunday as he sat in the back pew watching her sing before a audience of One, for he knew she only sang for God, did Travis begin to love her. Not only did he come to love her but the God of her song, for He was the One he let him hear her.

He strolled passed her window, now whistling to tune in unison with her voice. He strolled only across the street and back again, a pot of flowers in his arms.  A giddy feeling ripped through him as he crept towards her home, her voice still carefree. He slid the pot in place and began to slide away stopping only when her song ceased mid-verse.

He turned and locked eyes with her, this time he removed his hat and smiled as confidently as he could. “I hope you like them,” He twisted his hat in his hands. He was suddenly very nervous.

Gwyneth touched the petals with fingers a gentle as her voice. She too smiled nervously. “They are lovely, Travis.”

Travis flinched. She knew his name? She knew his name! his smile broadened, the same feeling he got from her singing he suddenly felt at the sound of her saying his name.  “So are you, Gwyneth. So are you.”

THE END

I have not taken the time to read over this (I have been bad about that lately) but I am so glad that I took the time to write it. I have been so regimented over the last week that I have kind of forgotten to have fun and just create. I hope this story made you, the reader, feel as easy and relaxed as it did me to write.

Cheers!

Chapter 14 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 14

   ~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

I said I thought that maybe all of this ascension crap began with alien abductions, well no, not exactly. It actually started way before then with crop circles. If you don’t know, reports of crop circles date as far back as the dark ages…ok the 16oo’s but that might as well have been the stone ages. They were called “Fairy rings” back then.

They are the anchors that the Towes use to weave their net around the Earth. The Towes had been anchoring to earth for centuries, Capturing people, and testing their make-up. The humans who came back were rejects. They didn’t have what the Towes needed, whatever that is exactly. That didn’t mean that they or their children wouldn’t prove useful to them in some way…

*          *          *

“What did he just say?” Jørn was just about to call for his next patient when the man with the bloody arm came in screaming.

“I think he just said we are trapped.” Rachel started forward, her game face on. Somehow she had not let the current events knock her off of her axis. She had worked in the ER for so long that she had made an art out of emotionally disconnecting from the war in front of her—fixing, aiding, diagnosing, and moving on to the next person, almost like a production line. She reminded him of Etta that way, her ability to detach, but what had made Rachel an excellent ER physician had made Etta emotionally unapproachable over the past few years, maybe more.

Rachel opened another patient’s chart, scanned it quickly, before the one of the nurses on staff called out their name. In passing Rachel said, “The guy could just be delusional. A lot has gone on and with all the bad driving today, the mess of the ascension, it could be a concussion.”

“What about Wong? How is she?” The thought of the Vanessa Wong being shot was just bizarre, but somehow seemed plausible all things considered.

Rachel back tracked a few paces and whispered for Jørn’s hearing alone. “Nonresponsive, but stable. We’ll talk. Maybe you can lend your opinion?” She gave him a wan smile and headed off back into the trenches, no word on bullet wounds, head injuries, just the promise of a pending conversation.

One of the nurses in the waiting area helped the screaming man to his feet as Meg wheeled a chair towards him. Jørn came along side him as he dropped his weight in the chair.

“Meg, I will check on him.”

-“Hey, Doc! Some of us have been waiting here for hours!” A woman glared in Jørn’s direction. “This guy is no more important than the rest of us.”

Jørn kept his cool, even with all the other eyes that were now on him. He could see through the man’s tattered shirt sleeve that his wound wasn’t that deep, it actually didn’t even appear to be bleeding anymore, but the nagging question at the back of Jørn’s mind made him skip past the others and single this guy out. He was the one who screamed they were all trapped. If the ascension had gone as bad as had been rumored, then there might have been some validity to being trapped. Maybe the Lotus and whoever or whatever they worked for were rounding everyone up for one big death blow.

Jørn wanted to hear the guy out, gather whatever information he could. He already felt like he was in the dark. His mind was still reeling from last night. Finding out that Pastor Meeks was on the council with Mayor Wong was a shock all of its own, but Mr. Albert? Jørn definitely did not see that coming, and it had been going on right under his nose. Maybe that was why Etta had stopped talking to him. Maybe she knew all along.

He shook the thought and put his mind on the one solid fact he had. The world around him was shifting like sand and he wanted to find a way to solid ground before he and the people he loved were doomed to sink.

He had witnessed first hand the chaos of last night and the train wreck that had been the ER only a few short hours ago. Things had calmed down considerably even though most of the chairs were still filled with waiting patients. But if Jørn’s gut told him anything, it was telling him that this guy and his condition might be the first of another wave of the wounded, if not that afternoon then soon.

He clenched his fist and wrung out the nerves. He really wanted to talk to Etta, needed to. He would do so after he was done with this patient.

He cleared his throat and answered the woman who had called him out, all the while guarding his tone. “Ma’am, I understand that you have been waiting here for a while—”

“An hour and a half! And Sport over there comes crashing in the door like Chicken Little, ‘The sky is falling! The sky is falling!’” She waved her hands mockingly in the air. “And you all jump to attention.” She folded her arms across her chest. “Well my hip hurts and my insurance premium is insane so basically my sky is falling too, so can I get some attention too, please?”

Jørn bit back a sarcastic jab of his own and settled for empathizing with her instead. “I understand that you have been here a long time, Ma’am, but this man has an open wound and needs immediate attention,”

“I need immediate attention!”

“I promise someone will be right with you as soon as possible.” He offered her a quick smile and turned away from her before she could say anything more, following behind the nurse who was now pushing the wheel chair. “Sir, I am Jørn Teague, but you can call me Jørn. What is your name, please?”

The man jerked his head up and behind him and stared unblinkingly at Jørn before looking forward again, crying into his hand. Jørn waited until they were situated before he asked him again.

“Thomas, my name is Thomas Allan.” He sniffled and wiped his face with his sleeve.

Jørn entered the exam room behind him, closed the door and pulled on rubber gloves before he removed the soiled fabric of Thomas’ shirt, getting a better look at the laceration. It had indeed stopped bleeding but it still needed stitches.

He began to swab down the wound, as another nurse wheeled in a computer. “So how did this happen, Thomas?” Jørn wanted to just dive right in and ask him about the statement he had unleashed in the waiting room but thought better of it. He would ease forward instead.

Thomas winced from the sting of antiseptic. “I uh, I was on my way back home and uh right as I was coming closer to the “Thank you for visiting Ubert County” sign, like a dozen Lotus dropped out of the sky,”

Jørn stopped. “Ubert County? That is what 30 miles from here?”

Thomas hunched his free shoulder. “I don’t know, I guess.”

He pulled the needle through Thomas’ arm. “Okay so you were at Ubert County crossing line and Lotus just came out of nowhere?”

He nodded, his face went pink again and started to crumple up in an attempt to cry. “I am not from here! I am from West Glen. I came into town with my girlfriend.”

“Your girlfriend? What’s here name, Thomas?” Jørn really didn’t care he just needed the guy distracted enough to keep him from crying.

Thomas looked confused for a second before finally answering. “Andrea?”

Jørn cocked his brow. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. Her auntie was supposed to ascend and she wanted support. I told her I would come over with her but I wasn’t going to the Yard. I hate the Yards!”

Jørn could relate to that, he hated the Yards too.

“So I was at her auntie’s house, waiting on her to call me to pick her up and she did accept she was screaming that the ascension had been hijacked and that Lotus with legs were rounding people up and shooting at them or something,”

Jørn’s throat constricted. Meg had said something about shooting earlier. What if Etta had been shot? He swallowed down the knot in his throat and steadied his hands before he continued stitching. He calmed himself with the thought that if Etta had been shot she would have been in the ER and he had checked for her name several times. If she were in the morgue, someone would have told him already.

He tightened his jaw and kicked himself for having such pessimistic thoughts. But why hadn’t she called him? He needed to check his cell phone. His voice came out several octaves louder. “And what did you do when she told you that?”

Thomas’ stopped crying, he was now more irritated than anything. “Why are you screaming at me?! And what do you mean what did I do? I got my butt in my truck and I high tailed it towards West Glen!”

“I didn’t mean to yell, I am sorry. Back to what happened. You didn’t go get your girlfriend, first?” Jørn pulled off his gloves and tossed them in the proper disposal bin. He laced his fingers together fighting off the thought of punching Thomas. How could the man leave his girlfriend like that? He didn’t leave Heidi and he would have never left Etta! He wanted to leave the hospital and go and find her in that very instant. The more he thought about it the more convinced he became that he should have done it a long time ago.

“No. I didn’t. Don’t judge me, I was scared! I still am.” His voice trailed off.

“I am not judging you, Thomas.”

Thomas cradled his bandaged arm. “Those things came at me out of nowhere. I had to hook a u-turn and push the gas. It was insane, man! I looked in my rearview mirror to see if they were still following me in towards Greenwich Pass but they weren’t. They were chasing down other cars that came near the boarder.”

“I’m confused. When did the Lotus attack you, then?”

“They didn’t they just chased me away from the boarder line.” Thomas was suddenly amiable.

“Then how did that happen?” He pointed at Thomas’ arm.

“I crashed.”

“You crashed?”

“Yeah, about three miles north of the hospital. I was going back to my girlfriend’s auntie’s house and a dog ran into the road. I lost control and slid sideways into a ditch, cut my arm climbing out the passenger window.”

“The car flipped?”

“No, it slid.” Thomas mimicked the motion with his free hand. “My door smacked against a tree and was at a weird angle so I had to climb out the passenger side window, because the door doesn’t work. I had duct tapped it because it had gotten broken last week, so when I was climbing out of it I cut my arm up.”

Jørn tried not to grind his teeth. He wasn’t sure what was going on but he was certain he wasn’t going to get anything solid from Thomas. The more he talked the less reliable he became. Rachel was probably right, they guy most likely had struck his head in the collision with the tree, had a concussion and was hallucinating about being trapped.

“Thomas, did you strike your head at all during the crash? Do you recall?”

“No, I didn’t hit me head. The truck slid and I cut my arm.”

“Are you sure?”

Thomas began to scowl. “Yes I am sure! My head would hurt if I hit it.”

Jørn sighed and pulled out his pin light and held it in front of Thomas’ face. “Thomas, follow this light with your eyes please.” Jørn was finished talking. He just needed to leave, especially now that he was fully convinced of Thomas’ concussion.

He finished his checkup and then with long, quick strides began to head towards the other end of the hospital. He was going to call Etta again and if he couldn’t get her on the phone he was going to go and find her. He was going to have to find someone else to cover this shift.

*          *          *

Etta stared down the hillside through dark sunglasses. Even then she could still see the shattered auras of the people below. But that far up the feeling and frequency that came from them was much less intense.

In the time she spent waiting for Kyle to show up she was able to pay a bit more attention to what it was exactly that she was seeing. From the hillside she saw the auras more like what they were—Towes shackles, wrapped around each and every person, and rising up and disappearing into the Net above were thin tethers that kept each person connected to it. They reminded her of puppet strings.

She held her hands up in front of her eyes again and flipped them over, studying them for any like signs of auras to those below and Baldwin who sat beside her.

“Why do you keep doing that? It’s not likely to change. You don’t have what we have. You were not programmed as a child. We have already gone over this.”

            She dropped her hands into her lap. “I know but, still. It’s like discovering a new super power, you know? I’m just checking to make sure its still there.”

“Are there other “supper powers” that you have that I should know about?”

            “Shut up, Baldwin.” Etta rolled her eyes. She hated his sarcasm. He was less angry than he had been earlier, which was a good thing. Now he was just restless. They had plowed their way through traffic to meet up with Kyle, only to discover that he was late. That at least gave them time to talk and attempt to figure out what had happened to her.

Baldwin reasoned that the shattered auras were indeed the work of the Towes and the Net. That would explain why everyone but Etta seemed to have one. They also reasoned that this was the way that the Towes kept everyone programmed through Their artificial event boundaries.

It was a simple hypothesis for a not-so-simple science.

“About time,” Etta stood up and watched Kyle come around the bend. Even with the sunglasses she could see his red hair and now his aura as well.

Kyle hunched his shoulders and gave an apologetic smile. “Sorry, Etta. It wasn’t my fault, traffic sucks today for obvious reasons.” He waited until she was seated again before he sat down next to her. Baldwin moved out of the way.

“I have been up here for almost an hour.”

“Yes, well I had to drive from Ubert County line.”

She studied the shards around him as he talked. They were full of color closer to his body but the more they grew outward the smokier gray they became. “So it’s done then?” She lowered her voice to near inaudible.

Kyle moved closer and matched her volume. “Yeah, the Lotus seedlings are in place. Some idiot in a truck nearly got himself killed by driving right into a couple of them. But in the end they all burrowed themselves completely. There were a few other cars too but it all worked out.” He tossed a rock down the side of the hill. A trail of dust spurted up behind it. “Why did you have me do that? Aren’t they supposed to grow in wooded areas?”

Etta pointed a finger at him. “No questions, Kyle. That is the deal.”

“Fine, fine. Just thought I would ask.”

She cocked her head to the side and stared at him, her mouth a tight line. “Did anyone see you? Did you talk to anyone?”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “I was well hidden, Etta. No one saw me and the only person I have talked to all day is you.”

She looked down the hill again. “If you didn’t get a chance to do the other thing I asked you to do, don’t worry about it. I will take care of it myself.”

Kyle almost looked hurt. “I told you the traffic was bad! It wasn’t my fault,”

“I know that, Kyle. This is not a demotion there has just been a sudden change in plans is all.” She squeezed his shoulder and pasted on a smile. “Nothing for you to worry about. Thank you.”

“We have company, Etta. They’ll be here in like five minutes.” Baldwin stared down the trail that Kyle had walked up on. Etta had heard them coming, heard their frequency and felt it as it drew closer.

Maybe what the Towes had done wasn’t so bad after all.

“You should probably head out now, Kyle. Follow that trail down the hill and loop around to your car. And no work tomorrow. I will call you if anything changes during the week. Keep your phone on you.”

“Right on, Captain.” He stood up.

Etta turned her eyes towards the trail that Kyle had come up on. “Kyle, you are a doll.”

“I hope not.” He walked away and disappeared upon the trail.

Five minutes later, their uninvited guest was there, standing like a sentinel at the edge of the trail, his eyes unreadable.

Etta waited a few long moments, enough to ensure that Kyle was out of harms way before she acknowledge their presents. The strangeness of the shards around them made her remove her sunglasses and look upon them with narrowed, scrutinizing eyes. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon, Mr. Albert. Is the Council ready to meet with us already?”

Mr. Albert scowled.

The Beauty in Starting Over

Are you one of those people who hates it when you have put in hours and hours of labor and materials on a project just to come to a place where you have literally, and figuratively painted yourself into a corner, where there are no other turns to make,  and you have to…start over? 1351261299m43si

Geez I know I am, and I know that I have done this so many times I cannot even count. Part of the extreme dislike for “starting over” in these instances is the 1. loss of income through “wasted” materials, and 2. the loss of income through time seemingly wasted.

Having to start over tends to feel like a failure especially when you started off on your project with all these grand ideas and vision only to find that you have fallen flat.

Who doesn’t hate that?

I have been working on a piece for over a year, an oil painting. I have started it, stared at it, started over, repeated the process over 3 times (I know you are thinking, Really? 3 times is no big deal. Well it is when the canvas is as tall as you and twice as wide…that easily $100 +  in oil paint gone or rather painted over by more oil paint…ok getting back on track) and each time I have started over I have come back to the start with less energy, less desire, more frustration.

It got to the point where I just wanted to get the thing done and gone and literally never look at another canvas again. Failure!

The biggest problem, the greatest cause for my inability to produce the great image that I know I can, has to do with the fact that I kept coming at the painting trying to salvage the few things that I deemed salvageable. Problem with this is that the salvageable pieces belong to the failed piece as a whole and they really have no place in the new vision.

Now this isn’t always true, but in this instance (3+ ) it certainly is.

So, today armed with my jumbo priming brush and an attitude, I began to paint over what I had worked so hard to preserve in a shade of washed out indigo-black. And as I painted over what once was, divorcing myself for the things I was trying so hard to keep, something awesome happened.

I became re inspired! I began to see an image on the canvas that I had not seen before and a fire and thirst to sling paint and bring this image to life is burning in me even as I write this blog.

So what is the point? Simply this, that as a wise man (I think it was Alexander Graham Bell, don’t quote me though) said something to the tune of  “I have not failed I just found another way of doing it wrong.” In other words, there is discover even in our aims and misses.

Starting over shouldn’t be looked at with disdain but with an air of respect and delight! With the same gusto and hope that a person scratches a lotto ticket hoping to uncover the big win, so should we, artists and writers, dreamers and creatures, tackle our restarts.

Let me back track just a bit before bringing this to a close. Last night, as I sat having prayer and singing songs of worship, the image of a woman with hair deep and black came to my mind, but it wasn’t until I erased my canvas today that I was able to see her clearly and with  a fire to bring her to life. And although I have not begun to do so yet (as I need to buy her her own canvas) she is more vivid and beautiful looking at her upon the void of what was supposed to be a failure.

So folks, start your  adventures, back track if need be, keep your heads up and keep your hope on fire. Don’t hate the do-overs, count them as blessings and pull out of them the magic that is hidden within them.

Cheers!

 

Chapter 13 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 13

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

Once upon a time, people who thought crop circles were made by aliens, and not some artist looking to freak people out, were labeled as “special,” Not in the kind-you-are-important-to-me special, but the special that asks “Did you take your meds? Does your gene pool look more like a saucepan? Did your mom drop you on your head when you were a baby? Or all of the above…If those doubters could see the world now I wonder what they would say…

*          *          *

Etta had only driven a few blocks from the Mall when she had to stop and pull over, stumbling out of her car, engine still running, to empty her stomach in a near by ditch. She choked in a deep breath, batting away the tears that had blurred her vision, and dropped her weight on the curb. Her eyes felt so heavy, like they were flexing or worse, cramping. The strain was making her feel awful. Placing her head between her knees, she forced herself to calm down and her equilibrium to balance.

It was a terrible struggle.

What did you do back there?” Baldwin was fuming. He had asked her the same question several times already, but she could not steady herself long enough to answer. She had played a good hand back on the Yard with Mr. Albert and even Clive and the Pulse that had inhabited him, but now all bets were off. She felt horrible.

“Etta!” Baldwin shouted her name. The anger and the sense of betrayal radiated off of him with a heat that Etta could almost feel.

When she did finally focus long enough to look at him, she could see the heat. It was like seeing thin shards of orange and pink fired glass beaming off of him. She pressed her eyes shut again.

What had the Towes done to her? “Give me a minute, Baldwin.”

“You have had enough minutes, obviously. Clearly the excitement was too much for you to hold down!” He turned up his nose at her vomiting. “What did you do to Vanessa Wong, Whatever it was it was not part of our plan. We had a plan,”

“Yes! And I told you to trust me, no matter what, just trust me.” Her ears were beginning to hurt and the center of her forehead felt like she was being stabbed repeatedly in it. Etta gripped the edge of the curb and waited for the pain to decrease. “This, what I did to Vanessa back there,” She extended her arm behind her. “That was a no-matter-what moment.” She finally stood, spit, and brushed the tiny bits of gravel from her behind, stopping mid-motion to stare wide mouthed at a car full of people, all of them were haloed in shards just like Baldwin.

“Do you hear that?” She asked looking around her. She couldn’t focus on the fleeing masses, only the screeching static sound that was growing in volume and bouncing off of them.

Baldwin narrowed his eyes, the orange glow had dimmed but the shards of light remained. “Hear what?” He unfolded his arms.

Both of them had been able to hear the frequency of the Net since his accident but this was different.

“What?” Baldwin noted the confused look on her face. He had spent enough time with Etta to know when she had been knocked off of her axis. It didn’t happen often but when it did, he noticed. The last time he recalled it taking place was when she stopped speaking to Mr. Albert.

“Nothing,” She slid into the car and gripped the wheel. More people passed her with more shards and frequency. Her eyes strained to take it all in and her eardrums hummed with the increasing volume.

Baldwin studied her more closely. “It’s something, Etta. What is it? Was it something with the Pulse, when They hit us back there?” He waited in silence before finally saying, “I don’t hide things from you. I could…but I don’t.”

Etta’s head snapped towards him, her mouth was still open but she had fixed her expression, hiding away the alarm that was once in her eyes. “Before I answer you, tell me first, how angry are you, about what happened back there?” She was deflecting his attention, redirecting it from her condition to their plan. She wanted to get her mind around her issue first. Baldwin took the bait.

The shards around him lit up again, but not as intensely as before. “I am at a loss. We are supposed to be in this together and yet I feel like you betrayed my trust—”

“I didn’t betray your trust, not how you think.”

His eyes flashed as if he had been slapped. “What other way is there? You shot someone—”

“She isn’t dead—”

“That isn’t the point! You didn’t tell me any of this. I was blindsided, so instead of me having your back I feel like I am instinctively jumping all over it. Do you understand? The very fact that we are having this conversation lets me know that you don’t.” He shook his head and leaned back into his seat next to her.

Etta turned off the car. She tempered her voice, removing all aggression from it. She didn’t want to argue with him, not about this, not when she felt like her brain was being put through a rapid rinse cycle. She knew Baldwin was going to be upset. That she had readied herself to handle. She just hadn’t factored in the jarring change of her sight and hearing. Those two things were making her ability to defuse the situation harder than anticipated.

“Baldwin, had I told you what I was going to do would you have been in agreement?”

“NO!” He answered so swiftly that he nearly cut her off. “I would have told you not to do it.”

Etta gave a wan smile. “And that is the point. That is why I didn’t tell you. You have been nervous about people dying. I told you I was banking on it. People are going to die before this is over whether we like it or not. The Towes are not going to give up that easily. They will kill.”

“That doesn’t mean we follow their design. The point of this is to preserve life, yes there may be casualties, but they shouldn’t be at our hands.”

“I didn’t kill anyone. Vanessa Wong is alive she is just in a hibernated state, for now. Just like how the Towes do people before they ascend.”

Baldwin gave a short nod of his head. He was chewing his lip and scowling. “That is not the only thing you haven’t told me about. What about Kyle?”

Etta turned on the car again and cranked up the air condition. “What about Kyle? When do I ever tell you what he is up to?”

Baldwin was grinding his teeth now. The shards around him were burning a bright orange color again.

“Listen, I am not trying to be difficult here. I am not trying to make you feel like I tricked you.”

“But you did and you are,”

She rose up a finger and flung the door open again, dry heaving.

“Fine! Keep Kyle’s business secret, but for goodness sake tell me what is wrong with you! Are you pregnant? Jørn has been talking about having a baby for a while—”

            “I am not pregnant, Baldwin! I am very sharp with taking preventative measures for that.”

“Then what is it? It is something with the Towes, then! When the Pulse hit, it did something to you!”

Etta shook her head. “I don’t know. Yes. My ears are pounding and my sight is all crazy.”

“Like you can’t see crazy?” He had shifted from bitter to concern.

“No, I can see, it’s just,” How could she describe it? One minute everyone had looked normal and then moments after the descending of the Pulse, she was seeing what at best she could call shattered and splintered auras. She tossed the weak explanation at him.

“Auras?”

“They’re not auras. It’s like seeing auras. This is different.”

“Call Jørn. Have him take a look at you.”

Etta shook her head. “If this is something connected to the Towes, then there is nothing Jørn can do.”

“You don’t know that,”

“I know that if I tell him I was at the ascension and now I am seeing things with psychedelic colors, drunk or not he would lose it, blame himself,” She thought about the phone call they had shared last night. He was so persistent in coming to get her, desperate to protect her. No, she wouldn’t tell him any of this. “I don’t need that right now. We don’t, Jørn included. I will be fine. We can figure this out.” She buckled her seat belt and carefully pulled back onto the road. “It may just be an affect of having never been programmed by the Yard or net before. That, and our other means of connection to it, me through you. Maybe I got a double shot of it whatever the Pulse dished out because it passed through you to me.”

Baldwin just stared at her.

“Don’t look so grim. I promise I will be fine. I am feeling better already.” She gave a fake smile. Baldwin’s brow creased. “I will even open up a bit, on a serious note.”

“This is serious.”

“You know what I meant. First, me not telling you things has nothing to do with you but everything to do with me. I recognize what needs to be done and I know that if I allow you to cast any doubt about the choices I intend to make, that I will hesitate when it comes time to pull the trigger. And we can’t afford any hesitation.”

She glanced at him and then back at the road. Traffic was bottle necked heading away from the mall. There had even been a few accidents, just like the night before. Shattered aura’s glimmered all around her. She was beginning to notice a pattern about it all but she couldn’t digest the thought at that moment. She needed to smooth things out with Baldwin, get him back on board while at the same time get in place to meet Kyle. She was going to be late. Why didn’t she factor in traffic? She had factored it in. It was the being stricken with vomiting spells and crazy sight that she had left out.

“Just know, I have a plan, it is rooted in our original plan, but it has its own rules, own course, but same agenda, to stop the ascension. And what do you know, we have done just that, together.”

*          *          *

“Miracles do happen. And this one is right on time.” Jørn smiled at Maryam. His diagnosis for a three week hospital stay had been cut down by a little less than half and now she was ready to be discharged within the next week.

He was supposed to be in the emergency room, but the traffic was light for obvious reasons and he did want to make good use of his time, good, distracting use.

He laced his fingers together and let them hang between his legs as he sat smiling. This was very good news.

“You mean you are kicking me out?” She slapped her legs. “Darn that blood clot for dissolving, and right in the midst of our thriving relationship.” She sighed.

Jørn raised a hand. “We are going to keep you around for a few days just to make sure your diabetes is stabilized as well as a few other things and then, yes, I will have the nurses toss you out as soon as possible.”

His pager started to buzz. He glanced at it. He was needed in the ER. “Maryam, I have to go. I will send a nurse in to go over everything else with you.”

“No problem. I heard that things got nasty last night at the chapel. So I can only imagine that it might be even worse today.” She shook her head.

Jørn’s pulse did a jump and Etta immediately came back to the forefront of his mind. He hadn’t been able to get a hold of her since last night. When she had called him he couldn’t answer and when he finally was able to call her again, his calls went straight into voicemail.

He made his way to the ER but couldn’t ignore the growing anxiety he was feeling for Etta especially once he drew closer to the ER. Meg Hash, the nurse he had officially met earlier that week was at his side in a flash, keeping up with his quick pace.

“Did you hear?!” She asked.

“Hear what?”

“Oh my gosh! You truly don’t know?! The Mayor was shot at the ascension this morning!”

Jørn abruptly stopped in his tracks. “Shot?!”

“Yes, but it gets better, the ascension was completely interrupted. It didn’t happen!” She cupped her mouth with her hands, not knowing if she should give in to a fit of tears or nervous laughter.

Jørn didn’t let her stay put long enough to decide. He grabbed her by the arm and ushered her along with him. an uneasy feeling ripping through him. Where was his wife? “Who shot Wong?”

Meg shook her head. “No one knows! No one really knows what happened. A patient told me some black lady showed up with a megaphone and then all hell broke loose. Wong confronted her and wham! She ended up on her back. Dr. Steves is working with her now.

“People started running for their lives after that. It was total chaos and now a lot of them are in there.” She pointed towards the ER. “Some one even said something about walking Lotus. What the heck are those?!”

Jørn could only manage to push through the door and enter the ER, fisting his hands to keep them from trembling. The ER was indeed a mass of confusion. One minute the place was completely quiet and the next it was packed with patients. Nervous energy was flooding the atmosphere with the same force as the volume of crying children and shouting parents, all arguing that they needed care first.

Jørn immediately joined the ranks of other doctors and nurses who were helping the injured. Most of the wounds were pretty easy to diagnose as far as cause was concerned. There had been a stampede of humans followed by several car collisions.

He had been elbow deep in patients for over an hour when a man burst through the waiting room doors screaming. “WE ARE TRAPPED! WE CAN”T LEAVE! We can’t leave!” He fell down to his knees and cried. His arm was bleeding from a thin laceration. He had encountered a Lotus. Several people had.

The Lotus were not letting anyone leave town.

Results for Writing Prompt:The First Line

The alien was bored and the sun was fierce. Magnus didn’t know what to think, not anymore. As long as he kept his companion occupied he had no worries about his life, but as soon as the creature lost interest, lean closer to ambivalence, that is when the hairs on the back of Magnus’ neck would begin to rise. It had happened 18 times already. Magnus had counted, ticking each time down with a simply hash mark on the to of his boot.  1365016312t2mcq

His hairs were rising again.

He dragged his arm across the breadth of his forehead and blew out a breath from his mouth. Tiny droplets of sweat that pooled at the top of his lip sputtered forward in a salty spray. The alien, his companion, the one he had taken to calling Forest, eyes spark in an interested way.

He pointed at Magnus’ mouth, the animalistic glint had gone from his eye. The desire to rent Magnus’ limb from limb had taken the backseat while curiosity once again wore the crown.

“Do that again,” Forest said. It was an amazing thing to hear him speak with humanoid tongue. Even more curious since his mouth was lined with rose of razor sharp teeth. “Make the water come from your lips.”

“Spit?” Magnus grimaced. “Naw, I can’t,”  He grimaced and swallowed down the little bit of foamy saliva that was left upon his tongue. “My mouth is too dry, Forest. ” He leaned forward and finished the 19th hash mark on the top of his boot.

Forest’s dark eyes followed his movements. “What is that you are doing?”

Magnus met his gaze. “What this?”

Forest nodded. The sun reflected off of his eyes and the harsh light irritated Magnus’. “Oh nothing. I am just marking down how many times in the last hour you have looked at me as if you were going to eat me alive.” He stood up and walked back to his bunker. It has once been his ship until it crashed. Now it was feeling more like a tomb since Forest had come along almost a week ago. A less lonely tomb, but a tomb nonetheless.

Forest let out a hardy laugh one that made Magnus cover his ears and scowl.

“Yeah well you might think it is funny, but I sure don’t. Here I am letting you come and visit and all you do is stare at me like I am a meal.” He pushed his weight into the door of the ship and slid it open. He was reserving as much power as he could hoping that someone would answer his beacon. It had been a month now that he was stranded. If no one came soon he would let Forrest eat him. It was either that or starve to death.

“I don’t wish to eat you,” Forrest followed behind him, his white pearly skin shifted across the rocky terrain, leaving a strange pattern in the dust. “I am watching you, learning you.”

Magnus dropped his weight down in on of the chairs he had salvaged from his crash. He leaned his head back and let the coolness of the dark cabin suck out the heat from his burning skin. He wondered if Earth had always been this harsh. He said, “I watch you too, Forrest and that is why I am pretty certain you wish to eat me. I wouldn’t blame you. There isn’t anything meaty around here for miles. (20min mark)

Forrest didn’t say anything in turn. Instead he folded his many legs, those that he dragged behind him, into a pretzel-like position and made himself a nest to rest upon. He bobbed up and down several times before settling into place and closing his eyes.

Magnus looked at him. He couldn’t really figure out his companion. He wasn’t even sure what he was. Sometimes he reminded him of a giant spider with humanoid attributes while in other times he thought he was a snake with albino skin. Maybe he was a mixture of the two.  Anything was possible. As it twas told Earth was once the home for humankind. That wasn’t true anymore.

More so than anything, mankind had become drifters or they had settled on engineered satellites to survive. Some had it easier than others, which was a commonality of history. Magnus didn’t bemoan the reality until his plane came crashing down…literally. Now he had it a bad. He didn’t know if he was going to cook to death, starve to death or be eaten alive by the being that laughed at and watched him. Some days the heat of the sun was so fierce that he was too delirious to care.

He closed his eyes, and only thought he would do so for a short moment but woke to find that he was surrounded by complete darkness. The heat of the heat of day had gone. Day had gone and it had not done so for the entire time that he had been there. He wondered if he was in Alaska.

“Forest?” Fear danced in his voice.

A blue glow suddenly appeared where Magnus could only guess was the door. “I am here,” Forest’s voice was even. “Follow me.” He began to move and Magnus went along with him, feeling his way through the cabin of the ship to the open door.

He was flustered because the moon was shining. (End of 30min)

 

(THE END… FOR NOW…. I NEED TO FINISH THIS ARRRRGGGG. Maybe tomorrow then.)

So what were my points?:

  1. He, The farmer, the alien, Gladys, Marco (I made up Magnus obviously)
  2. Is, Was, Had, Went, Wanted
  3. Lovely, Angry, Flustered, Empathetic, Bored
  4. The moon was shining, The sun was fierce, Yesterday afternoon, In Paris, Last Sunday.

Ok, I have to say that I had a pretty descent draw for my sentences and I did not shift ANYTHING to make things work in my favor. Actually I was hoping for something really whacky to have to work with. I probably should have come up with more far out points for each drawing section. Alas, I enjoyed the challenge. I hope you did too! Oh I did add “and” To the first sentence as to bring it to a better flow. :)

Cheers!