Blogmas: A Haunted Holiday Pt 1

“I’ll not have it this year,” Lady Allerton stood stiffly in the entrance to the parlor, hands folded, chin raised just so. Her tone was light, almost pleasant, but her clenched jaw told them that she meant business. The sack of gold on the tea table didn’t hurt either. “This thing,” the word seemed to burn her tongue on its way out, “ruins the festivities every year.”

“You want it gone because it wrecks your parties?” Reggie squinted at her. To be fair, it was one of the more novel reasons they’d ever heard.

“The Allerton name has thrown the most exalted holiday festivities for over three hundred years. His and Her Majesty have even been in attendance. This is our mark on the Empire, Mr. Kirt, so yes, I want it gone because it wrecks my parties.”

Reggie took a step back as if her words had physically assaulted him.

“I assure you, Your Ladyship, we will identify the source of the disturbance.” Hugh was, of course, unphased by the royal, even bored by her, and he turned away, already inspecting the room.

With a few graceful steps, Lady Allerton came to stand just before Bianca. She dipped her head down, “You must understand, I am uninterested in identifying the problem.” Her eyes flashing from harsh and cold to sad and pleading, and if she didn’t know better, she could have sworn she felt the woman’s hand on her own. Bianca studied her face, its severe angles, the tautness of her hair, the perfect shape of her lips, frightening in all its perfect glory from across from room, appeared only desperate so close up. She listened in the quiet of the parlor for something more, shutting out Reggie’s anxiety and Hugh’s constant hum, but only the faint sound of Lady Allerton’s soprano spoke in her mind, Please.

Hugh’s sigh broke her concentration as he announced to the room as if everyone in it should have already known, “It is almost impossible to remove a specter without first determining what, exactly, it is.”

“It is a ghost,” she snapped her head toward the man, her tone icy enough to make even him shiver, “And you will rid this place of it by Christmas.”

***

Bianca, Hugh, and Reggie are some of my forgotten ghost hunting characters from an attempt at a pseudo steam-punky, Victorian England type world. I kind of want to write a Christmas ghost story with them? But do I have the time? I’m not even sure where this is going right now except, obviously, right here.

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So Close, But Still So Far

There are just nine more days of NaNo, including today. NINE. That doesn’t seem like enough for 20,000 more words, but it really needs to be because ya girl is BEHIND.

On the plus side, this is the farthest I’ve ever come. I’m still excited about what I’m writing, I’m confident it can be edited into something really fun, and I’m so happy to be creating regularly again. Also, I’m creating content for this site which I’m pumped about. Of the cons, though, I feel overwhelmed and terrified of failure. I’ve been reminding others that it’s not really failure to not make it to 50k, and that’s true, but it’s a jagged pill to swallow nonetheless (thanks Alanis – you guys been listening to the new PopRocks channel on Sirius? #notspon).

So I’ve been pumping myself up for this last push, but the end comes during one of the most busy times of the year: American Thanksgiving. And it got me thinking; this is fucking dumb.

This is one of the worst times to be trying to write a novel, to be isolating yourself from your family and adding a bunch of extra stress on yourself. What the hell were they thinking? Well, I know the answer: they weren’t. I don’t care that they say it was “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather,” they really picked November because it starts with an N-O and that’s more marketable. They were creating a website after all.

But we do it anyway, and we’re all probably better for it in the end. In fact, I’m hoping it’s a nice place to escape to if all hell breaks loose at the giving of the thanks gathering. I guess it’s an all-in thing: if I can do this, I can do anything. Right?

One of my bigger regrets is not posting enough during November here, but I do have at least four drafts, so get ready for some nonsense in December. That’s just to say that’s why I’m posting this now, to fill the void, which is really not a good reason to post a blog, but on the other hand, I DO WHAT I WANT.

Also, I’m headed to DC for Thanksgiving, so I hope I come back with some solid post ideas that aren’t just me flipping off the White House because I do want to keep my job. Wish me good luck!

 

Day 7

It’s been seven days of NaNo. This is exhausting, but I’m able to actually keep up the pace. How? I’ve got a lot of support behind me this time. People alongside me, working their butts off and being inspiring, people supporting me and letting me bounce ideas off of them. It’s making writing feel like more of a community event than it’s ever been.

But the truth is, writing is one of the most singular things you can do. Sure you can brainstorm, share, workshop, but in the end it’s your words. You choose what to cut and keep, what ideas get carried out, what you want to give to the reader. And that’s scary.

I’m becoming increasingly worried I’m producing lower and lower quality stuff. I know, in some ways, that’s the point, and I’m hoping to come to a break point where I finally clear out all the nonsense and start mining gold. Does that seem reasonable? Does that ever happen to anybody?

I hit 11,678 words a moment ago, and I’m both elated and disappointed. I wanted to be further along, but I’m so much further than I thought I could be. I’m worried I made a mistake working on Vacancy which is already a mish mosh of things, a million tiny stories to be tacked together. I didn’t do enough prep, I need to straighten these characters out a bit more, but on the other hand I love actually bringing them to life. I had them in my head for so long, I’m happy to evict them. I guess I just need to accept that these pieces are going to need a LOT of rewriting.

If nothing else, I’ve reminded myself that I love writing. Even though this makes me groan, and tired, and cranky, I’m ultimately much happier for it all. I’m discouraged to have produced crap, but I’m hoping it’s like working out. Yeah, I can only life five pounds and run for about three seconds, but after practicing and pushing myself, I’ll get better. that’s the secret right???

NaNoWriMo

You’ve probably heard of it, but in case not, November is National Novel Writing Month. The basic idea is to write a novel, or 50,000 words, in 30 days. It averages out to 1667 words a day which is very doable. In fact, it seems almost too easy. And that’s how it gets you.

I have very mixed feelings about the concept, for myself specifically, and a bit on the whole. Sometimes I think it turns writing into almost joke. Is the craft for everyone? Well, yes, of course. Should it be accessible and practiced by all? Definitely! But writing quality, heartfelt work takes much more than 30 days and an ironwill. The site says as much, admitting the month of November is actually a word vomit, which I appreciate, but I do wonder how many people utilize the month to spew and then just wrap that up and call it a novel and throw it on Amazon. When junk is touted as a NaNoWriMo Novel™, I think it gives the whole practice a bad name.

On the other hand, fuck what anyone else thinks–this is an awesome opportunity to join a community and get some shit done!

I’m also probably a super salty lady when it comes to NaNo because I’ve been doing it on and off for 8 grueling years and have not won once. SAD. But I intend to do better this year, and by better I also mean different. Instead of a novel, I’ll be continuing Vacancy.

VacancyBookCoverCrop
Hell yeah I cropped this image to look like a book cover. Go me.

The serial has a special place in my heart because it’s an idea that had been rolling around in my head for a very long time in a couple different iterations. As I said in my reintroductory post, I just took on too much with it. The anxiety of getting something completed, of not really editing, of jumping in with little direction, it was all too much. But if I can shit out 50,000 words, I’ll set myself up with roughly 20 posts which I can edit prior to posting, of course, and posting weekly starting in January will bring me almost halfway through the year, so I’ll really have some content by the end of this thing provided I can stick to it.

But can I stick to it??? Yeah, that’s what this is for. Alongside getting a good friend to flounder with me in the writing process and utilizing Husband’s creative capacity to its max (it was his idea to use Vacancy as the piece I should work on which was genius), this is my callout post. This is to keep me to my word. Whether you’ve read any of Vacancy or not, or if you ever plan to, you can be my buddy on NaNo and we can write together! Golly gee, won’t that be fun?

If anything, I’ve proven to myself I can write enough wordage to get the numbers through these blogs the last few weeks, so I know it can be done, but will it be done? Only time will tell. Here’s to avoiding failure! 50k here I come.

The Listener

This is an older piece, but has never been posted here before, so I figured, what the hell?

 

I am The Listener. You talk, I listen. What’s up? Nothing, nothing at all.

It’s at the core of my existence, something I’ve done for as long as I can remember, Listening. I can’t imagine being any other way, and frankly I can’t understand how you–how any of you–function as Talkers. I have no control over it; I don’t choose to Listen, and I don’t ask you to Talk, you just do. I take it all in, keeping it, remembering it, feeling the weight of every word. It’s more than hearing, what I do, more than acknowledging the sounds coming from your mouth–I am Listening to stories erupting from your soul, and they consume me without my consent. Is this what you want, Talkers? I’m never really sure, but then, you probably don’t even know it’s happening, the Listening. As the words slip off your tongue, their speed increasing with your newfound lightness and energy, I gather them up, pack them in tightly, tuck them away. Because they must go somewhere.

You love me for Listening. You tell me in the way you keep going like something in you is about to burst, the way your eyes light up with recognition that no one else has ever let you do this before, just talk. Just fucking Talk, man. But what speaks the loudest is when you return time and time again to give me your words, your experiences, your life. And maybe you realize that I too am giving you something: my time, my sympathy, or even the absence of something: advice, judgement. But you barely grasp it, what I’m actually giving away. You just think of me as cool, as kind, as a friend.

But why?

You barely know the husk into which you pour everything: your speeding ticket, your childhood abuse, your failing relationship. I suppose that husk is cool, barely expressing an opinion for you to disagree with, and she seems kind just letting you fucking Talk, man, and when your words are hammering at your throat to be set free into the only willing ears you know, she is your friend. But she’s not a real person. She’s not even a fake person–fake people are still people after all, with experiences to share, thoughts to express. But The Listener, she’s nothing. She is a void, and that’s all you’ll ever see.

But I see my reflection, and I wonder if ever she could be a Talker. She’d be good at it, Talking. She would tell you in excruciating detail her morning routine in twice as long as she takes to do it, and you would love every second. She’d be a freight train, derailing and barreling through your affirmative remarks, bowling you over with a flurry of words, a witty pun, a deep insight, and you would get lost in the way her lips curl, the frenzy that is her hands, the smooth alto of her voice. And she’d tell you all the things she’s never said to anyone before: the time in sixth grade she got her period on the one day she dared to wear a skirt, the engagement she broke off two weeks after saying yes under duress on a beach surrounded by his family, the wasting her body went through in college that she finally realized only after she gained sixty plus pounds back was an eating disorder that just mutated to fit her life and is never going away, the experience of being told at fourteen she’s “sexy” for the first time by a man thirty years her senior while he shoved his his hand down her pants and then made her feel like the villain for years afterwards, the way her thoughts are slowly eaten up by a Stygian blackness like a well of ink tipped over, spreading, staining, ruining, and how that scares her so intensely to her core that she’s worried she’ll never have a clean, new thought again.

But that–that’s only a reflection. I can’t fathom being a Talker. I am The Listener. You speak, I listen. And when you ask me what’s up, I will tell you:

nothing