#Wordbound: Wednesday, February 15th (writing challenge)

Wed, Feb 15

#Wordbound: Put a character in an abandoned building or space.

WEEK 7: New #wordbound prompt coming at you! This one is due February 22! Have you been keeping up?

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It was a run-down cottage at the edge of Loas Vera. The red forest had grown and spread, engulfing the small, wooden building in vines. Roots broke through the structure, and crimson and burgundy leaves covered the remains like a blanket.
Ilaeth left the safety of the forest. Every step was measured, careful. He had to be quiet. He didn’t know what else could be in there, what could be waiting inside the dark walls of the cottage.
And yet, Ilaeth couldn’t help himself. Even as his heart pounded in his chest, and he could hear his pulse loud in his ears, his curiosity won.
The door was a simple slab of wood without any elaborate carvings or decoration. Unhinged as it was, Ilaeth lifted it up and set it aside, against the wall.
Ilaeth took a tentative step inside.
Part of the roof had caved in over time, and the morning light poured in, illuminating the remnants of a life.
His eyes took in the room. Dust danced in the sunlight. A family of pixies were curled up on the bed, their small wolf-like bodies huddled up together for warmth, their transparent wings rising and falling with their breathing.
They didn’t mind him.
There was a table and a pair of chairs on one end. A layer of dust had settled on them, thick and undisturbed for years it seemed. A tin bucket that was big enough to be used as a bathtub was by the unimpressive fireplace. Ashes and half burned wood still littered the stones, the bricks and the inside of the chimney painted black from the smoke. A few shelves held a couple pots and plates that were there, and an empty trunk sat against the wall.
There weren’t that many things.
Someone had lived there though. Ilaeth could just feel it. There weren’t any clothes or personal things left in the cottage. Whoever had stayed there, they had taken all that with them. But there were two pillows on the barren bed, two chairs at the table.
Someone had lived in this house, and now it stood abandoned, gathering dust and decay. It just was, and it had been so long since someone had lived in there, had sat on those chairs, had lit up the hearth, and had a nice warm meal.
Whoever had lived there, they were long gone now.
Not even their shadow remained.

~ Harris

#Wordbound: Wed, Feb 8th

Fantasy has truth in it.

Fantasy is not easy to write. There are so many things that can go wrong, so few things that can go right.

Fantasy isn’t just epic quests, an adventure to save the world, or kingdoms at war. Fantasy comes alive in the little details that the writer weaves into the story, the fine threads that make up the world and the people.

It’s that kid who goes on a quest because he wants to make something of himself, because he wants to grow and explore the world around him. It’s that mother who lost her children in the war, it’s the burden that weighs down on the hero’s shoulders every time they have to make an important decision.

Because they can save the world, or they can be the reason why it crumbles and burns.

Things are not black and white in fantasy. At least they are not for me. Magic isn’t bad, the same way a gun doesn’t kill people. But the abuse of power, the misuse of a tool, that’s what’s bad. It’s a king that can be good and benevolent to his people, or turn into a tyrant after the loss of someone he loved. It’s the grief, the pain, but also the joy and happiness that people experience.

Does it matter that they experience those things in a land with dragons and sword-fights? Does it make any real difference if the protagonist is not human, but an elf?

For me, fantasy gets to explore every day things like friendships, discrimination, racism, but in a bigger, larger, and more magical environment. It gets to present things that people don’t usually want to talk about, things they want to hide away, because people expect things in a fantasy story to go crazy.

But it’s not going crazy.

It’s being honest.

Writers write.

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. ~ Eugene Ionesco

Writers write. Sometimes we have a notebook, and a pen in front of us. Sometimes we have nothing but loose scraps of paper, others we have a keyboard. But we write. We always write.

Even when we are not writing.

We write when we are riding the bus, with our headphones on, and a little fight scene is playing out in our head. We make up dialogues between our characters long before we put the characters to page. We know that our protagonists like ice-cream, but only the fruit flavours. We’ve been thinking about our protagonist all day after all. We’ve been interacting with them in our head for ours, to the point we start to notice that when they are nervous, they bite their nails, but only in their left hand, that sometimes when they feel too low, they won’t shower for days, or go out, just to feel guilty about it later.

We write, even when we are not writing.

All the times between our little writing sessions, are our brainstorming times. That’s when true magic happens, when we learn our characters, when we learn our setting, and find out why our antagonist is being such an asshole lately.

Because, you see, we are in love even with that antagonist. We know why they are the way they are, the reason behind their every decision, no matter how cruel, and unkind they might appear. We know what hurt them, what broke them, what made them laugh again for the first time.

Sometimes, those things never make it to page. We think of our stories and our writing, and yet so little sees the light of day. Or the light of a lamp. But still, these are things that help us grow as writers, that allow us to know all the little nooks and crannies of our world, so when the reader finally gets to meet our characters, and read our story, they are welcomed to a new world, pulsing, and vibrant.

Writers write.

Always.

P. S. : Everything you do and say will be used in a story at a later time.

Self-doubt is our enemy.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~ Sylvia Plath

As artists, we spend so much time alone in our own heads, sometimes it’s easy to get lost, to lose track of what’s important and what’s not. We are so critical of our art and our every decision, that it’s easy to turn that critical eye on ourselves, and turn savage.

We are so far more brutal with ourselves, than we are with anyone else. We hurt us with words far more cruel than anyone else can concoct. We are well-versed in the art of tearing ourselves down.

Self-doubt is the worst illness for an artist, for our creativity. And it is an illness that we always carry, waiting to strike, to rise up whenever we are at our most vulnerable.

“I’m not good enough.” 

“This has been done before.”

“Nobody will care, what’s the point.”

“This is childish.”

There is a difference though in being critical, and in letting self-doubt consume us. There is a difference, because the first means we are self-aware, that we realise our mistakes, and we try to fix them, that we make an effort to improve and strengthen ourselves.

Self-doubt just means we are riddled with insecurities, we carry the views of others, of society, and our own on our back like a cross. Self-doubt never reflects reality. We sit in front of a mirror, and we see a distorted image. We are right then and there our very worst enemy.

Self-doubt is nothing more than a rotten feeling that settles in our gut and takes over. It grips our heart and our mind and it won’t let go unless we make it. And it’s hard. It’s so hard to start seeing ourselves and our art as something with value, something that is worth it and should be here. And yet, nobody is going to build us up, unless we do it first.

We need to be our biggest fan, our strongest supporter, our own little generator of happiness.

We need to be the cake, so when others come, they can be the icing.

But we need to be our own cake, our own confidence, our own happiness.

Show me the moonlight.

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~ Anton Chekhov

Writing, for me, in its essence is about evoking emotion in the reader. A good story will get us to feel, it will tag on our heartstrings. Whether it makes us angry, happy, upset, or if we hurl the book half-way across the room in frustration.

The emotion doesn’t matter, as long as we feel. And we can’t feel unless we are immersed in the story. We need a world as alive and colourful as our own, characters as close to us as family and friends, strife as close and important as the ones we face on our own.

We can’t do that unless we watch the sun cast highlights in the love – interest’s hair, if we don’t catch that twitch of anger in the protagonist when he’s faced with his enemy. We can’t, unless we hear our favourite character hum, when he’s cooking  his way too spicy mac-n-cheese.

We need to see the world, to breathe the world. We need to feel along with the protagonist. We read stories because we want to be immersed, because we want to be transported.

Stories are made of emotions.

And the only way we feel emotions in a story, is if we see them.

We want the butterflies in the stomach, the blurry eyes from tears, the shudders of pleasure, the restlessness of excitement.

We need the emotions to fall in love with the story.

We need to see.

Or else, why read at all?

 

You’ll find a way.

If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way; If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. – Jim Rohn

It is easy to be scared, to make up excuses, and hide from something you want. If you don’t try, then when you fail to achieve your goals, it’s because you didn’t try. It’s a scary thought, to know you’ve given it your all, and you still didn’t make it.

But it’s worth it.

If you want something with all your heart, then you have to find a way to do it, you have to find a way to get up again, no matter how many times you fall down. Dust the dirt off your clothes and get back on your feet because that is the only thing you can do again and again without fail. You can keep trying, you can keep giving it your all.

What other choice do you have anyway?

It’s easy to be scared, to make excuses, and hide from something you want. It’s far more rewarding to try, and even if you fail, you’ll know you gave it your best. It’s far more rewarding to know you’ve given it your all, whether you made it or not.

~ Harris

 

 

 

 

 

We get stronger.

Life is cruel, unkind, mean. Sometimes life likes to knock us down, and then kick us a few good times, just to make sure we’ve fallen low enough. Life looks at our plans, and no matter how well we’ve made them, how sure we are, life shreds them to pieces until there is nothing left.

And then again, life is measured not by the times we fall down, but by the times we rise up. By the times we dust the dirt off our clothes, by the times we try again and again.

Because we get stronger every time we fall down. We get more resilient. We can stand a little taller every time we have to stand up. We learn with each unkindness and cruelty. We learn and we move on and somehow we get to our destination. A bit roughed up, but wiser, stronger, more capable.

And getting up again is worth it. No matter how hard it is, how heart-broken we are, getting up is worth it. Because staying down means not trying, and we can change nothing if we never try. But standing up means that we get another chance to try, another chance for things to change.

Another chance for things to get better.

For our dreams to be within our grasp.

And that’s worth it.

Change.

You can’t expect to see change, if you never do anything differently. – Meg Biram

You have to move. You are not a tree. You don’t have roots. You have to move, and change, and grow, until you are all you want and dream to be. You can’t expect change to come, for your life to be different, when you are sitting still.

The first step towards anything is always the scariest, but it’s also worth it. Change, move, be better. You can and you should. You owe yourself that much. If you do not like your life as it is, if there is something you want to change, then do it.

If you won’t, then who? If not now, then when?

There is no time like the present. There is no better time to start shaping your future and making your life what you want it to be.

Do it. Move. Change.

You owe yourself that much. You owe yourself happiness, and joy, and the life you’ve dreamt of.

So, change.

 

Writing is hard. It takes dedication. You only do this if you love it.

The only way you really do this, is if you love it. It takes dedication. ~ Andrew Smith

Writing is hard.

Writing is something we do alone. Most of it happens in our minds, and it takes so long to see concrete results, that it is easy to lose sight of what we want and where we are going.

Writing is hard.

It’s not something you do for the money, it’s not something you do to get popular and famous. Most authors aren’t. It’s something you do because you love it. Because you have a story buzzing inside your skull and you can’t catch a break unless you put that story out in the world. Because you have characters in your head fighting for your attention, demanding they be heard.

Authors love their worlds, their characters, and their stories. They have spent hours agonising over fictional problems and conflicts. You can’t do that unless you love storytelling. Unless this is what you want to do. You don’t spend hours upon hours crafting every detail of a world, unless writing is ingrained in your soul.

It takes dedication.

It takes love for the craft, patience, courage. It takes learning to ignore that nagging sensation that everything you’ve been doing is wrong and there is no fixing it. You should just quit and let the real authors do the writing.

It takes a lot of dedication.

Not only to write, but to be yourself. You need to believe in yourself more than anyone else does, you need to see and recognise your mistakes and learn from them. You need hours in front of a screen or a notebook, writing.

And at the end of the day, you can’t put in the hours, unless you are doing something you love.

~Harris

Every Artist is a Child

Life is hard. Life is difficult and as we grow up and we grow old, life likes to slap us and know us down, dedicated in teaching us important “lessons”.

Ever so slowly, we lose our fearlessness, our passion and our wonder. We no longer see the world as a child does, with pure joy at every little discovery, with the need to explore, create and satisfy our thirsty curiosity.

Life teaches us to be afraid, to stay put and mind our business. Life, experience and knowledge help bury that child inside each of us.

But an artist needs those qualities. An artist needs to be a child, to look at the world with wonder and joy, to feel no fear, or anything that can hinder or block the creativity and the curiosity that powers his work.

In his heart, every artist remains a child and every child is born an artist. It’s just a matter of whether or not he will let life and growing old and weary stop him in any way.