The Gift – Warm Up Exercise

Photo credit: Heredero 3.0 via Visualhunt /  CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Heredero 3.0 via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I looked at the fuzzy box she had laid in my hands. It was the color of dried blood, old and grimy. I imagined that it must carry some disease.

“Open it,” She croaked.

Cringing, I pried the two halves apart. Nestled in more blood-red fabric lay something I had never seen. It was smooth and shiny black. Gold bands of various sizes, some decorated, some plain, circled the blackness.

“What is it?”

She snatched it from the box. With both hands, she gave it several twists before pulling the two ends apart. One end was a hollowed-out tube. It concealed an elaborately carved gold point which was attached to the end of other half of the black stick.

I pulled back, frightened by the deadly looking thing. I watched as she caressed it, fitting the hollowed-out tube on top of the end opposite from the gold point. She began to roll it in one gnarled hand as if she had done this all her life.

“What does it do?”

She sat silently. I had seen her like this before. There was no point in saying anything else until the memory that held her mind, released her.

“Do you remember? Syngraféas.”

I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me or her memory.

“You made me read all his stuff,” I answered anyway.

“This belonged to him. And to a long line of Mór Guardians before him. You have read them too, the others who owned this. All of them, the best of their age.” As she spoke she raised her hand to her eyes, staring at it.

“You are talented. The best I have seen in over a hundred years. He told me I would know. You asked me for my secret. How I create the stories millions read. Syngraféas was my mentor. He gave this to me when I was very young. Not long before he died.”

She paused, lowered her hand to her lap and turned her gaze to me. For some reason, I was very afraid.

“It was forbidden you know. Long ago, when people were only allowed to read what was sanctioned. And so, they forgot. Only the bravest kept the craft alive. Slowly, we became revered, the Guardians. You remember the tale of the Fountain?”

I swallowed hard. I knew it well.

“Yes, the Fountain is the source of all great stories.”

“And…” she prompted.

“And only one who is deemed worthy is permitted access to the Fountain,” I repeated the line all novices were required to learned.

“Are you worthy?” she asked as her eyes looked into my very soul.

“Me?” I whispered.

Her laughter crackled like dry leaves in the wind. With both hands, she raised the black and gold object high above her head.

“Behold the Pen of the Fountain.”

Once again, her eyes found mine.

“Prepare yourself. Tomorrow it will determine if you are worthy.”

_______________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Close Enough – Warm Up Exercise

Photo credit: MTSOfan via Visualhunt.com /  CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: MTSOfan via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

She dipped her hands into water before cupping them around a blob of clay she had thrown on to the wheel. The clay was cold. The wheel began to spin. She kneaded it, using the rhythmic motion that started every dance. Drawing it up and pushing it down, centering it on the wheel. The clay warmed to her touch. It yielded to the guidance of her fingers as  she began drawing it up into the shape her hands knew so well. The shape her hands had touched every morning. It had shattered with news of the accident.

She pushed the feelings of frustrations, anger and loss from her mind. She didn’t want to infuse the clay with those emotions. Instead she closed her eyes and focused on the memory of that long-ago day, a day she recalled as if it were yesterday. She could smell the scent of him, feel the heat of his body as he placed his hands on hers. She felt the clay being molded by her hands, changing with the pressure she applied.

She stopped the wheel and opened her eyes, smiling at the form which stood before her. It wasn’t exactly the same, it could never be that. But it would bring her at least some comfort. She carefully removed it from the wheel and attached the handle. She knew the next steps, they wouldn’t be easy to endure. Time to cure, time to endure the fire of the kiln, and the multiple steps of glazing to forge the impenetrable outer layer that would protect the contents.

__________________________________________________

The day had finally arrived to open the kiln. Inside her best friend waited for her, the one who knew all her secrets, her sorrows and her happiness.

“Yes Friend, the coffee is ready. Should we try it out?”

The steaming brew cascaded into the cobalt blue interior. She stared at the black pupil encased in blue. His eyes. No, it wasn’t exactly the same. But it would have to be close enough. Close enough to allow her to return to the daily rhythm of life, close enough to pretend that she was moving on.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

A Few Miles – FFfAW

Title: A Few Miles
Source: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Week of February 7, 2017
Word count: 170 words

Credit: Mike Vore

Credit: Mike Vore

He watched as Billy and his men pried his first love from her resting place. While the crew loaded her on the flatbed, Billy came over to shake his hand again.

“Got a lot of miles left in ‘er. I’ll git ‘er back on the road.”

“You do that.”
­______________________________

He heard a car on the gravel drive and went to investigate.

Billy jumped out of the red truck.

“Whacha think?”

“Can’t be.”

“Tis.”

“Didn’t look this good when I bought her.”

Billy tossed the keys at him. He caught them with clumsy gnarled hands.

“Take “er.”

“You ain’t gittin’ your five large back.”

“Drive ‘er. When your tired of ‘er, call me.”

__________________________

Billy answered, even though he didn’t know the number.

“My Pa left me a note. Says to call you bout the truck.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What? He ain’t dead. Done run off with that red head over in Jasper. Says to tell you the truck ain’t the only one whats got a few miles left.”

Billy laughed.

 

Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer

Sheer Terror

Photo credit: _parrish_ via Visualhunt /  CC BY-NC

Photo credit: _parrish_ via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Some nights I wake up screaming.

The nightmare has come again to taunt me. Who in the world do I think I am? Declaring myself to be a writer. Declaring that I am going to be a published author. Presuming that I am good. What if I fail? Sheer terror consumes me.

What if I fail?

The thought is inconceivable. I have too much riding on this endeavor. Too many people to prove wrong. Too much to prove to myself. “I can’t fail” whispers the clam and measured voice. There is a plan and I am working the plan. Every day. The story has become a part of every atom within me. I feel anxious if a day passes and I am not able to press fingers to the keyboard to move the story to the page.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror. — Oscar Wilde

Now I am an optimist it seems. There is no way I can fail in my goal. The story is being written. I will revise and edit and rewrite to ensure that it is good. It will be published and I will write another and another.

Last week I only managed to add 2,500 words to my slowly increasing total. It doesn’t feel like nearly enough, but it is more than I had last week. Review the plan. Work the plan.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Riding High

Photo credit: lars hammar via Visualhunt /  CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: lars hammar via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

You know climbing back into the saddle is not always the easiest thing to do. But, at long last I have managed to do just that.

Friday was a stellar day. The payoff for all those days where I felt like I was just grinding it out and not making any progress. Friday I added just over 2,000 words.

In one day, I was able to write more than the combined total for the entire week!

Sadly, life intruded this weekend, so no time logged at the keyboard. The good news is that the story is demanding to be written. I am off to obey.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Knocked Out

Photo credit: melderomero.com via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: melderomero.com via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Getting stuck sucks. Some would say that I have failed in achieving my writing goals.

Here’s the question:

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

The answer: I might be down but I am not out. I won’t be content until I finish what I have set out to do. This is what I have managed:

  • Monday research and a little writing, a whopping total of 200 words.
  • Tuesday more research and few more words. 330 words to be exact.
  • Wednesday got me another 400 words.

Then there was yesterday. A little bit of fact checking and word count of just over 1,100. In the last four days I have added just over 2,000 words to the total. It’s not much. But the story is now demanding that I get fingers on the keyboard.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Discouraged

Things are not going as planned.

untitled-7Part of the issue might be that I needed to figure out the next progression of the story. That took some time and the solution demanded that I do some additional research. Research is often a rabbit hole that sucks you in and only releases you after hours of trekking through the labyrinth. It is done now and the information that I found fits well in the story.

Then I had a computer Snafu and I lost some words. I do save and back up often, but sometimes these things happen. It wasn’t many words and I was able to go in and recreate what I had written, but it was a little discouraging all the same.

I have also been dealing with a lingering cough. A cough that from time to time insists that one of my lungs can be dislodged from my body. The struggle to prove the cough wrong leaves me lightheaded and weak. Prime condition for getting more words written, wouldn’t you agree?

The result is that I have only added about 3,000 words to my total. That too is discouraging, since I had wanted to finish this by the end of the month. With numbers like that it is easy to feel like a failure.

But failure is not an option, I will get this draft finished.

Today I begin again.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

In Defense of Procrastination

Photo credit: RussellReno via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: RussellReno via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Procrastination is not all bad. Especially when it is done well.

Today nothing I attempted could get me to sit down and write. A problem with how to proceed with the story resulted in a mega case of consternation and I didn’t have the answer. Nothing I had come up with felt authentic to the story.

I could have continued banging my head on the keyboard or wasted time surfing the net during my “writing” time. Instead I embraced my desire to procrastinate. Yep, turn on the music and completely ignore the writing full blown procrastination. I was determined to do anything and everything other than write.

Boy, did I get a lot done!

Every week I have a list of things to accomplish during the week. As of right now, more than half of them have been marked off the list. D-O-N-E, done. I also managed to get a few things done that were not even on the list. How cool is that? I have found that there is nothing like a little indulgence in avoidance to get me moving and shaking. I don’t want to write so I will go clean the kitchen. Darn that’s done, should I go write? No way Jose. How can you write when there is laundry to do? Laundry done, well then let’s go make a tasty desert. You get the picture.

The funny thing was that even as I pointedly avoided my story and the real issue, the little do-gooder in my brain was having none of it. Behind the scenes where I couldn’t see, someone was going over the list of possibilities while I sang to the music and scrubbed dishes.

Suddenly, little miss goody two-shoes slapped me in the face with the solution.

Viva Procrastination! I really do need to read that book someday.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Tug of War

Photo credit: aftab. via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: aftab. via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

Friday’s review of the semi-coherent attempt at writing on Thursday reveled that it wasn’t that bad. It also wasn’t that good. After some minor surgery, the nasty bits were cut away and I managed to add about 600 words onto the word count pile.

That progress was hard won however. The section that I was working on involves the antagonist. To be honest, he is a bit of a twit. I had given in to his demands that we needed a scene with him and then he gave me the silent treatment.

Fine. I am more than capable of writing the passage on my own and so I started putting it all down. Let me tell you that got his attention. Of course, I was doing it all wrong, and what ensued was less than pleasant. Some say that I wrote the book on stubborn (oops where did I put that manuscript?), so I dug in my heels and we hashed it out. Can you say excruciating? I needed to get this written and he was not going to stop me. In the end, he actually helped.

Yesterday, it was determined that no matter what, I needed to do something different. A Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunt at the Art Institute was the ticket. It was exactly what I needed, great art, great friends and a little “friendly” competition. Our team, true to form, won. Sweet!

I must be feeling better, because I am getting back in touch with the competitor in me. You know the one? The one that expects that the only place to finish is anything better than second.

Keep on Writing

Jo Hawk The Writer

A Great Disturbance in the Force

Photo credit: Frank.Li via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Frank.Li via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

This year is off on an interesting trajectory.

Monday greeted me with a terrible sore throat which I decided to treat aggressively with a tea made of apple cider vinegar and honey followed by lots of fluids. That normally does the trick and by the end of the day my throat felt much better.

Alas, the full onslaught arrived on Tuesday with a full-blown head cold, complete with screaming headache to accompany the nasal congestion and hacking cough. I have been here before and know that the best defense is to retreat to the safety of my bed with a heavy dose of medicine and sleep. The next 48 hours were a blur of Kleenex, cough drops, medication, forcing fluids and blissful sleep.

Yesterday I almost felt human. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, I determined that I was done with this head cold and forced myself to resume what I hoped would resemble my normal schedule. Although a carnage of tissues and the empty shells of cough drop wrappers marked the day’s path, I still somehow managed to eke out 500 words on my novel.

What remains to be seen is if those 500 words are worth the storage space they are occupying. Today’s goal is to carry on and see if I can start to make up the dent that this onslaught has made in my projected word count goal.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer