Semi-Annual Existential Crisis

About once or twice a year, I slip into a deep abyss of existential despair. This has been happening since second semester freshman year, usually timing around mid February and then again in late June. Each year the topic of crisis evolves to fit my life situation, almost like a sadistic Pokemon. While I could reflect deeply over the past few years of crisis, there’s a whole separate blog from one I was in the thick of it which I think hints very effectively into where I was struggling. Still, I’ll give you a quick run down to bring you up to date.

Freshman year my crisis centered around morality and what it meant to be a good person. It’s easy to doubt the legitimacy of good and evil when you can’t see the good in yourself. Sophomore year focused around the meaning of life, what it meant to be a person, and whether or not we had true freedom. I was also heavily depressed and needed a way to sift through the dense feeling of confusion and hopelessness that surrounded me until later in the school year. Junior year was “what’s the point?” part 1, effectively timed around the point of the school year that I’d randomly combust into tears because of how much stress I was under. Then the summer before my senior year, I had the epiphany that I did have a little control over my own happiness and sense of fulfillment, so I managed to dodge the midsummer crisis.

But that’s where I fucked up. Agency is a double-edged sword—yielded well it can give you the power to be bold and demand things for yourself. Used recklessly you slowly become insane with apathetic rage.

This winter’s crisis brought on “what’s the point?” part 2. It was a distinctively slow spiral kicked off by lord knows what, but it definitely lead to me crying over a Lana Del Rey song at 7 PM on a Saturday night. So I’ve spent the past week trying to inadvertently answer the question. Because frankly, with only nine weeks left until I have to face the music of ‘free will,’ everything up until I get to that point feels like a waste of my precious time. It’s like I’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness that’s going to take me away from anything I’ve ever known in two months and everyone’s like “Aw, that sucks. Anyway, so I need you to dedicate half of the time you have left to learning how to run a z-test.”

It helps to think about how I wanna grow, the type of person I want to be in the next week, month, year or so. I keep falling back into people that have inspired me over the years to find hope that whatever this is will get better. It helps to talk to my peers too, even people who aren’t in this exact state, because based on two seconds of deeper conversation everyone’s barely holding it together. It also helps to do things just because. I’ve been making all sorts of stuff no one asked for because sometimes that’s just what you have to do.

I’ve also been listening to music that ranges between rage rap and lazy indie. I’ve become especially invested in watching music videos (because binge-watching sitcoms doesn’t fill the whole of emptiness quite right anymore). It’s weirdly inspiring. It reminds me of why I started making stuff instead getting into things like building little robots, or doing little science experiments. Music speaks to me in a way other things never could. And then the visuals! I can’t put into words the euphoria a well done video can provide! There’s just something so interesting to me about how quickly you can translate a story or a feeling in three to five minutes.

I’ve always looked up to musicians. I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t have the skills to produce anything on my own, and while my poetry skills are stronger than average, songwriting is a completely different muscle. Also, the idea of making music paralyzes me.

I think the main reason why most of my role models are musicians isn’t so much because of what they do, but why and how they do it. I’ve spoken about my appreciation for Michael Jackson and Tyler Joseph before, but there are so many others. And frankly, they all have one trait in common—resilience. And that’s one trait I fear I might not possess. The greatest and most fulfilled artist in my opinion don’t rise to fame within a few years after starting, nor do they snap as soon as their following begins to turn against them. They keep working on their craft as if the only thing keeping them alive is rhythm and song. and for some of them, that becomes the reality.

I appreciate the drive to remain authentic, the drive to innovate, and the overall drive to remain true to their vision. It’s a trait I try to internalize but man am I shit at it. I think the main issue comes from the fact that I’ve never really had my own true vision for myself. I have tons of ideas. I have so many thoughts and feelings (obviously if you followed the writing on this blog even vaguely). But I still feel uncomfortable sharing them. That level vulnerability was so overwhelming that I wasn’t able to be vulnerable enough to myself to even consider what I might’ve envisioned for myself over the years. This winter’s crisis began to squeeze it out of me, all the crap that was weighing over my subconscious.

But that seems to always be the lesson. Fight to be seen, to be heard. Don’t remain silent and complicit. Keep moving forward, in whatever way that may be, for as long as it takes. So I’ll keep going and I’ll keep trying, even if every fiber of my being is screaming at me that it’s all pointless in the end. All I can do is hope that one day I’ll wake and think to myself, “What’s the point?” only to quickly respond, “Who fucking cares.”

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Writing about Writing

I love a nice question tag and I found one about writing that’d be nice to do while I avoid writing.


1. Tell us about your WIP!

Or Writing In Progress. I have several going all at the same time (mistake number one). I have two scripts going, one for a school capstone project that’s a parody of The Office. The other is a show about a group of six seniors trying their best make it through the year, but I think I’ll have to work on that one for years before it gets where it needs to be.

I’m also in the middle of finishing a short story for my creative writing class. It’s just about a girl who’s alternate universe twin completely takes over her life without anyone noticing. It’s due Tuesday morning and I’m only halfway through it as of Sunday night. Can you tell that I’m internally screaming?

I also have a bunch of smaller pieces that I’m doing half for myself and half upon request. Leave it up to me to create more work for myself. And I have a ton of ideas I can’t work on right now. *sigh*

2. Where is your favorite place to write?

My room is always good, but I can pretty much write anywhere as long as I have my headphones and high quality tunes.

3. What is your favorite/least favorite part about writing?

My favorite part of writing is when a joke of an idea becomes something really good. Some of my best works are from jokes between my friends or ideas I think would be really funny to be writing about. Agneau is a story about a cult that started as a school project. Self Titled is about a group of kids that like to pretend the rule a communist utopia. One of my best poems is about me not wanting kids. Objectively, that shit’s kind of funny.

My least favorite part is dialogue. I’m very poetic naturally, so it takes a certain mindset for me to find the rhythm that occurs naturally in conversation and to avoid having my characters sound like me.

4. Do you have any writing habits/rituals?

I always listen to music that is either soothing or fits the vibe of what I’m writing. If I’m trying to focus and get shit done, I get some tea with me or a bottle of water. If I’m just spitballing I write it down in a journal. If I’m planning to use it at some point, I type it. I really hate transcribing stuff.

5. Top five formative books?

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

We Must Look Up by Tommy Wallach

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

…in no particular order of course.

6. Favorite character you’ve written?

To preface, I’m partial to my male characters, just because for me they take more effort to solidify and not just use as plot tools. I love all of my characters pretty equally, but Joshua from Agneau is my favorite just because he took so much time just to formulate. In my head, Agneau’s final product would be in almost a “narrative biography” style meaning that the story would be completely centered around Joshua’s life as the son of a cult leader. It wouldn’t be chronological at all except for the first and last chapter too, so it was very important that Joshua’s character development was mapped out before I even started writing anything, and I’m very satisfied with it.

7. Favorite/most inspirational book?

All The Bright Places will always have a place in my heart just because I read it during a time I needed it the most.

8. Do you have any writing buddies or critique partners?

Not really, but I’d like to. I usually have close friends of mine read my work if I can’t screen it anymore because I’ve seen it too much. Most of the time I’m able to strip things down while also being reasonable for the most part.

9. Favorite/least favorite tropes?

I’m a sucker for the opposite worlds collide trope. It’s really hard to mess that one up and I think you can always do a new variation on it. I hate any story that implies that a character has to be fixed by someone. That’s stupid. People don’t do that. It just doesn’t happen.

10. Pick an author (or writing friend) to co-write a book with

I’ve been pitching to write with my friend Lauren for awhile now, but we’re both pretty chaotic at the moment. Otherwise, I can’t think of anything I’d want to be cowriting right now.

11. What are you planning to work on next?

I want to work on my short film script so bad but I don’t havre the time! It’s called Sugar and I had to drop it at the end of last school year because junior wouldn’t let me keep working on it if I didn’t feel like failing. Now I think I’ve finally worked through the burn out but I don’t have the time until 2019. Love. That. For. Me.

12. Which story of yours do you like best? why?

Agneau’s my favorite. It’s probably my best writing after Self-Titled.

13. Describe your writing process

First I have a morsel of a concept. Then I start to come up with moodboards/aesthetics for it to help me find the tone. Next I create a playlist to solidify the tone if it’s a bigger project. Then I draft something if it’s short prose or a poem. If it’s longer I start outlining the plot and daydream about it for weeks before writing anything.

Usually when I’m writing a draft I write for like a paragraph or two before getting distracted for ten minutes and then going back and editing what I’ve written before continuing. Not effective, but it does the job.

14. What does it take for you to be ready to write a book? (i.e. do you research? outline? make a playlist or pinterest board? wing it?)

I have to do a playlist for bigger projects, there isn’t another option. If it’s a topic I’m not already familiar with, I research based on my outline. I also do a few character questionnaires for the main characters so I can record all the info I know about them, even if it never directly comes up. It’s crazy helpful.

15. How do you deal with self-doubt when writing?

To preface, I write fanfic too (that’s how I started writing on my own in the first place) so there’s a strong contrast. When I’m writing my own thing, I usually have no idea if it’ll ever come out publicly or not so there’s less internal doubt. It becomes more like a  “oh this isn’t working right now, so I’m gonna set it to the side and come back later to fix it.

Right now I’m actively avoiding three prompt requests because disappointing people is on the line. The self doubt is REAL fam.

16. Cover love/dream covers?

Here are some of my favorite book covers I’ve seen:

 

I love making covers for my stories but I can’t do digital art the same way so it’d be cool to find and artist to collaborate with.

17. What things (scenes/topics/character types) are you most comfortable writing?

I write about the suburbs a lot (I wonder why), and I find it easier to write about adolescents. I think writing characters around that age doesn’t really have to do with the fact that I’m that age, because I’ve always done that. I think it’s more because I can play more freely with the duality in childhood and adulthood without the character being considered strange or unnatural.

Teens are also more likely to make dumb decisions.

18. Tell us about that one book you’ll never let anyone read

Grapes of Wrath? I don’t think it needs explanation.

19. How do you cope with writer’s block?

I’ve learned to just purge write, even if it feels like all my ideas suck. The reality is that writing isn’t easy. If you want to write something, it’ll be more like pulling teeth than picking flowers. Sometimes you have to just get through the shitty first draft.

My issue is just writing anxiety.

20. Any advice for young writers/advice you wish someone would have given you early on?

Keep a journal! Write everything and anything you want. You want to try poetry? Write some sick poems. You want to write a trilogy about wizards? I’ll be happy to see it when you do. You can write literally whatever you want, you just have to put in the time. Also, don’t be afraid to write what you know or write about yourself.

21. What aspect of your writing are you most proud of?

I’m really good at description and inner monologue for my characters.

22. Tell us about the books on your “to write” list

I’ve already sort of explain Agneau and Self-Titled. I can go more into movies and shows I want to write. I want to write a feature length film based off the album Melodrama. Instead of it just being about a break up, it’s about a group of four girls helping one their friends recover from a bad relationship while at a house party. The whole story runs of the course of one night.

My other idea is based off Paramore’s back story to writing the album After Laughter. That’s all I’m gonna say for now.

23. Most anticipated upcoming books?

Spoiler alert: I’m not a big reader right now. I don’t have the time or energy to eat food, let alone enjoy a good book outside of classwork. I’ve also never been good about being active in the literary scene. The only art scene I have followed closely is music, and I still don’t follow the mainstream really well.

24. Do you remember the moment you decided to become a writer/author?

I don’t remember a moment. I remember carrying around a tattered blue composition book and writing out the beginning of a novel whenever there was down time in class. That was in the sixth grade, and I still have it.

25. What’s your worldbuilding process like?

I keep it all in one notebook or folder on a flash drive. I collect photos and write notes about rules, authority figures, maps, main characters in the story and they’re role in that society. I don’t have to world build often since I write realistic fiction most of the time.

26. What’s the most research you’ve ever put into a book?

Agneau. I spent a month reading about cults and cult behavior.

27. Every writer’s least favorite question – where does your inspiration come from? Do you do certain things to make yourself more inspired? Is it easy for you to come up with story ideas?

I wouldn’t say it’s easy for me to come up with story ideas. I’m just really receptive to ideas coming my way. I get inspiration from songs all the time, whether it’s lyrics or just the sound. Pictures can give me ideas. Funny or strange phrases. Concepts that hit me randomly or ideas that have been occupying my headspace (hence my bloggy posts). People. I’m blessed to be surrounded by interesting characters that are just begging to wiggle themselves into my imaginative space.

When I write based on people, I’m not always trying to express my perspective on them or scenarios or anything like that. My last poem was based on a persona and an emotion and visual I wanted to attach to them. Who’s to say if it was real or not?

Also I’m a Maladaptive Daydreamer, so all my idea grabbing tendencies revolve around that compulsion.

28. How do you stay focused on your own work and how do you deal with comparison?

I’ve developed a distinct writing style, so trying to compare myself to other writing styles I admire would be like comparing apples and grapefruit. I also know that other styles that I admire just hold things I can learn from and adapt into my own thing later.

29. Is writing more of a hobby or do you write with the intention of getting published?

I always write to publish. I just don’t publish everything I write.

30. Do you like to read books similar to your project while you’re drafting or do you stick to non-fiction/un-similar works?

We’ve addressed that I haven’t been reading. But when I do , it’s rare that it

31. Top five favorite books in your genre?

Refer to Number 5.

32. On average how much do you write in a day? do you have trouble staying focused/getting the word count in?

I can write up to a thousand words (4-5 pages double spaced) in one sitting. I’m working on upping my writing stamina at the moment. I’m getting more consistent about reaching over 2000 in two hours if I just don’t stop.

33. What’s your revision/rewriting process like?

After I’ve written, I usually do a quick read over to fix anything that doesn’t line up with where I ended (I don’t plan plot/outline essays). Then if it’s a more important work that’s up for publishing or competition I wait a little bit until I can look back through it with fresh eyes and work sentences or dialogue.

34. Unpopular writing thoughts/opinions?

Plot planning isn’t that important unless you’re world building. The classic story structure (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution) or the three-act structure creates bland stories. And finally, writing isn’t a talent—writing is a skill anyone can workshop with time, patience, and dedication.

35. Post the last sentence you wrote

A large gust of wind pushed him gently from behind until he was flying—flying from oblivion, flying from his destiny and falling into goodness and truth.

36. Post a snippet

He rose from the cracked wood of their kitchen table, black sleeping gown hanging loosely from his skeletal frame. He had lost weight over the moon cycle as well despite his mother’s best efforts. His usual pinafore and black dress shirt had grown baggy, and his hair was beginning to fall out in his sleep.

He feet moved sloppily around his bedroom, moving to his vanity mirror desk that held the family emblem. He placed the gold finch around his neck, the bird rusted and hanging farther down his chest than it used to be. He looked up at the old TV he used to watch when he was younger, his hands grazing the empty sides of the bench on each side of him. On the right side sat blond locks and a devilish grin and the left the only angel the Community had ever seen.

The blood had not been scrubbed off of his bedroom floor. It trailed like a path out of the small space and out the door of the Family home, only ceasing at the dark ash circle staining the dusty earth in the middle of the Community grounds.

Joshua did not speak anymore. He would only trace the same word over and over, leaving the sightless mark on his arm, on his stomach, in the air.

37. Do you ever write long handed or do you prefer to type everything?

I only free write in long hand just because I share a lot of what I write. I don’t really have a preference, it’s just that my handwriting is messy and hard to read.

38. How do you nail voice in your books?

 I can see and hear all of my characters outside of writing them. As far as advice goes, you shouldn’t be forcing words into a character’s mouth, they should be controlling the words that go on the page. Liste to your gut. You know if Becky should or shouldn’t be saying “sup brah” or not.

39. Do you spend a lot of time analyzing and studying the work of authors you admire?

Not really? Whenever I read, I pick up on writing style since I’m not great with skimming. I pick up skills in weird places. My poetry writing improved when I became obsessed with Lorde’s lyrics in Pure Heroine and then got really involved with Twenty One Pilots music. My world building improved by reading fan fiction. The dialogue and dynamic for the series I’m writing was strongly influenced by the dynamic on New Girl. You can learn from literally anything as long as it’s authentic and not copying.

40. Do you look up to any of your writer buddies?

A little bit but not really. It goes back to the comparison thing.

41. Are there any books you feel have shaped you as a writer?

No.

42. How many drafts do you usually write before you feel satisfied?

For scripts 5000. For poetry about 3. For prose probably 2.

43. How do you deal with rejection?

I shrug it off at this point. I’m not for everyone, and in our society rejection feels liberating for me. It’s better than people tiptoeing around my feelings.

44. Why (and when) did you decide to become a writer?

I started writing on my own accord in the sixth grade because I wanted to  transcribe the characters that occupied my brain. When you’re in middle school you’re interests become your identity.

45. First or third person?

Third! I love writing narrative and omniscient. You can have a lot of fun with detached narrators.

46. Past or present tense?

Past. I have a tendency to use too many verbs in present tense.

47. Single or dual/multi POV?

Single. Multiple POVs rarely come off not try-hardish. It’s too much of a shitty YA move at this point.

48. Do you prefer to write skimpy drafts and flesh them out later, or write too much and cut it back?

always write too much and have to cut back. I write like a poet.

49. Favorite fictional world?

How about the real one? I’m joking, sort of. I like when writers balance our reality with a fantasy aspect (magical realism).

50. Do you share your rough drafts or do you wait until everything is all polished?

This blog is all of my semi-rough drafts.

51. Are you a secretive writer or do you talk with your friends about your books?

I stay not talking about my writing with the important people in my life. The only person I tell about my writing is my friend Lauren, but we always talk about our characters.

52. Who do you write for?

Myself sort of. I like writing for people like me who just want to see authentic characters have their story shared. I also write more towards young people because I think that’s the demographic who needs me to writ the most.

53. What is the first line of your WIP?

N/A

54. Favorite first line/opening you’ve written?

He always felt jittery entering the library, like he was eating from the tree of good and evil, letting the bittersweet juices from the apple of wisdom dribble down his chin.

55. How do you manage your time/make time for writing? (do you set aside time to write every day or do you only write when you have a lot of free time?)

I write during my creative writing class, but usually it’s just when I have any sit down time.

I miss being the passenger;

I miss the lack of responsibility.

I miss the lack of pressure and stress 

of going twenty, forty, sixty, 

the low rumble of tires tearing up 

and spitting out miles of road.

 

I miss sitting and sinking into leather seats 

with their warm, salty smell,

letting the engine heat

pull me deeper into a passenger’s sleep.

I miss the idle chatter of on-the-go phone calls

and the quiet soundtrack of radio hits.

I miss the simplicity of being 

a passenger.

The First Fall

I’ve stuffed my foot in between couch cushions

to keep warm and steady

while you rest against my knee.

I can feel your chest rise and fall softly

as you look up at me,

dark shiny eyes swimming

in the pool of my subconscious.

 

Subtle tremors ripple through my fingers.

I try to demand my breath to even

while my eyes drift away

towards the television screen,

letting the whirls of color pull me

from the constriction in my chest.

 

But those eyes

began to simmer across my cheeks,

pulling me back in

and greeting me with a soft smile.

 

I lower the barrier of my leg,

clearing my throat confidently,

playing with buttons

and nervous laughter

until the music hits—slow and sultry,

inviting and warm,

teasing and seductive.

I hold onto my breath

and choke out spurts of commentary

 

until my voice ceases,

your gaze grasping it gently

and setting it back in my chest.

I can’t look away now,

not now when my eyes finally see you

in all your gentle glory.

Your nose slopes down

like a quiet waterfall

and your cheekbones dip

like countryside hills in the spring.

And then we’re closer.

 

The tides of melody pull us closer

and I can watch you more curiously.

Shadow covers your face when our foreheads touch

and I see your dark eyes twinkle.

Glee or mischief,

maybe anguish or fear.

I choose anguish as you fall into my lap

and I collapse on your back.

I beg you to listen to me

and not my lips that remain tightly sealed,

to feel the nervous and angry beats of my caged heart.

And so

 

you rise again a fiery phoenix

and we find ourselves connected.

Our breathing shallowed and sinked

and your head tilted.

A hesitance, a falter, and then

collapse—

gentle and surprised but

always gentle.

 

The Life Changing Magic of Getting Your Shit Together

So uh, I’m burnt out. I thought I knew burn out before but here I am, braindead on a Friday, forcing out creativity out of my constipated imagination. I know it will change. Everything’s changing. I think what I need is a reboot. Maybe I can do some health nut things to realign my Shakiras (I know it’s chakras but I like to have fun in my little inconspicuous corner.)

To combat burn out I could:

  • eat a vegetable three (3) times a day
  • eat more fruit that isn’t just grapes
  • listen to new music instead of playing Frank Ocean when I know it just makes me feel melancholy for know damn reason
  • hang out with my friends!
  • learn a new skill! try a new thing!
  • visit a new place
  • go outside. for fun. wild.
  • write more. always write more.
  • film more often.
  • art more often.
  • exercise consistently and for fun
  • drink lots of water and plain tea
  • call/see the Trifecta™
  • stop procrastinating by having an existential crisis
  • get that money (but only if you want to y’know)
  • invest time into something kinda pointless that brings you joy
  • invest more time in god (as that is a given)
  • share. don’t hold back. speak your mind b!
  • SLEEP OH MY GOD

Even writing it out made me feel better. I’ve been so holed up by the cold that I’m making myself weird and loopy. But while this list seems very fun and totally achievable, it would be impossible to do all at once. So let’s divide it into categories:

Basic Human Functioning Stuffs:

  • eat a vegetable three (3) times a day
  • eat more fruit that isn’t just grapes
  • exercise consistently and for fun
  • drink lots of water and plain tea
  • SLEEP OH MY GOD

Mental Sanity

  • listen to new music instead of playing Frank Ocean when I know it just makes me feel melancholy for know damn reason
  • stop procrastinating by having an existential crisis
  • invest time into something kinda pointless that brings you joy
  • invest more time in god (as that is a given)
  • share. don’t hold back. speak your mind b!

Social Stuffs

  • hang out with my friends!
  • visit a new place
  • go outside. for fun. wild.
  • call/see the Trifecta™

Personal Goals

  • learn a new skill! try a new thing!
  • write more. always write more.
  • film more often.
  • art more often.
  • get that money (but only if you want to y’know)

Well won’t you look at that! By dividing things up it helps me see what I care about right now (which is usually the same shit.)  Now here’s what I’m going to do next. I’m going to take one aspiration from each of these and turn it into this thing:

Feb-15-2019 19-56-20.gif

(Do you like my gif?)

Every month (or at least I try to make it monthly) I set a total of 4 goals that I’d like to make within the next 30 days. I structure them like a SMART goal (not exactly like one but the basic structure of one).  The method I’ve been using comes from a Forbes article I can no longer track down because unsurprisingly, Forbes writes about goal setting once a week. To break it down, the goals should be based numerically (in 12 days, write 2 posts, lose 6 lbs., etc.) and you shouldn’t set more than four at a time. The original article also recommended signing it at the end so it feels more official, which works on my brain. It’s also really important that this hand written and not typed in your phone notes or something like that.

I’m gonna use my my categories to form goals to meet by March 15th.

IMG_3482

And that’s how we do it folks! I honestly wasn’t anticipating this post going in a constructive direction, but I guess this is better than the ole fashion rant. I’ll consider updating you in a month about whether or not I followed through with the goals. It’s usually a hit or miss. I hope my thinking might have helped even one person reading this post. Even if it doesn’t I had a ton of fun writing it.

Until next time,

Kirsten

we grew lost on our way home

The highway moves slowly in the afternoon,

chugging along like a locomotive

as I watch the city pass by my window

just like the old film tapes.

And we ride, my mother and I,

in between earth and sky,

free and confined,

swerving and turning anxiously

as we aim for the home left two hours prior.

 

I don’t call her mother unless I am angry,

but as I watched my dear mother curl her arduous fingers around the wheel

I became the air we cut through along the highway,

chatting anxiously about the future,

chatting anxiously about the past,

chatting because my mother was there for myself.

 

to be alone and lost is a feat in itself,

yet to be alone and together binds us all closer.

Earl Gray

Hey there, lovelies! It’s good to see you again. I’m going to be posting a series of works from a Creative Writing class I took last semester. I think the course gave me the opportunity to really work my craft and stretch. At the end of each work I’ll talk a little bit about the inspiration, process, and subtle meanings in the work. I hope you enjoy this one!

“Is he cute?” Michaela asked. She took a sip of the earl grey Jazz had prepared a few minutes before. Michael’s eye twitched at his twin’s candidness.

The two sat with their legs crossed over the knee and their backs pressed against their respective dining room chairs. Each held a mug in hand. Jazz stood by the kitchen window watching their exchange in amusement.

“He won’t tell me,” Jazz chirped, his smirk so wide it could break his face.

“And what about it?” he snapped, his grip on his cup tightening. “I already told you I didn’t want to talk about anything.” Michaela gave him a soft smile, ruffling his afro affectionately. Michael took a deep breath.

“Are you sure? Maybe it could help clear your head, make working easier,” Michaela suggested smoothly. Michael gave her a side-eye, but complied.

“He’s interesting to me,” he said quietly, tracing his lips with his thumb. “I’ve never met anyone who seems so…grounded. He just knows where he’s going and where he’s meant to be.” Michael’s eyes met Jazz’s searching gaze. “I admire that. I want to become it.”

Jazz nodded listlessly after a moment, walking over to the dining table and taking a seat. “It’s also attractive.” Michaela snickered as Michael punched Jazz in the arm.

“Shut it.”

“I’m just saying, you don’t have to just like someone’s appearance to have a crush on them. I thought you were pretty cute until you turned out to be a neurotic perfectionist.” Michael glared at him and Jazz shrugged.

“He’s not a neurotic perfectionist, he’s just a virgo,” Michael sighed, catching Michael’s oncoming swing with her hand. “You can’t get mad at me when it’s true.”

Michael lowered his hand and chuckled, lowering his mug on the table. “Don’t act like you’re not a virgo too.”

“She isn’t,” Jazz replied. A soft ping sounded from a phone and Jazz rose to retrieve it.  He smirked at the screen, carrying the device over to Michael and setting it in his hand. “So, are you gonna answer?”


This was a part of a scene assignment: have your characters have a revelation while doing something unrelated. I decided to take these characters from a short film I’ve been writing out for awhile called Sugar and developed it into prose. The story surrounds the main character Michael’s budding romance with a young man named Avery, but I love writing him in scenes interacting with his twin and his roommate.

Retribution and Revival

Hey there, lovelies! It’s good to see you again. I’m going to be posting a series of works from a Creative Writing class I took last semester. I think the course gave me the opportunity to really work my craft and stretch. At the end of each work I’ll talk a little bit about the inspiration, process, and subtle meanings in the work. I hope you enjoy this one!

The blood had not been scrubbed off of his bedroom floor. It trailed out of the small space and out the door of the Family home, only ceasing at the dark ash circle staining the dusty earth in the middle of the Community grounds. Joshua did not speak anymore. He would only trace the same word over and over, leaving the sightless mark on his arm, on his stomach, in the air.

He did leave. His black boots kicked fallen leaves into the air, letting them flutter back to the earth as he drew closer to his destination. He found himself in the familiar confines of the Elders’ confessional hall, the semicircle more ominous the longer Joshua’s eyes ran over it.

“My boy, shouldn’t you be with the Father? It is the day of the Solstice Celebration,” a voice asked behind him, making him jolt and contort in fear. Joshua let out a breath once he recognized Hanor’s voice, turning around to face him. Hanor’s face was twisted in contradiction as he walked towards him.

“He doesn’t need me.”

“It isn’t about need, my boy,” Hanor said with a sigh, “Your papa only has so many moons left until you must step into his place.”

“I’m not going to be the next Father,” Joshua said softly, relief flooding through him. He hadn’t realized until the phrase had left his mouth how much he meant it. No part of him wished to walk in his papa’s footsteps.

Hanor stared at him curiously. “Why of course you’ll be, Joshua. You’re the Father’s eldest, therefore it is your destiny to care for the Community, to lead the people in it to become—”

“—The most fit beings in the eyes of the Father, I know. But I can’t, Hanor. I can’t do this anymore. What kind of father kills his own children?” All the distress he’d set aside for years was suddenly catching up to him, trying to catch and destroy his breath.

“The ones who have died simply weren’t fit for The Father,” Hanor replied calmly, a sense of realization settling on him. “Joshua, what happened to Saphrine was simply the Father’s will. She was too weak to be wedded to you. Don’t worry, we can find another—”

“That not the point! That’s not the point! She didn’t have to die! We-we were supposed to die together, it wasn’t supposed to be like this.” Joshua began to sob and collapsed, limbs splaying like a rag doll on the ground.

“I…I knew, Joshua.” Joshua looked up at Hanor, but the Elder refused to look him in the eye.

“You did?”

“You have a destiny to fulfill, my boy! I couldn’t let her—let you—interfere with the Father’s plan for you.” Joshua glared at who he’d once considered a mentor. “You were showing such promise but she kept pulling you back. She was becoming a diversion in the Father’s plan—”

But Joshua was already running before he could hear the end of it, letting himself be swallowed by the forest that ran to the edge of the cliff. Nobody in the Community went there, no one except him. He let his run slow to a jog, until he found a comfortable resting ground, sitting on top of a rock so he could curl up and cry.

 

He had made sure to come back before the moon did.

“The Father won’t be pleased with your absence, Joshua” said his mother, walking with her two boys to the Heart Plot. The Heart Plot was most easily identified by the distinct shade of the ground from all the burnt ash that had settled there over time. A fire burned violently there now,  warming the faces of the crowd. The three of them moved towards the Father, taking post behind where he stood on the platform by the fire, facing the Community.

“Welcome Brothers and Sisters to the Longest Night Celebration!” The Father bellowed, his face covered in red paint and his head adorned with a golden crown bearing an obnoxiously large, gold finch. A round of cheers and hollers answered him and he gave a satisfied grin. The low rumble of drums made Joshua’s ribcage shake as the crowd began to part and widen into a circle.

A group of young girls with matching braided pigtails rose and turned towards the Father. His left arm was raised and his hand was in the shape of a pistol. Joshua froze, his breath leaving him as the Father lowered a wiry thumb.

Their movements were vicious and mechanic as the first girl caught the bullet between her palms, rapidly passing it to her right. The others followed suit, passing it around their small circle with a rhythmic clap. Joshua’s eyes widened as they moved faster, the beat of the drum becoming the low thundering of rain.

The smallest one, a girl with pale skin and long black hair, dropped it. The drumming stopped and the crowd grew silent. She looked up at the Father, her dark eyes empty of emotion. Her black dress reminded Joshua of the angel paintings in his school books.

The father watched the girl, lifting a finger and giving a single wave for her to approach him. She walked over, her stance neither proud or doubtful with her shoulders even and hands at her sides.

“Sister Johanna, explain to me why our celebration has halted.”

“I dropped the bullet, Father,” she said evenly. The strength in her voice sent a chill down Joshua’s spine.

“And why was that, Sister?”

“I wasn’t fast enough.” The father took his crown off of his head and held it to his chest. His eyes shut to reveal another pair of eyes painted on each lid in black. He opened them again slowly before raising his crown and striking her in the face.

The crack of metal and bone made Joshua clutch his mother’s dress. The girl stood tall, her head contorted unnaturally to the side before straightening itself again. The father watched her coolly, placing the crown on top of his head again. Joshua could see a river of red begin to cascade from her hair, but she didn’t flinch.

“You are forgiven, Sister Johanna,” the Father declared, his voice strained. Sister Johanna nodded, giving him an exaggerated bow. The Father’s nostrils flared.

“Thank you, Father.” Joshua suppressed a smirk.

The Father made a quick motion and the drumming commenced, the girls continuing their dance. The closer Joshua watched, the more sure he became that there was a small smile on Sister Johanna’s face.

“Yehoshu’a, my son and heir, come forward.” Joshua’s breath left his body once again as he stepped forward into the circle of his future people. The group of dancers surrounded him before collapsing to the ground. His eyes landed on Johanna’s face once again, her body limp but her eyes piercing.

“ Yehoshu’a, my boy, within a year’s time you will be the leader of our people,” the Father boomed, stepping away from the platform and towards his son. Joshua tore his gaze away from Johanna to face his Father, his Papa, and his greatest curse. The Father took his head in both hands and gave his mess of dark hair a chaste kiss. He raised a fist in the air and was met with cheers.

“To the future of our people!”

 

“Here,” Mother said, a sly grin on her face as she handed him a small glass of red wine. “For the soon to be Father.” Joshua gave her a strained smile, tipping back the glass.

“It’s not a big deal.”

“Of course it is, my love. This is your last solstice as a child. The next one will be the exchanging ceremony, and you will take your papa’s place.” Joshua nodded, turning away from his mother as he watched a young Community couple sway to the beat of the drums. “You’ve done so well to prepare yourself. I’m proud of you, Yehoshu’a.”

Joshua nodded politely, taking his mother’s hand and putting it in his. He gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, Mother. For everything. I mean it. I don’t think I would have survived this long otherwise.”

She laughed and pulled her hand away. “Go on and have fun, my love. It’s your last chance.” Joshua winced but got up anyhow, slowly making his way through the dancing crowd. A few giggling teenage girls tried to grab at him and give him a kiss, but he made it passed unscathed. He kept walking until the brilliant blaze of fire began to look more like a flicker.

 

Joshua lived in a land of duality. He was sitting quietly on the cliff rocks by the edge of the forest with only the smoke of the solstice fire in sight. In front of him was the sea—large and looming in its presence. The deep blue had always called to him, lapping up bits of sand as if it were trying to climb up and meet him in the forest. He swung his legs experimentally. His leather shoe flew off of him, floating in the air for a second before tumbling down into the sand.

This land was his. He could feel it as his outstretched arm shook in front of him, feeling the soft breeze the sea brought with each indignant push. He felt colder here, away from the fire, and his pale skin was beginning to tinge rose. He looked more and more like Johanna as he sat alone, the same emptied dark eyes staring his Father in the face.

Maybe if he was braver he’d confront the Father, even if it meant he would face the same fate as those before him. But as he watched the sea’s fury and anger and love he knew he had done the right thing.

Joshua stood up, letting his feet embrace the soft padding of the earth. He closed his eyes and let the cool, salty air fill his lungs and clean his soul with each breath. His body felt lighter and full of life and living and a liberty he never thought he would taste. He let his arms extend out, the breeze passing through his cold finger tips.

A large gust of wind pushed him gently from behind until he was flying—flying from oblivion, flying from his destiny and falling into goodness and truth.


This is another excerpt from Agneau (the first can be found here). Ideally, this is where I see Joshua’s story ending. I tried to format it so that the overall plot of the entire story is parallel to this short version of it. For the sake of the short story format A LOT of details about his life, the cult, his past, and such were left out. But one day they won’t be…

Daydreams and Writing

Hey there, lovelies! It’s good to see you again. I’m going to be posting a series of works from a Creative Writing class I took last semester. I think the course gave me the opportunity to really work my craft and stretch. At the end of each work I’ll talk a little bit about the inspiration, process, and subtle meanings in the work. I hope you enjoy this one!

If I am smart, I catch my daydream before it floats away into the abyss. I station myself at my computer, chaining myself to the keys as I begin to think about typing. I sit and think about it so meticulously, resetting the font and fixing my margins before I settle into my desk chair to propose moving away from my desk in a whirlwind. I spin round and round in my swirling swivel chair until I hit the edge of my bed, picking up my laptop and propping up my feet to type. I taste test a few words and phrases, frantically spitting them back out, the stark blue-white  of my blank page beginning to burn my retinas. Finally I discover my fault.

I need a theme for this piece. How could I possibly imagine writing another word of this dribble if I can’t even imagine when its published and inevitably adapted into a film? I push my blank page to the side and open a slew of photo editors, not-so-quickly whipping up the future book cover of my New York Times bestseller. I put it on the blank page proudly until another blank page follows suit.

I begin to look around desperately for a sign, listening closely to the faintest whisper of an idea. My eyes land on a blank space, a pair of ethereal eyes materializing before me. They’re followed by a faintly shaped mouth and mess of hair, a full ambiguous body holding it all together. I narrow my eyes to look more closely at them, their familiarity unnerving. I move to name them and stop. This person can’t be named in such a haphazard manner.

I turn back to my laptop and pull up a deep catalog of names , the meanings and origins attached. My eyes sway between the list and their face, more details forming with each name rejected. Finally I land on something good enough, landing in the grey space between generic and difficult to pronounce. I test the name on my tongue, the slew of letters rolling smoothly off my tongue like warm butter. The figure is delighted by the sound, their ambiguous form making a joyful gesture.

I return to my blank page, the bane of my existence. My newly named figure walks over to me to bear witness to the lack of commotion. We both stare at the glowing screen for a while in deep conceptual thought. The figure of ambiguity leans down, bringing a nearly silent whisper to my ear. My fingers stretch around the keys as quickly as I can, trying to catch every word they have to say. The words are jumbled and messy at first, but with each new letter we begin to find their voice and untangle the kinks in their story. Soon I have a shiny picture of their face on my nightstand, their smile as clear as day.


My struggle with the prompt (write about writing) was that my personal relationship to writing has never had anything to do with writing. It’s always been about the interesting people I come across or the characters swimming around in my subconscious. I tried to portray that relationship’s importance the best I could. Writing for me is also tied to my intensive daydreaming as a way to capture those ideas onto paper.