LotSF: Respect

PREVIOUS

I sprinted through the forest full-tilt, the anger and adrenaline coursing through my body pushing me past my pain. It was like my body was fading away with every step, the aches and wounds unravelling and leaving just my soul exposed. I hurdled fallen branches, pushed off of jutting rocks, wove between trees lightly and powerfully and nimbly. I felt faster than the river, lighter than the air. I didn’t just feel free, I felt capable.

Unstoppable, even.

The bearskins were faster, more desperate, more afraid, and they scrambled haphazardly through the trees towards some unknown destination. They plunged ahead, skidding and stumbling, but only ever went a few dozen metres before pausing to see if I was still following. Their pale, vile eyes flickered white in the failing light. They snapped and snarled at one another as they fought to get away but still I kept running.

I knew it was there, the fire between my fingers, the little black vortex churning ceaselessly within my chest. It was driving me on, pushing me through every twinge of pain or weak muscle. I wanted to rip into those bearskins, burn them alive for what they’d done, and the thought of finding their little hidey hole, where obviously there was something important to them, filled me with a dangerous hunger.

Steady, the wind seemed to croon as it twisted around my body. Steady.

I was more than this anger burning beneath my ribs. I was more than the blindness and the pain and the fear. I was more than loss and isolation and desperate risks. I was alive and powerful and I was not stopping for anything.

I leapt up on a rotting stump, planted my boot against its wood, pushed off and hit the ground running, kicking up leaf mulch and pebbles. My breath thundered in my ears. I wanted to go faster.

But rising above me was a steep ridge, lying across the forest floor like a bony spine beneath the grass and leaves. The bearskins’ claws raked deep gouges in the dirt as they frantically clambered up the incline and threw themselves over the other side.

I sped up, kicking hard as I fought gravity and my own heavy body. I grabbed shrubs, thick tufts of grass, anything within reach that could help pull me to the top. And there I stood at the crest of the forest’s backbone. My chest heaved. My legs shook. The aches and pains came coursing back.

I turned, looked behind me. Smoke curled up from the ground where liquid handfuls of flame had scorched the dead leaves. You could see the deep orange trail of smouldering forest tracing my steps hundreds of metres back into the darkness. That was me. That was me passing through the forest, as powerful and unstoppable as I was, and leaving my ugly black mark on it.

That damage was my fault.

My ribs shuddered as I fought to normalize my breathing and I slowly turned again, looking back ahead of me on the other side of the ridge.

There it was. Their hidey hole.

Bearskins swarmed like ants in the little hollow in the middle of the forest, their greasy pelts catching the moonlight, their pallid eyes reflecting white daggers in the darkness. They churned around their dingy camp, between piles of rotting meat and hoarded junk. The bearskins I’d been chasing flooded into the hollow, stirring the others to run faster and more erratically, until they were a chaotic, senseless mass.

I scanned the mass of seething bear pelts, searching for any tiny sign of anything that might be a clue. There was nothing. No sign of Faith, no sign of any gypsies, no sign of anything that meant anything to me. What had I expected anyways? That these brainless monsters would really be hiding anything important?

The swarming bearskins had started to slow, not quite as frenzied as they’d been when I first arrived, and I watched them with a curled lip. They were horrible creatures, monsters that preyed on emotional weakness, that inspired the same fear they thrived off of, and here they were in front of me. Afraid of me. So what did that say about me?

Maybe I belonged here.

I half slid, half clambered down the side of the ridge, tiptoeing around animal carcasses and rusted metal until I stood in the centre of their camp. They instinctively moved away from me, surrounding me in a circle that spun and bristled and pulsed constantly. The faint moonlight rode like a serpent on their backs. Their continuous motion was dizzying and infuriating and I wanted them to stop.

“Where are they?” I snarled at the beasts, and a low growl passed through the pack. A few of them swerved out of the circle to snap their jaws at me and a flicker of fear sparked in my chest. These monsters could kill me if they wanted to and it was their fear of a magic that wasn’t really mine–that I couldn’t really control–that kept me safe. If they decided they weren’t afraid of me anymore…?

The spark of fear flared hotter and now the bearskins were dodging in and out at me, snapping and snarling, made hungry by my worry but still cautious in the glow of the fire dripping from my fingers. The fear in my chest kicked harder, spiraling into something big and fierce, and my efforts to contain it only seemed to compress it into something sharper. The bearskins slowed, scraped their claws, turned inwards to glare at me. A few of them stepped towards me, threatening and huge.

The anger flared defensively, using the fear as ignition to make it burn hot and unwavering, and the bearskins leapt back from it. I sent them into a maddening dance, pulled like a magnet by their obsession with my fear, repulsed forcefully by the heat of my anger. They didn’t know how to respond, they didn’t know how to treat me, and we stood in a tense stalemate.

I swallowed tightly. Balancing the fear and anger like a pendulum where my heart should be, I took a step towards the bearskin directly in front of me. It immediately retreated, but I let out some of my fear, drawing it back, then held it there with a flash of anger. It felt scalding and nauseating in my throat, the potent emotional cocktail, but it held the bearskin transfixed as I took another step, and then another. I was standing a breath away, our eyes locked. My heart pounded, fury stretched taut across my shoulders, as the monster and I faced each other with ruthless respect.

It was a respect caked in dread and hostility, but it was respect.

My breath steamed hot and restless.

“Find them,” I snarled softly, baring my teeth in the darkness.

The bearskin growled lowly, pale eyes flickering, and then it took off into the night.

***

*collapses into an exhausted heap*

This was an effort to write. But it is done and hey, look, it’s the 15th. I’m sort of not really on schedule.

I have things I would like to do and a direction I would like to pursue and a whole lot of vague thoughts and aspirations but I have no promises for when any of that will happen. For now, I am tired.

Night.

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LotSF: Chasing Fear

PREVIOUS CHAPTER

I tripped on a root, exhaustedly catching myself against a tree trunk and standing weak-kneed for a moment to try to catch my breath. I was becoming progressively clumsier as I went on, less and less steady on my feet, less and less able to keep myself going every time I tripped. My whole body felt like a throbbing bruise. Every muscle wanted me to lie down on the forest floor and give up.

And this felt so terribly hopeless.

Why was I out here, wandering the forest alone and injured?

How could I ever find my horse in hundreds of acres of trees, when I didn’t even really know if she was alive?

But I had nothing else. Nothing to lose. Nothing to do but keep moving, keep walking, keep trying to fix the mess I’d made. So I pushed myself away from the tree and focussed on putting one foot in front of the other.

Almost an hour after I’d started walking, as the sun sank lower and lower towards the horizon, I noticed them. Bearskins. Creeping silently between the trees on either side of me, easily keeping pace. Their hungry, greedy eyes were fixed on me, glowing yellow and amber in the dying light, and my hand reflexively dropped to my hip. My sword wasn’t there. I was weaponless, surrounded on every side by dozens of monsters that could easily tear me apart.

But they weren’t attacking. They kept me surrounded, they kept their eyes trained on me, but not a single one of them stepped towards me. If I stopped walking, they paced restlessly, antsy and jumpy and skittish. They were afraid of me. Afraid of my ugly, flaming magic, most likely. It made me feel astoundingly powerful, knowing they wouldn’t dare touch me, but being this close to something so brutally dangerous raised the hairs on my arms and neck. It was so incredibly eerie.

The sun sank lower, burning the sky red and gold, and still I hadn’t even come close to finding Faith. I was tiring myself out, disorienting myself in this massive forest, and keeping myself company with a pack of bearskins–company that made my stomach twist into all sorts of horrible knots. This didn’t feel like progress. It felt like it was making things worse and I was growing desperate.

But over the next little ridge, I found a river.

Judging from the size and speed of the river (plus a pretty desperately hopeful bias), I decided it was safe to assume this was the same river the gypsy camp was built alongside. That meant that if I followed it in the right direction, I would find the gypsies and possibly even Faith. Except that I couldn’t figure out which direction would take me to the camp. I knew vaguely the direction we’d ridden to fight the bearskins, but had that been up- or downriver? I couldn’t remember enough to give myself a clear answer. I couldn’t even use the position of the sun–I’d never thought to pay attention to its location when we marched out.

I was lost. Completely and utterly lost, with a 50/50 chance of becoming found.

I could walk forever, trying to find the camp, and as injured and fatigued as I was… what if I didn’t make it? What if the gypsies weren’t even there? What if the bearskins finally realized I was too weak to hurt them and attacked me?

Feeling helpless and powerless and so horribly lost, I waded into the cold water. I walked past my thighs, up to my hips, water flowing under my dusty, ashy armour, before falling to my knees and letting the river rush over my shoulders and chest. My blood mingled with the water where it flowed past my damaged shoulder and I wished it would wash the rest of me away, carrying me along the river’s course, dumping my ashes into the lake where they would settle to the bottom.

I felt the water drag at my body, urging me to join it, to give up my pointless quest, to just admit that I’d failed and run away from all my problems. Its weight was so tempting, so soothing, and I wanted to follow wherever it might take me.

This was so, so hopeless.

But it was my fault.

did this to Nolan. did this to Faith. did this to myself.

So was going to fix it, damn it.

I felt it again, the little stirring anger in my chest, that ugly black hole where my magic used to be. It burned like a coal within my ribs, urging me up onto my feet, pushing me out of the river. I was angry. At myself, at the bearskins, at the woman who’d kidnapped Nolan, and that anger drove me on, drove me up, drove me onto the riverbank. I staggered, lungs heaving, feeling an electric energy build inside me that I could neither stop nor control, and I felt heat brush against the insides of my palms. I looked down at my hands, remembered the flames.

Small, lazy yellow tongues of fire dripped down my fingers.

The bearskins stirred anxiously in the shadows of the trees. I turned towards them, raised my hands. They pressed back, away, clamouring over one another to try to escape me. They were terrified of the magic.

The anger kicked up in my chest. I wanted to summon massive torrents of flame, I wanted to hurl them at the beasts and punish them for what they’d done to me. But I bit back, reined in the fury, held white-knuckled onto the fire in my hands. I would not let this anger overcome me. I would not let it consume me.

Because while the bearskins were doing everything they could to escape me, they weren’t fleeing randomly into the forest. They were gathering at a specific point, some of them darting off into the darkness but all of them following the same path. I walked towards them and they funnelled along that path, never straying, never breaking away.

There was something there. Something they felt they could run to. Something that made them feel safe.

Maybe it was the woman who’d stolen Nolan. Maybe it was something else.

But it was better than wandering alone in the dark.

The anger, the determination, lifted me above the pain and fatigue.

Fire clutched tightly in my hands, I took off after the fleeing bearskins at a run.

***

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I did it. I actually wrote a LotSF chapter.

It’s horribly late (it’s currently 1:23am, whoops) but it’s done. It’s here. I did it!

It feels good. It feels really good. I am proud of myself. And I am so much happier with the way this chapter went than the way it was going before.

Again again, thank you everyone for being patient and all of that, I hope this was worth the wait.

For those who are possibly new to the whole thing, welcome welcome. I hope you enjoy.

And I hope everyone is having a good weekend thus far. I will see you all sometime tomorrow (or later today, since it’s already Sunday) for my regular posting schedule.

Good night!

-Alex

 

 

Some Preparatory Words

Here we are, March 31st (shhh, please just pretend), the day before I finally begin to update LotSF again.

Or so you thought! Haha, April Fools’! I’ve actually given up on the story and am throwing it in the garbage. Goodbye. Adios. Rest in pieces! *jazz hands and glitter*

Okay, no, obviously I’ve not given up on the story, but with the amount of effort it’s taken to figure out what to do with it, I kind of do want to take this big old mess and toss it in the trash. Siiigh.

You’ll notice it’s a really weird day for me to be posting (Friday vs. Wednesday), and that’s because I wanted to say a few things before the next chapter of the story goes live tomorrow. First off, if for some reason you’re new to Language of the Small Folk, here is a great place to start (the links to the story are all on that page). Second, I’ve decided to make some changes to the story that I honestly didn’t think I was going to make.

I noticed as I was rereading the story (yes, I reread things I wrote FOUR YEARS ago, oh the pain) that after the second chapter of Winter, there is a huge change in tone. It’s like, we go from the struggle of not giving up in Getting Up, and then in Guidance suddenly I’m writing about this random forest lady who gives me a gift of warm light and huh? Then the next two chapters are just… off. They’re very off. I think maybe it was the result of me not writing as consistently as I did in the beginning of this project but wow it’s really hard to read.

It’s just not right. Which is also maybe why I had such a hard time continuing the story. It somehow meandered off into some weird part of the forest that it was never really supposed to go.

I hummed and hawed about it, because the point of this story was to just go where it took me, and it was important that each chapter just be allowed to exist as an intuitive expression of my heart and soul and blah blah, so it felt… wrong, in a way, to consider going back and changing those last three chapters. But I really don’t like them. I hate them. And they make this awful, awkward lull in the story that would be really disconcerting to anyone reading the story for the first time.

So I have indeed decided that I am going to remove the 3rd, 4th, and 5th chapters of Winter from the LotSF timeline.

The chapters will stay up on the blog in their original format, and I’ve changed it on the About LotSF page so that it’s clear they’re not a part of the story anymore, but for the intent and purpose of the story you can pretend they don’t exist. Erase them from your memory, banish them from the realm, forbid them from ever stepping foot in this place again. Or y’know. Something less dramatic.

Because of this, I am picking up immediately where I left off in the second chapter of Winter, Getting Up, and will hopefully be able to better match the tone and content that suits the story. I feel that this “fresh start” will allow me to write the story better and bring me closer to the ending I’ve imagined.

As always, thank you guys for being patient with me as I go about mucking the story up and changing my mind every time I turn around. It’s a bit chaotic but that’s what makes it more fun, right?

Lastly, as we gear up for the release of the next chapter, here is a lovely little summary of the story thus far, in case you understandably don’t want to read through a story that’s four whole years old (just think of the sacrifice I made for you).


After winter leaves her deaf and blind to the Small Folk, Alex is determined to find the root of the problem so she can get her magic back. With Nolan’s help, she sets off to meet the gypsy tribe, intending to help them with a simple emergency and potentially trigger her lost magic.

The feathered Small Folk are wounded and desperate; the threat plaguing them is worse than it first seemed. A pack of bearskins are on the hunt–vicious, violent creatures that feed off of fear and emotional distress. Simultaneously confronted with the devastating discovery that the barrier blocking her magic is psychological, Alex is not prepared for the battle ahead of her.

The gypsies fight as bravely as they can but the odds are not in their favour. The gypsies begin to fade, Nolan’s life is put in danger by a bearskin unlike the others, and Alex’s anger surges as the battle gets out of her control. Finally, in a burst of flame and fury, the blackness crowding her heart flares and leaves her cold, injured, and alone. The bearskins have been beaten back, but Nolan is nowhere to be found.

Stumbling through the forest, Alex is now left to figure out on her own how she can save her best friend and find Faith in the bearskin-infested woods…


Again, if you would like to read the first part of the story, the PDF is here, or all chapters are here.

That’s all for now. I will see everyone tomorrow for the oh-so-(probably not)-anticipated release of the next chapter.

All the best.

-Alex

A Foreign Language

There is one thing that is more neglected than my poor blog, and that of course is Language of the Small Folk.

I remember exactly where I left off. I remember it so well because I probably tried finishing that chapter a dozen times without success.

I had been writing every LotSF post on the spot, usually the same day it was published. It worked pretty well for me; I’d get into the heat of the moment, really feel the emotion of the particular chapter, and just let the story take me wherever it flowed. But for that last chapter I was working on, it really didn’t work.

I think I may have perhaps written myself into a corner.

Oops.

I mean, I know where I planned to go with it, I know how I wanted it to lead into the rest of the story, so it’s not like I couldn’t work with it. I just… lost a bit of the passion, I think, when I started into that scene, and it made it really hard to write it.

So what on earth am I going to do.

Since I’ve been blogging more, I’ve been enjoying the rigors of a schedule to give me a deadline and keep me motivated. I’ve been considering doing the same thing with LotSF–perhaps I will be more reliable and more motivated if I actually have set dates in which each chapter is due.

My idea is to post two chapters a month: one on the 1st, one on the 15th. If those days fall on a Wednesday or Sunday (a regular posting day), I’ll publish the regular post either on the day before or the day after, to keep things a little more spread out.

I mean, once upon a time I would post at least one LotSF post a week (and for a while it was every other day, believe it or not), so this leaves a lot more wiggle room than there used to be. But I think every 2 weeks isn’t so bad, and it will give me plenty of time to work on chapters in between deadlines.

I plan to resume the story with the new posting schedule starting on April 1st (April Fools’, I know, sorry). So hopefully that gives you guys plenty of time to reacquaint with the story and gives me time to get everything ready.

Now of course, I have a feeling it’s been so long since the last update that most of the people who were reading it don’t remember so well what happened last. My own memory is pretty foggy, and I’m the one who wrote the darn thing. So when I do post the next chapter up on April 1st, I’ll be sure to include a brief summary of the story so far, just to get everyone up to speed (and remind myself where exactly I was going with this).

But in the meantime, for those of you who might be new, or maybe just want to read the chapters again (which would be insanely flattering), I’ve compiled the whole first part of the story (named Spring) into a PDF that you can read or download here. Plus, the links for all the chapters for both parts (Spring and Winter) can be found on the main About page for LotSF here.

Thank you for your patience and huge thanks to those who have read every chapter. It means the world to me that you guys enjoy the things I put so much passion into (even if that passion seems to come in fits and bursts).

All the best.

-Alex

POTS and Plots

A friend pointed out to me recently that it’s been quite a while since I last mentioned anything about POTS (y’know, that huge novel I was in the process of editing…), which is a fair observation, because I really haven’t said much about POTS lately. Nor have I really been working on it either…

Sigh. I mean, on the bright side, I have been working a little bit on other stories, mostly short stories or short series, so it’s not like I’ve not been writing anything. I just haven’t been writing the one thing I should be writing.

Ohhhh POTS. What am I to do with you?

I think last time I talked about it I’d just “finished” the third draft, or something like that? I can’t even remember anymore. But I realized when I finished that draft and considered moving on to the next one that I was feeling really discouraged by the whole thing.

It feels like, with that draft, I didn’t do very much to improve the story. It feels like, if anything, I might have strayed farther from what I want it to be.

Which is unbelievably frustrating, but not very surprising, given my track record.

I mean, when I first started editing POTS, I had no clue what I was doing. I naively thought that I would be able to just edit as I went through–that most of my problems, I suppose, would just be scenes that needed tweaking or holes that needed a little bit of filling. But that very quickly proved to be mind-numbingly asinine, because trying to fix the beginning of the novel without addressing the issues at the end of the novel really really reaaaaaally does not work.

But I still didn’t really know how to do that, how to rework the entire plot and keep the big picture in mind while also going scene-by-scene to put things in order. So I just kinda winged it as I went along, hoping I was getting closer to the story I wanted while also kind of realizing I was not doing that.

I have realized through a few NaNoWriMos that I tend to have the brain of a pantser (making up the story by the seat of my pants) but I write a much better story if I approach it like a planner. When I’m actually writing the story, I tend to just get into a flow and go with whatever’s coming to mind, which often results in me writing myself into a wall or writing in scenes that are terrible and completely sidetrack the plot (straight off the road and right into the ditch, woo). Things that seem like a great idea while I’m writing them out are often not as good of an idea when I’m reading them back later. If I plan the story before I start writing though, I tend to have much less of this sidetracking and come out with a much more reasonable story.

So clearly that’s the best thing for me to do, to look at the story as a whole and plan out what I need it to be, what needs to happen, and what I need to change. But it’s been terribly difficult for me to do that, and I’m trying to figure out what exactly is going wrong.

I mean, I know roughly what’s going to happen. Bad thing happens > protagonist is taken to other world > joins group of weary adventurers > travels point A to point B to point C > gets in a fight at point 1 and point 2 and point 3 > reaches the final destination > last big battle of the novel. It’s quite simple, really, like most adventuring stories are, and that of course isn’t the problem. It’s all the Whys and Hows that are the problem.

Why does she get sent to the other world? Why does the bad guy want to do bad things? Why do they need to go to their destination? How is the bad guy going to achieve his evil goals? How is everyone going to get from point A to point C? How is the final battle going to play out?

Why is the protagonist here? How is she going to react to all of this?

And it’s the technical parts where I’m really struggling. I can’t make my plot work, I can’t even figure out what I want my plot to be, and it pretty much feels like a big old soggy mess that I can’t for the life of me sift through.

Sooooo naturally, I’ve been avoiding it.

Which isn’t a permanent solution, I know, but it’s been admittedly nice to write short stories that aren’t as confusing and technical.

But of course, POTS is still my baby, and recently I’ve really missed writing it, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach it, to actually make it into the story I believe it can be.

And honestly? I’ve been allowing myself to question everything.

I mean everything.

If you think about it, I’ve been working on POTS for about 6 years now. Some of those years took place in high school, some of them took place in university–arguably a very big transitioning point in one’s life. And if you look back to the very original version of POTS, it’s actually a story I wrote when I was in seventh grade, which was about 8 years ago. Clearly, the story has followed me through some pretty big milestones in my life.

It’s only natural, therefore, that my writing style and ability would have changed in the time since POTS was first created. My ability to write, my ability to craft stories and develop meaningful characters, is a hell of a lot better now than it was back then. And who I am as a person, the things I think are important and the things I’ve learned about the world? Astoundingly different from when I started.

On one hand, it’s really cool to look at this story and see elements of my younger vision mixed with elements of my more mature insight. It’s like a scrapbook showcasing my development as both person and writer, and I think it’s what makes POTS such a special story to me.

On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that the story I wrote 6 years ago isn’t quite going to match up with the story I want to write now. I can see now where I’ve made mistakes, where I’ve lacked depth, where I’ve fallen short of the full potential in a scene or character. I can see now where things can be improved, and I can see new ways of bringing life and spirit to the story.

Which is actually quite possibly where I’m tripping myself up.

I’m trying to weave these two very distinct stories together, the young one and the more mature one, and I’m finding that the original plot that I had just doesn’t really work with my current goals. The message I wanted to convey with the story when I first started writing it was much simpler than the one I want to convey now, and I really can’t convey it well if I’m trying to use the same plot I started out with.

Basically: the reason I’m struggling to figure out the plot is because it’s just not working anymore.

I mean, I don’t think I have to throw the whole thing away, but I think I really need to take it in a new direction. And I think the best way to approach the story is to start from the ground up.

Which is what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been re-establishing my characters (who are they, what do they want), re-designing my world (what’s the current state of affairs, what’s the biggest challenge), and I’ve been re-working my plot (what kind of story do I want to tell, what’s going to happen to get my message across).

It feels nice, in a way, to be able to look at everything again, to give myself this metaphorical Play Dough that I have the freedom to shape into whatever I’d like. What if this character wanted something different? What if the bad guy actually did this instead? What if the protagonist made this decision here and changed the outcome?

It’s made it easier for me to work on POTS because I don’t have all this pressure to make it better, to make things work. I can just play around with things, scrap things or add them in, and I don’t have to worry if it’s an improvement of what came before it–all that matters is that I’m creating something that feels true, that feels important, and feels reflective of what I wanted when I first started writing this story 6 years ago.

It feels an awful lot like creative freedom, and I’m loving it.

I’m hoping that this story that’s grown up with me over the years will blossom into something beautiful.

And heck, I’m hoping I’ll do the same.

-Alex

Your Story 2017

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In 2014, I started a collaborative project called YOUR STORY. It’s exactly what it sounds like–it’s your stories, straight from your own hearts. It reflects the belief that life is truly the greatest adventure, and we are all the heroes of our own lives. Everyone has strength and courage and hope. I want to hear those stories. I want to celebrate that strength. I want you to see just how remarkable you are.

This is your opportunity to share your story, to put it somewhere where it will be recognized for its worth and importance. Everyone has different experiences, everyone has different struggles, but it takes courage to live, to endure difficult times, to pursue happiness.

This is your story. This is your strength.

The Story:

  • You can tell your story however you think is best (fiction or memoir are both accepted)
  • You can use any style (e.g. humorous vs. heartfelt, essay vs. poetry)
  • Wordcount is flexible (the longest story was 3000 words, the shortest was 150)
  • Keep the language rated PG, please and thank you

The Rights:

  • This story 100% belongs to you forever
  • My only rights are to post it on my blog, tweak some formatting, and run a spellcheck
  • You can post it anywhere you’d like without crediting me
  • You can ask me to take it down at any point in time if you change your mind

The Process:

  • I’m accepting submissions from now till March 1st
  • You can submit your story by emailing me at valourborn@gmail.com
    • it can be an attachment or pasted in the email itself
  • You can have it published anonymously or under your preferred name
    • you can also give me links to your blog/social media to include with the post
  • Please include links/files for any videos and pictures you want to include
  • You will have a chance to approve the post before it goes live
  • I’ll also send you a link in an email telling you when it’s posted

There’s no theme for this story. Any experience of strength or weakness, courage or fear, happiness or despair are welcome. It’s up to you what you’d like to share, it’s up to you which moments are important, and there’s really no right or wrong topic for your story. I’m not looking for a polished masterpiece, I just want you to share something honest and meaningful.

I do ask that you keep the subject matter more or less PG, just because of the nature of my blog. If you have any concerns, feel free to send me an email and we can talk about it. I want you to be able to share your story in the best way possible.

If you’d like some inspiration, I’d encourage you to read the previous story entries. Or if you’d like to try writing to a specific theme, I’d challenge you to write about hope. This past year has been difficult for lots of people, but the darkest times are when hope is most important. Let your story be a beacon cutting through the darkness.

I hope that I can share lots of stories in the next couple months and celebrate the incredible strength and spirit of ordinary heroes. Whether you consider yourself remarkable or not, your life is truly an adventure worth sharing.

You are all wonderful. Never forget it.

-Alex

September Struggles

Three more days of work guys. Three more days and then I’ll be free.

But wow. It’s September 2nd. I’m going to cheat and pretend it’s still the 1st because I haven’t gone to bed yet (not my fault I’m on night shift) so that I can say that there is officially one month left to submit stories for the Your Story project.

I know, I’ve been such crap at advertising and I think I emailed like… two people? I’ve been a-slackin’. But Your Story is happening this September. No matter what, it’s happening. I’ve already gotten some entries and would love some more. Flood me with stories! Give me more stories than I can beat back with a stick! Tell your friends! Your spouse! That random dude at the bus stop!

I’m also pre-emptively working on Villain Awareness Month stuff, so that should hopefully be good. I kind of want to do something in December but we shall see. It’s always something of a busy time of year.

Anyways. This post was really just me feeling bad that I haven’t said anything about Your Story. But it’s happening. I wanna read and share your stories. You have till the end of September. Guidelines are here. Tell everyone you know (pretty please?). Yes. Good.

Blegh. Can’t wait till I’m in a better schedule. Three more days. I can do it.

Take care :)

-Alex

Camp NaNo: Reaver

Hey, it’s been a while! I’m probably going to apologize for my absence every time this happens because I don’t want to be away but darn life gets in the way. So apologies. I realize my blog has been real quiet lately >:I

But it’s the 3rd of August, if you can believe it, and that means that July’s Camp NaNoWriMo is officially over!

For those who don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo is like regular NaNoWriMo, where you try to write a novel in a month, except that Camp NaNo has no rules. You can pick your word goal and you can write whatever you please. It’s just a fun summer thing to do to get you writing words with other geeky writers around the world.

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, I attempted Camp NaNo again this year. But instead of doing short stories like I tried last April, I aimed for an actual novel this time. I’d recently gotten a story idea that I was really excited about and I figured it would be a perfect summer project. I knew it was going to be a biggie so I set my goal at 60k and thought it would be a great month.

The beginning, unfortunately, was pretty rough, but I mean, that was to be expected. After all, July 1st is Canada Day and I had plans with friends. But I thought it would only set me back a little bit, no big deal, I’d catch up in no time.

Hahaha. Haha. Ha.

campnanoreaver1

As you can see, by day 23 I was just a liiiiittle bit behind. Just a little bit. And realizing that it was going to be very hard for me to reach 60k at that point when I wasn’t even at 15k, I changed my wordcount goal to 40k. Much more manageable, yes.

But on day 26, I had 16 022 words. I had 23 978 words left to write. And only 5 days left.

There was panic, yes. There was a very strong desire to give up and throw in the towel. But during the #NaNoInspired event on July 16th, a day of fundraising and inspiration-sharing to boost wordcounts, the NaNoWriMo Twitter account actually retweeted something I had said:

“But all this community geekery is encouraging me to keep going. I’ve chosen to write this novel, so I’d better keep at it.”

So when I was thinking of giving up, I remembered how I had been retweeted. People had seen my words of determination. They’d seen my commitment to continue writing my novel. I was now accountable.

Damn it, I thought. Well now I have to finish my novel.

Oh yes, I did it.

I wrote 24000 words in 5 days.

I don’t know how.

But I did it.

camp graph camp win

It felt so good though. I mean, after I went straight to bed and slept forever and spent some time relaxing and not churning out words–it felt really good to have the win.

Sooo enough with the numbers, here’s what the story (called Reaver) is actually about:

With civil war brewing and racial tensions running high, it never occurred to Alekess that her actions would cause any political stir. It never occurred to her that she would inspire a movement, that her name would become synonymous with hope, or that she would lose so much.

She became Reaver. She became a leader and a figurehead. A reason to fight and a reason to seek peace. And as her name was growing, becoming a blazing torch against the consuming hatred, she was struggling with herself and everything she stood for. Just as she thought she was finding herself, she realized she was losing everything she’d ever loved. She was losing herself.

Reaver is the name of a dauntless hope. But it is also the name of a terrible fear.

A fear that may yet consume her.

I don’t even know if I’m happy with that synopsis because all the times I try to explain the story to someone, I don’t know what to say. It’s one of those stories where… nothing happens. I mean, yes, stuff happens and it’s very important and it changes the world but… it’s not really anything that feels like a plot. The plot is more in the characters’ lives. And that’s a lot harder to explain in a synopsis.

Only three of the really important characters have been introduced so far, and of course they’ve decided to go against what I originally planned for them and just create their own personalities as they go along. Sigh. Oh well. Such is writing.

I’m going to have to finish the story at a later date (the 2nd draft of that dreaded manuscript I always go on about still isn’t done… *shudder*), but it was a lot of fun to write. The odd thing is, though, that there’s not really a moment in Reaver that stands out to me. Usually after writing for a month I would have some scene or another that felt important and significant.

I suppose one thing that has been important and pleasantly challenging to write is all the non-verbal communication between characters. Body language–or lack thereof–is incredibly important in this story and tells a lot about the characters and their world. And one scene that was fun to write because of this is the following:

Kneeling a few feet away from her, respectfully keeping his distance even as he tried to be close enough to reassure her, he asked, “What happened?”

She stared at him, her distress and her ebbing hostility pulsing in her eyes with a rhythm like a heartbeat. That gaze held him, communicated with him in a way that body language or words never could, and though he barely understood it, he felt it. And as he watched the distress take hold of that vibrant space, she quietly began to cry.

It’s interesting to write a scene like that, one frozen moment where they both seem to understand each other, because all their interactions up to that point have been so different. Her magic has to do with feeling the world, sensing it deeply. His magic has to do with seeing the world, understanding it logically. So them having a space where neither sight nor sense is necessary is pretty cool, as far as their development is concerned.

Anyways, I’m sure I’ve rambled on about it for long enough. Apologies, again, for the silence. There are things I want to write, just not enough time to write them. Ugh. Oh well. I shall keep trying.

What has been your best summer achievement thus far?

May you never give up.

Alex

Your Story: Trials and Free World

Hello, dear readers. As promised, I have returned with more information and guidelines about this year’s Your Story!

The below is just a run-down of what I’m looking for and how the process works. I’m sure I’ll miss something, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

The Basics:

  • You can enter a story into one or both categories, Trials or Free World
    • Trials is memoir, about your life specifically
    • Free World is fiction, a story coming from your heart
  • You can use any style (e.g. humorous vs. heartfelt, essay vs. poetry)
  • Wordcount is pretty flexible; last year’s longest was almost 3000 words, while the shortest was 150 words
  • Keep the language rated PG and we’re good to go

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • This story 100% belongs to you forever
  • My only rights are to post it on my blog, tweak some formatting, and run a spellcheck
  • You can post it anywhere you’d like without crediting me
  • You can ask me to take it down at any point in time if you change your mind

The When and How:

  • I’m accepting submissions from now till the end of September
  • The project will go live on July 11th and run till the end of September
  • You can submit your story by emailing me at valourborn@gmail.com
    • it can be an attachment or written straight in the email
  • You can have it published anonymously or under your preferred name
    • you can also give me links to your blog/social media to put with the post
  • Please include links to any videos and pictures you might want to include
    • or, if you have your own, please send me the link/file
  • I’ll contact you prior to publishing so that you can check the post over before it goes live
  • I’ll then send you a link in an email telling you when it’s posted

I think that about covers it, from what I can think of. Again, questions are welcome! And I encourage you to consider participating if there’s any story at all that you’d like to tell. I’m happy to help you out if I can–I’m not asking you to be a master writer, I’m just asking you to tell a story :)

If you’d like to share on social media, bug your friends to join, or give it a try yourself, I would be enormously grateful. I love reading your stories, I honestly do, and I’d love to be able to help share them with the world.

And if you need a little inspiration, you can always check out last year’s entries here. Go on, read them. They’re well worth it!

Take care, everyone. I hope to be hearing from you soon!

(Or you’ll be hearing from me, because I’m going to be bugging you via emails, oh yes.)

-Alex

Your Story 2015

What time is it?

SUMMERTIME!

Oh yes, I’m from that generation (the nostalgia trip listening to the above song was incredible). Haha but do you realize what month it is? May! Wait, no–I think I forgot to change my calendar (haha you think I’m joking). It’s actually June, which means next month will be July, which means summertime! Yay!

And what does summertime mean? My annual collaborative project, that’s what! I enjoyed the Your Story project last year a heck of a lot, so I’m bringing it back. But this time it’s gonna be even bigger, oh yes.

As before, Your Story is all about telling your story. Sharing a piece of your life in which you have been heroic, inspiring, and brave. This year, however, it’s not just going to be about your true heroic life. It’s also going to be about your creative heroic minds.

This year, I’m splitting Your Story into two parts: Trials and Free World.

Trials is all about you. Your life experiences. Your hardships. The struggles you have had to overcome that made you stronger and molded you into who you are today. In your heroic journey, these trials are your dragons. Beat them and you’ve won the hoard of gold. Whether humorous, tragic, or uplifting, your perseverance and fortitude are so inspiring.

Free World is also about you, but it’s not really about you. While Trials is memoir, Free World is fiction. These stories are ones that you create. The heroes, the dragons, the quests–they’re all from your imagination, but you can bet there will be pieces of your heart and soul slipping through. Through the story that you tell, you are sharing a part of yourself.

Now, truth be told, I am not entirely prepared to launch this project at this present moment. I still have to work out some guidelines and scheduling and whatnot, but I plan to have those things out on the weekend. I just wanted to give you all a sneak peek of what’s to come so you can start thinking about the stories you’d like to tell. You can write something for one or both and how you choose to interpret the theme is up to you.

Like last year, I’ll be sending out emails to fellow bloggers with invites and information, but do feel free to contact me first if this is something that interests you! Emails or comments work just fine :)

Anyways, I think that’s all I have to say for now. But I will be back soon with further details. Happy Friday everyone!

-Alex