Posted in Deep Thoughts, Life in General

The World According to Jiminy

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Crickets chirp outside my window, muffled by a pane of glass. Is their song simply a product of nature, males rubbing their wings together rapidly in hopes that the sound they produce will prove irresistible to the lady crickets? That’s what science and common sense suggest. But could they be telling stories? The telling of human tales began as oral tradition. Who are we to say that crickets and coyotes and owls aren’t passing down their own folklore under the cover of darkness, outside of the understanding of human minds? Perhaps crickets are telling their offspring the story of their ancestor who braved Times Square, or the folk hero who helped a puppet become a real boy. Maybe they are telling tales that we’ve never heard and never will. Or maybe their chirps are simple mating calls. But since the image of crickets gathered around in the darkness listening to the chirping folk tales of an elder makes me smile, I’ll tuck it into a corner of my mind and pull it out when I hear them through my window. If I listen long enough, maybe I’ll catch a story.

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Posted in My Fiction and Poetry

Choosing Worlds

Books lay scattered on every flat surface in the room. Classic stories that shaped modern thinking are stacked haphazardly on the desk. Modern bestsellers war with lesser-known fantasy for predominance on the chaise. Thin volumes of plays and poetry huddle together on the carpeted floor. Children’s tales bask in the sunlight, settled comfortably on a windowsill. A hodgepodge from each group lay mingling on the small bed, some covered by the slightly twitching shadow of their young owner.

Marie’s mother was allowing her to bring five books with them to California. She though her mom was being completely unreasonable; how could she possibly stretch five books through two weeks? These were her closest friends lying strewn around her bedroom. She would miss those she wasn’t allowed to bring, and she hated for any of them to feel unloved.

Should she go for the longest? The favorites? The new and unfamiliar territory? The ones that demand the deepest thought? Her forehead was filled with small canyons of concentration.

“Thirty minutes!” yelled the source of her dilemma. Marie sighed, grabbing the first five that caught her eye and placing the others back in their home. She looked down at the books she had chosen and was pleased with their diversity. But what if she ran out? A solution came to her, sending her running to her desk. A sixth book was added to her pile.

Her mother walked into Marie’s room, ready to spur her daughter into action. She was pleasantly surprised to see Marie’s room clean and her bag packed and ready. But when she saw the books on the bed, she frowned and began turning to chastise as the top book registered in her mind.

“If I run out of other worlds, I thought I’d try to make my own. Like you do, Mama,” Marie stammered, eyes darting across her mother’s face in search of approval.

“Good idea, Baby,” her mother replied softly as she run her fingers across the cover of the old notebook, already half full of musings from her own childhood. She smiled with her heart in her eyes.

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Posted in Life in General

Ugh.

I have done nothing all day. Seriously. Nothing. I watched three episodes of Arrow and three of The Flash. That’s pretty much it. Over four hours spent in Starling City and Central City when I could have been creating worlds of my own. Now it’s 11 pm and I’m just trying to write down something so I’m not plagued with guilt, so I can sleep. I have writing contests that I should be crafting entries for, but I chose to empty my mind today instead of forcing it to fill. Tomorrow is the last day for one of them; I’ll have no one but myself to blame if I don’t have some story polished and ready to submit before the contest closes. And yet, I haven’t raced against a deadline in a while. Maybe enough stress will produce a diamond of a tale that I couldn’t have produced without the pressure. Only tomorrow will tell. So, here’s hoping!

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Posted in My Fiction and Poetry

Breaking the Habit

A scream bubbled into Reagan’s throat, but her lips never lost their smirk. She adjusted her grip on her sword and waved to the crowd, pandering with a small curtsy. Inside, she commanded her hand to drop the weapon, commanded her mouth to scream, commanded her feet to flee. She maintained her saunter, never breaking stride as she made her way to the center of the arena. The roar that burst from her throat was not the cry of terror she longed to voice. Her body raced across the sand, launching an attack against another woman just as trapped as she was. The crossing of their swords rang out through the arena, the high, sweet pitch of its song carrying above the cries of the audience.

Reagan met her opponent’s eyes. The cocky snarl on the other woman’s face contrasted sharply with the terror-lit brown eyes housed above it. Reagan knew that her own eyes looked the same; the eyes were the one part of the fighters that the maestros had never learned to control. The women thrusted and parried blows with terrifying precision, drawing out the battle for the amusement of the crowd. Within herself, Reagan cowered in a darkened corner of her mind, caught between dreading the parting of flesh beneath her blade and hoping that today would be the day that her flesh parted instead. She couldn’t bear the thought of more blood on her hands.

A sudden movement caught her eye. She saw something that she had never witnessed before; two maestros stood side by side on the edge of the arena. They must be getting more confident in their control of their fighters, or greedier for recognition of their craft. Or both. Reagan’s heart sped. She prayed that she read her opponent’s misery correctly, and that the other woman was strong of mind. Reagan made eye contact, darting her eyes repeatedly to the two puppeteers. The other woman’s eyes widened in understanding. She quickly looked down to the ground and up to the sky, the only form of agreement she could show.

The fighters pushed off of each other, darting forward and crossing swords once more. On Reagan’s blink, the women launched simultaneous attacks within their own minds. Perhaps the knowledge that they didn’t fight alone strengthened them both; their bodies were stationary for just over a minute when each shuddered back into their skin, in full control. They were racing across the sand before the maestros could recover from their shock. Much blood was spilled that day, by swords that were finally thrown down in victory by their wielder’s own choice.

(Inspired by the Linkin Park song of the same name.)

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Posted in My Fiction and Poetry

Playing up a storm

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Rain fell as fingers caressed piano keys. Gentle notes filled the air, drawing moisture from the sky. Hands fluttered, conducting the wind with each change in key. The pianist’s head fell back against his shoulders as he was caught up in the wind and rain and song. Raindrops and tears of ecstasy mingled on his cheeks. The tempo increased, melody shifting seamlessly from serenity to turbulence. Lightning crashed as the pianist slammed fingers into the keys hard enough to bruise. Musician and instrument rose from the ground, caught in a whirlwind of their own making. Dissonant notes wove through the song, breeding wolves’ howls and broken branches. The pianist drew a deep breath from the air, now thick with the storm he had brewed. He reigned the song back in, violence gentling once more. The wind set him and his piano down softly, wet grass gliding silkily between his toes. The wind hushed. Rain trickled to its end as clouds dispersed. The melody’s final note rang out sweetly, coaxing the sun to show itself once more. The pianist smiled as the warm rays brushed his face.

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Posted in My Fiction and Poetry

P.O.W.

anguish

His back burned from the labor of the day. Muscles demanded his attention, aching so strongly that he had to swallow back tears. The sledgehammer he had been swinging for hours fell from his hand, his fingers digging into the dirt as he fell to his knees. Breath hissed between clenched teeth as he bowed his head, giving himself a moment to regain his composure. His legs shook from exhaustion as he pushed himself back to his feet. The sledgehammer that was his damnation was back in his hand, though he had no memory of picking it up. With a cry of anguish he slammed the hammer into the wall again. And again. And again.

Outside of his labor, he heard his heart resume its beating. A sob fell from his lips, relief mingled with harsh disappointment. He continued beating at the walls of his heart, blow by blow. With tears streaming down his face, he prayed, desperation screaming from every fiber of his being. He pleaded that the hammer he had been damned to swing would burst through the wall one day, that the toil would bring salvation. Giving in to his despair for a moment, he threw the hammer across the cell that trapped him, deciding to use his fists instead. Skin scraped away. Knuckles cracked and bled and broke. Screams of anger ripped from his throat, leaving him raw. The chamber shook.

In a stark white room, eyelids flutter and fists clench.

(Inspired by the Bullet for my Valentine song of the same name.)

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Posted in Deep Thoughts, Life in General

August thoughts on writing, part 2

More musings on writing from the month of August.

VI.
There is nothing more powerful than a story. Certain stories stay with you long after you turn the final page or the credits have rolled. A child learns the easiest through listening to tales as they are spun. Jesus taught in parables. Our own histories become stories in our minds as we soften or sharpen the pains and joys of the past. There are often truths that are much easier to view through fiction than they are through the harshness of reality. Stories shape us, squeezing our hearts or making us laugh or grabbing us hard around the throat. They show us both who we are and who we want to be. The best stories give us the courage to try. We all have a story to tell, each completely unique. Never underestimate the importance of your own.

VII.
My heart is saddened for the girl I used to be. Today I read a story (Broken Castle) I wrote eighteen months ago when I was going through a chemically-induced menopause that caused a deep depression. I couldn’t even read, which had always been my solace from pain. My mind had truly felt like it was breaking. So I wrote about it. I wrote of a woman trapped inside her mind, shattering herself as she tried to break free. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. I can’t believe that something that dark came from my mind. The setting and names were fictional, but it was my deepest fear that what I wrote would happen to me. I wrote in hopes that I could purge the fear. It was one of the last things I wrote for over a year. It hurt me to read it today, but I’m so glad I found it. And I’m so glad I wrote it. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have such tangible proof of how far I’ve come. There were battles that I thought I was losing while I was in their midst, but now I can see just how victorious I’ve been. God has brought me so far. The work put in to healing me definitely shows. So even though the story is heartbreaking, I’ll keep it as a reminder to myself of where I used to be.

VIII.
My mind is wiped clean. I can form no original thought. I feel as though my mind has been rebooted without my permission, restored to factory settings. How can I create when I have no blueprint in mind? I can’t stand stream-of-consciousness, and I pray to God that’s not what this is. I scan again for signs of life, but my brain is non-responsive. How do authors write day after day, year after year, without ever running out of things to say and stories to tell? I’m sure that my tales are still somewhere in here, but all of my characters have gone to sleep. So I guess I will, too. Goodnight, brain. Hope you’re more helpful tomorrow.

IX.
What am I supposed to do when my mind’s too excited to think? I try to tame my thoughts into submission, but it bounces around in a game of anticipation pinball. I get to see my husband in less than 24 hours! It’s been far too long since our lips got to meet in their favorite hello. Did I pack everything? Did I set my alarm? Did I deliver keys and plants and take out trash so everything will smell right when I return? Check check and check. Nothing left to do but fly. Now, if only I can will myself to sleep so that 4 am comes sooner. Hopefully tomorrow I find time to write in the midst of airport chaos and jumping into the arms of my best friend. I hate that I produced nothing of worth today, but obviously my mind isn’t upset enough to help me out. But at least a few words wound up on a page. So I’ll shut the laptop down, pack it up, and hope that I can shut down soon, too.

X.
Frantic scratchings of scattered thoughts. Time is limited and I feel the pressure. But if not now, when today will I press my fingers into keys to let my musings breathe? I’m flying to see my love, neglected for too long. Our minds are heavy with the unknown. The ability to focus has left me completely. I want to add to my fiction, but my own life presses too strongly for me to hear the cries of my characters. But while I have a few minutes, I’ll see how their lives are playing out, and help them take shape if I can. Better than worrying over things out of my sight and beyond my control.

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Posted in Deep Thoughts, Life in General

August thoughts on writing, part 1

I wrote these in August, when I was just starting to get in the habit of writing everyday, even when I could think of nothing to write about except, well, writing.

I.
Why is writing so hard? My mind swims with stories until I sit down to write, at which point my characters develop a stifling shyness and run to the back corners of my brain where the unreachable memories of dreams dwell. No amount of coaxing moves them from their hiding. Maybe with enough practice their fear will leave as mine does, and they will approach my fingers with ease.

II.
Words flow so much easier at night. Does inspiration flow more freely from distant stars than it does from our nearest one? The darkness cocoons its subjects in a velvet embrace much opposed to sunlight’s harsh realism. Imperfections aren’t hidden, but are instead given a mysterious loveliness all their own. You can hear yourself think thoughts that the August sun blots out. Doubts and fears drift into the shadows, leaving you free to dream bigger dreams in the darkness. Becoming what you’ve always longed to be doesn’t seem so impossible when the moon smiles back at you.

III.
Why did I wait so long to set my fingers free? Why has the thought of writing terrified me for so long? Did I doubt my ability to enthrall, or simply find myself unworthy? There are hundreds of books on how to be a writer. I own a dozen of them. But if I read every tome ever penned about the craft of writing, none of them will help me in the least if I never put pen to page or fingers to keys. I can always learn more about grammar and the other building blocks of language, but I have to be willing to risk putting them together in my own design if I’m ever going to build. Even if I only erect a cottage next to the castles left by others, should I not construct with the best tools and my whole heart, pouring my sweat and life into it from foundation to finish? Even if only those I love ever dwell there, even if it never houses the masses or kings, should I not furnish it to invite and comfort? What makes one person’s voice more worthy of being heard? Are the worlds that exist in the minds of the lowly any less real than those already known? Even if those worlds always remain private, even if the only ones to ever hear my voice are family and friends, the inhabitants of my mind deserve to live and breathe and move. And so they will.

IV.
My well is dry. My day was long and full and exhausting. This is the first time I’ve been alone since I jerked awake when my phone rang this morning. I’ve enjoyed my time with others, I really have. I wouldn’t undo any of the laughter with Mama today or with Megan tonight. But this habit of writing that I’m so desperately trying to develop? How can I keep it when my brain has switched off before I have a moment to purge its thoughts? This jotting of a fatigued mind is about as useful as trying to wring water from a dry sponge, but at least it was something. I can sleep with no guilt. So, good night self. Try again tomorrow.

V.
I sit here burning the midnight oil once more. Why is it so easy to put off the act that I long for? I spend my evenings hiding within the worlds of others instead of crafting my own. Eliot measured his life in coffee spoons; I measure mine in episodes. It is just so much easier to enjoy the fictions created by others than it is to carve out your own. My imagination houses countless blocks of stone waiting to be sculpted. I have the same chisels at my disposal that have been used by a multitude of artists before me. But I am much more comfortable spending my days in the galleries of literature and my nights in the museums of the silver screen than I am in my studio, staring into the stone and seeking out the faces I am meant to free. I keep sneaking in at night, chipping away by candlelight, working up the courage to hew by the light of the sun. Maybe the faces I seek to free are simply not ready for such brightness.

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Posted in My Fiction and Poetry

Flirty Flora

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The plant in Lainey’s teapot just waved at her. She closed her eyes and took a deep, shaky breath before opening them hesitantly. And instantly squeezing them shut again. How could something without a face seem to be grinning at her?! Lainey knew that she was running on a bad combination of no sleep and approximately her body weight in caffeine, but even sleep deprivation can only make you see so much.

With a reluctant sigh Lainey opened her eyes again and returned the little plant’s wave. Just because she was losing her mind didn’t mean that her manners had to leave with it. The little succulent shivered with pleasure at her acknowledgement. She was pretty sure it would have jumped out of the teapot if it didn’t have roots. She hit her head softly on her desk as she succumbed to exhausted laughter. After a few minutes Lainey caught her breath, closed her laptop, and gave the little plant one last wave as she turned off the lights and headed to bed; the article would have to wait until she got enough sleep for stationary objects to remain stationary.

(This was the first thing I wrote in six months, after I had surgery and recovered. It’s not much, but I was insanely relieved to get words on a page. Writing again was my final step and getting healthy and reclaiming my life. Yay words!)

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Posted in Life in General

The Wall of Shame

Have you ever pretended to forget the existence of something? That’s what I’ve done with this blog for the past nine months. When I finally decided to log on today I saw on my wall that my last post was made in January. I sat and stared for a minute, shame and embarrassment coursing through my veins and, undoubtedly, turning my face a ghastly shade of red. I’ve been writing every day for the past three months (go me!) and have managed to write the first seventy-five pages of a novel (*gives self mental high-five*), but I have ignored this blog with the same level of focused intensity that my brother and his fiancée have when playing Diablo III. But no longer! I paid for this baby, so I’m going to be posting the random thoughts and flash fiction I’ve written over the last few months. That being said, bear with me as I work on getting this train of thought back on track. If I’ve abandoned you for months, forgive me. I hope you chance another visit and find your reading options much expanded. If you’re new, welcome! Thanks for stumbling your way into my brain. I hope you enjoy your stay.

Happy reading!

~Celeste

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