The small gods are appeased

I’m not sure which small god I originally offended, or how (possibly the small god of WordPress, perhaps the small god of technogoly or maybe even just the small god of having bright ideas ;) ) but somewhere along the line I must have done it because during a recent upgrade of my WordPress software, and a couple of the plugins, something happened … namely, it stopped working (or, as my wife likes to say, I broke it).

Obviously there is an element of Sod’s Law (maybe you know of that as Murphy’s Law where in anything that can go wrong, will go wrong … but only when and where it really matters ;) ) in all of this as I am attempting to take part in ‘write365′ and write something, every day, for a year.

… admittedly there was also an element of stupidity as I (of course) ignored the hint to take a backup before doing anything and just merrily went about, willy nilly, upgrading this, that and everything.

Anyhoo, after some intense and prolonged work (ok, in truth when I found out that things weren’t working I spent some time banging the monitor, a bit more shouting at it and – when that didn’t work – I even turned it on and off again. Nothing helped!) I’ve finally tweaked, tugged and … erm … other productive words beginning with ‘t’ enough that I am able to post to my blog again, as well as (hopefully) ensuring that the automatic links to LiveJournal and Twitter are working, which means you, my ever faithful and wonderful readers, are lucky enough to have me back in your life.

… go with that last part, it is good for my ego …

Also, in case you were worried – and of course you were, because you are not only faithful and wonderful readers, but also kind, considerate and caring too – I haven’t failed in my ‘write365′ endeavours at all. Nay, for just because I haven’t been able to update my blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been blogging – I have journal style pieces … on ACTUAL paper, in ACTUAL ink … ready to transcribe back on here!

So, screw you Murhpy, I beat you!!!

… erm, fate risking comment, I suppose but, really, what’s the worst that can happen? ;)

A 500 word story

As she surveyed her sister’s new house, Anne’s green eyes – eyes as clear as jade one moment then turbulent as a stormy ocean the next – glittered darkly with barely suppressed emotion. Her perfect forehead hardly moved at all as neatly trimmed eyebrows arched steeply over them; her regular visits to an exclusive clinician for her ‘pampering’, as she liked to call the Botox treatment, made sure that her skin didn’t betray any of her forty one years of life. Getting old she could deal with, after all there was no other choice, but looking old – that would never, ever, do.

Tugging at her long, red hair – as she always did when anxious about something –Anne’s manicured fingers twirled a lock of hair in ever tightening circles. The nail of each finger mirrored the same shade of red as her lips, each one exactly the same length, as always. Catching herself, realising that she was making a mess of the neatly coiffured hairstyle that had take nearly two hours to get just ‘so’, her frown deepened. With precise motions she patted the hair back in place and then, as she picked off non-existent piece of lint, she smoothed down the sleeves of her pinstripe jacket.

The double door of the house opened as she approached it and there, standing in the warm glow of the interior lights, stood her sister. Smiling. Fixing a smile on her own face, having to work hard to force her lips to obey and relax from their tightness into an approximation of warmth, Anne walked forwards.

Their parents had named her, and her sister Shirley, after the title character in ‘Anne of Green Gables’. It had been her mother’s favourite book, one that she had read over and over while confined to bed during her difficult pregnancy. A twin pregnancy was like that, she had been told, difficult. What the doctor’s couldn’t have told her, couldn’t have known, was just how ‘difficult’ at least one of those twins was going to be; Anne. From birth she had been the one that had demanded constant attention – crying through the night to simply be held to her mother’s breast regardless of how often she fed. Shirley, of course, was content to sleep the night through or even just lie in her crib, awake but quiet, and watch. To outsiders the girls were identical – both tall and slim as they grew, both with fair skin, luxurious red hair and sparkling green eyes. To Anne, though, Shirley had the clearer complexion, the longer hair and even the greener eyes. Shirley always had, in Anne’s mind, everything that Anne wanted.

Holding out both arms in a welcoming embrace Shirley smiled warmly, the twinkle in her eyes reflecting the smile. Her hair hung loose and natural, her skin unadorned with any make-up but still, despite the faint network of lines on her forehead, glowing. The house beckoned and, Anne sighed to herself; it was going to be a long night.

A 250 word story

The moment they had been building to came in a silent explosion of gasping breaths and, breathless, they stared at each other; into each other. His bright jade eyes, unblinking, hers – deep brown – filled with wonder.

The sheen of moisture that coated their skin was the only thing that separated them now – a translucent barrier; their two bodies, literally, become one. He sighed and she felt him deep within; she tightened and, enveloped, his eyes widened.

Conjoined – her hardened nipple brushing, softly, against him, his chest hair caressing her skin like a thousand hungry lovers’ fingers – their perfect moment lasted eternity in an eye blink.

As the tension left their bodies, limbs still entwined in a crushing embrace, she bit her lip, brow furrowed. Barely moving, not wanting the sensations to end too soon, he leant forwards and brushed a small kiss against her forehead.

“Are you ok?” He whispered, mouth dry.

“Yes, but …” she released her grip from his back, caressing the skin on his ribs as she brought her hand sliding down between them.

“What?”

“It hurt.” She winced as she reached the point where the gap between them became nothing; where he ended and she began. Holding up her hand she stared at the crimson fingertips. “I’m bleeding.”

“Don’t worry,” he whispered through another kiss. “Trust me, that’s normal …”

“Hang on; how do you know that?” She stared at him, pulling away, eyes suddenly narrowed. “You said it was your first time too!”

A 100 word story

She stood in the dimly lit room and tried to look into the mirror. It shouldn’t be hard, she knew; a conscious choice, electrical impulses sent from the brain, a muscle contraction and then – just like that – her head would lift up.

In the last fifteen minutes, however, it hadn’t worked. She still couldn’t bring herself to look at her reflection.

Then, finally, it wasn’t a conscious choice at all that made the decision but, rather, an autonomic reflex: a sneeze.

As her head jerked backwards she caught the merest glimpse of her herself.

It was enough.

More than enough.

What if?

I don’t know about you but I clearly remember the days when stories that were told to me started with something as simple as ‘once upon a time’, ‘in the beginning’, or something along those lines.

When I started to realise that getting told stories led to me making up my own (I was doing that before I started writing them down – before I could properly write) most of my childhood stories started the same way: at the beginning.

Over the years, however, and most especially over the last year or so, I have realised that I have changed how I go about the creation of a story. In the past it was definitely more about a plot that I would create characters for or a character that I would create plot for. Occasionally I may have had an actual line of dialogue that set the whole story moving in my head; more than once I had an ending and worked from there to the beginning. Now I start with something much more simple: a question.

What if?

Two simple words, really but, from them, I have found a wealth of ideas and creativity. My novella, ‘The Crimson Blade’ (available on Amazon in the ‘By Might or Metal’ anthology if you are looking for it ;) ) came about when I asked the following question:

What if the good guys don’t win?

Seven words in that simple question led to me writing twenty-three thousand words in about four days. Just a couple of days ago, before I sat down and wrote the fifty-word story, I asked another very simple question:

What if you would do anything for your next hit?

Ten words that time, and I got fifty words at the end of things. From a purely mathematical standpoint the payoff on the second wasn’t quite as good but, thankfully, I worry more about English literature than mathematics.

I should, I suppose, point out that while I start with the one question, ‘what if …?’ I don’t end there. Instead I go through the why, how, when were type questions and, if I am lucky, things start to almost write themselves. For example when I asked ‘what if the good guys don’t win?’ it led me, obviously, to ‘who are the good guys’ and ‘who are the bad guys’. A big question was ‘why don’t they win’ followed by ‘how do the bad guys get the upper-hand’ but, at the end of the day, it started with ‘what if’.

Two days ago, when I knew that I was going to write a small, throwaway, 100 word story I asked myself a simple question and then started writing long hand. That questions was:

‘What if he could fly?’

Unfortunately for me, two days later, I am actually still writing longhand and, at the moment, probably have about 30 pages in an A5 notebook; at a rough guess I would say that I am about a third, possibly a half, of the way through what is turning into a very interesting story indeed.

Unfortunately isn’t the right word, of course, it is fortunately – because I know that once I bring the longhand notes to the keyboard I will multiple the questions many times which will lead to more answers in terms of characters, plot, settings, quandaries, exposition, dialogue, narrative and, if I am very luck the two words at the start of my story, ‘what if’, will lead to the very best two words of all for any writer who embarks on a story:

The end.

The letter of the law

The thing about this write365 lark is that, for a whole year, you commit to writing. I obviously loved the concept so much that I signed up to do it – and am doing it.

Today, though, brings me an interesting quandary. You see I have been – and still am – writing. The thing is that I got an idea when I wasn’t near a PC and, as I thought it would be a cool one for a 100 word story, I didn’t want to type it out on my phone … so I started writing longhand, instead. The problem is that (roughly as my book doesn’t have word count ;) ) I am closer to 500 words rather than 100 and think that it could go another 500, possibly more.

So i’m having to tweak the rules, a little, because I don’t want to start a new story while working on this existing one but I also don’t want to post the WIP as that will mean typing it up to post unfinished and rough.

That said you do have this entry to console you along with the knowledge that, while you aren’t seeing it I AM writing still ;)

What’s in a word?

We interrupt the originally scheduled programming (which should have been a 100 word story) to bring you this random musing on the power words have, and how/why we choose them.

You see earlier today I was told that my last story (http://jayfaulkner.com/blog/archives/198) had shocked someone when they read it – especially as they had never heard me swear – and I was asked if I had really had to use ‘that’ word.

… for those wondering what ‘that’ word is I can only suggest that you go and find out for yourself as you will not only get to read the story but also decide if you think that choice of word is warranted.

Now, to take the challenge – as mild a one as it was – in two parts, I should point out that in ‘real life’ I personally don’t swear. The strongest that you will hear from me, ever, is damn … yeah, I know, I need to wash my mouth out with language like that, don’t I? ;) Seriously, though, I don’t really have anything against swearing/expletives but I also just don’t see the need for them myself.

However (as I pointed out in regards to the challenge) the fact that the story, and word usage, shocked someone was actually a good thing. Nay, a great thing. I wasn’t aiming to write a 50 word story that was light and fluffy but, rather, something that hopefully hit quite hard and made you think about it later. With this person, at least, I had achieved that. Plus, obviously, it wasn’t ‘me’ swearing in that story, it was a character; if it was so far removed from me that someone who knows me found it strange than that is also a good thing as it means that I created something outside of myself and my comfort zone.

As far as having to use the word in question, I had to think about that one. Obviously the honest answer is that I didn’t have to use that word. Even if I had wanted to write the exact same piece I could have replaced the ‘offending’ word with numerous other ones: sleep with, shag, screw, fornicate, have sex with, pound, penetrate, violate even. All of them could have easily been interchanged with the word that was used.

But the word that WAS used was because it WAS the word. It’s shock value, and harshness, made it exactly the right word for the character to use. It wasn’t as nice as ‘sleep with’, it wasn’t as funny as ‘shag’ and it wasn’t as emotive as ‘violate’ – though, to be honest, that is the same intent I was aiming for but (as ludicrous as this may sound considering the word actually used) I was trying to be more subtle.

I am not a woman, obviously, I have never been so desperate for money to feed a drug habit that I would allow other people to have sex with me. However I tried very hard to put myself in the place of the character that came into my head and, when I did, the word I choose is the word I ‘heard’ her use.

So, in answer to the question of did I really have to use that word … yes, yes I did.

A story in (about) 50 words

I think this is about 50 words but posting directly from my phone so no Word tools like word count or spell check :)

Disclaimer: this is not a pretty tale, despite the brevity, and contains adult themes and language.

—– A story in (about) 50 words —–

There were days when she awoke and could barely remember the night before; counting the crumpled condoms the only way to guess at how many men had paid to fuck her.

A serviceable vein and a quick hit changed the memories from barely to forgotten with a stupor filled smile.