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Clouds are on the horizon!

Hello, it’s been a while.

The Bradbury Challenge started eight weeks ago, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last month and a half. I mean, that’s what this challenge is about, right? Learning about yourself.

I learned that i make a lot of excuses. Not contentiously, mind you. I don’t sit down and say “I’d rather do this than write.” It’s more subtle than that. I get to the computer and think “I’ll just play this game for a few minutes then get to writing.” Then an hour later I’m still playing a game and no writing has taken place. Or I think I will just check Reddit, or twitter, or whatever.

I’ve learned that social media is something I need to limit from now on. Half an hour for everything, and that’s it. And Reddit is not my friend. Reddit is a trap of meme’s, news stories, and interesting anecdotes that will suck me in and keep me there for a long time if I’m not careful.

I’ve learned that I need to stop making excuses about the small things so that when the larger things happen I don’t feel so guilty. It’s okay to take a sick day, but it feels so bad if you’re behind on work and you’re just adding one more excuse to the top of a growing pile.

I’ve learned that I need to take self imposed deadlines a lot more seriously. I’m not sure how to do this yet, but that’s part of what this challenge is about. And no, I can’t say “I’ll do better next week.” I have to do better THIS week, because each week I put it off just makes things that much worse.

So for the past eight weeks of the challenge I finished four stories. I just finished the final draft one the fourth one this morning. That’s an average of two weeks per story. Not horrible, but not great either.

“Cloud,” the story you’re getting today, was conceived on the road to RadCon. Gregg and I were passing through the mountains and talking about the desolate area. We were in the middle of no where with nothing for miles, and the mountains up ahead. A lot of my story ideas come from discussions I have with Gregg.

For next week I’ll be finishing “The Deep,” which is my story in regards to the story prompt I gave a few weeks ago about finding something unusual in the ocean.

I also know that while the stories I send you are completed first drafts, they aren’t finished. I generally like my short stories to be at least 3000 words before I publish them. This isn’t always possible since some stories just have a naturally shorter length, but often I find that I have to go back in and add description, or little details that will make the story flow better. That’s the case with this one as well. The bones are there, and it’s a good basic story, but there is a little bit of brushing up to make it GOOD that needs to happen before I can publish it. This one, I feel, also might need a new name.

But for now…

**********

Cloud
Lisa shifted in the passenger seat, the rough upholstery grating against her arms as she tried, in vein, to get comfortable. Beside her Zach snorted. Her brother never had an issue sleeping, no matter where they were. Hotel rooms, camping on rocky ground, or sleeping in the camped front seat of a Honda Civic, Zach dozed off within seconds of closing his eyes. Lisa hated him for it, and envied it, especially right then.

They had been traveling for nearly a week, gathering photos and articles about various little towns in the Midwest for their blog. In a few months they’d be right back out on the road heading to the east coast. But for now they were headed home to their computers and equipment, a warm cup of coffee, and her own bed where she could finally fall asleep.

She dreamed of her bed with the five fluffy pillows and three thick comforters laid out on top of it as she hitched her jacket back up on her shoulders. She was only vaguely aware of the rolling hills sliding past them just outside the window. They would be in the mountains soon, with snow and towering trees all around them. The rolling of the car across hilly roads should have lulled her to sleep, instead it just annoyed her.

She concentrated on the lull of the car, rocking back and forth. The soft sound of tires over black top. The sway as the road curved gently to the left, then back right, following along the stream below them.

Sleep drifted closer…then was ripped away by a bright light blazing through her eye lids, followed by the sudden jerk of the car to the right as it careened into the shoulder and came to a sudden stop.

She shot up in her seat, mind snapping to full alertness as Zach fought to gain control of the car. A shock wave washed over them, a grumble that grew in the air, pressing down on them with a tremendous force as trees and rocks sailed across the road in front of them.

“What the hell is going on?” Lisa cried.

“I don’t know,” Zach said, struggling to pull the car to a stop.

“I saw light? Was it a car?”

 

To read the rest of “Cloud” subscribe to my newsletter. You will also get a free copy of “Witch’s Sacrifice”. 

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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Excuses

Today Gregg came home and I was playing Minecraft. I love Minecraft, I find it relaxing. I usually listen to podcasts while I’m playing, or catch up on the news.

But then he asked how my writing was going. I was honest, as I always am (even when it hurts) with him. I had been writing earlier and I’d get back to it soon.

Then he hit me with the hard question, after stressing that he wasn’t trying to be judgmental or anything, he was just honestly curious…And I mostly believe him, but the question cut through me a little deeper than any other question he’s asked me.

I’m just curious if you make more excuses to write, or not to write.

Ouch. There I was, playing a game when I knew I should be finishing up that novel I’ve been trying to complete, and he was cutting to the quick of it, yet again. It hurt, but he was entirely right. I had been making excuses just like I usually do, and letting myself get away with it.

Excuses are insidious things. I use to think of them as the things I did to get out of an assignment, like washing dishes, or cleaning the lint trap. ANYTHING to get out of doing something I dreaded. But I love writing, right? So I wouldn’t be making excuses to get out of that. WRONG.

Writing is fun, just like painting or playing music, or making a vase. But when you try to shift from doing art for joy to doing art for a living you realize you have to do this thing all the time instead of just when the mood hits you. You realize it’s not always going to be fun anymore. Sometimes it’s going to be a slough and you’re going to have to do it anyway.

Oh I love my stories. I love creating worlds with fantastic creatures roaming through dark woods, and witches flinging spells across wide oceans, and men being cursed to live as hawks. I love the fact that all of these mystical and magical worlds that lived inside of me for decades now get to be seen by others. And I love that they will live on beyond me.

But that only happens if I actually write them. They only have a life of their own if I put in the work.

And, lets face it, playing a video game is fun. It can be mindless entertainment. It can be a complete distraction from everything else around you, including the art you want to create.

Substitute TV shows, books, train rides, sky diving or whatever in there. If we are using these little distractions as an excuse not to seek out our creative fulfillment then we are just hurting ourselves.

Now…I have a book to go write.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in On Writing

 

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