Ironic, that the daily prompt word is conundrum – that is what I have been experiencing in the last two months. A conundrum. Not in life, but in creativity, I have been so lack-lustre, I find myself forcing words on to a page as opposed to letting them flow effortlessly. I can write well and write quickly, but I cannot always write successfully. Often times, I will spew a whole chapter, and decide it is utter nonsense; then I start over. A blessing and a downfall at the same time is my need to make everything grammatically sound before I publish it at all. I should just write until I finish, and put it away, and come back to it later. Mr. King himself practices this way, and I can only dream of publishing as much as he has.
This time of year is the most difficult for me as a writer – I don’t find time to sit and concentrate, and when I do I’m too exhausted to come up with anything remotely imaginative. So now I am forcing myself to write these thoughts down and hoping that once I have these words out of my head, the creative juices will flow. Only time will tell. I feel I have let many people down, not just myself, with my lack of posts recently. So many of you were telling me you couldn’t wait until the next excerpt went up, and I’m sorry I’ve let you down.
But never fear! Once December 25th has passed, I will have plenty of down-time to continue the story. A new year, a new book…? We’ll see.
xx – Sadie.
“You’re a smart kid, Pia, I just don’t understand how you get such low scores.” Pia’s mother was concerned, but it came across as angered. Pia couldn’t help feeling absolute guilt, which only made her less motivated.
“It’s not like I don’t do anything. I’m not out taking drugs or partying. I just… Can’t focus.” She tried to make her mother understand.
“Well, from now on I want you sitting in the kitchen every night and doing your work in front of me. No excuses. No xbox. No telly. And I have to read over everything you do.”
This terrified Pia. She had a hard enough time showing writing to her editor, let alone her mother. She knew it was only her mother’s way of showing support and making sure Pia didn’t fall behind; that didn’t make it any easier.
“Can I go to Jeremy’s house later?” Pia tried to pierce her Mother’s stern expression with some puppy dog eyes.
“Tell you what. You write a thousand words and you can go as soon as I’ve finished reading those words.”
“Make it seven hundred and fifty…”
“Nope. One thousand. And one. For trying to bargain.”
Pia sighed the word fine and let her lips blubber out the last bit of air as she exhaled.
She had to go back and re-read the first line so many times because it didn’t seem real. She prayed, and she didn’t have a religious bone in her body, that Jeremy wasn’t just playing a sick joke.
We are thrilled to inform you that your manuscript sample has been accepted. We kindly request that you send the work in it’s entirety to us at your nearest possible convenience.
“Jem!” she yelled, still not convinced of the legitimacy of the email.
“What?” he responded in a hollow voice – just as he always did when he slipped in to chef extraordinaire mode.
“Did you send me a very, very, very mean email as a prank…?”
“Huh? What are you on about? Ya peanut.” he always called her a peanut when she wasn’t making sense.
“Okay… So it wasn’t you. Come and read this, then.” She wanted to see his reaction first-hand to make extremely sure she was not dreaming. Jeremy waltzed in, wooden spoon in one hand and tea towel in the other. Pia turned the laptop screen and lifted it up for him to read. She waited.
“Wait, does this mean you’re finally getting published? Have you done it?” his whole face shifted into a beaming smile and his eyes widened, awaiting Pia’s confirmation.
“Yes…?” She managed a half-smile, her brows still furrowed with concern and disbelief.
Jeremy threw the spoon and towel on the ground and pushed the laptop aside, yanking Pia up from the couch. He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her, squeezing the breath out from her lungs.
“Babe, this is awesome, I’m so proud of you” he yelled, smacking her with excited kisses all over her face. She started to laugh and cry and shake, she couldn’t quite comprehend the way her body was reacting. Jeremy put her down, and wiped the tears away. “Why are you crying? Isn’t this what you wanted?” he was shocked to see her this upset over an email.
“I’m crying because I’m happy” was all Pia could say.
“You’re a weirdo” Jeremy sighed, and brushed his hand adoringly across her cheek.
Pia was flying; or floating… She couldn’t tell, and this was unsettling. After all the excruciation she had gone through, she felt almost too comfortable. She was still paralysed, unable to so much as lift a single finger or open her eyes. The only things she could sense were smell, temperature, and sound. This did not make it any less unsettling, as she had zero inkling where she was, or even how she was.
Since before Pia could remember, she had always been hyper-aware of the beings around her. Whether they were human, or not, she knew each being had a supremely individual story and each being took a different path. She knew not to pass judgement merely by a passing look, or an overheard sound. She knew not to assume that one might be a certain way based on only a few actions seen from afar, or as told by a spectator.
People are like sparklers in the dark; small pulses of light drifting through life until the flame eventually fades. Each person leaves a trail in their wake and, like the sparklers, the trail is only visible for a vastly short moment. Once the trail is out of sight, though, it is not out of mind. The trail has an impact on those who witness it, or those who feel the heat emanating from it. The impact may only last a matter of seconds, but it is there and it can create anything from a slight breeze to a rampaging storm.
Pia could not feel the familiar heat of any sparklers in this place.
The desolation was immense.
The room was bleak.
Bleak was the only word Pia could conjure in her mind, and she knew that wouldn’t do. Bleak could mean any number of impressions for anyone to whom you speak the word. It could be a dark, narrow room with cement flooring and naked walls. It could be a room simply without windows. It could be a room abandoned for years because of war or disaster.
Bleak was not good enough. It did not take in to account the noticeable outlines on the timber floor-boards where a rug was once lain. It did not describe the delicate dust-motes floating through the rays of morning sun. It did not take note of the tattered curtains, which she could see were once vibrant shades of crimson and deep plum. It did not capture the sharp, dirty edges left behind on the wallpaper by memories once held aloft inside frames.
She was tasked with painting a vivid portrait for the readers all across her country, let alone the world.
Bleak. That’s all she could muster, with her honours degree in professional journalism.
“I think some shots looking in from that way would look great. I mean, if that’s what you’re going for – a kind of entry perspective” Lyall suggested. He was a new addition to the team, and Pia was still unsure of him.
“Sure, that sounds like a good idea” she responded flatly.
“Cool. So. Um, may I?” Lyall awkwardly motioned for Pia to stand aside from the doorway.
“Oh, right” she stumbled to the left as he took aim.
Pia noticed, having recovered from her stupor, that the wallpaper was not flat and simple; it was embossed. There were intricate patterns resembling classic flora with slender vines weaving over and under long petals. She ran her fingers over them, and the dust that had built up over years gone by felt almost like a layer of velvet. It wasn’t until she glanced up at the roof that she felt a keen sense of what she could only describe as ominous. It was a fascinating sensation, surrounding her like the cool fog she had become so familiar with on her early mornings; only this was not a familiar feeling, and Pia couldn’t help but panic.
She dared not give any of this away to Lyall, and quickly spat at him that she would be upstairs looking around if he needed her. She did not pay attention to his response as she slid out of the bleak room and up the antique staircase.
The first door Pia chose was locked, which she found to be extremely odd. She tried the handle several times, perhaps it was just old and rusted. Nothing availed, so she moved down the hallway to the very end, towards a door with wood so dark it was very nearly black. This was fascinating to her, as it did not have any signs of stain or gloss. Completely natural wood, and it was the colour of coal.
“I never said you had to like it, darling. I know you think it’s bleak, but we shall make it work.”
Pia’s heart stopped at the sound of this unfamiliar voice, seemingly a middle-aged woman with a distinctively regal accent. By the time she had swung round on her heels, Pia could not see anybody. No lingering smells or footsteps or the sound of a door closing. Silence. Her heart rate only heightened at this discovery, and she could not resist the urge to get out of the house as fast as her adrenalin carried her.
Wherever you are in the world, and whatever time you have taken to visit my project, I thank you immensely.
My first piece of brain storming will be posted this coming Monday May 30th, so stay in touch and I hope you’ll be following the pathway I create.
Along the way, I will be developing a myriad of characters, themes, ideas, and a general mess of pieces which I hope I can fit into a vast tapestry when the time is right.
Share, ignite, believe. ❤