Friday, December 30, 2011


(This is a post I posted a couple days ago on another blog, but I decided to move it here.)

I spent the greater part of today working with books: making a list of all the books I've read in 2011, cataloging my own personal library of books, and the like.  I started out this year with the goal of reading 25 books in 2011, and... well, I read 53.  I am quite pleased.  

Looking over the list of books I finished this year, there were a couple of themes that stood out.  I read 32 fiction books and 20 nonfiction books.  I read more YA fiction this year than in all previous years combined -- mostly thanks to Scott Westerfeld, since I discovered his Leviathan trilogy early this year, which lead me to read his Uglies series while waiting for Goliath to come out.  I also read a number of dystopias, from Brave New World to The Hunger Games.  G. K. Chesterton was probably my favorite author that I read this year.  I discovered him in 2010 when I read his biography of Charles Dickens.  This year I continued my journey through Chesterton with Orthodoxy, The Flying Inn, The Man Who Was Thursday, Heretics, and Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Chesterton is the kind of person that makes me wish I could steal his brain and make it my own.  His writing style is gorgeous, and the thoughts he has are so profound.

While it's tempting to see if I can read even more books in 2012, I think I'm going to take a different approach.  Instead of aiming for a number, I'd rather have the luxury of taking my time reading a book, choosing longer books to read, or rereading books.  In my eternal quest to improve as a writer, I want to examine the works of my favorite authors in detail to see what I can learn from them.

And as a rather odd resolution, I've decided I'd like to dive into the Christian fantasy genre.  It came to my attention as I scanned the fiction shelves at Family Christian Bookstore the other day that, even though I think of Christian fantasy as the genre I'd like to write it, I haven't actually read that much of it.  So I plan to begin my journey with Donita K. Paul's DragonSpell and see where it takes me from there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guess who posted! (Guess who also didn't proofread her post. Being in a hurry is not conducive to some things.)

Wow, it's been forever since my last blog post!  The little egg timer in my head went off again (rather belated little instrument, that is), so here I am.  Since I currently feel like there's not much in my head right now, that means this is going to be a random post.  Oh well.  Here, I'll turn it into a numbered list to make it look more official:

1. School (my last year of homeschool high school!) has been going for about a month now, and so far it is turning out to be my favorite year of homeschool ever.  Instead of doing regular math and science, I'm doing accounting and economics.  Economics is my new love.  I'm reading Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics, which explains a fascinating subject with Sowell's crystal clarity.  The book may look imposing at 654 pages, but it reads like an intriguing news article, and I don't feel I've worked that hard to get halfway through the book.  Do I even need to mention that I recommend it highly? 

2. Today is a busy day, but one of the pleasant side effects of having a busy day is that I get to go to the library (=D) where I have several books waiting for me:

  • No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty.  (This is a reread for me.  I just want a refresher, since I really want to do NaNoWriMo but have just about given up hope on the subject, since I have almost no ideas, and the ones I do have don't play nice with each other.)
  • Incarceron by Catharine Fisher.  I need a nice fluffy YA read.  (No, I don't suppose Incarceron is fluffy, but for me, YA of any kind IS fluff, even if it's an action-packed science fiction YA.  True fluff mostly sticks in my throat and makes me gag.)  
  • The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan.  I've heard a lot about this series, so I thought I'd dip my toe into the first book.  It's also research of a sort, since the lone idea I've even partially entertained for NaNoWriMo has some similarities with what I've heard about this series, so I thought I'd see how this author handled it.  
3. Look at me, I used a numbered list AND bullet points in the same post!

4. And unless I want to discover this blog post sometime next week and realize to my shame that I never posted it, I should post it now, since school is starting. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I have so many things that I love, but I cannot seem to make a story out of them. I have words that swirl about my head like a cloud, but they are miniscule droplets that refuse to come together and form rain – rain that would fill a mountain vale with a purple-grey quiet and make the summer greenery wet and feel like spring again. Like my life, with the trees that sometimes group together to suggest a forest, images gather in my mind with such realism that I believe the story to be there, somewhere; a landscape lurking behind fog, so grand that even the glimpses make you gasp in delight. I do not need an imaginary world to live in. I need a work of art, something to unveil, an expression, something that can be given away. But neither can I labor on with only the barest of purposes, hoping to gain momentum. I am an artist, not an artisan. I must reach for something beautiful, or else I will touch nothing.

And yet to wait for inspiration is to begin to die slowly.

Monday, July 25, 2011


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book started out a little slow, but halfway through things started to get interesting, and by the end I discovered that I had absolutely fallen in love with the book! It was thoughtful, vivid, full of unique and interesting characters, realistic and yet hopeful, portraying the hardships of life without at all diminishing the fantastic moments of adventure. And the ending! It was a legitimate, beautiful happy ending, one that leaves you grinning from ear to ear at the end. I highly recommend this book.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Preparations, Flying Music, and Thunderstorms

My aunt (who's more like a big sister to me, when you consider the age difference) is getting married this weekend.  The whole family is going to be flowing out to Nebraska in waves.  The first wave leaves tomorrow, taking my mom with it.  She's packing now, and as I sit and write this blog post and listen to her bustling about, everything feels a little unnatural.  In just a few short days the second wave will sweep me off to the plains, but for now I sit in the half-uncomfortable eye of the storm. 

My sister and I will get to see if we can stay on top of the dishes by ourselves.  (Dad does dishes only in emergencies.) 

I spent $8 this weekend on the soundtrack for How to Train Your Dragon, and I consider it to be the best purchase I've made in months.  Most soundtracks I am acquainted with have tracks that seem to consist of semi-disconnected notes that aren't really enjoyable to listen to outside a movie theater.  This soundtrack, however, has so many perfectly delightful tracks that I have trouble keeping track (sorry, bad pun) of them all.  The music is upbeat, adventurous, awe-inspiring, and soul-stirring, with a gorgeous celtic theme woven throughout.  Tracks like This is Berk and See You Tomorrow are filled with rollicking yet engaging energy, while Test Drive and Coming Back Around make you feel like you are flying.  In any case, the number of amazing tracks far outpaces the number of dollars you have to lay down to own the mp3 album.  Buy it. 

This week has been full of magnificent thunderstorms, rolling off of the mountains in purple clouds that make your heart beat faster.  For once they've actually paused to pour blessed rain into this dry climate -- sometimes gently, other times hurling it down so hard that water abandons the gutter for the sidewalk and you can see the raindrops bounce off the pavement.  Between the clouds, the moisture, and my new soundtrack, I've been living in my own poet's paradise. 

I'm sorry that I'll have to leave it for a 7-hour drive of glaring yellow flatness.  Pray that the good Lord will send me mental forests to keep my mind off of it. 
Wings (Wings, #1)Wings by Aprilynne Pike

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I think that this book did pretty well on what it was trying to do -- namely, be an engaging YA read that someone could get through in a weekend. I enjoyed it in the sense that there were parts where I couldn't put the book down. However, on reflection, the book just seemed rather...unimpressive. Pike has a great base concept, but that seemed to be the only complicated thing about the book. Everything else seemed a little cliche. I felt like there wasn't enough content for it to really be the first book in a trilogy.

Or maybe I've just been spoiled by reading Scott Westerfeld.

In any case, this book is definitely fluff reading -- and since I tend to go for deeper things, I'm not going to spend time on the second or third books in the trilogy.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Books that are, were, and will be (read by me)

At least it hasn't been a whole month since I last posted.  It's only been 27 days. 

So far I have spent this summer just reading as much as I can.  Now that school's out of the way I can actually get down to learning!  (Or at least, that's what it feels like.)  The problem is that I add about 5 books to me To Be Read list for every book I finish.  There's just not enough time to read everything I want to -- and, to top it off, I've come to the conclusion that I ought to be reading slower than I normally do so that I can absorb things more fully. 

This past week I finished reading The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton and Pretties by Scott Westerfeld.  Both of them were quite good, and both of them kept me in a dreadful amount of suspense.  More complete reviews for both those books are coming shortly. 

There are a couple books that are currently balancing on the top of my currently-reading pile:

Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity, by Michael Card.  This book, recommended to me by a writer friend, comes right on the heels of having read Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle.  While on the outset it looks like the books represent two different voices saying the same thing, I am already finding a number of differences.  After finishing Walking on Water, I couldn't get over the nagging feeling that L'Engle's approach to art was just not Christ-centered enough.  In many ways, she still bought into the age-old cop-out, "Do art for art's sake."  For me, that is a pitiful excuse of an idea.  There has to be a greater reason for doing art -- a reason that leads back to God in the end, as all true ideas do.  And I think Scribbling in the Sand is addressing that.  I'm only three chapters in, but Card's ideas are already shown to be substantially different.  He says that art is an act of worship -- a response to the beautiful nature of God.  That is an answer I can believe in. 

My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.  I can see why this devotional is such a classic -- I have only read five days so far, and yet those five days contained more wisdom and insight than most of the books I have read.  I think I understand why it is in a devotional format: I don't think it would be possible to read the book without taking an entire year to do it.  Needless to say, I'm going to be requesting a copy for my birthday. 

When God Writes Your Love Story, by Eric and Leslie Ludy.  For those of us who want to do romance differently than this culture, this is a call to trust God with everything in your life, especially your future marriage.  I've read other books about 'waiting' and 'courtship' before, but this one is a classic, and it emphasizes that romance ought to be about God first and foremost. 

And now, the books on my TBR list for the rest of this summer:

1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.  (I've watched three movie versions of the story but never read the book.  I know, it's silly.)
2. Blink of an Eye, by Ted Dekker.
3. Specials, by Scott Westerfeld. 
4. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. 
5. Animal Farm, by George Orwell.
6. The Face of a Stranger, by Anne Perry.
7. Looking for the King, by David C. Downing.
8. Saint Thomas Aquinas, by G.K. Chesterton.
9. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.
10. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Orson Scott Card.
11. Phantastes, by George MacDonald.
12. Dismantling America, by Thomas Sowell

Of course, knowing my ADD self, I'll probably finish only half of these, along with half a dozen other books that I don't yet know about. 

OH, and on the topic of books, I have a site that you absolutely must check out: The Escapism Project, a collage of thoughts on reading and writing by a group of teenage bookworms and bookwriters, all in pursuit of a more complete idea of what make a 'live-in' book.  Yes, I am a contributor.  :) 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


We went to the mall with my aunt today.  I haven't been in a mall in a while, and it seems that each visit is worse than the last.  Our culture is not a passive culture -- it's a jump-on-you-and-beat-you-up-with-a-club culture.  All the stores sell all the same clothes, all the clothes cover less than they show, and all the songs are about sex and are played way too loud.  And all the pictures?  They all say the same thing: you have to look like this.  You're a failure if you don't look like this.  If you can't fit into these clothes, there's something wrong with you.  If you do have a nice body, you should show it off.  It's abominable.  The culture appears set on making the 95% of us who don't look like models feel absolutely miserable (and disgusted).

On the plus side, though...cute new shoes!  (It's been a while since I had any of those.)

I'm going to start reading Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle.  I'm very interested to see what it's like, since I've been a fan of her books for years and happen to be a writer (and a Christian) myself.

Peeking into The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron again has given me a revelation.  The reason this break from writing has lasted forever is because I don't need just a break: a need a full-scale recovery operation.  I need to go back to basics, ditching all my lofty goals and plans in order to simply rehabilitate my creative side.  In other words, I need to play.   So that's what I've been doing this week, and I've discovered something interesting: my creative self is still there.  It just afraid of things like "Oh, that doesn't count.  You didn't even finish it," or, "Goodness, you will look like a complete numbskull if you write the story that way."

So right now, me and my creative self are mostly hanging out in coffee shops that don't exist and giving cute imaginary cats names like Lord Ivywood.

Oh, and apparently I made several people very happy by inventing the word snickergiggles. 

Anyone attempting to claim that my brain is in any way ordinary shall be tossed out on their ear for obstinately ignoring the obvious. 
The Flying InnThe Flying Inn by G.K. Chesterton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wish I understood more of what I thought about this book so that I could communicate it properly. It was a fun book, and there were many scenes and characters that I enjoyed quite a bit. Chesterton did make some great points throughout the book. However, I did not agree with the way the book glorified drinking. Also, Chesterton takes little more than a single page to wrap up the entire book, and that one page was so vague and confusing that I'm still trying to figure out what happened. So there you have it. This is definitely more of an "enjoy the journey" book than anything else.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Review of The Art of Fiction, by Ayn Rand

The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and ReadersThe Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers by Ayn Rand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I believe this may be the most insightful book about writing that I have ever read. Ayn Rand is not about to accept any of the common cop-out explanations for writing: "Well, it just turned out that way." "I felt like doing it like that." "It seemed right." She declares that everything you write is because of some premise you hold in your head, whether you realize it or not, and that the key to good writing is to learn how to identify and shape those premises as you wish.

Her understanding of plot is more distinct and complete than that of any other writer I've heard explain the issue. For Rand, plot is all about definite purpose. This extends even to her descriptions, where every sentence is evaluated for how well it advances the (sometimes many) purposes of its paragraph. Rand draws a distinction between Romantic writing and Naturalistic writing. Romantic writing, she says, examines the underlying motives of human decisions, while Naturalistic writing claims to set down things 'as they are' but makes no value judgments. I found this insight helpful, as it explains why some books called classics are engaging and memorable, while others seem to wander without a point.

Some may find Rand's philosophy hard to get past. She certainly isn't shy about communicating it to you. Some may also find Rand's self-aggrandizing to be a distraction. (As she openly says early in the book, she believed herself to be the best writer of her time.) However, in my opinion, the clear advice she offers is too valuable to pass by. The fundamentals of good fiction are all here in this slender volume.

Note: Because of my own self-censoring, I skipped most of Chapter Eight, which dealt with love scenes. Readers who wish to guard their hearts from such things (and those under 15) will probably want to do the same.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

And at last, something that is NOT a book review!

You know how I write my posts?  I generally start out with either an excuse or a disclaimer.  Or both.  (Example: I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I've been really busy.  This isn't going to be the most interesting blog post, so forgive me again while I ramble on...)  If I'm smart, after I've finished the post, I delete the disclaimer, and that action alone makes the post 50% better.

The last time I posted something that wasn't a book review (or a random video about pendulums) was in February. 

Since then, I transformed into a medieval villainess and terrorized an entire band of hobbits (with a few elves thrown in on the side).  I've also run around in circles barefoot, won prizes for constructing towers of plastic cups, started a vicious water-fight, met friends from far-off lands, changed churches, and watched Singing in the Rain

I've also rediscovered how to write bad freeverse that sounds generally sappy and forlorn.  So I guess you could say I'm back to languishing in the shadow of 'poetic,' because I'm not yet up to chasing down the Poetic and confronting it face-to-face. 

I'm not quite done with my schoolwork yet.  I am keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that I'll have it all done by next Saturday when I take the SAT.  And after that is over.... FREEDOM!

Freedom means:
  • A for-real return to writing things longer than 1,000 words, with characters I actually made up out of my own head.  
  • Reading!  Books and books and books and books and books!  
  • Learning to cook.
  • Learning to drive.  (Oh dear.)
  • Doing other things that I can't think of at the moment.
  • Oh yeah, exercising.  In fun ways, though, not in boring ways.  (Like running on the treadmill.  The less I have to do that, the better.  It's so much more fun to run when you can be distracted: "Oh look, TREES!  And MORE trees!  Was that a butterfly?  Happy day, sun is shining, birds are singing, the clouds look cool, la la-la la-la...)  
  • ...and last on the list because it is most important to whoever is reading this (er, kinda), I will be blogging more.  
TA-DA!  *strikes a ta-da pose*

And now, gentle reader, lest I fall to the temptation to put a disclaimer at the end of this post, I shall now leave you to your blissful whatever-you-were-doing. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review of Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was, in my opinion, a worthwhile read. I found the society Huxley constructed to be quite fascinating (and ominous, as it should be), and I didn't feel like the book had any 'slow patches.' However, those who read this book for pleasure should be forewarned about a few things:

1. It's strictly rated PG-13.

2. The end is sad and depressing - which is necessary the fully demonstrate the evils of the society. Just be prepared for it, and you'll enjoy the book more.

3. There are several faults in the structure of the book, the main one being that it begins with two main characters and ends tying up the story of a third main character, leaving the first two with mostly-unresolved character arcs (in my opinion). For this reason, I would advise that you don't get too attached to any of the characters you meet. Or you can get attached to them, but know that it does not end well.

4. The beauty in this book is the thought it inspires (and demands). If you don't plan to take even a little time to consider the issues, this book is a waste of your time.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Pendulum Waves Video

Basically, I did steal this from Nathan Bransford.  But how could I not?

Whoever came up with this ought to get a medal. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review of The Godless Constitution, by Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore

The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious CorrectnessThe Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness by Isaac Kramnick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a Christian homeschooler (using Sonlight curriculum, if you want to know), I was originally put-off by the title of this book. Indeed, the first chapter seemed at times to veer into an anti-Christian rant. However, as the book progressed and I began to see the authors' point of view, I realized that they did have some very valid points. Two that I thought were most valuable were these:

1. If we ask the government to adopt religious slogans, we are asking it to overstep its bounds. If allow the government to make decisions on religious matters, we open the floodgates to all other kinds of infringements on our rights.

2. Christians (and other religious people) should not appeal to the government to fix society's problems. If we see a moral failing in our nation, it does not mean that the government has fallen down on its job: it means that the church has failed in its responsibility.

For these reasons, I do recommend this book to anyone who wonders what the right relationship should be between religion and politics. It does not hold all the answers, but to the thoughtful reader who is willing to consider and discuss the ideas it contains, it is another piece of the puzzle.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Review of Creative Journal Writing, by Stephanie Dowrick

Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of ReflectionCreative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection by Stephanie Dowrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, I liked this book. Flip to any page, and you'll find yourself inspired to pick up a pen and open to a new page. Stephanie Dowrick encourages you to write with freedom (I think 'instinctively' is her most frequently-used word), ignoring any of the voices in your head that say you 'have' to do something.

The one main problem in this book is that, for those of use who picked it off the shelf expecting a treasure-trove of unique techniques and intriguing exercises, it is a bit of a disappointment. I will quote what the author says about her exercises (which appears toward the end, unfortunately, but would have been lovely to know up-front):

"Many of the exercises in this book are are therapeutic, in the best and most natural meaning of that word. They bring insight, release, relief, wisdom, clarity, and with these, greater choice. They let you step into the middle of your life rather than have you wait around at the edges. They make it clearer to you how you treat other people and want to be treated. They light up your desires and let you meet situations freshly."

Now, if that sounds like what you want from this book, then by all means, go ahead. I think it is a wonderful book for introducing people to journal writing. However, if, like me, you have been journaling for some time already, feel creativity bubbling up inside you, and are looking for new ways to express it in your journal, then this book is not the right fit.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Review of Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton

OrthodoxyOrthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was most certainly within the top 5 best books I have ever read. Possibly within the top 3. It was absolutely amazing. My new sub-goal in life is to get people to read Chesterton. If Christendom would remember him and listen to his advice, it would find itself better-equipped to understand and handle our times.

As Dale Ahlquist said in Lecture XII at the American Chesterton Society (, "The first problem is that every sentence in the book makes you stop and think, which makes you lose the thread of the main argument." Chesterton says profound and brain-stopping things habitually. After about Chapter 2 you think he can't possibly it up, and yet he keeps going and going and going and going...

This book is challenging in some ways, yes. For one, you have to stop and think every other sentence. For two, perhaps his language is a little more difficult to process than what we hear every day. But please, please make the effort to read and understand this book. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension." If that is the case, then Chesterton will take you to new heights of thought, if you let him. His insight is worth the work.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review of Worlds of Wonder, by David Gerrold

Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & FantasyWorlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by David Gerrold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book to be quite helpful. The advice it included went beyond the details and got to the heart of things. Gerrold doesn't just talk about the general advice that everyone eventually finds out and repeats. He includes interesting techniques that other writers have used that have been successful, and he sometimes poses questions that he leaves open to thought. Probably the most wonderful thing about this book is that it's obvious that Gerrold loves his craft. His passion is infectious, and you can tell that the central reason of why he does what he does is never far from his mind. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to write science fiction or fantasy.

(If you don't have an interest in regulating what goes into your mind, you can stop reading this review here. I am a Christian teenager and I care about these things, so no review of mine is complete without warnings.)


I can't believe how hard it is to find a book of good writing advice that is appropriate for a 14-year-old to read. Following the trend, the book started out good but about a third of the way through sexual references appeared and steadily increased. There was a whole chapter on writing sex scenes that I skipped. (Mostly it was, "Here, let me show you what I did.") Gerrold did get some good points on my scale, though, because while there was some cussing, it wasn't bad cussing.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review of Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth (Leviathan, #2)Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I think I may have even liked it better than the first one, Leviathan. I began this book mentally preparing myself for the common downsides that I frequently find in second books of trilogies: many plotlines are started but only a few finished, the characters tend to develop annoying qualities, etc. However, this book had none of those problems whatsoever. Having finished it, I now love the characters even more than I did when I finished the first book. It was completely gripping.

And I have to wait how long until the third one comes out?

I think the one downside for me, content-wise, was that toward the end, another female character kisses Deryn on the mouth, and then seems to have known already that Deryn is a girl. I disagree with this kind of action based on my Christian beliefs, and for anyone out there who might be bothered by this, just be aware that it's coming.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Memory of the Sun

        Hello all!  I know I haven't been writing (or posting) much, but I thought it might be nice to post one of the few things I have written in this time.  

This piece was written for a challenge at CleanPlace, one of the writing forums I participate in.  The challenge was to write a piece between 700 and 1,000 words long that began on a dark and stormy night, but that did not use the words "dark," "stormy," or "night."  Furthermore, the story had to start with one of the three phrases provided.  I chose "All I wanted was the feel of sunlight." 



The Memory of the Sun

    All I wanted was the feel of sunlight on my face, drenching my skin in warmth, lending me its life-force.  Out of all the desires warring in my heart, I had narrowed it down to that one.  The sun.  Give me the sun, give me the light it brought, give me even the weakest beam trailing through a dusty room, and I would be happy. 

            But the sun and all that came with it were still hours and another hemisphere away.  And even when it came, I would be forbidden to touch it. 

            The rain drummed against the window like the fingers of a bored, impatient hand.  The only thing I could see were the streaks they made as they ran down the window, backlit ever-so-faintly by the tumultuous clouds in the sky. 

            I toyed with the flashlight in my hands, running my fingers over the rubber bubble it had for an on-button.  Was it worth it to turn it on, just so I could look at the pictures once again?  Just so I could wade through memories of the laughing, golden-haired girl that had been me only a few short months ago?  Just so I could remember with even greater clarity what sunlight felt like, and long for it all the more?  No.  I thought not.

            A vicious pounding shook the door.  I started and stared at it, feeling all sorts of horrid suggestions of who it could be creeping into my brain.  I didn’t think I dared to open it. 

            The pounding came again, then ceased.  Just when I had dared to breathe again, the door flew open.  Rain and wind blasted into the room around the cloaked silhouette.

            “Locked yourself in the toolshed again?” a familiar tenor voice said.  “Really, Jillian, you are being immature.  What are you doing indoors on such a glorious evening as this?” 

            “You call this glorious?” I yelled over the noise of the wind as I rushed to push the door closed again. 

            “But of course!  What else could it be?”  Heavy boots trod over to the window.  I could just see the outline of well-chiseled his face as he spoke.  “You’re making a mistake, staying in like this.  You should come with me.  I’ll teach you more about what it means to be a shadow nymph.” 

            Randolph…”  Honestly, I wanted to like the man.  But he seemed to have an uncanny knack for appearing whenever I least wanted him.  And how could he treat what had just happened to me so flippantly, like it happened every day? 

            “Well, why not?” he asked.

            “It’s wet out there.  Look at me.  You just opened the door, and I’m practically half soaked.” 

            He laughed.  “I suppose you would call that hyperbole?  Well then, if it is so very wet, I should stay here, shouldn’t I?  Oh, but we couldn’t have that.  You obviously want me to leave.  Very well, I won’t stay long.  But you might as well come with me.  You know you’d love it.” 

            Impossible, impossible man.  “Oh, sure!” I lashed out.  “Because being a shadow nymph is the best thing since sliced bread, and any other life you might have had doesn’t matter at all.  I don’t know why you can’t see it, but this hasn’t been the easiest thing for me, and I don’t want to go running off and getting all wet for something I don’t care about at all! 

            Randolph didn’t reply immediately.  Even his silhouette put aside the energy that normally hung about him.  The indistinct void of the tool shed became still, and the noise of the tempest outside seemed far away, removed from the silence surrounding us.  The raindrops continued sliding down the windowpane behind the cutout image of his curly head.  I knew that he was looking hard at me.  I wondered what he could see with eyes that for so long had gone without sunlight. 

            “Jillian,” he said at last, “you are one of us now.  No shadow nymph raised with humans ever came to terms with it right off the bat – but please, at least try to accept it.  It really is a beautiful thing to be.  Once you stop mourning for your old life, you’ll see that too.” 

            “But I was a child of the sun!” I cried.  My fists swung out, looking for a wall to pound on, to push against.  Some glass object fell to the floor and shattered.  “Picnics! Water-balloon fights!  Lying on the beach, watching the leaves change color, running through fields of daisies, laughing with friends, sunbathing, warm summer afternoons, rainbows, wearing sparkly earrings, fresh spring mornings, volleyball…” 

            I felt hands close about my wrists. 

            “I know,” he said.

            I stopped.  I tried to get a hold of my breath before it let out the sob in my throat that would betray me. 

            “We never forget, you know,” he continued.  “None of us do.  All those things… yeah.  All still here, in our heads.  Sometimes you’re so sure it’s not fair.  And a lot of the time, it isn’t.” 

            He let go of my hands.  We both knew I wasn’t going to struggle any more.

            “What do you do?” I asked. 

            For a second I thought that I saw his face, and that he was smiling in a slow, strangely knowing way.  But it couldn’t have been.  Everything on the inside of the tool shed was still as black as ebony. 

            “You remember all the things you can do that other people only dream about.”  He laughed – a delighted, almost bewildered sound.  “You should see, Jillian!  If they knew the things we saw and did… you’d be surprised at the number of people who would trade places with us, just to experience all we experience.  Let me take you out and show you.  Forget, just for a little while, how sad you are.  Come with me.”

            He brushed past me and opened the door. 

            And I went with him. 

 (c) Copyright 2011 Cherise

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writers and Wannabes

            How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from ‘writer wannabe’ to official writer?  When someone outside your family says it’s good?  When you get something published? 

            Everyone has a slightly different definition in their own mind.  And for good reason – I don’t think we can point to an official line and say, “Left of this line, you’re a writer.  Right of this line, you’re just a wannabe.”  I’ve read published writers who I would throw in the ‘wannabe’ category.  And I’ve read things posted on humble blogs that screamed to be in print. 

            The key, I think, is to keep in mind the fact that you always have something yet to learn about writing.  Always.  Writing is thinking, and until we’re perfect (which won’t happen in this lifetime), we will always have rough edges.  Hey, there’s a reason that we don’t read first drafts in bookstores.  Professional writers are just people who are good at fixing their mistakes.  (Eventually they get good enough that they fix their mistakes beforehand – when the story is still in their head.  Even still, who ever has prose that turns out sparkly the first time?) 

            You haven’t ‘arrived’ until you realize just how far you are from arriving.  That’s the first step toward being a great writer.  Delusions of grandeur plague all of us, but the mature among us are those who don’t believe the daydreams. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Absence makes the heart grow… well, nevermind.

There is one drawback to knowing some of your blog readership in real life:

You get reminders. 

“You haven’t posted on your blog.”

“You still haven’t posted on your blog.”

“I was going to comment on your blog, but I have moral objections to commenting on a post I already commented on…”  *hint hint*

You can’t run away from your blog and play dead with these people.  It just doesn’t work.  They know you’re still breathing and still have fingers that can type a new post.  (Yes, you know who you are.) 

It appears that after my last post (in which I lamented the fact that I’d abandoned the blog and promised to return soon), I, uh… *cough*… abandoned it again.  Part of that is because I went three weeks without internet access.  That really messes up your blogging schedule. 

You-Who-Know-Who-You-Are (one of them, anyway), just got a Blogspot blog, in which she has posted some of her gorgeous photography.  So please, click over to Pens and Cameras to have a look. 

A huge thank-you to everyone who posted a writing prompt in the comments of the last post!  The ideas helped to alleviate my dreadful lack of inspiration. 

Since I have run out of things to say, a dreadfully long blog post would be singularly inappropriate at this time, wouldn’t it? 

The End.