Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Tale of Lady Midday (words: 568)

Lady Midday loved the smell of children in spring. She delighted in their honeysuckle hair, jasmine-imbued coveralls, and the hint of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies on their breath. They were all sweetness and light in joyful, tireless bodies, just as she once was. Now, standing in the cool shade of the weeping willow atop her grassy knoll, she watched two of them play near the bounds of the wheatfields, and she longed to join in their games.

Oh, how she loved to play.

The sun called to her then, dappling at her bare feet as the day’s heat spell reached its peak. Lady Midday stepped out from the shifting shadows of her tree, and her scythe glinted in the light. She was slender and moved like a woman in middle age. Her eyes were a cool green, and she wore a wreath of spring flowers upon her head--lilacs and dandelions pierced with daisy’s breath, woven through a crown of withered vines. 


She stretched in the blaze of noon, her sallow skin and sunken cheeks impervious to the sun's burning rays, and her white spring dress like a second skin. She knew neither sweat nor smell of her own flesh. She was an apparition to all including herself--a wraith of skin and bone who passed as a hag to those unlucky enough to meet her.


She looked up at the sky and reveled in the season’s caress.


Yes, it was time.

    

With a grin, she strode across the field, glided over a flowing stream, and rushed towards the children. They should have known better than to be out at this time of day, the sun hanging like a great searing orb above, looming over everything and everyone. The heat was not meant to be defied, and any sensible person knew it--their parents should have warned them long ago.


Lady Midday screamed.


The boy and girl looked up and saw her coursing towards them like a white-hot wave, her dress billowing behind her, and a scythe glinting in her hand. She raised the never-dull blade to the sky and cackled before catching the eyes of the frightened children. As she surged towards them, she called:


“Out of the sun your mother said

Else the Noon Witch has your head!”


The children turned and fled, their feet crushing stalks of cut-down wheat and racing along the fringes of the field. In the distance, the farmhouse was the size of a wheat kernel, and behind them, Lady Midday was a torrid specter coming ever closer. She continued her calls, which scraped at their ears like horrific lullabies.


“Play and sweat, and sweat and play

Just be home ‘fore Lady Midday;

The sun’s no good for girl or boy

It sucks out life and burns out joy;

So get on home while you still can

And tell my tale if you still stand."


She was upon them now in a clearing, the virgin grass an ecstasy beneath her feet, as the smell of  fear suffused her senses.


“Go away!” the girl yelled.


But it was too late.


“You should have listened to your parents,” the Noon Witch crowed, so close she could breathe in the essence of forget-me-nots in the children’s hair.


And as Lady Midday caught up behind them, she raised her scythe and down she cut them. In blood-soaked fields, she is known, and now through you, her tale has grown.


(background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Midday)


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Fighting for the Life I Want

Currently, I'm sitting up in bed with my laptop in front of me as a gentle rain falls outside my open window. There's a soothing breeze coming into the room, and there's even the occasional sound of birdsong. Earlier on, I taught a couple of classes from the comfort of this very same room, had a coffee from my own kitchen, and answered some emails.

I don't want to give this up.

I've been working from home since losing my office job back in March 2020. The pandemic has had a massive negative impact on numerous areas of everyone's lives, but I can say that notwithstanding the bouts of depression, the stress, and the financial anxiety, it has also been the catalyst for the professional life I am currently living. 

When the pandemic hit, I made several professional decisions: To finish writing the English resource book I had been putting off forever, to launch a website, and to start my own private English training business. I am happy to say that I managed to accomplish all three of those goals by September 2020. While it sounds easy when it's written like that, it took a lot of work and emotional energy, and it continues to require a constant and consistent effort.

There are times when I miss socializing with co-workers and talking with people face-to-face. There are times when I think that maybe I'll go back to working for a school at some point in the future to get back that face-to-face interaction and to get myself back into a physical classroom. But then there are times like these, when I am calm, having finished my work, and I am chipping away on other parts of my business from the comfort of my bedroom office. And getting to do it in shorts and a t-shirt while listening to whatever music I'm in the mood for at the time.

So I go back to my original point: I don't want to give this up. I really do love this lifestyle and having the ability to set my own hours and create this thing that I'm building brick by brick with my own hands. It's incredibly satisfying and freeing, while at the same time requiring a lot more of me. Because if I don't make enough money next month because I didn't feel like marketing myself or because I didn't push myself hard enough to write my next English resource book, I have only myself to blame. Therefore, I will keep pushing myself to keep this life going and to keep it growing. 

Finally, this lifestyle has given me the room to get back to writing fiction and to put my hands to the work I want to do most. Working in an office won't give me this, which is why I'm dedicated to fighting tooth and nail so that I can keep doing this on my own terms. In the end, I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the life I want, and I simply can't afford to screw it up. I refuse to. 

(I realize how fortunate I am to even have this chance while so many others don't. I don't share anything on social media about how "comfortable" my work life currently is because I don't want to feel like I'm needlessly "showing off" my good fortune when so many are struggling. I even questioned making this post, but I feel most of my friends and family probably won't read it, so I feel much safer putting it up for everyone to see, especially since I won't be sharing it directly on any platform.) 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Weary Soul Holds the Light

Soothe the soul who's weary
Stumbling from the moment of sun's call
No commands could hear he
By night, steps turned to a beaten crawl

Snuffed out the light
No hope in sight
Of winning just today

Best to rest
And face the test
Of a brand new day

So sleeps he
And dreams he
Of heavy pressures worn

Through the night
He holds the light
Of being in sun reborn


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Waking up again

The goal is to keep writing. To keep your fingers on the keyboard, or gripping the pen or pencil and pressing it down onto the page. The longer you stay away from it, the more your skills can deteriorate. It's not like riding a bike. It's more like trying to remember how to use DOS on an old desktop computer after 20 years of being away from it. 

I've been blogging and doing some form of writing for a while now, but I've been heavily neglecting creative story craft. That's really the skill I want to get good at. But wanting isn't enough. Desire without action is just empty reaching--daydreaming that results in no great works, or any other types of works at all.

"Perfect is the enemy of published."

That doesn't fit my scenario to a tee, but it does shed light on the issue of self-inflicted creative paralysis. It's something that all writers, professional or otherwise, struggle with. It's the subject of countless "How the story looks in my head vs. how it actually comes out" memes on social media. Many writers can't get past the idea stage, and that's something I've been struggling with as well. For a long time, especially recently. Hell, probably over the past year and a half. 

The truth is, I made a conscious choice to focus on my language resource writing over my fiction. The reason behind that was that I already had a built-in audience to write to. So many writers have no audience or struggle to build one up for years. But I have one. At least, more than many writers who are just starting out. And it's great because that community is full of wonderful people as well, and I want to write for them and to create useful works for them. I want to give them practical gifts they can benefit from. 

And I've done that and I'm still doing it, and I'll keep doing it still.

But it can no longer be at the full expense of my fiction work. 

I want to write dialogues, and poetry, and short stories, and mini essays, and all the things that shake up my brain and engage my creativity. Sure, the struggle will very much be real to get back to even the level I was at a year ago. I recently read over Bless the Light Eternal and Venom Sucker again, and you know what? I like those stories. Hell, I think one of them could probably be published somewhere with a bit more editing work. So I'll go there next.

In terms of brand new stories, I've written two for a couple of creative writing challenges that I've been part of for a few years now. They were super rough and I only wrote one draft per story, but at least I've gotten off the ground. At least I've gotten my fingers back on the keyboard, and my heart back on imagined worlds and grander themes. Or just weird ones

Even writing this bundle of thoughts is just a way to exercise my fingers and to stretch my writing mind. And it's working. I don't know how this article is going to read to me six months from now, but at this moment, I'm happy that I'm putting it together and that it's allowing me to dust off the cobwebs and get back to the craft I want to put my hands to. 

So here we go. I'm back. 

The Tale of Lady Midday (words: 568)

Lady Midday loved the smell of children in spring. She delighted in their honeysuckle hair, jasmine-imbued coveralls, and the hint of homema...