Young Autumn (Part 3)

A piece of flash fiction, as lightly adapted from an inter-author character interaction with Tirzah Duncan.

Part 1

Part 2

<<<>>>

III

 

T: The questions won’t keep forever.

She decides to let one out, and searches for the rightest one.

She began to ask, why me?

But then she felt she knew enough of the answer, somehow.

 

D: I expect she knows as much of the answer to that as he does.

 

T: One question after another seems wrong for the moment, so—

“Ask me something?

I feel like something should be asked, and preferably answered,

But I can’t find it,” she explains.

 

D: He blinks. “Are you comfortable?”

 

T: “I think so,” she answers.

“There’s a tension of sorts, but it’s a comfortable one.”

 

D: “Are you content?” he asks next.

“For us to be what we are –

Whatever we are –

Indefinitely, and perhaps forever?

Or do you feel the need for more?”

 

T: “I… don’t know,” she says honestly.

“I’m content in it now. I can’t speak for indefinitely.”

 

D: He nods. “I am content for now, too.”

 

T: Her mind brushes on the boy she left behind,

And she wonders what, if anything, ought to be told to him.

It seems that something should, but she’s no concept what.

 

D: “What do you suppose he’d like to know?” he asks.

 

T: She opens her mouth, closes it again.

“I don’t know.”

She looks up at him. “You might actually know better.”

 

D: “He’d want to know of any good feelings.

He’d want to know you don’t feel alone, lonely, broken, bereft.

He thinks he wants to know everything, but that’s less than true.

He doesn’t want there to be unhappy things to know.”

 

T: Her lips twitch, skew sideways. “Yeah.”

 

D: “So any good you can tell him, you should.

As for the rest… Well, you have me for that, now.”

 

T: She watches his face,

Feeling over what he said more than thinking over it.

“Is this— what is it, to you?

‘Cause damned if I know what it is.

It’s not simple, is it?”

 

D: “Possibly simple. Certainly not straightforward.

It may not have a name. Not in this day and age.

One saw such things more, in times gone by.

There were more ways of bonding.”

 

T: “Well.” She muses. “I guess you’re my… exception.

My exception to good sense.”

She grins. “You were that from the time you were my idea.

Every sensible person needs one of those, aye?”

 

D: A smile glints in his eyes.

“We keep the sensible from stagnating.”

 

Epilogue

 

D: “All right. Hungry now. Ready for dinner. Will you join me at table?”

 

T: “Sure. Let me finish my class, first? We’ve been out of time.”

As in outside of it.

 

D: He nods. “I’ll wait.”

 

T: “Thanks. Should just be half an hour.”

She kisses his cheek, that feeling right,

And slips back into time and reality.

 

Her head swims at the sudden scene change,

But it’s no worse than standing up too fast.

A deep, slow breath,

And she’s taking notes again.

Funny, how quickly her brain can snap back to practical.

 

*Confusion* *Feelings*

*Questions* *Relationship stuff*

Oh math okay

Young Autumn (Part 2)

A piece of flash fiction, as lightly adapted from an inter-author character interaction with Tirzah Duncan.

Part 1

<<<>>>

II

 

D: Enough dash-about energy gone to be a boy again and take her hand for walking, as first intended.

 

T: There’s a helluva tingling in that.

In the breath-recovering relative stillness, the great question mark presses upward,

Wanting to turn into actual questions,

But she pushes it back down, because this is too nice to be spoilt by thinking about it.

 

D: Piles of the Autumn leaves burn.

He likes the flames, the light, the smoky smell.

 

T: It feels right. Delight, heat, and question all seem mirrored in the environ.

 

D: Some leaves, newly turned, flutter and fall from overhead.

He plucks one from the air,

Tucks it behind her ear.

 

T: She thinks him beautiful.

Not wrong, and not that she’s been blind,

But also not a thought she’s had so wholly before.

 

D: He thinks her… a delicious Red Apple.

Not to consume, but to delight in.

 

T: No questions, no questions, no questions.

It’s hard for her to keep her practical, straightforward, investigative side down,

But she really, really doesn’t want to be bothered with it just now.

 

D: His free hand’s fingers dance in the air, playing afar with the fire’s sparks.

They take on shapes suggestive of butterflies and dragons.

 

T: That’s better. She lets herself be rapt.

 

D: “Do you ever stop to notice,” he says, gaze on the pieces of blue between the boughs overhead, “what a fantastic young-adult cliché we look, right now?”

 

T: Her lips twitch.

“I’ve been working not to think about it,” she says, meaning more than simply that.

“But wasn’t that true from the first moment of

‘You be a human girl, I’ll be a Fey boy’? So it’s your fault.

Only thing I did wrong was have red hair and blue eyes.

I haven’t even bitten my lip.”

 

D: “Oh, never think I blame you! Though the red hair really is a bit much, Apple, did you have to.”

 

T: “That was all Da!” she protests.

 

But it is cliché, right down to the being confused about how I feel about all this, she thinks, cheeks blushing in embarrassment as well as frustration that such feelings are common to the point of overdone.

Feels like all of YA fed her a line.

<<<>>>

To be concluded on Friday.

Young Autumn (Part 1)

A piece of flash fiction, as lightly adapted from an inter-author character interaction with Tirzah Duncan.

<<<>>>

Prologue

 

D: “Spring is wet and green.

Autumn dying. Winter bleak.

Summer… full of life. Rich with life.

I could not choose between them.

Thinking on it, though, I would walk in Autumn.”

 

He departs, and makes a place to be magic.

 

I

 

D: “Apple,” he calls to her mind. “Will you walk in Autumn with me?

Because life is short, and you are pretty?”

 

T: She laughs, pausing time,

And stepping straight out of her self in class into the Autumn woods.

 

D: “Be human,” he tells her. “Be a girl. And I will be Fey and a boy.

Above all, we will be, and be together.”

 

T: She smiles at the words, so fey themselves,

And something in them sits right in her heart.

There’s a lot else spinning around in her mind, a lot of confusion and second-guessing.

But she shakes all that away, for the moment,

To play along with his words.

 

D: He wants to take her hand and walk.

He wants to take the shape of a wolf and frolic, roll and tumble through the leaves.

He wants both, but can’t have both, not in the same moment.

 

T: Which first, then?

 

D: The wolf. It better fits the antsyness.

 

He frisks near and away, tongue lolling like a too-pleased dog.

 

T: She almost snatches his tail a lot,

And stumble-tumbles into leaf piles and underbrush more often.

Can’t. Stop. Giggling.

 

D: He whirls, leaps,

Comes down with paws on her chest, knocking her down.

Lands atop her, boy-shaped,

Laughs and licks her cheek.

Dashes away again.

 

T: Face flaming, still laughing, she up and runs after him again.

She doesn’t play like this on her own. It’s in her,

Her childlikeness and her silliness,

But it takes someone else unlocking it.

(Her father can access some part of it, but the boy she left behind was the only one to open it up this much.)

 

D: (She’s the only one to do this to him.)

T: (Some sort of mutual play-unlocking connection, then.)

D: (Seems so.)

 

He eventually lets her tackle him.

Leaf-rollin’, leaf-rollin’, barky laughter.

 

T: It feels a strange sort of playing to her, half innocent, half… thrillingly more-than.

 

She drops handfuls of leaves on his head.

In this moment, there is no fear, no suspicion.

There is delight, and heat, and…

Question. Uncertainty, but nowhere directed.

It might be any number of questions, if inspected,

But now it just hems the heat and adds to the thrill.

 

D: He butts his big furry head against her, tail a-wag.

For the moment, everything feels perfect.

<<<>>>

To be continued on Wednesday.

“Belief” or “Truth”

“So, hey, did you find your phone?”

Evan glanced up from his hand of playing cards. “My…? Oh, no, it’s still missing.” He sighed. “I can’t think where I could have laid it down.”

“Oh.” Oliver frowned. “That’s weird. So who were you talking to?”

“When?”

“A little while ago, when I was grabbing the game from the other room. It sounded like about half a conversation, so…”

“Oh, that.” Evan smiled in remembrance. “I was talking to my Author.”

“Your what?”

“Well,” Evan amended, “your Author, too. Everybody’s Author.”

“You don’t seriously believe in that Author stuff, do you?” Oliver said incredulously.

“Certainly I do. You don’t?”

“Of course not.” Oliver slapped a card on the table and reshuffled the deck. “Some invisible girl in the sky who wrote the world into existence? That’s ridiculous.”

“How so, ridiculous?” Evan asked. “Where do you think we came from, just spontaneously sprung up off the page?”

Oliver shrugged. “Could’a happened. Like, y’know, there’s mysterious imaginative ether, and stuff.”

“Whose imagination?” Evan pressed

“The collective imagination,” Oliver pronounced. “We all imagine ourselves; a basic matter of mass self-belief.”

“I see.” Evan fingered his cards, expression thoughtful. “But what about before we have the cognitive function of make-belief? How do infants exist?”

“Easy. The rest of us believe in them for them, until they’re old enough to believe in themselves.”

“Sweet of us. So who was it who believed in the first babies?”

“Their parents, of course.”

“And where did the parents come from? Were they never babies?”

“Uh…” Oliver squinted at the wall, reviewing the math he’d set up for himself. “Well, look, nobody knows how it got started…”

“I do,” said Evan, setting down a pair of cards. “The Author wrote them, just as she wrote you and me.”

Oliver shook his head. “I don’t buy it. There’s just not enough evidence.”

Evan’s eyebrows rose. “You don’t think this is evidence?”

“What?”

“This dialogue. Our words appearing between quotation marks. The narration around them. It all smacks of Authorship!”

“There’s an explanation for that,” Oliver said vaguely.

“Is there likewise an explanation,” said Evan, “for how I’ve met the Author personally? How we’ve talked together, and laughed together, and how wholly adored I feel whenever she speaks my name?”

“Delusion?” Oliver offered.

Evan looked at him. “Why is my belief a delusion, while your belief is all that bars you from nonexistence? How is any one belief better than any other, unless one of those beliefs is truth? And if we’re dealing with a matter of truth, than what difference does anyone’s belief make?”

“Belief in something makes it true,” Oliver insisted.

“You obviously don’t believe that,” said Evan, “or you’d believe that my belief in the Author makes her true.”

“Yeah… well…” Oliver set his cards down in annoyance. “You know, you are really overcomplicating this.”

“I’ve been trying to simplify it. The truth is very simple: The Author wrote us – is writing us right now! – and will continue to do so until story’s end.”

“If the Author’s so all-powerfully awesome, why would she waste her time writing stories about fictional nobodies?” Oliver challenged.

Card Hand

Smiling, Evan answered, “Because she doesn’t count it a waste. This is what she loves. We are what she loves. And it would please her no end to have you love her, too, as I do.”

“Yeah, well,” Oliver grumbled, “she doesn’t talk to me, does she?”

Evan laughed. “She talks to you all the time! She talks to everything – even inanimate objects, to which she’ll temporarily assign personalities. She likes imaginative role-play. But we are more than a game to her. We are her characters. Her children. Her greatest creation, and her heart’s delight.”

“Then why does she let bad things happen to us?” Oliver demanded. “If you’re so much to her, why did she let you lose your phone?”

“I’d wondered that,” Evan admitted. “In my frustration over the loss, I asked her that myself.”

“Yeah? And what was her answer?”

“She wouldn’t tell me.”

“Ha!”

“But from the other room, you heard me asking,” said Evan. “And now here we are. I think that may be my answer: A plot device to bring you nearer to believing the truth.” Evan chuckled, and spoke as if to the air, “Clever Author.”

“NaNotes #3” or “The Ending That No One Saw Coming”

For National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’m chronicling my novel-writing journey! Need more NaNo in your life? Follow along. (:

(Parts #1 and #2 here, for those who want catching up.)

* * *

DAY TWENTY

10:21pm, Cali time: Well, here’s a twist. My protagonist, Singer, got fed up with me making such atypically slow progress on his story, and so took over the laptop and started making up a brand new story as he goes along. This will be interesting (in particular because, the instant Singer loses interest in whatever he’s writing, he drops it and takes the plot somewhere else), but I can’t complain: He threw down more words in the last couple hours than I have in the last couple days. So, okay – it’s all yours, Singer. May your writing efforts go more smoothly than mine have, since “So Super Dead”s end.

The face of the man who hijacked my NaNo…
as seen from two angles at once.

DAY TWENTY-ONE

9:52pm, Cali time: Random ridiculousness abounds, in this story of Singer’s. But it could be that we’re about to see a turn for the better. He is attempting, at least, to come up with some plot points that he can build upon, rather than just throw in and out with thoughtless abandon. And he’s actually taken time, in the last few hundred words, to artistically describe some things, rather than just skip over everything on the basis that it doesn’t matter (at all, or just to him). It could be that he’s beginning to take his story more seriously. I’m all for that, so long as it doesn’t slow down his creative pace; 5,375 words of questionable merit today!

 

DAY TWENTY-FIVE

10:54pm, Cali time: Just when I think I know what’s up, Singer changes the game again. The other day he surprised me by allowing one of his fellow characters to narrate a chapter of the book (the plot didn’t get furthered much, that day, though I must say that the character’s turn at the wheel intrigued me). Now today, that same character has talked Singer into abandoning his runaway novel and trying instead to write his real story – y’know, the one I was trying to write when I got hijacked. So I’ve spent the last part of today’s writing time typing up Singer’s version of about half of what I’d already written of his story for myself. Not a super interesting undertaking (been here, done that, y’know), though at the pace he’s been going, we’ll end up in new story territory sometime tomorrow, and that’ll be… weird. I’m really unaccustomed to writing “first drafty” first drafts, which I know this will be, because Singer’s not the writer I am. But, whatever, this is what he’s writing now, and it’s sorta, kinda what I was supposed to be writing at this point, so we’ll call this a win-win, for now. Time may tell a different tale.

DAY TWENTY-SIX

4:26pm, Cali time: Well, Singer and I are waving the white flag. I guess the experience of trying to write a novel on his own has caused him to view my efforts at crafting his story with a more empathetic eye. Neither of us want to spend the last days of November racing ahead on a project that nobody’s happy with, so he’s calling it quits on his authorial career, and I’ll take the time to do his novel right sometime down the road. I’m a bit disappointed that the back half of my NaNo has ended this way; it would have been so supremely satisfying to knock out two novels in a single month. But I can hardly look back on these last three-and-a-half weeks as a total failure. I’ve got “So Super Dead” to be pleased with, and have done myself proud with the number of words I’ve been able to squeeze out of me on an almost-daily basis. And even Singer’s partial novel isn’t a complete loss; some parts of it proved quite entertaining to write, and it’s given me some ideas for future stories. You can’t put a price on inspiration, I always say. (I’ve never said that. I may start saying it now, just for some measure of truth after the fact.) So I guess this is pretty much it for my National Novel Writing Month, 2012, with a full novel, some novels to come, and 79,806 words to show for it. And with the double-novel bar still un-reached, I guess that’ll be my challenge again next year. In the meantime, I’m ready for a few days off from noveling like a madperson. Anyone care to take bets on how long it takes for the old writing mania to crash my word vacation? (My money says I don’t make it through December.)

“NaNotes” or “So It Begins”

For National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’m chronicling my novel-writing journey! Need more NaNo in your life? Follow along. (:

* * *

DAY ONE

2am: Three-way phone call of a kickoff party = a great way to ring NaNo in right. Waiting until my west coast buddy’s time zone hit midnight = all very fun and stupid. My productivity window had pretty much closed an hour ago. An hour and a half = 600-some words of frustration before calling it a night.

10am – 1pm: After a good night’s sleep (ha-ha-ha-ha…), I reevaluated my progress, scrapped what I had and employed a voice switch. 2,298 much better words. What’s to thank? The change of narrative tone? A writing shift more in time with my internal clock? Relocation to my bedroom? (I’d been in another part of the house before.) Could be any, all, or none of the above, most probably a combination thereof. (Yay, rhyming! And I’m not even working on a minstrel book, this year.) Breaking for breakfast before a hunger headache derails me.

2-ishpm – 6pm: 4,226 words, and explicable exhaustion is rolling in. Since I’m going for two novels, this month, 4K seems like a safe daily word-count minimum. Yay! I’ve past that! And I’m having fun with the voice I’ve chosen. (Thank you, 1 main character of 3!) Unless I catch a second wind, this will probably be it for today. I’ll take it, and go to bed substantially earlier than I did last night (barring character drama; it happens).

DAY TWO

10:30am – 1:30pm: 2,207 words so far today. 2 of the 3 main characters have just met up; we’ll be introduced to the third when I come back in to start the next chapter. Both physically and mentally speaking, now’s a good time for me to take a break; body to care for, blog to post

3pm – 7pm (though it’s taken me ‘til almost 10pm to record this): I’m now up to 8,625 words all told, and tentatively feeling like a beast. I wrote a line towards the end of today’s work that made me honest-to-good laugh out loud. I posted it on my Ballad” Facebook page as the “line of the day”, a fun NaNo tradition I began while writing “Ballad” for my first-ever Writing Month. Some days there are a ton of lines I love to choose from; some days, none of them jump out at me; today, it was a no-brainer. …which is good, because I’d like to have my brain handy for tomorrow. Don’t want to lose momentum!

DAY THREE

10:30am – 1:30pm: Hmm, only 1,975 words so far today. Gonna have to step it up for my second shift. I know I’ve got days coming where I’ll have stuff to do beyond writing and getting just enough food and sleep to continue writing, so I wanna make sure I’ve got a nice, safe word cushion before then. I left things on the brink of an important action scene, so let’s see how much fun, drama, and verbiage I can wring out of that.

2:30pm6:30: New total of 13,018 words! That’s what I’m talking about! Assuming this book truly does end in the neighborhood of 50K, I’m a little over a quarter of the way through, now. Writer buddy Tirzah pleased me, upon my sharing this day’s additions to the story with her, by saying that she’s enjoying “So Super Dead” more than she expected she would. Something about how she hadn’t thought it would be the sort of plot she was interested in, but I’m managing to thoroughly entertain her. To which I say, “Boo-yah.” (:

DAY FOUR

8:00am – 1:00pm: 2,773 new words. Why I was wide [enough] awake and ready to go at such an hour, I don’t even know. Then again, we did set the clocks back at hour for the end of daylight-savings, last night, so I guess my brain thought it was 9am. …That still doesn’t explain my being awake. Guess I just wanted to get up and write!

2:00pm – 4:30pm: 4,509 words today (minus a sentence from yesterday, but whatever, it’s still the best writing day I’ve had yet), 17,563 all told! I expect that I’ll add more sometime this evening/tonight, somewhere in between finally practicing drills for sword-fighting class (*cough* which I’ve neglected all week *cough*) and watching the new episode of “Once Upon A Time”. It would feel quite satisfying to break 5K* in a day!

(*11:00pm: 5,603 / 18,656 at the last! And Tirzah says she likes my characters! Whoo-HOO!)

DAY FIVE

9:45am – 1:30pm: 2,504. This morning’s was a challenging section to write, because it was pretty much all conversation. I don’t have trouble with dialogue in and of itself; my characters always have something to say. It’s just a matter of making sure that their important conversations stay on track. Entertaining banter and dramatic arguments are great, but if they don’t move the story where it needs to go, what’s the use? I think the words spoken between these characters accomplished what they need to. I’ll know better once I run them past the beta.

2:30pm – 7:30pm: And our pre-edit total for the day is 5,565 / 24,285. What’s that? Editing during NaNo? Say it ain’t so! Be chill, it’s nothing major. Basically I just read back over what I’ve done for the day and put in missing words for the sake of complete sentences, or take out words that no longer belong there after I changed my mind halfway through a phrase. Occasionally I’ll think of whole new words/sentences/phrases that didn’t occur to me to add during my first rush through. So no, I’m not doing a perfect job of keeping my Inner Editor locked in the cellar; but – in part since she’s been mostly helping me to increase my word-count, this NaNo – I’ve no regrets.

* * *

And now to get back to my writing for Day Six…

Fellow Wrimos: How’s your NaNo going?