Friday Poetry: “Monopoly”

Spun 18 October, 2013 / Filed under Archive

Hey everybody!

It’s Friday. Thank goodness.

I got halfway through editing a chapter of FH today before realizing there are some painfully gaping holes in the plot line. So I took a break to a) write this blog post and b) go back and repair said holes. I have a feeling tonight is going to be one of those nights where I stay up until 3 AM writing. It’s a career hazard – I think at this point I have coffee instead of blood running through my veins. ;)

Will let y’all know how today’s and the weekend’s edits go on Monday! :) Until then, enjoy today’s poem – Monopoly. Have a great weekend, everyone!

love,
Topaz

Monopoly

Sometimes the only thing I want
is to go back
back
back in time
Back to when the only thing
that mattered
was who got the lucky wheelbarrow
in Monopoly.

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Oblivion

Spun 16 October, 2013 / Filed under Archive

Hello, lovelies – this is the short scene I wanted to share with you based on the word “oblivion”. More info on the scene and some FH updates are in this post! As always, be sure to let me know what you think and any feedback is welcome.

The flat seems so lonely now that he has left. Ghosts of cobwebs shiver in corners; his belongings are scattered throughout the room, gathering a thin layer of dust. I cannot bring myself to move them, even though I know he would be appalled to see them neglected in this way; it is as if doing so will somehow cement the idea that he is not coming back. This, I cannot face – even though I know it to be true. He is gone, in the deepest sense of the word.

I sit, staring at the dust dancing in the light of the dying sun. These days seem so long now, without his presence to thwart the loneliness. The shadows creep up, never ending, until finally I am sitting in a darkened room. Unmoving; alone, as ever. Before him, alone and lonely had two different meanings; now that he has left, they are one and the same. He has carved out a hollow space inside my heart, and I do not know when – or if – it will ever be filled.

Suddenly I cannot bear to stay in this empty flat. There is but one person I know of who might ease this grief; one person who knew him as I did.

The door is unlocked; it gives a groaning creak as I push it open, as if it too can feel the undertone of silent suffering in me. His brother is sitting in the soft armchair; a teacup rests on the coffee table in front of him. His home is clean, almost violently so; it is a stark contrast from mine. As I walk in, he looks up as if expecting me and gestures to the empty chair across from his, on the other side of the table.

We sit in silence.

Finally I can bear it no longer. I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind: “I didn’t see you at the funeral today.”

He makes no answer; he has no need to. I was a fool to expect him to come, I know; and yet, although he and his brother were never on the best of terms, perhaps he might have at least made an exception for the final glory.

At once, I am furious at him; sitting calmly across from me, as I have seen him on so many other days, as if nothing has changed. His expression is unreadable, impassive; a far cry from my struggle to conceal my desire to slap him. I clench my fists and whisper, through gritted teeth, “Do you care at all?”

He does not need to ask what I mean; but as he looks at me, I see no change of his pristine expression, no hint that there is something lying underneath. “You knew him better than I did,” he tells me, picking up his teacup and taking a sip.

It is true, of course, and yet somehow I cannot let go of the rage against him. I need someone to blame; and it is easy to target him, his face devoid of all signs of emotion. “You could just show the slightest bit of… something,” I hiss. “You’re like… like some sort of machine.”

And as I gaze at him, waiting for a response, something in his face slips for the slightest second. The mask he has so carefully cultivated is thrown off by my callous words. He whispers into the still, quiet air, “You’d be surprised.”

Perhaps he does not realize that he has said it aloud; perhaps he does not know that I have heard it. In any case, his words are not meant for me. He does not speak again.

He makes no reaction as I stand to leave. As the door closes behind me, I catch a final glimpse of him. His eyes are shadowed; his fingers are entwined on his lap. There is no expression on his face. The walls have been erected once more; there is no sign that they were ever down. Yet somehow, that one moment of raw emotion on his face speaks more to me than a thousand empty words.

I leave him like this – the cup of tea growing cold as he stares into oblivion.

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Frozen Hearts Goals

Spun 16 October, 2013 / Filed under Archive

Hey everybody!

I had a chance to work on editing FH today – got through the first couple of chapters and they’re much better now, to my relief ;) As I mentioned yesterday, two of my major goals in this are strengthening my descriptions and character development. Of course, as the writer of the book, I know every single thing about the characters – their looks, personalities, funny little mannerisms. But in my writing I’ve noticed that I tend to assume the reader knows it too, which of course they don’t. So that’s the first thing – making sure I include descriptions of the characters, the settings, etc. The second thing is making sure my characters are not the same at the end as they were at the beginning; that is, character development. I think I do a pretty good job of this already, but I want the development to be more gradual, almost so that the reader hardly notices it until the finale.

Will let y’all know how those play out as I edit further, but for now I decided to do a little exercise to work on both of these. I wrote a short scene in 20 minutes, making sure I focused on both descriptions and character development; the scene was based on a single word: oblivion. I’m quite pleased with the results, so I thought I’d share them with you. :)

The characters are not named and I won’t give you any more information on the scene, but see if you can pick out what the context was – and let me know how you think I did! ;) I’ll post it in a new post as it’s quite long. :)

love,
Topaz

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Top Ten: Pet Peeves (Writer Edition)

Spun 15 October, 2013 / Filed under Archive

Hey all!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to work as much on FH as I’d have liked to today. This was owing mostly to my parents’ dragging me out of my room to go to the mall for the greater part of the day and to the fact that I finally began a Chinese essay that I was supposed to have started working on a week ago. (Whoops!)

So that was a bit disappointing, but the good news is I’ve decided on two main writing goals that I’ll be keeping in mind during the editing process: strengthening my descriptions and character development. I’ll be writing more on these goals in tomorrow’s post, so keep an eye out for that! ;)

For today, I thought I’d continue the mini-series I had going on from last week’s Top Ten Tuesday – since last week I talked about readers’ pet peeves, this week I’ll be ranting about writers’. ;) This topic is, of course, quite relevant to me at this point in time, and I’m sure some of you writers out there will also identify with some of these annoyances!

love,
Topaz

Top Ten: Pet Peeves (Writer Edition)

1. Distractions
You know when you’re really getting into your writing… and you’re coming to a scene you’ve been looking forward to for a long time… and you’re typing faster and faster and faster, your fingers flying over the keyboard… and your eyes are wide and you’re breath is coming in gasps… and suddenly you hear a knock on the door, rudely jarring you out of the creative world? Distractions! I personally am distracted by almost anything and therefore need complete silence (or piano music, whichever is readily available) to work. But still, I can’t even count the times I’ve been interrupted in the middle of my writing – and it drives me further and further towards insanity every single time.

2. The Search for the Right Word
I don’t know if this is just me, or if everybody experiences it, but there are certain instances when I have a sentence and there is the perfect word to fit into it… but I just can’t think of it. The word is sitting in the back corners of my mind, dusty and forgotten and covered in cobwebs, but I can’t seem to call it up. The worst is when I know for sure that that one word would make the entire sentence a million times better, but in the end, after I’ve been sitting there for 10 minutes with my eyes squeezed shut trying out different letter combinations, I finally give in and use a word that isn’t nearly as brilliant as the one I just couldn’t remember.

3. Writer’s Block
This, I don’t even have to go into much detail about. I know some writers say that ‘writer’s block doesn’t exist’, but I can safely dispel that theory. Say what you wish, but the syndrome of staring at a blank sheet of paper and finding absolutely nothing can be one of the most terrifying experiences in a writer’s career. No one knows when writer’s block blows over, or how to cure it – simply taking two pills after breakfast and sleeping it off does not work in this case. A friend of mine whom had just begun to get into writing and had shown quite a knack for it once came up to me and informed me a quavering voice that she was afraid that she had lost her skill. When I enquired what the cause was, she listed the symptoms and we were able to determine it was a simple case of writer’s block. It strikes beginning and advance writers across the globe, and it is ridiculously infuriating.

4. Deadlines
Okay, so I’ll admit it – I’m a terrible procrastinator. Deadlines tend to sneak up on me. It’s as if one moment the deadline is months away, and BAM! – whoa whoa whoa, was I supposed to finish that chapter tomorrow?! I’ve really tried to cut down on the procrastination when it came to FH and I’m proud to say that I have been partially successful, but I’m still struggling with the debilitating effects of deadlines. Of course, as I’m self-publishing FH, all my deadlines are self-set – but that only makes it more devastating as I watch them creep closer and closer until they finally spring up and attack me. I think Douglas Adams can convey my feelings about these beauties much better than I can: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing noise they make as they fly by.”

5. Lined Notebooks
I believe I have summed up my never-ending struggle with lined notebooks in the epic journey known as A Father’s Mission (or, The Quest for the Unlined Notebook).

6. Dishonest Critiquers
Although I may have numerous faults as a writer, I’m very happy to say that I cannot include myself in the group known as the Dishonest Critiquers. These are the types of people that look over every single piece of writing they will ever see and say one of two things; either: “Oh my GOD! That is just completely perfect! I swear it’s the BEST book I have EVER seen in my entire LIFE! Like, I so totally need your autograph. OMG!” or: “You call this piece of junk ‘writing’? Dude, I think you need to re-evaluate your career options, ’cause plumbing would be better suited for you than trying to shape this mess into something vaguely resembling a book.”  Both types of critiquers can have an equally devastating effect on a writers’ life – the first, in delusioning them into thinking they can do no wrong and the second, in delusioning them into thinking they can do no right.

7. Repetition
This is more of something I do than something others do – I find that in my writing I tend to repeat certain words, phrases, and sometimes even sentence structures, over and over again. In FH, the word I used in almost every other paragraph was some variant of power: power, powerful, powerless, etc. (That does tell you something about the book, now that I think of it… ;)) Just a word of warning to writers: do go back and check to see that you’re not making the same mistake. I fully intend to attack the manuscript with a thesaurus in hand once I can get around to editing, and change all the powers to something a bit less repetitive.

9. Vanishing Ideas
This happens to me in both writing and songwriting – a brilliant idea strikes (often in the middle of the night) and I struggle to hang onto it as I grapple for a pen to scrawl it into my notebook. Alas – by the time pen is poised over paper, the idea has vanished as quickly as it appeared. These tiny gems rarely crop up, but when they do it is futile to try and capture them in the nets of our stories. I maintain my theory that most, if not all, of the world’s bestselling books were created by people who found ways to snare one of these vanishing ideas. One of these days I hope to join them. ;)

9. First Drafts
I believe I covered all of my frustration with first drafts when I went back and read FH from top to bottom for the first time yesterday… click here for the full commentary.

10. Judgmental Strangers
Can I just say: if you’re somebody who knows absolutely nothing about me apart from the fact that I like to write, what right do you have to judge me? Case in point: a couple of days ago I was talking to a friend of a friend. I casually mentioned that I was a writer and guess what response I got? “Ugh, do you know how many people say that? No offense, but maybe you should try out some different hobbies.” (*insert exasperated eye roll here*) Okay, so first off – this person hadn’t even seen any of my writing. Secondly – even if she had and decided that it wasn’t really her thing, who was she should she tell me to stop doing something I love to do? Ignorant, judgmental strangers really get to me, mostly because they know zip, zero, zilch about me and probably wouldn’t care even if they did.

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