The Fear of an Aspiring Author

For several weeks, I nursed the ideas of a certain story.  Considering traits of my heroine.  Aspects of the story.  And finally, it all came together as the potential for a solid piece.  In my excitement of the birth of this brain child, I divulged some of the details of the plot line and characters to help hash out the details in the infrastructure of the soon to be trilogy.  I then set out on the daunting task of the back story in my first ever short story (to be released in mid June).

I went to see a friend the other night who is one of few who is privy to details about the novel which I am intending to write.  She has read aspects of the short story and understands basics of how it’s going to play into the full novel later.  When we were chatting, she asked if I was still intending to write the novels, citing that she thought I had a really interesting story to tell.  She was eager to see how it all plays out.

That got me thinking today.  I’ve really been procrastinating when it comes to actually putting my thoughts down on the proverbial paper.  My story is safe in my mind.  Free from criticism.  Free to be.  I feel inadequate to write it down, feeling that it holds so much depth and promise.  What if I don’t have what it takes to tell the story with the rich detail it deserves?  In a way, I feel a responsibility to my characters and the whole world of Cherished.  A responsibility not to fail.  I’m undeserving of the role I have assumed as their creator.  Undeserving and incompetent.

But, in reality, if I don’t tell the story, who will?

As I was sitting here today, considering those first, hardest words, I realized that my tight clutch and fear are really, actually, very selfish of me.  Do I mean to say that I think Cherished is going to be the next Harry Potter?  Do I expect any true monetary success from my writing?  Not really.  Allow me a moment to explain my claim.

Even if I do prove incompetent to tell the story that’s been haunting my waking hours, at least it’s still told.  Edits, re-edits, and beta-readers can help me shape it into the story that I envision it to be.  But if the story is never told, then it’s never given a chance.  It’s never given a chance to be enjoyed by another reader.  Never given a chance to develop.

I am realistic in my expectations of Cherished’s final development.  I understand that I probably won’t be the next Amanda Hawking or Stephanie Meyers.  But as an aspiring author, my hope is that just one person read my story and truly enjoy it.  I mean, one person curls up on the couch; kindle in hand, wrapped in a warm blanket and just gets lost in the world.  And truth be told, that ideal reader, that one person that I so long to please, is myself!

How self-righteous, right?  But seriously, how can I fail at telling a story when my goal is to write a story that I, myself, would enjoy?  If other’s read Cherished and find joy, that’s an added bonus, and one that I hope may become true.  But not my goal.  So my selfishness in holding onto my story, never letting it take shape and life, afraid that it may not meet critic’s standards.  That selfishness, is nothing more than excuse.  An excuse not to try.  And an excuse behind which I will no longer hide.  I have spent too many hours making excuses rather than find reasons to write.  That ends!

The only way I can fail Cherished is to not write it.  And that’s not an option!

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Published in: on 06.11.2011 at 5:48 pm  Comments (8)  

#SampleSunday April 3, 2011

Rebecca often spoke to me about her dreams and the dreams I would one day have.  I longed for the darkness when I could surrender to a deep slumber and allow my dreams of foggy uncertainty to consume me.  I searched them. For what, I didn’t know.  But I searched still.  She promised me meaning.  She promised understanding, and despite the years that passed with none, I knew her promises were true.

In the days following Abbott’s confession, the opaque emptiness of my dreams began to take more shape.  My reality, my future, was hidden in the thick haze, just out of reach.  For many nights, I searched the darkness, certain understanding would soon be found.  The nights passed, yielding little more than desperation.

After a fortnight of searching, the mist that danced around me, the darkness began to take shape.  Before me stood a man generously blessed in his appearance.  I reveled in his commanding presence.  His dark cotton shirt draped from his shoulders, with the loose lacing revealing the strength in his muscular chest.  His dark pants and boots where thick with evidence of travel, though his posture seemed free from fatigue.  His hair hung to his shoulder with a slight curl around the clasp of his traveling clock.  We stood and watched one another—never speaking, never moving closer—until the morning stole my slumber.

The hours in which I was awake were torture; I craved the darkness.  I craved the man whom it concealed.  I found comfort gazing upon his silhouette.  For many years, the churning emptiness gave way too little, but now it birthed hope and peace.  He and I met nightly, always the same.  Always in silence.  I searched the dream for comprehension of the mission my sister left to me, unsure who the man was or his purpose with me.  Each night, I searched for his eyes, the only description my sister left me of the man who I was to trust.  But he hid his eyes in the shadows, revealing nothing to me.    The knowledge I did have reassured me; Rebecca knew this man, she sent me to me.

The nights turned into weeks. Excitement flittered through my veins as the darkness would begin to envelope me for I knew it will lead me again to him.    I knew not to approach him, lest I scare him away, never moving near enough to chase the shadows from his face.   Rebecca promised he would come to me.  So I met him in my dreams and I waited.

The days became more laborious as I longed for the night.  I knew my affair with my dreams was unnatural, an abomination, but I cared not.  As I walked through town, I could feel the cobblestones beneath my feet, but was otherwise unaware of my surroundings.  My muscles followed the familiar path to the market each morning and my mind wondered.  I was vaguely aware that my obsession would be enough to upset my sister, but I was unable to break free from it.

 

Published in: on 04.03.2011 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

March 20 Sample Sunday

I have included a bit of my novella.  It’s untitled still and unedited.  I would love any feedback you have to offer!  Please leave comments.

 

Excerpt from Untitled Cherish Prequel

The scent of cherry blossoms wafted in from the open window as I lie in bed awake.   The morning was dawning, and Rebecca and I had a busy day planned of picking wild flowers.  Eagerness danced over my skin as I watched my sister sleep.  The child in me wanted to wake her to hasten the start of our day, but even at twelve, I knew a quiet sleep mustn’t be disturbed, especially for Rebecca.

Rebecca often spoke of her dreams.  She was sparing with the details to “protect maturing minds,” she would tell me, but I knew they connected her to events yet to pass.  Sometimes, her dreams frightened her, others offered peace.  But for a fortnight or more, her accounts have been darker and her eyes vacant when she spoke about what was seen.  That morning, Rebecca’s features were serene and her breathing came easily.  I watched my sister for seconds or hours.  The passage of time eluded me.

I felt safe in her quietness and allowed my mind to wander about the day to come.  Rebecca was ten years my senior and our time together was uncommon.  Not from want, rather she had responsibilities which required tending.  A day together to frolic mindlessly was an extravagance to be treasured.  A special day not to be ruined.

With a sharp breath gasping for air, my mind was yanked from my musing.  Rebecca’s body had gone rigid and her fingers were tangled in her bed linens.  Her breathing was ragged and uneven.  The tension in her muscles was visible, and she began to quiver.  I threw myself from my bed to hers to try to raise her from the terror that had shattered my perfect morning.

“Sister,” I called to her.  “Sister, please wake up.”  Rebecca’s sleep was deep, and I was unable to wake her.  I wished for a mother or a father to whom I could beg for help, but had neither.  Hugging my knees to my chest while tears fell freely, I continued to call to her.

Abruptly, Rebecca’s body lurched from the bed as she shot awoke with a start.  Her breathing was deep and unsteady.  With her fingers intertwined still in the linens, her knuckles were white and her muscles tense.  I tried to find my sister beneath the sheen of sweat that covered her horrified expression, but her vacant eyes and deathly pallor bore no resemblance to the beautiful, fun-loving sister I watched sleep only moments ago.

And then, Rebecca returned to me.

She blinked her eyes.  Once.  Twice.  Concern washed away her fear and her eyes turned soft when then found me.  “Hannah,” she spoke softly reaching out to me.  When I was close enough, she pulled me into a hug tracing circles on my back.  “It’s okay, Hannah.”  Her soothing tones did little to comfort my uneasy spirit but my tears ceased falling.

“You scared me” I declared through sobbing breaths.

“Silly, Hannah.  Worry not.  It’s a beautiful day, and there is much for us to do.”  Desperately wanting to believe her words, I smiled in response.  Rebecca’s expression was as forced as mine, but we both pretended not to notice.  We sat silently on the edge of the mattress as she arranged a neat plait down my back.  Taking my hand, she led me into the kitchen.  “Let us make a wonderful breakfast for such a great morning.  Go fetch us some fresh eggs.”

“Sister,” my voice was hesitant, but I would no longer ignore the fear in her eyes.  “You dreamed again.  A frightening dream.  I see it in your eyes.”

“Save your fear for a more worthy cause, little one.  Today is a day for strength and courage.  Run along and fetch what I requested.”  Carefully, she placed an encouraging kiss on my forehead and led me to the back door.  I stole a glance over my shoulder; sensing things weren’t as she said they would be.  Rebecca wiped a tear from her cheek as she returned to the house.

I was quick to bring back the eggs, afraid that when I returned, my sister would be gone.  To my surprise and relief, Rebecca waited for me in the kitchen.  She still had the false smile that I continued to pretend I didn’t notice.  We ate an enjoyable breakfast hardly speaking a word.

As I cleared the table, she spoke to me again, “Run ahead to the field of flowers, Hannah.  I will join you if I can.”

I heard the if in her statement.  Understanding wasn’t lost on me, even so young.   I knew what the dream had foretold in that moment.  Rebecca would not be joining me in the fields.  She would be leaving me today forever.

Steeling myself for the day to come, I hugged Rebecca and placed a kiss on her cheek before leaving.  Showing her my strength would help her face the dreaded events the day would bring.  She watched me walk away.  I turned to her and waved.  “I love you, Rebecca,” I whispered to the openness around me knowing the words would be unheard.

I waited in the field as the sun made it ascent into the heavens.  A gentle breeze danced with the tall grasses and wild flowers as clouds of soft cotton floated in the sky.  Sounds from the village rode the winds to find me in the field.  Chaos and fear were chased by resonating celebration and joy.  Sounds contradicting the emotions warring within me, for I knew the disorder was caused by speculations about Rebecca’s witchcraft. The excitement celebrated her death.

While in the fields of flowers, I matured beyond my years and returned to my empty home as young lady.  Rebecca prepared me for the day when I would be on my own.  I knew my responsibilities and my role.  There was no room for despair or fear.   I tended to my household chores and retired before the sun set.

Rest upon my pillow laid an envelope and a single azure morning-glory blossom.

 

Published in: on 03.20.2011 at 12:54 am  Comments (6)  

Short Stories

For months now, I’ve been playing around with ideas for my first novel. My husband and his friend decided to create a blog, Twisted Lexicon, for short stories, book reviews, and other book related posts, and my husband suggested that I write a short story to post on the blog when it’s up and running. I had a couple of ideas that I could share with the boys, but I thought my first step would be to write the prologue for my first novel. I thought I would share a bit of that here. Let me know what you think!

Untitled Short Story

“Miss Bishop?” The urgency in the man’s voice was palatable, but I kept walking. “Miss Bishop, I must speak with you immediately. What I have to say is of great importance, and we mustn’t delay.” He grabbed my shoulder to stop me.

“I don’t know you, sir. I don’t know what business you have with me.” I knew the man only by what others have told me about him. He’s a businessman in town. Mr. Samuel Abbott. Wealthy. Important. A doctor.

“Hannah. Please.” His voice softened, taking the tone of a man’s dying wish. Was he actually dying?

“Yes, sir.” I conceded to give him a moment of my time. He nodded, a sighed in what I hope was relief as he grabbed my hand dragged me into a nearby saloon.

“Mr. Abbott,” the barman nodded his welcome, his eyes widening when he saw Abbott’s fingers laced through mine.

“William. I need a room in which I won’t be disturbed.”

“Surly,” the owner said as he led us behind the bar of the empty saloon. He led us down a long hallway. Unlocking the last door, he whispered to Mr. Abbott, “It’s not my business, sir. But your wife. Mary is a wonderful woman and I know she adores you.”

“Don’t be a fool, William. And do not project your perversion on me. Miss Bishop and I have business to discuss. For your life’s sake, you must forget we were here.”

“Yes, sir.” Slightly embarrassed by his verbal lashing, William bowed before leaving. “There is a door to the alley across the hall if you wish a more private exit, Mr. Abbott.”

As Mr. Abbott paced the room, seemingly searching for courage to tell me why he brought me here, I recalled all the time I saw this man in the street and he fled from me. I came to accept that this man hated me for reasons beyond my control. Many people in the town hated me. That’s the fate to be expected when nearly 12 years ago your sister is hanged because she’s a suspected witch.

 

Published in: on 03.13.2011 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment