Writing Anxieties

I feel like a ghost. I pass through the rooms of the house with no words, no touch, unseen.

I was excited about my writing earlier today. I got to an important part in my book, where I’m outlining the mythology of the world, in particular Yggdrasil and the Norns, I’m not sticking strictly to canon. My story is pulling elements from multiple mythologies and I’m throwing in some things of my own creation. Add to that secret messages of a sort, and it’s a big, complicated deal. At the end of this section, they will have a better idea of what to do next and will start the next part.

So I wrote for a while, and when trying to work out the cosmology in my head, I went to refresh my memory of Yggdrasil. That’s one complicated, busy, bigass tree. But there are echoes of it through various cultures and times, with sacred trees and world trees and even the cross from Christianity. I had all these thoughts zooming around and I was buzzed about it. But I have no one to bounce these ideas off of. I think every writer probably is critical of their work and has self doubts. I have them a lot. I didn’t submit my poetry anywhere for years because of it. When a friend talked me into it and my work was accepted at multiple places, I think that scared me because I didn’t submit again for another ten years. By that time internet submissions were common and I really started working on it. I was published in a lot of places and had two collections released. But then when I became disabled I quit… I just didn’t realize it was the meds. I thought it was just that I was fighting to survive and keep my house. Maybe it was a bit of both.

So yeah. I was all excited and really wanted someone to bounce these ideas off of and have them tell me if they sucked or not. Because I had a flash of “What if what I’m writing is complete crap” itis. I’m afraid I’m going to screw it up and will have a confusing mess in this section rather than the eloquently worded, exquisitely crafted, yet illuminating and very clear paragraphs that I want. I’m still not comfortable with dialog either. I’m always worried that they sound unnatural. I also get discouraged because I think about all the time I should have been writing, but was busy with other life things. I keep telling myself that better now than never, and that’s true, but God I hope I get through this and that it’s good. I know most novelists write several books before having any success, if they ever have success. I know that after I get it written I have to submit it to publishing houses (and not online) that will probably throw it in a slush pile somewhere. Still, I have to hope.

I have a tendency to get ahead of things and reading that last paragraph, that’s what I’m doing now. I don’t need to worry about all that crap. I just need to write it. Everything else will come after.

 

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The Minotaur pt 2

My back is hurting a LOT today, and I’m quite frustrated because it’s nice out and I want to be out doing stuff. However, it hurts to even sit up so I’m not feeling very capable at the moment. I did some more writing yesterday, and then today just wrote a few paragraphs. I really hope I can pick up the pace at some point soon.

So, I was talking about the minotaur. Has anyone read “House of Leaves”? It’s been a couple of years since I read it last but I remember the minotaur being in red, I think? It was symbolic of course, and being lost in the expanding hallways of the house would correspond to the labyrinth. I’ve read that book twice. It is quite a task to read for those uninitiated, but worth it. It builds such a sense of creeping dread throughout it, and his use of all the visual tricks helps put you in his frame of mind. Anyway, that’s me going off on a tangent.

What strikes me about the minotaur is how he must have felt. I am empathizing with him, of course. He is portrayed as a monstrous beast to be killed, and he is monstrous, but maybe not always. He was born a prince, born Asterion, of the stars. As a child he was loved by his mother, but shunned by the man he thought was his father. Or did he think and feel like a human child? Even if his thoughts were alien and strange, all creatures deserve kindness. He did not sin to be born such as he was. Could he speak or were his vocal cords only capable of producing the bleats of a calf?

As a child, he would have been lonely, chasing the other children through the palace, wanting to play. And they would have run screaming. As he got a little older, his shunning more complete, that loneliness would have curdled into hate. His hate would grow with his hunger, until he attacks.

The first child was found crumpled in the courtyard, and they turned to him. Asterion was blood drunk and innocent, and spoke of his hunger. He was just a child. Pasiphae wept, but the King was adamant. Such a creature had no place in his kingdom, growing stranger with the years.

So he was thrown in the labyrinth, with moving walls, kept prisoner by the same magic of his birth. Alone in the dark for so long, I wonder how he reacted with the first sacrifice of seven boys and seven girls. I wonder if he feasted or if he rationed them. Did he try to befriend any of them there in the dark? If he did, it wouldn’t have lasted. By the time of the second sacrifice, he had plans. Either eat them or ally them, if he could control his hunger.

Theseus came with the third batch of tributes. He was arrogant and vain, assured of his own immortality. He would not have been curious about Asterion. He would have seen him as a trophy to his own greatness, no more. By that time, all those years alone in the dark, the minotaur had gone ever stranger and I wonder how much of a fight he would have put up. Sure, our hero claims to have fought a mighty battle with the beast, but he would, wouldn’t he? Maybe he wound his way through the moving halls to find Asterion already dead by his own hand. Maybe he didn’t find Asterion, but was found by Asterion, taken by surprise, and surprised again when the minotaur asked for death. I think the last one is more likely.

Pain

I am a pain patient. That means I’m in pain most of the time and that I’m on pain meds. This is from a ruptured disk that left me with nerve damage. I have good days and bad. Then I have a bad knee that goes out when it wants to. Of course it’s the leg with the least nerve damage, so it sort of evens things out. The knee is one of the minor things though, in that it goes out, and I’ll be staggering around for a week or so and then it will behave until the next time. I am lucky that those are not frequent since it was operated on.

Then there’s the necrotizing fasciitis. That was a couple of years ago but I’ve had pain from the scar tissue ever since, and now I think there might be a hernia in there too, just to add to the fun. I see a Doc about that next week to finally get that taken out. It’s a major operation and I don’t know how long recovery will be. I’ll find out when I see him. After the NF, I was very leery to be operated on again but the scar tissue thing is ridiculous. I was on a wound vac for two months and had bi-weekly debridements, so there is a LOT of scar tissue. My stomach aches pretty much all the time, and when I’ve been more active than usual it swells up so much that it gets itchy from the skin being pulled tight. Hell, sometimes it does that for no particular reason that I can discern.
My C spine also has damage, and right now it feels like a herniated disc, again. I can barely move my head.  My neck is getting worse the older I get and I fear it might need surgery too eventually. For now I’m just hoping that not moving it for a few days will help. So yeah, I’m in rough shape right now.

I don’t talk about these things often. I doubt if anyone wants to hear them, and you can’t really know what it’s like for another person. Everyone is different. I’ve had several Doctors tell me that I have a very high pain tolerance, and Doctors are notorious for lacking empathy with pain in their patients. This is not to say that I’m full of grace when in severe pain, I’m not. I may or may not have been known to scream bloody murder to help alleviate pain. But if I mention being in pain, I sometimes get the impression that whoever I mention it to thinks I’m just bitching. So I don’t mention it unless I’m not thinking about it, and then if I don’t mention it I think they assume I’m not in pain. I know I’m not the only person who has this experience with others. Mostly I don’t worry about what others may think but once in a while it does hurt my feelings or anger me. Mostly I keep it to myself.

So, I’m on pain meds and really don’t like taking them. When they first put me on them, they tried various things. Some of them worked, but made me feel slow and stoned, which I absolutely hated. We  settled on a long acting pain med that did wonders. A few months ago we cut it in half. I volunteered to, for several reasons. One being the crackdown currently being played out over the “opioid epidemic”. As a result of this, they’ve come up with this handy little scale saying how much pain meds you can have. Because you know, they know better than the Doctors. Politicians being politicians and meddling with things they know absolutely nothing about is never good. So of course they didn’t account for long term pain patients or even cancer patients. Nice, huh? So according to their scale I’m still over, but if this scale hits my insurance it will be a little easier to come off it at a lower dose. The second reason is just not liking them. I don’t feel effects from them other than pain relief, but they’re strong meds so they have to be doing something, right? I have a ridiculously good memory but sometimes I can’t remember a word I’m thinking of. Stupid stuff like that drives me nuts and I think it’s the meds. And there’s the thing with writing. Because I don’t feel side effects it didn’t occur to me that the meds might be stifling my creativity. And I still don’t know for sure if it does, but I’m writing again after ten years.  It may be coincidence. I’m just grateful.
I have been writing every day, even if it’s just a little bit. It’s going slow, and part of it is that I keep going off on research tangents. But I’m immersed in it and that makes me happy. Between that and my art shop, they keep me busy, but I need to spend more time away from the computer. I want to keep the momentum going. I want to write a book, and then another book, and another. So naturally I wonder what I might be able to accomplish if I went off the meds completely. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’d be able to think past the pain. So I’ll take what I can for now. I fear that for recovery from surgery I’ll be on a higher dose again. I’ll keep trying to write, but I have this fear that I’ll lose momentum with the pain from surgery and the pain meds.
That’s it for now I think.

 

The forest

The forest was ancient. It was mostly a species of oak, with wide boles and twisted, gnarled, and grasping branches covered with dark green leaves. They rustled to themselves whether there was a breeze or not and lifted limbs to the sky to swallow the sunlight. Very little light made it past their greedy canopy of leaves. The old bark was fissured, with a carpet of moss growing up the base of most of the trees. Lichens and strange epiphytes grew on the trees, containing colonies of ants, spiders, beetles and other insects Raina could not identify.

As they walked, the thick carpet of fallen leaves muffled the sound of their footfalls. Ferns and terrestrial orchids grew in abundance in the rich soil and the occasional shrub grew spindly reaching for the light. There were some understory trees. One she did not recognize, but it was covered with elaborate white blossoms that hung from the branches in delicate rows that drooped to the forest floor. She was startled by a bright blue butterfly that came zagging through the forest to insert its proboscis into the tree’s blossoms. When the butterfly closed its wings, she saw that the underside was a dull brown that blended in perfectly with the forest. Raina caught herself smiling in delight and quickly looked to see if the others had seen her.

It smelled wonderful here, with only the natural smells of the forest plants, decaying leaves and rich soil. She breathed in deeply and felt the knot in her chest loosening a little. The birds made a constant babble in the trees overhead and she’d see them winging from one to another as they went about building their nests and caring for their young. She had seen a species of black squirrel scolding them from the safety of a branch and voles peeping through a break in their tunnels beneath the leaves. She found the forest beautiful and wondered at the creature that had attacked her the previous night.

She checked her phone, but wasn’t surprised to see it still didn’t have a signal. On reflection, she didn’t think she was even disappointed. She knew her mother would be freaking out by now but a small part of her thought it would serve her right. She missed her friend Allie and looked forward to telling her all about this weirdness when she made it home.

~A description of the current setting… I think writing these is a good way to get back in the habit.

Story, dialog and Martians

“So in reality, we aren’t walking down this road together,” Rena continued. “In reality, we are in the Martian’s laboratory and they’re just projecting the images we’re seeing.” She had been telling Dawn about the Ray Bradbury story she had just read. They had met up at the clearing in the woods known as “The Place”. They often went there to get away from the prying eyes of adults, to smoke cigarettes and whatever weed they had been able to score, and to tell each other their secrets. Later, they had decided to walk down to the little store for sodas. It was a beautiful Saturday in June and school would be out in a week.
“But I can feel my feet on the road” Dawn said doubtfully.
“Ah, you think you can because they pulled that sensation out of your memory with their telepathic abilities. Actually, we’re walking on the surface of Mars, and it’s like 15 feet lower than we think we are now.”

“So we’re walking in mid-air,” Skeptical now.

“No, we’re walking on Mars, across the Martian desert, but we think we’re walking up this hill on this road in Maryland. We think we see those houses over there, and these trees, and we think we hear those birds, but it’s all an illusion pulled from our memories. In reality, on Mars, it’s completely flat, no hills, and we’re walking across this red plain, but we think we’re on this road going up and down.” Dawn looked around doubtfully.

“But I can feel it,” she said, bending over and touching the pavement. She was high and was a bit wobbly standing back up, grabbing Rena for support and sending the two girls into giggles.

“Pulled from your memories. They perfectly replicated what you would expect to see, feel and hear so you have no reason to suspect that you’re really on Mars.”

“But why?”

“I think it’s an experiment.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They abducted us and now they’re running tests on their pet humans. They lull us into complacency so we think that we’re just living our lives like normal, but the whole time they’re observing us, so act like you don’t know.” Rena was really getting into it now because she could see her friend was starting to get a little freaked out.

“They’re watching us? Well what are they going to do when they’re finished studying us?” Dawn was getting more anxious by the minute.

“In the story they killed them.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They took them back to what they thought were their homes, because it looked just like their homes. The Martians were disguised as their family, people they know, and there was no way to tell.” Dawn had started crying, setting Rena off into another round of giggles.

“Why are you laughing? They’re going to kill us!” It took a herculean effort for Rena to get her giggles down to snickers.

“When we go home we should act like we don’t know. Act like they’re your real family and that everything is normal.”

“We should run,” Dawn whispered. The two girls looked at each other and suddenly sprinted down the rural road, past the disapproving glare of Mrs. Beckerson where she stood in her front yard watering her garden.

“Martian!” Dawn screamed as she ran past the old lady. At that they both burst into laughter, laughing so hard they had to stop outside the store to catch their breath.

They walked into the store under the watchful eyes of Mr. Patel. The friends exchanged glances and smirked. After they paid for their sodas the girls slowly started back. The subject changed to school and their love lives and the girls made plans to meet up again the following day.

“Watch out for Martians!” Rena yelled, walking backwards down the lane. Dawn waved as she headed for home.