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    1. October Tildes Writing Club

      My further apologies to anyone who has looked forward to another Writing Club while I was busy running from a cruel summer. Finally stationary, I send this from the bewitched region of Galicia,...

      My further apologies to anyone who has looked forward to another Writing Club while I was busy running from a cruel summer. Finally stationary, I send this from the bewitched region of Galicia, Spain.

      I've wandered into a church of horrors recently, at 10 pm, completely ignorant of the liturgical occasion for it standing open and illuminated at that time of night. An elfin woman in a sweatshirt spotted me and my wife as we took in a St. Sebastian statue.

      "Come take your photos of this!" she said, and drew us toward a glowing pit under the tabernacle. Besides a priest scribbling behind a cracked door we were the only souls stirring. I kept him in view as we climbed the steps to the high altar.

      "Is this OK... are we OK here?" asked my wife, in sparse Castilian.

      "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes," replied the churchwoman. I'm learning that such verbal generosity is typical here.

      What she led us to was the sacred center of the church, the relic over which swarmed a hundred angel heads, pewter candelabras, attendant saints and golden aureole. But they were above ground. Beneath the floor it stood, lit extremely: a worn, worn, sea-washed stone, about the size of a cocooned 10-year old child. Coins rested in a depression at its crown. It bore a jumble of an inscription in a font you could count on James Cameron to pick if he had to display an "ancient curse." What or whom the monolith hallowed was beyond our powers to decipher or the churchwoman's to explain. But it seemed older than the cross barely scratched into it. Somehow I knew it had stood apart for millennia. It was the sick feeling it provoked in me, the reflexive reverence it forced from someone. Down the aisle a Mater Dolorosa wept tears like glue beads into her properly black Spanish dress. St. Lucy served her eyeballs on a platter. An underlighted St. Iago trampled moors unlucky enough to have been caught inside the glass case with him and his white charger. The viscera of belief.

      We left without understanding, and the lady promptly shut the doors to us and the night.

      The stone might have moored a ship purported to have carried St. Iago to Spain. Its letters might signify a dedication to Neptune. It may have come from a flooded temple.

      Surely these are elements for an eerie tale, but this was merely my birthday on a full-moon night in Spain.

      And now I would really like to read some Halloween writing. Please plan on sharing some short, tense, spooky, autumn-scented, decay-touched words with the writing club. Due on October 31.

      10 votes
    2. Writing Club #3—"Madness" (Submissions)

      Shakespeare's birthday is observed today. Thank you, verily, for sharing your writing! Please post your efforts below, with an introduction and/or questions for your readers. Here are the...

      Shakespeare's birthday is observed today. Thank you, verily, for sharing your writing!

      Please post your efforts below, with an introduction and/or questions for your readers.
      Here are the guidelines, again.

      8 votes
    3. Writing Club #3—"Madness" (April 23)

      Rounds one and two of the Tildes Writing Club have been smashing, if small-scale, successes. In the interest of luring out a few lurkers with a timely provocation, I want to establish this month's...

      Rounds one and two of the Tildes Writing Club have been smashing, if small-scale, successes. In the interest of luring out a few lurkers with a timely provocation, I want to establish this month's theme by fiat.

      What do you have to say about madness? Your contribution can resemble a clinician's assessment, a confession, a polemic, an absinthe specter, the cry of the cuckoo, the diagnosis offered by Major Clipton (but hopefully of greater length), or a 1980s ska band. That is, whether you take the word to be romantic, offensive, biographical, inspirational, or risible, take it as inspiration for your writing this month.


      Just follow these easy guidelines:

      Your submission can be prose or poetry of any reasonable length. Less than 7,000 words, surely.

      Watch for the April 23 submissions thread to appear. Reply to it with a link to your work, which may be housed anywhere you like, including on Tildes. Prioritize venues that are not known to be aggressively anti-privacy (e.g., Google Docs). You may provide questions for readers.

      You must provide feedback on 3 submissions if you are posting a submission. Only one needs to be a substantial critique. If you see a post without feedback, consider giving it preference in the order of your responses. No one likes to be left hanging.

      You don't have to follow the theme. Your detective fiction about beaver glands is welcome, too.
      Feel free to post questions or comments.

      12 votes
    4. Writing Club #2 Submissions

      It's nearly spring (in one hemisphere) and time to share our first longer pieces! Whether or not you've been inspired by this month's theme of liminality, I hope you've found this transitional...

      It's nearly spring (in one hemisphere) and time to share our first longer pieces! Whether or not you've been inspired by this month's theme of liminality, I hope you've found this transitional time a pithy precipice.

      Please post your efforts below, with an introduction and/or questions for your readers.
      Here are the guidelines, again. I applaud everyone who submits for taking part in something new.

      12 votes
    5. Writing Club #1 Submissions

      Valentine's Day Edition Optional Themes: love / unlove / hate / red / heart / viscera Submit your "Quick 'Ficts' and Poems" below! Very relaxed rules apply to this first round. Basically, just...

      Valentine's Day Edition

      Optional Themes: love / unlove / hate / red / heart / viscera


      Submit your "Quick 'Ficts' and Poems" below! Very relaxed rules apply to this first round. Basically, just post something short. And remember to leave feedback for at least two pieces if you're submitting (but more is welcome). You don't need to submit to leave comments. Looking forward to reading!

      14 votes
    6. Call For Submissions 2/14—Quick Ficts and Poems

      You are invited to cut right to the heart of things for the first Tildes Writing Club event. Let's road test the club with brief fiction or verse. Got a sonnet that needs airing? Want to weave a...

      You are invited to cut right to the heart of things for the first Tildes Writing Club event. Let's road test the club with brief fiction or verse. Got a sonnet that needs airing? Want to weave a brief spell and dip before the magic fades? Let's read it!


      Length: less than 500 words of prose, or 30 or fewer lines of poetry.
      Theme: Optional. But if you're in search of inspiration, @acdw suggests you work with this palette: love/unlove/hate/red/heart/viscera.
      Guidelines: Post your short work in the submissions topic, which will open on 2/14. Throughout the next couple of weeks, leave feedback for at least two other submissions. Brief rules for a brief, trial-run writing event. To opine on the rules that are taking shape for 3/1, reply here.

      11 votes
    7. Writing Club Theme Discussion

      Let's discuss themes for our March 1 Writing Club submissions. (If prompts or themes aren't your thing, you may write what you like and post when the submission topic opens.) Feel free to suggest...

      Let's discuss themes for our March 1 Writing Club submissions. (If prompts or themes aren't your thing, you may write what you like and post when the submission topic opens.) Feel free to suggest a prompt (a scenario, dilemma, or background), a theme, or an ambiguous title to jump-start writing efforts. What do you want to suggest?

      8 votes
    8. Writing Club Organizational Thread

      All writers are invited to take part in the newborn Tildes Writing Club! Let’s let the club organize as it grows, but as a starting point, I present loose, inclusive guidelines formed from the...

      All writers are invited to take part in the newborn Tildes Writing Club! Let’s let the club organize as it grows, but as a starting point, I present loose, inclusive guidelines formed from the meeting of ideas in the last thread. (I was going to list aspects as separate replies for easier picking apart, but I guess I can’t make separate replies to the same post.) Feel free call out an aspect to compare it with a different approach.

      Schedule

      A thread will surface every three weeks inviting you to post your work. You may post your piece to the thread at any time before the next appears, but you risk missing out on readers. Finish and submit your critiques before the next recurring thread. (I declare this quite confidently for someone with no idea how recurring threads work.) Should the inaugural submission thread open on March 1?

      Sharing

      Reply to the recurring submission thread with a link to your work, which may be housed anywhere you like, including on Tildes. Prioritize venues that are not known to be aggressively anti-privacy (e.g., Google Docs). You may share a selection from a larger work, but your submission should not exceed 7,000 words. Shorter by half that is likelier to be read. There will be no minimum length. You may provide questions for readers in hidden expandable text, if you like.

      Feedback

      Critique participation will operate on the honor system. When submitting, you are encouraged to provide meaningful feedback to three pieces each cycle. These will be self-assigned. To assign yourself a piece, post a reply to it as placeholder. Assign yourself to pieces that haven’t yet been taken before signing on as a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th reader. That is, while there are still pieces without assigned readers (which will be apparent due to the lack of replies), take one of those first to ensure everyone is getting read. Naturally, you may leave critiques or comments in a free and unregulated fashion if you aren’t submitting work for critique this round. I suggest leaving feedback in the reply you created as placeholder. Others may have better ideas.

      Themes / Forms

      Hopefully, taking part in the club will motivate you to produce new writing. The community will suggest themes as inspiration after the posting of a submission thread. These could be chosen democratically, or by a rotating theme-warden, but should be mooted outside the submissions thread. I prefer themes to be extremely flexible, rather than a prompt: “Orange; Breathless; Common Parlance;” instead of “On Tuesday you discover the ability to control trains with your mind.” Submissions do not need to follow the theme. We might decide to have a round dedicated to poetry, but then again, why not gather an assortment of forms and genres?

      Showcase and ‘Zine

      As motivation for writers, and to benefit the wider Tildes community, I would like to see a periodic showcase thread highlighting the best of our work. It makes sense to post this separately, rather than just by tagging exemplary pieces, because most of us will want to improve our submissions with feedback in mind. @acdw has the idea of organizing a ‘zine to further showcase our best work. This, it seems to me, suggests wonderful opportunities for collaboration with visual artists. The schedule for both of these will have to depend on activity in the club.

      Spirit

      I hope for the club to be egalitarian, advanced by participants with good ideas and a flair for organization. Despite my failings, I hope to be such. To the degree that I can direct the energy of the group, I would like to give the following precept: Be generous. Writers, be a gracious guest in the minds of your readers. Be generous in your criticism. Don't abstain from lauding your favorites--that is important. At the same time, recognize that you compliment writing when you take it seriously enough to voice serious problems you may wish to see it avoid. Interpret criticism in the same spirit of generosity.

      24 votes
    9. A Writing Club

      I'd like to gauge interest in a writing group. The quality of expression I find at Tildes and the nature of some of the Timasomo projects prompt me to wonder if maybe there aren't enough...

      I'd like to gauge interest in a writing group. The quality of expression I find at Tildes and the nature of some of the Timasomo projects prompt me to wonder if maybe there aren't enough regularly-writing members to form a circle for critique and support. I have some experience teaching, but never have run a group. I'm a committed generalist--I don't think I would want to limit it to a particular form or genre.

      Anyone interested? Have you taken part in one before / belong to one now?

      31 votes
    10. Silly Set Up; Creative Response

      I've been re-watching Avatar: Legend of Korra, and I've always thought Bumi's crazy stories would be super interesting to go into more depth on how they actually happened (if his descriptions were...

      I've been re-watching Avatar: Legend of Korra, and I've always thought Bumi's crazy stories would be super interesting to go into more depth on how they actually happened (if his descriptions were indeed true to life).

      Then I thought it would be fun to have a sort of creative thinking exercise where the set up is provided and you have to come up with the details of how the characters got to it. Can you make it work?

      Top level submissions will be the end state. You should reply to those top level submissions with how the subjects / characters got to that point while using the information provided in the set up.

      Example:

      "Yo Johnny, you remember that time we talked our way out of getting arrested using my pet rabbit and a dead cell phone?"

      Reply:

      "Yea dude, that was wild. I was shitting bricks when he walked up to my window with all that weed we had in the trunk. If Fluffy Jorge hadn't been in the back and your allergy pills hadn't wore off that you wouldn't have been all glassy eyed and looking like you were crying. I don't think he would have bought my fake ass story about your family being in a tragic car accident earlier that day."

      I'll provide a couple to get y'all started with, but if you have any good one's feel free to submit those as top level entries!

      7 votes
    11. Short Story - Segment from a Microscope RPG

      For context, Microscope is an RPG system where you collaboratively write the history of a world. It's focused entirely on collaborative storytelling, rather than dice-rolling (there are no dice)....

      For context, Microscope is an RPG system where you collaboratively write the history of a world. It's focused entirely on collaborative storytelling, rather than dice-rolling (there are no dice).


      So I wrote a Dictated Scene for our world, and I was rather proud of it, so I thought I'd post it here since it almost stands on it's own. I'm curious what other people think and what kinds of questions it provokes about the world it inhabits.


      Meris had played in the clearing all her life. Every time she went to play by herself the little Jima would come out and sit on it’s rock to watch her. She always talked to it, though it never talked back. It just liked to watch with it’s tiny eyes, wary of approaching shadows that might scoop it up.

      Under the Jima’s rock was where Meris kept her treasures. Well some of them where the Jima’s treasures. Meris had found all of the treasures, but she let the Jima watch them so it seemed only fair that she let him keep some of them. Her favorite treasures were the small crystals no longer than her finger, though her fingers weren’t very big since she wasn’t very big yet. They were probably half as big as Momma’s fingers.
      When the wind blew hard enough on some days, like right before Momma made her come inside before a storm, the crystals hummed. Dozens of little humming voices, like a choir singing a song just for her.

      On some mornings Meris went to the market with Momma. She liked listening to people in the market, especially when she heard them use new words. Sometimes when she repeated the new words, Momma would scowl at her, which usually just made Meris get the giggles.

      The last day that Meris went to the meadow, she was repeating some new words she had heard an angry man yell at someone. As Meris looked through her treasures, she counted to make sure they were all still there. As she picked up her favorite treasure, it’s shiny crystal facets cast spots of rainbow light around her. Meris repeated her new words one final time, and then was silent.

      When Momma found her, the sun was low and the last rays of light were still shining on Meris, sitting unnaturally still, looking down at the crystal she held in her hand. The last rays of sunlight were still striking the small crystal, sending a few small prisms of light across Meris’ motionless face, frozen perfectly in marble.

      Momma took the crystal from her daughters hands, tears streaming down her cheeks as she asked the gods what she had done to deserve this, what her daughter could possibly have done to displease them. She pleaded with the gods to return Meris to her, gripping the crystal tightly in her fist. As her desperate Words reached toward the heavens, the crystal suddenly emitted a single clear Tone, and all the grass around became frozen and still.

      She ran as fast as her legs could take her, the crystal still gripped tightly in one hand.

      3 votes
    12. A thread for horrible puns

      By clicking this link and reading this topic, you find yourself under a grave and terrible thread. The only way to defend yourself here is to lower yourself to punitive measures, and engage in...

      By clicking this link and reading this topic, you find yourself under a grave and terrible thread. The only way to defend yourself here is to lower yourself to punitive measures, and engage in wordplay in mass corruption. All is fair in pun and warfare, but do remember your actions are your pwn, and that there are no winners here. Only broken arts, and shattered themes.

      (Just make puns.)

      15 votes
    13. Tom's Anti-Zen

      1. My Friend, the Moon When Tom was younger, he went to buy fresh bread every evening with his mother, Alice. They always walked and the bakery was far from home, so it was not uncommon for the...

      1. My Friend, the Moon

      When Tom was younger, he went to buy fresh bread every evening with his mother, Alice. They always walked and the bakery was far from home, so it was not uncommon for the Moon to come out along the way. "Hello, Mister Moon! Do you wanna come with us?", he liked to say. When they arrived at the bakery, he looked to his mother, excited, and said "Look ma! The Moon came with us!", and did the same when they got home.

      2. Fiction

      "Did you know that The Hulk was a detective once?", says Alice. Tom is 4. He puts his hand in the forehead in a gesture of superb irritation. "No, mom, this is make-believe!".

      3. Cookie Conundrum

      According to Tom, a mysterious group of sinister chipmunks was eating the cookies in the jar. When Alice asked for proof, Tom replied that a secret group of chipmunks got rid of all the evidence.

      4. Ice Cream Dilemma

      "So, mom, you have two options" — said Tom, seriously. "There are only two ice-cream flavors: chocolate and vanilla. Any choice is fine by me".

      5. Tom and the Rats

      Tom's house used to be infested with large disgusting rats. One day, he shouted: "Rats are the worse! No wonder we call them rats!

      6. Dream Logic

      Tom dreamed that his forehead could fly without him, leaving a hole in his head. When he woke up in the morning, there was a deer on the porch eating a hot-dog.

      4 votes
    14. And They Wished to Never Wake Up

      — Are we dreaming? — She asked. — I don't know, my dear. I really don’t know. — He answered. — It feels real. — Yeah, it does. — Look how old we are! Isn't that crazy? — Not really. — He says...

      — Are we dreaming? — She asked.

      — I don't know, my dear. I really don’t know. — He answered.

      — It feels real.

      — Yeah, it does.

      — Look how old we are! Isn't that crazy?

      — Not really. — He says while putting his arm on her shoulder. She calms down for a moment.

      — Yeah, but I thought... Well, I thought something, but everyone probably thinks the same. It’s silly.

      — What did you think?

      — I thought we’d be different. Old, sure, but perky, wise, matured from adventure. Something noble like that. But no. We’re the same, but older. — She shakes her flaccid arms and looks both marveled and terrified by the loose skin wiggling back and forth.

      He adjusts his glasses.

      — Sometimes, when I remain silent to appear profound, I’m surprised by the indigence of my thoughts. I may look like Aristotle himself while I try to remember what I ate for lunch. It’s hard to make inwards the theater we make for others.

      — But, after all, when have you become so old?

      — To tell you the truth, I don’t even know how we got here.

      — It’s weird: despite the complete darkness, we can see everything clearly. And there’s no place to rest my legs.

      — Sit here on the ground. Beside me. Put your head on my lap. — He gently caresses her head, trying to ignore his surprise with her white hairs.

      — I’d be nothing without you. But I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember your name.

      — I might be offended, but I don’t remember yours either. — He smiles.

      — Are we close to wake up? This old body is getting on my nerves.

      — Of course, my love. This is a dream, but no more than everything else. Time is a nightmare from which we never wake up, and old age is punishment for those that refuse to die.

      — Don’t talk nonsense. This will go away in a minute. We’ll wake up young and beautiful, as always. As I remember you, and as you remember me. Everything will be fine. — She says that with forced certainty as if trying to convince herself.

      — You’re right. The nightmare will end soon, and we’ll be back to our bodies.

      — ... This conversation tired me. Good night, my love. — She pushes her head against his thigh.

      — Good night, my angel.

      And they wished to never wake up.

      9 votes
    15. The Horde

      Every day I wake up thinking that The Horde is not there anymore. The dreams are good but few, and only make everything worse. I usually dream about The Horde. During sleep, my breathing is...

      Every day I wake up thinking that The Horde is not there anymore. The dreams are good but few, and only make everything worse. I usually dream about The Horde. During sleep, my breathing is improved and more relaxed. I dream of a calendar without symbols.

      When there's an inspiration, so I write. Delete everything afterward. A professional told me that's is a compulsion. The compulsion for the perfect word removes me from language itself. The enjoyment comes from excising something from myself, which makes me feel a bit closer to perfection.

      Every once in awhile I forget The Horde is there. The writing becomes looser, I sip my coffee and take the lunch out of the freezer. The Horde is still there. The whistle makes my blood run cold.

      I forgot when The Horde arrived, but since then my days are covered of night and dust. To me, The Horde has no color, they're covered in filth and dark cloth. They get a bit closer by dawn. But The Horde never comes.

      They seem to enjoy tormenting me. Twice a crow's carcass hit my window. At least we were communicating. I had to open the window to clean the blood. The Horde did nothing. There's courtesy between me and The Horde. I never complain of their tiny advances, they never impale me alive and eat my viscera.

      The worst consequence of The Horde was to remove my visitors. I had friends and a girlfriend, before The Horde. They came here regularly. On the other hand, there's something cozy about being surrounded by The Horde. I'm never alone.

      I talked to them on a few occasions but never got an answer. I invited them to lunch and asked what they like The Walking Dead (seems like a relevant question for The Horde). Because, you see, The Horde may be savage, but they did not cut my internet. I keep telling everyone about The Horde, but no one believes me. They think I'm some internet phenomenon, an internal joke from a group they don't know about. They don't believe The Horde can come for them too, knocking on their armor of bronze and recycled aluminum.

      Sometimes The Horde's shrieks seem to gain shape and order as if they obeyed a hidden commander. But this doesn't last, and they soon resume their lurid racket.

      I don't know for how long I've lived with The Horde, nor for how long they'll stay. I'm afraid of waking up someday to find them gone. Because, in a certain way, I learned to love The Horde. I feel safe in their post-apocalyptic embrace.

      This morning they got closer than normal. I can see it better now. They all have the same face, they're both one and The Horde. Their mouths are frozen in a permanent smile, salivating like rabid animals. One more step. They look like neanderthals. The Horde approaches slowly, with steady paces, and arrive with the furor of the sound of metal and drums. The house is hit by numerous rocks — the roof is about to give in. My crumbled body will soon become an ensign for their future marches. Or maybe become mush after being punctured by one thousand spears.

      I'm only sure that this is going to end soon. Their petite steps, the threats, crows in the window. Everything is ending — finally, everything is ending. I'll never be again and so will The Horde. Nevermore.

      3 votes
    16. Swim only when the wave comes

      When I was young, I went into the ocean with my older cousin. He lived near the beach, while I merely knew how to swim. We went to the deep to catch some higher waves using our bodies (in Bahia we...

      When I was young, I went into the ocean with my older cousin. He lived near the beach, while I merely knew how to swim.

      We went to the deep to catch some higher waves using our bodies (in Bahia we call this "pegar jacaré", or "catch the alligator").

      When we got there, the wind stopped and the stream started pulling us away from the land. After a while, I was very scared and started swimming with all my strength in the opposite direction. But my efforts were much weaker than the stream, so I remained in the same position.

      Then my cousin told me: "@mrbig, stop swimming otherwise you'll get tired and drown. Wait for the wave to come. Only swim when it arrives."

      And so I did. Minutes later came the wave. I swam. And then another, and another after that. Little by little, by saving our energies and acting at the right times, we arrived at the shore.

      And that is the story.

      18 votes
    17. Let's write some Tom Swifties!

      If you're not familiar with them, a "Tom Swifty" is a punny sentence that involves a quote by a person named Tom which is the setup for landing a pun in the description of the quote's delivery...

      If you're not familiar with them, a "Tom Swifty" is a punny sentence that involves a quote by a person named Tom which is the setup for landing a pun in the description of the quote's delivery (often but not necessarily a single adverb).

      For example:

      "This water is freezing," Tom said icily.

      "I'm going to hit this piñata as hard as I can!" said Tom, bashfully.

      "Nevermore," Tom said ravenously.

      "I like tart fruits," said Tom with aplomb.

      Really good Tom Swifties are often not immediately obvious, have a fantastic setup, or are simply really clever (mine are alright, though it's certainly possible to do far better).

      You can get a more full picture and better examples from Wikipedia, but I encourage you to tread lightly there and in searches because it's way more fun to think of them and share them in threads like these than it is to pull up lists of them online. Just reading previously written ones kind of spoils the fun, IMO.

      Anyway, let's see what great Tom Swities we can write!

      17 votes
    18. Androcles and the Lion

      In a time of ancient legends, Androcles was a runaway slave. He took shelter in a cave where a wounded Lion lived. By removing a thorn from his paw Androcles cured the beast; The Lion was very...

      In a time of ancient legends, Androcles was a runaway slave.

      He took shelter in a cave where a wounded Lion lived.

      By removing a thorn from his paw Androcles cured the beast; The Lion was very pleased.

      And then The Lion ate Androcles because he was a fucking lion.

      5 votes
    19. The Egg

      Her eyes are fixed on the cooker. — Look. Points at the egg. — What? — Can’t you see? — Has it gone bad? She takes a deep breath. — I noticed the way you broke the shell, but I needed to confirm....

      Her eyes are fixed on the cooker.

      — Look.

      Points at the egg.

      — What?

      — Can’t you see?

      — Has it gone bad?

      She takes a deep breath.

      — I noticed the way you broke the shell, but I needed to confirm. Can you see how the yolk is soft yet whole, with a small cut in the lower portion slowly leaking a yellow thread at a regular pace?

      — Yes...

      — Don’t you get it?

      — No.

      — When the yolk leaks like that, it can only mean two things.

      She hesitates.

      — You’re either going to murder me...

      — What you’re talking about?

      — Or you’ll get a Ph.D. in Physics in 2035.

      — You’re kidding, right?

      — Nope.

      — You saw all that? On a fucking egg?

      — I knew you wouldn’t understand...

      — You were right.

      A second goes by. He cleans his throat, kinda embarrassed.

      — Honey?

      — Yeah, babe.

      — I’m terrible at physics.

      He holds a knife with a confused expression on his face.

      13 votes
    20. The Tower Card

      Please note, I am no writer of any kind. For some inexplicable reason I just had the desire to give it a go today. I hope someone out there finds some enjoyment in it. After David left I decided...

      Please note, I am no writer of any kind. For some inexplicable reason I just had the desire to give it a go today. I hope someone out there finds some enjoyment in it.

      After David left I decided I'd better make good on my promise and find a new place to live. The woman from the council said there might be a temporary property available. That someone had recently died at the retirement village outside of Holyhead.

      When I finished at school on Friday, I went to David's and gathered up what I thought was mine. As it turns out, almost everything was his. It wasn't long after we'd met that I moved in. It was gradual though. Bits and pieces brought over from mom's in bin bags tucked under the bus seats they save for people and their buggies. As the months rolled on there was less and less at mom's. I'd still visit on a Sunday for lunch but that was about it.

      I had this porcelain clock on the mantle at David's, two corgis sat either side of the clock face. David hated it. He had a thing for minimalist art and would order fake prints online. He liked Robert Ryman a lot. He thought my clock threw everything off. He'd often tell me how important it was to appreciate art but what he liked left me cold. I wrapped the clock in newspaper and tossed it into my backpack. I took a last look at the living room. It was something new now.

      When I got to the village it was raining. Cold droplets cascading down my jacket. I alternated hands, dropping each bin bag to the ground to rub the speckles from my glasses. In front of the bus stop there was a pathway that led to the complex, flanked on either side by imitation grass astro turf. Beyond that, two identical adjacent blocks. Rows stacked on top of one another like lego bricks.

      The woman at the council told me it was flat 2b, "the last flat on the ground floor". I searched for the receipt I'd scribbled the details on to check if I'd remembered it right. I hauled my bags over my shoulder and ran underneath the closest awning. I stared up at the sign fixed to the brick. 1a. I can wait here until the rain dies down, I thought.

      From across the yard a woman was sitting in a wheel chair, a mask attached to her face. An enormous tube jutting out from her mouth connected to a canister strapped to the side of her chair. She stared in my direction and didn't move. She's sitting next to 2b, she might be my neighbour, I thought. As the rain died down I walked over towards her. As I approached, I wasn't sure if she was going to take the mask off or not. What's wrong with her, I thought? "Hi, I'm Kate". I extended my hand and wondered if she could move her arms. She didn't reach back. "Mad weather isn't it?". She continued to stare. "I'm only staying for a month or so, I need my own place for a minute and it's all I could get you know? Not that I'm not grateful or anything". She continued to stare. "Ok, well, it was nice meeting you". I took out my key, opened the door and stood alone in the hallway.

      David and I usually ate together on Saturday mornings. He'd wake up later than I did and wander about the place yawning. He'd often glorify his exhaustion to me. Some invisible accomplishment he'd been gaining interest on since leaving uni.

      There wasn't a kettle in the new kitchen, but there was an electric hob. I poured water over the tea bag, into my cup and peered through the net curtains. The rain had settled and I could see the opposite house and the whole complex in the daylight now, some strange vortex, wholly enclosed. A village of it's own making.

      I put on my old slippers, took my cup and stepped out onto the concrete walkway. The woman from yesterday wasn't around now. I thought about knocking but decided against it. Either she couldn't talk or has seen so many people come and go, she doesn't go in for platitudes anymore. Pacing, I caught a glimpse of her kitchen. Pink lino on the floor, almost nothing out on the worktops. It looked unoccupied. I moved back to my half of the walkway and perched on the step to finish my tea. I should get started sorting what I have before Sunday rolls around, I thought. As I got up, I heard my neighbour careen around the corner, up over the astro turf and onto the walkway. She stopped before her door, I nodded and smiled. This time she nodded back in my direction. She then raised her hand and jostled the toggle on the arm rest. Her chair moved closer towards me. She raised her eyes to meet mine and looked back at my hands. She did this a second time. "I'm sorry, I don't understand". She repeated this a third time. I mumbled something and she reached out and opened up my right hand. She surveyed my palm, in all of its detail, looked back up at me and nodded again. "Sorry, can I help with something?". She shook her head, reversed and rolled up the ramp back into her flat.

      On Sunday morning I started sorting through the rest of the papers I threw into my bag at David's. Bank statements, a few receipts, junk mail. In amongst them I found a cinema ticket I'd kept from when we started dating. He asked me to go to see the first Terminator, "on the original reel", he said. I didn't much want to go and don't like violent films but thought it'd be a good excuse to get to know one another. We got pretty swept away with each other after that.

      I sorted through the rest hoping I'd find something else, but there was nothing. I stacked the ordered papers on the ground and went outside for a break. There wasn't anybody out, like the day before. After some time my neighbour's door opened. I stood up and checked to see if she needed any help. I found her raising her eyes to her forehead, motioning backwards. "Do you need some help?", she shook her head and motioned backwards with her eyes for a second time. She reversed the chair and gestured for me to come in. I stepped inside. She manoeuvred her wheelchair into the kitchen and positioned herself next to the dining room table. There was a chair opposite to her, so I sat too. "Is everything ok?", I asked. She nodded. "I hope you don't mind me asking, are you able to speak?". She stared at me and shook her head. After a few seconds passed she pointed to a badge on her cardigan. On a yellow background, in all black caps it read, "JANE". "I'm Kate, nice to meet you Jane". This time she extended her arm and we shook hands. "How long have you been here Jane?". She nodded 5 times. "Ah ok, and how do you like it? Do you have family that visit?". She shook her head. "Do you mind me asking, what's wrong with you? Shit sorry, umm, not like that, I mean, umm, are you sick?". She paused for a moment and nodded. She then reached into the pocket of her cardigan and pulled out a deck of cards.

      I don't know anything about Tarot, other than what you see on T.V but I'm not a superstitious like that. She laid the cards on the table in front of me, either nodding or shaking her head as she passed each of them one by one. The last card in the row showed a stone tower. She looked down, paused, raised her head, but this time, looked right past me. Dust cascaded through the shards of light piercing through the window. Jane starred into it for what felt like a whole minute. Watching the particles dance before her I asked, "Are you ok Jane?", she shook her head. "Is there something I can do?", she shook her ahead again. "I had better be going Jane, I meet my mom on a Sunday for lunch, please let me know if there's anything I can help with, OK? As I said yesterday, I won't be staying too long, but while I'm here, feel free to knock on". She nodded her head. I let myself out and left, the cards still strewn about the table.

      I didn't see Jane much after that afternoon and things went on as normal. David called and we hashed things out over the phone but we'd petered out long before that. The council explained I couldn't stay on at the village for another month so I moved back with mom. After a few weeks passed, one evening after work, I opened up my laptop and searched online for "Jane Tarot". Tons of results came up but only one from Holyhead. A local newspaper article with a headline that read, "LOCAL LADY FORESAW DIAGNOSIS". "I knew what was going to happen to me, the fibrosis I mean. The cards speak and I accept, I give myself up to that". I closed my laptop and looked outside into mom's garden. I thought about the tower card and how people do all sorts of things to justify their own lives, to deal with their own grief and make sense of things.

      Mom plants Floribunda's every year and they're starting to bloom now. My phone rings. I offer to cover a shift for a new temp at work. I put on my jacket, walk outside and think about Jane.

      13 votes
    21. My problem with writing

      You know what my problem is? When I was young, and I got into a game, book, or any kind of series, I eventually found myself spending hours on a wiki, reading manuals, books, and Internet posts,...

      You know what my problem is? When I was young, and I got into a game, book, or any kind of series, I eventually found myself spending hours on a wiki, reading manuals, books, and Internet posts, watching videos, trying to discover every last detail about the subject that I could find. I still distinctly remember reading about the Celestials from Star Wars, the Forerunners and the Precursors from Halo, or the distant continents of Akivir and others in Elder Scrolls.

      My problem is that I've always had this thirst to read about the worlds that I am interested in and to consume every last bit of knowledge about them.

      As a writer, or rather, when I try to write something, I far too often just have the urge to explain everything so the reader doesn't need to go to a wiki or watch a video to get the extra context. This means that, because of the way I engaged (and still engage) with worlds, I have a very hard time letting go of all the details and just letting what I write lead the reader's imagination into something of their own making.

      I shouldn't need, want, or try to explain that these aliens are strange and mysterious. The dialogue, thoughts, and actions of characters familiar to us should illustrate that just fine on their own.

      And that's it. That's exactly what I have trouble with. I struggle to communicate indirectly, to lead readers to a conclusion instead of plainly telling it to them.

      Oh god, I've done it again.

      13 votes
    22. Eclipse 2

      Logline During the 2017 Solar Eclipse, a thick-skinned female police officer must prevent millennial Shadows from returning from the depths of the Earth to dominate humanity. Notes Post 1 You can...

      Logline

      During the 2017 Solar Eclipse, a thick-skinned female police officer must prevent millennial Shadows from returning from the depths of the Earth to dominate humanity.

      Notes

      Post 1

      You can also read it in my blog (no advertising, no annoyances, no bullshit).

      - As before, this is not my first language. All criticism is extra welcomed
      - I included the previous content - the prelude - just because it's so small

      @cfabbro, here's the ping you requested! Love to know what you think of it!

      Prelude

      Before time was time, nights were dreamless. No one narrated the hunts, and death was just a cessation of the body. Births were joyful but meaningless. Statements were nothing more than intentions among roaring, shouts, and racket. Sometimes two sounds came together in funny ways, but meaning was still far away from our primitive cogitations.

      In these times of monotony, the Shadows entertained the primitive men. With no timbre or elocution, they came from the deepest layers of Earth’s mantle to tell stories under the moonlight. They lived in harmony, feeding on each other. The Shadows came to life with the laughter and the souls of the Men, and the Men lost the fear of the night with the histories told by the Shadows in a primitive symbiosis.

      One day, a man died after eating a tasty looking fruit. Hunting was a gamble, and eventually, men needed to eat potentially dangerous elements. Another, more intelligent man, noted that the juice from his mouth indelibly marked the rock with a pattern that was pleasant to the eyes. He collected more of that fruit, avoiding to put it in contact with sensible areas. This man did not have a proper name. None of them did. They just knew that there was “The Boss”, “The Hunter”, “The Large” and “The Delicate”.

      Some men had soft lumps in their chests and above the thighs. Eventually, their bellies got big and other men came out from them. “The Delicate”, who discovered painting, was of this kind. In secret, he drew their hunts in the cave. He made everything bigger and more menacing than it was: the spears, the beast, the joy, the moon, and the flames, that reached the sky.

      It took some gestures and vocalizations for The Delicate to make The Hunter understand that that set of traces was him and that the thick line with a pointing end penetrating The Beast was his spear. But soon they understood and had great silence. Followed by a great laugh.

      The Hunter imitated the muffled sound of the Beast’s steps and learned to use this sound to talk about the Beast even when it wasn't there. War shouts, death songs, the cutting of the meat, the crackle of the fire, the crickets, the frogs and all animals soon had their sounds, their own “words”.

      Men stories gained life by their own making.

      The Shadows never came back.

      Weakened, they returned to the depths. And, in the emptiness of their soulless existence, felt profound pain.

      Chapter 1

      Worn books on the balcony: The Physics of the Light, Introduction to Modern Physics and Modern Optics, paid with greasy notes. Stumbles on a rock, knock the books on the sidewalk. On a dark tunnel, fluorescent light flicker irregularly. Hands in his knees, catch his breath and run with the rest of his lungs.

      The front is completely black of smut. Turns the key with difficulty. The stairway creaks under his feet. A stack of old newspapers behind the door. Turns on a weak desk lamp. A crack of light comes from the sheets. Closes it with tremble hands and throws himself in the armchair. A thick cloud of smoke leaves Ernesto's relieved self.

      The curtain drops with a thud. Behind him, a dark silhouette smiles.


      The badge for the "Civilian Police of the State of São Paulo" swing above the toilet. In the ground, two pregnancy tests. Two lines in each. In the holster, a Taurus 38. Impeccable blue jeans. Mariana pees in the third test and waits. Two lines. She's fucking pregnant.


      Ernesto's suit seems expensive twenty-year ago. He looks like a bum that made an effort. He holds a thick notebook with paper falling from the edges and a paper folder that seems to be about to explode. Dries his eyes constantly, and there are black spots bellow his armpits. In the edge of the table, it reads: "Mariana Diniz – Commissioner of Police" Ernesto gives her his card: "Eye of Horus - Paranormal Investigations". Below, a stylized eye with Egyptian inspirations. And a landline.

      — I don't trust cellphones.

      Smiles uncomfortably, trying to hide the nervous tic that makes his head swing like a salamander.

      – It may not look, but I'm a busy woman.

      Gives her two 15x20 pictures. The first is completely out of focus. The second shows an oddly slim, dark silhouette on a sewer canal. Ernesto sweats like an amphibian having a panic attack.

      — For millennia, these creatures have been confined in the interior of the earth. Suffering the monotony of an incomplete existence. Waiting for a chance to come back.

      — Yes.

      – You don't believe.

      Puts the card in her wallet.

      – You got my number.


      The long hills do not affect Mariana. Sumptuous homes, beautiful landscaping, mutilation, and infanticide. They're all part of the same world.


      In a deserted square, eight hood teenagers assemble in a circle. Metal-heads and RPG players never caused her any trouble, but, as commissioner of that town, she has the duty of investigating anything out of the normal. She takes care to not flaunt the weapon.

      They ignore her. The kids emit no sound, make no gesture. They're not injured, and their dark eyes are probably contact lenses. They have an ironic smile in their faces. No drug would generate such severe catatonia on a group that size, and there was no law against looking spooky on public premises. Sent two patrol cars to watch the group and went home.


      The basic Chevrolet goes through the carefully constructed path, with exotic plants on both sides. Between two neoclassic towers, a slightly lower white house. In the living room, Eliza, short-exquisite-hair, beautiful and androgynous, stare at the TV with thick frame glasses. Notices Mariana's gun.

      — Comes with the job.

      In slow motion, a voluptuous Marilyn Monroe impersonator pours milk on a bowl of cereal.

      – Bruno?

      – Upstairs.

      A plate brakes in the kitchen. To the left of the sink, dozens of cups organized by color, size, and format. To the other, plastic utensils organized by function and material. Scapular in the neck, Sofia é very white. She wraps the glass in paper, writes "GLASS" in wide letters and ties everything in a thick, transparent plastic bag.

      – Your kitchen was too… Illogical.

      – Of course.

      Mariana notices a red spot below Sofia's long sleeve. She holds the arm of her friend: bruises.

      — They're old, diz Sofia.

      — Doesn't look like.

      Takes the car keys. The pregnancy tests are in the same pocket. Mariana takes a deep breath and looks at the stairways.


      Law books on the shelf, almost all sealed. Bruno is on the computer. It's hard to get why they're still married. Mariana has always been stubborn. He's on the computer most of the time. At 40, Mariana has silky black, perfumed hair. Tells good stories in a welcoming way. Mariana loves what the does. She's hit on constantly, by both sexes. And has a way to politely decline that doesn't make anyone uncomfortable.

      There's a month since they had sex.

      — I'm pregnant.

      — Are you sure?

      The tests in the keyboard.

      — They're from a pharmacy.

      — Yep. Three.

      She pulls the plug from the computer. Bruno looks at her. His eyes are black.

      6 votes
    23. Eclipse 1 - Prelude

      Before time was time, nights were dreamless. No one narrated the hunts, and death was just a cessation of the body. Births were joyful but meaningless. Statements were nothing more than intentions...

      Before time was time, nights were dreamless. No one narrated the hunts, and death was just a cessation of the body. Births were joyful but meaningless. Statements were nothing more than intentions among roaring, shouts, and racket. Sometimes two sounds came together in funny ways, but meaning was still far away from our primitive cogitations.

      In these times of monotony, the Shadows entertained the primitive men. With no timbre or elocution, they came from the deepest layers of Earth’s mantle to tell stories under the moonlight. They lived in harmony, feeding on each other. The Shadows came to life with the laughter and the souls of the Men, and the Men lost the fear of the night with the histories told by the Shadows in a primitive symbiosis.

      One day, a man died after eating a tasty looking fruit. Hunting was a gamble, and eventually, men needed to eat potentially dangerous elements. Another, more intelligent man, noted that the juice from his mouth indelibly marked the rock with a pattern that was pleasant to the eyes. He collected more of that fruit, avoiding to put it in contact with sensible areas. This man did not have a proper name. None of them did. They just knew that there was "The Boss", "The Hunter", "The Large" and "The Delicate".

      Some men had soft lumps in their chests and above the thighs. Eventually, their bellies got big and other men came out from them. "The Delicate", who discovered painting, was of this kind. In secret, he drew their hunts in the cave. He made everything bigger and more menacing than it was: the spears, the beast, the joy, the moon, and the flames, that reached the sky.

      It took some gestures and vocalizations for The Delicate to make The Hunter understand that that set of traces was him and that the thick line with a pointing end penetrating The Beast was his spear. But soon they understood and had great silence. Followed by a great laugh.

      The Hunter imitated the muffled sound of the Beast’s steps and learned to use this sound to talk about the Beast even when it wasn't there. War shouts, death songs, the cutting of the meat, the crackle of the fire, the crickets, the frogs and all animals soon had their sounds, their own "words".

      Men stories gained life by their own making.

      The Shadows never came back.

      Weakened, they returned to the depths. And, in the emptiness of their soulless existence, felt profound pain.

      8 votes
    24. National Poetry Writing Month!

      April is National Poetry Month. It's also National/Global Poetry Writing Month, where participants write a poem a day for every day in April. I'm doing it this year, and was wondering if any other...

      April is National Poetry Month. It's also National/Global Poetry Writing Month, where participants write a poem a day for every day in April. I'm doing it this year, and was wondering if any other tilderiños were as well. I'm a little late on the post, but there's still time to catch up!

      9 votes
    25. Looking for tips or best practices for stoking creativity

      So, a little background, my profession is technical writing. I want to write a novel but I'm struggling a little with getting the creative side of my brain going. Technical writing seems to...

      So, a little background, my profession is technical writing. I want to write a novel but I'm struggling a little with getting the creative side of my brain going. Technical writing seems to further inhibit my creativity with all its rules.

      I'm looking into local writers' workshops but they're all full at the moment. In the meantime, I was wondering if anyone here has any advice for exercises or things I could do to stimulate my creativity and free my mind from all the rules of technical writing. Thoughts?

      8 votes
    26. Workshop Wednesday II: we're back!

      Hey everyone, thanks to you who posted in the original Workshop Wednesday; I think it went really well! Here we are for week 2 (sorry it took me til noon, I was busy this morning!) Some questions:...

      Hey everyone, thanks to you who posted in the original Workshop Wednesday; I think it went really well! Here we are for week 2 (sorry it took me til noon, I was busy this morning!)

      Some questions:

      • do we need a new topic every week? Or will one be enough?
      • any other comments/suggestions?

      Please begin your comment with [META] to discuss these. Otherwise, I'll copy and paste the guidelines from last week.


      What's a workshop?

      Basically, a workshop is when you have a bunch of people with poems or stories they've written, and everyone gets together, reads everyone's work, and comments on it, sharing what they got out of it and what the author could do to improve the work for publication. I used to do a lot of them in college, and I've missed the dynamic since graduating. I thought others might also be interested, so here goes nothing.

      How this'll work (for now, anyway)

      Each week, I'll post a "Workshop Wednesday" post. If you have a poem or (short) story you'd like workshopped, post that as a top comment. Then, read others' top comments and reply with what works/doesn't work/questions you have/ideas you have for the piece that could make it better. If you post some writing, try to comment on at least two other people's pieces as well -- we're here to help each other improve.

      10 votes
    27. Man of the Train

      Another story. The narrator is not well and slips into periods of "extended daydreaming" where they image they're someone else or that the context of their life is otherwise different. I thought...

      Another story. The narrator is not well and slips into periods of "extended daydreaming" where they image they're someone else or that the context of their life is otherwise different. I thought about coloring the text differently for those moments but couldn't figure out a way to do it well.


      No one walks out to this place. Why would they? It’s too far for children to be playing or for teenagers to sneak away to, there’s no beauty or interesting landscapes or scenery for hikers, and God knows it’s worthless for development. I walked out here because I knew I couldn’t stay at home and I kept walking because I knew I had nothing to go back to. Then, brooding, thinking that I would just continue walking until I died of exposure (which would have taken a while in that day’s mild weather), I stumbled across this place. I stopped to explore it of course, how often does one’s life yield such a whimsical sight?

      I started daydreaming as I walked through the trains. They looked ancient, the cars were buried up to their wheels in the dirt and huge patches had lost their paint and rusted over. The interiors were stripped, but I spotted some kind of hatch in the roof (by the pile of leaves and other debris below it) and clambered up. Then I was standing astride the car looking down at the whole scene. Two neat little rows, five cars in one and four in the other, with the only sign tracks used to run here being a small corridor where the trees were shorter.

      I loved it. It was a sort of post-industrial twist on the railway bum, you know? They would hitch rides on trains and travel all over the country, seeing everything it had to offer and adventuring everywhere they went. I had, in the past, been disappointed I didn’t live in a time where the vagabond could thrive, and was delighted to imagine the 21st century equivalent. Sitting in a rusted old abandoned train car, the Seeker (I always name my characters like that) sat by his gas fire watching the rain pour down and spatter across the corrugated walls. It was lovely. I felt much better and after playing around a bit more headed back home with a smile, all the while dreaming of the Seeker. The evening passed comfortably and I slid into sleep imagining I was the man sleeping out by the trains.

      I pulled my blanket closer, clutching it around myself. I had found something, and tonight II was able to rest peacefully because of it. The night breeze flowed over me in soft, regular breaths. It was sweet and pleasantly cool, and carried memories of cheery days. All else faded always as I walked into them, leaving behind the blanket and the breeze and the night itself.

      When I got up the next morning though the levity had vanished. I dragged myself through the morning and lacking anything real to do and completely out of distractions for the afternoon I headed out for another wander in the woods. Alone with just the half-leafless trees to speak to I very quickly fell into my thoughts and my world of pasts, real or imagined. I don’t know how long I walked, just that after a while my breath was coming out in ragged bursts and that I was approaching the top of a hill. Attaining it I realized with gloomy resignation that I was somewhat lost, and that the cup of tea I was desiring now more than most anything would be a while yet. As I started back in the direction I more or less thought town was I imagined how the Seeker had trudged through the same damp leaves and browning grass. Autumn would quickly change from the mild early days to the coldness that marked the start of winter, and this landscape would be unrecognizable. Even this escape would not last. Just like them. More gloominess. Pushing through a thicket of young trees I was surprised to be face to face with the train wrecks from yesterday, and, after briefly marveling at the occurrence started back home. I was throwing off my shoes and starting the kettle in just over an hour.

      At home I picked, for some foolish reason, the blue teapot (of memories) and was soon sitting at the table and warming my hands on a steaming cup. I was shivering. Sometimes I don’t realize how cold I am until I’m back inside. I need to dress warmer. For a while I could pretend to be content sipping at my tea and feeling myself thaw out a little, but after a few cups I started thinking about what I would do for the rest of the day. That’s why I had gone out in the first place wasn’t it, that I had nothing here? I didn’t feel warm anymore. And since I had picked this pot (it was three years ago, why should I care?) my thoughts slid further and further back until I was recalling the conversation we had over it. And how I had laughed and taken your picture holding it and you had smiled as the wind whipped your hair back and I couldn’t stand sitting there and looking at it anymore. I fled to the couch and fell face first down into it.

      What was I doing? I couldn’t sit here for another eight hours waiting to go to bed and dream, I was gripped with sinking panic just at the thought. No, I couldn’t stay. And I didn’t have to. If I could tell myself a story about it, I could do it myself, right? I could just leave. I could make it real. Go to another town, or sleep in a car, or, go camping. Yes, I could camp for the night. I did tell people I was an outdoorsman after all, even if for the past few years I hadn’t done anything more than day hikes to run from my reality. I had all the gear, I knew what I was doing.

      Twenty minutes later I was out the door, heading back the woods for the second time today, this time with my pack slung across my shoulders. As I walked I thought about how unpleasant this would probably be and I was pleased. At least it would be because of something else. Something immediate. I went to the trains because where else would I go and also because I knew they were isolated and I wanted to be sure no one would be out harassing me over lighting a fire or being a vagrant. It was perfect.

      And as evening fell the fire was lit. I had set camp in between the two rows of derelict cars to provide some shelter from the wind.

      The heat from the flames sank into the metal siding of the cars and soon they were radiating back a friendly warmth. Touching it felt almost like being warmed by the sun. I leaned back against one now and stared at the fire. It was a comfortable scene, even if the ground was cold and hard and all I had to do was sit and think and brood. It was basically what I would have done at home anyway, but now I was not drawn into despair. No, out here all these feelings were beautiful, and if it was beautiful I could enjoy it. Some time and drinks passed and I became outright elated. Considering the whole absurdity of where I was right now I had to laugh. I might curse my life every day, but it was, if nothing else, interesting. Even if I was the only one who would ever know. Just look at where I am! I grinned and kept laughing and drinking and soaking up the intoxicating woodsmoke and tender light that flowed from the fire. I loved that this was something I did. And later as the flames hid back in their coals I climbed into my tent and floated right away on a dreamless, happy sleep. Lord of my little realm of heat and smoke. Good times for all. All for good times.

      I sat at the edge of fire’s light clutching my cup closely. It was a bitter tea, what one could brew with just a cup over a camp fire, but I sipped at it greedily anyway, burning my lips on the rim. It would hold the blaze’s heat for a while yet, the cup was almost painful to handle even through my gloves, now streaked with ash. It had been a long, cold day. I had almost lost myself, but now, resting in the half-light at the edge of reality, it was alright. I smiled and, tipping my head ever so slightly up, whistled out a few bars of some song or another. Yes, here it was alright. There was a lot I didn’t know, but that was fine, I knew I was, as was the fire and the smoke and the warmth and the tea.

      I refocused on the fire, source of the little world I had found myself in. It was as if I were gazing through into my own light. A welcome feeling, as I had felt a dull cold more than anything recently. I looked more intently, allowing the firelight to wash out the surroundings until I and it were all that existed. Like this I could see hints, now and then, of what had been. Perhaps if I looked too greedily the flames would even take me then, shattering the gracious illusion of the light in the process. No, echos would have to do. They were all that was real anyway. I stared for a long while, lost in burning contemplation.

      That was a... number of days ago. I haven’t counted exactly. For the first few I was at home most of the day, only heading out for the trains in the evening. The first morning I didn’t plan to come back at all and tore my whole camp down. But around mid afternoon my listlessness would become unbearable and I’d flee from the prospect of another night in. So I started leaving my tent pitched, figuring I’d do this as some kind of therapy until I got better and figured out what I was going to do with myself. And I did get better! Or at least the more time I spent in the woods the less time I was sinking in the mire of my thoughts and the more I marveled at them. Maybe they were still dragging me down, but I didn’t notice anymore. Soon I was spending the afternoons out as well, and then I was only going back home in the morning to grab food and water.

      I’ll probably be forced out by the weather soon. It’s been getting much colder these past days, but I don’t want to leave yet, I like this routine. I like the work of building the little stone wall, or clearing the ground around the fire pit I’m slowly carving out of the stiff ground, or sketching my map of the area around the camp. It was more than I had back there.

      As the last of the purple in the sky was swept away by the darkening blue I stretched out alongside the newly rekindled fire. I had known for days that I was not going to find it here. I would have to go back and see what was next for me. But it was comfortable here, and for that I could pretend I had a reason to stay, at least for a little while longer. Yes, I’ll have to leave soon, but for now I can just enjoy the fire. I can walk in dream a little while longer.

      9 votes
    28. Workshop Wednesday: Post a poem/story/writing-thing and get feedback!

      So I was talking to @cadadr in this thread about starting a workshop on Tildes, and since today makes for an alliterative title, I thought I'd start one now. What's a workshop? Basically, a...

      So I was talking to @cadadr in this thread about starting a workshop on Tildes, and since today makes for an alliterative title, I thought I'd start one now.

      What's a workshop?

      Basically, a workshop is when you have a bunch of people with poems or stories they've written, and everyone gets together, reads everyone's work, and comments on it, sharing what they got out of it and what the author could do to improve the work for publication. I used to do a lot of them in college, and I've missed the dynamic since graduating. I thought others might also be interested, so here goes nothing.

      How this'll work (for now, anyway)

      Each week, I'll post a "Workshop Wednesday" post. If you have a poem or (short) story you'd like workshopped, post that as a top comment. Then, read others' top comments and reply with what works/doesn't work/questions you have/ideas you have for the piece that could make it better. If you post some writing, try to comment on at least two other people's pieces as well -- we're here to help each other improve.

      Going forward

      Since this is the first one, obviously we can change the format or do something else. Please start meta-discussions with the word [META] so that we know it's not a poem you're trying to workshop!

      I'm excited. Let's do this!

      20 votes
    29. Productive vs non-productive creativity

      I have a slight struggle that I wonder if anyone else can relate to. I'm a creative "type" in that both my job (scientist) and hobbies (many, over the years) require constant innovation, in...

      I have a slight struggle that I wonder if anyone else can relate to. I'm a creative "type" in that both my job (scientist) and hobbies (many, over the years) require constant innovation, in addition to the usual labor, to keep them going.

      I have a note/journal app where I store my ideas. Sometimes these are ideas with acute utility e.g. an experiment design that I can test out the next day at work or maybe an idea for a paper. Other ideas are what I would consider "highdeas" - insights or thoughts that seem amazing when you're stoned but after you sober up they're kind of nonsense. The former are productive and the latter are non-productive forms of creativity (barring any offshoots of the latter that prove useful later on).

      But then sometimes I get idea in-between. Say, an insight into how certain human behaviors are a certain way or maybe a rant on a topic/issue in my lab work that is interesting but not valuable enough to publish or bring up in a formal meeting. My question / discussion topic for you, is, what do you do with these sort of self-ascribed interesting ideas that have no immediate value? One option is to write them out on a forum, as I am currently doing, but I would end up writing all day. Does anyone else keep track of these? Do you schedule a follow-up with these intermediate ideas for future inspiration? I currently use Joplin which is great but I don't think there are any features to stimulate creativity in this manner.

      23 votes
    30. The Ceremony

      This is a short, experimental story I wrote. Hope it's interesting. As I opened my eyes the whirl of indistinction calmed and I was standing there in a room paneled in wood, rich and dark and...

      This is a short, experimental story I wrote. Hope it's interesting.


      As I opened my eyes the whirl of indistinction calmed and I was standing there in a room paneled in wood, rich and dark and polished slightly. It was time for the oath. She stood at her lectern with her book open in front of the priest, who turned to the needed page and bid her to sing, which she did, sweet and calm and certain, without dramatics or pomp. Why would she need it? It was what she was to do. She smiled, I think, her form was not clear except for the vague impression of her gently rounded cheeks and lips the color of a rose too pale a pink to be said red. And now the priest was across from me and my book opened to its song page. Seven squares, (or was it nine?), filled mid grey onto the paper ruled across with needle fine lines the color of rust. It was old, plainly, but still strong. I felt looking at the page a feeling I had never known, not quite joy or determination or happiness or fear but an immensity as if I had for a heart now an infinitely faceted gem in whose faces you could find any color if you would only let it catch the light. It was like madness melded together with a certainty so strong anything less than “it is” fails to reach it. I feared I could not voice it, and said as much to the priest. To point at the page and utter “Sing.” was his only response. And I did, tremulously and weakly, but I sang, and through it came a sweetness despite me. And it was done. Through the haze now I remember the ascent up the stairs and my body collapsing onto the white couch my head landing in her lap, and her final exclaim “_______! We are!”.

      5 votes
    31. Creative Process Discussion

      I'd love to hear about how you create your favorite works. Of anything. How did you write your best music? How did you create your favorite character in a story you wrote? Anything of the sort....

      I'd love to hear about how you create your favorite works. Of anything. How did you write your best music? How did you create your favorite character in a story you wrote? Anything of the sort.

      I'd love to hear all the different processes people have. It's really quite an interesting topic of discussion, for me.

      Personally, I grab a cup of coffee and listen to instrumental music (mostly avant-garde jazz [Coltrane, Washington, etc]) while creating the world of the story I'm writing. There's something very productive-feeling about being wired on caffeine while also having a constant noise in your ears. It's how I compose some of my better characters and settings.

      Due to my constant writer's block phenomenon, sometimes I'll smoke some pot to get past it. It's almost like phasing through a wall you can't jump over. There's something lifting about it.

      16 votes
    32. I hit the 100 pages milestone for my novel!

      I am super happy right now. For the past few years, I've taken on so many futile projects, dead ends, I've ripped things to shreds because I stopped liking them. Finally though, I am content with...

      I am super happy right now.

      For the past few years, I've taken on so many futile projects, dead ends, I've ripped things to shreds because I stopped liking them. Finally though, I am content with one of my creations and hit 100 pages, already reworked and refined! :)

      Sorry, but I'm super happy at the moment.

      32 votes
    33. Today's the first day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), is anyone else participating?

      For those that don't know, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual challenge to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of the month of November. That translates to roughly 1,600...

      For those that don't know, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual challenge to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of the month of November. That translates to roughly 1,600 words a day. More info on NaNoWriMo here.

      I first tried it two years ago though I fizzled out at around 10,000 words and moved on to another WIP. Last year I didn't formally participate though I made an effort to write something every day. Not sure about my word count.

      This year I'm doing a series of short stories in a shared setting since I've been doing more short form writing as of late and I've been mulling over the idea for a few weeks now. It's a nice way to experiment with different settings and themes within a "singular" work. I've made some notes on plot hooks, settings, characters, and ideas I wanted to explore, so it's only a matter of writing the stories now. Maybe I'll even share excerpts as I go along.

      So has anyone else made plans to do it this year?

      19 votes