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This is my writing journal. I'm always open to new writing buddies, so feel free to comment if you want to be friends.

I usually don't bite.

If I don't already know you at least vaguely from somewhere, I've love if you'd drop a comment saying where you found me. All I really need to know is that you're not some random work person or my parents or something. :)


Current Mood: blahblah
15 December 2016 @ 03:05 pm
“Let go of my fucking son.” Murdock moves in close.

Can smell the stench of his carnivore breath, feel it hot on my face. Heart’s in my throat, stomach right behind it. I gulp ‘em back, keep my knife hand steady. Keep my eyes on his, searing blue and all but shooting sparks. World goes dim, him and me and nothing else.

“Let go of him, you Umani piece of shit,” he growls, like I didn’t already hear him.

I smirk, my arm still tight around the kid. “Gotta give me what I want first, General.

Course he can’t, not really. Can’t give me back the man I love, the man I lost. He’s gone for good ‘cause I tried to stall the war Murdock wants so bad, but --

Least I can finish what I fucking started.

Murdock glares, teeth bared. “I don’t have to give you anything.”

“Guess not.” I drop my gaze, focus on the blade. Blood wells up with just a tiny shift in pressure, almost black against the kid’s brown skin. Paints slick trails around the bruises on his neck. Kid’s silent, doesn’t move a fucking muscle. His eyes meet mine, calm as summer seas.

Air’s too thick, heavy in my lungs. Hands wanna shake, takes all my strength to hold ‘em still.

Murdock’s carved from fucking stone, a true Majerian. Folds his beefy arms across his chest and stares me down. “Why stop there?” He shakes his head. “Go ahead, cut deeper. Bleed him dry, for all I care. I don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

I swallow hard, mouth dry as desert dunes. “But he’s… your fucking kid.”

“He’s expendable.”

Kid goes stiff against me, lets out this little squeak. My hold on him relaxes and I stroke his hair with frozen fingers. Pulse pounds in my ears, throat closes up. No choice now, no way out --

Devin, sweetheart. Breathe.

I blink, remember why I’m here. Strain to hear that soft, sweet voice and let it ground me. Force myself to breathe in deep, be strong for him. I push the kid away, mouth one word at him:


“Everyone’s expendable,” I whisper when he’s gone.

I lift my shirt, reveal the wires bundled nice and neat above my shattered heart. Those ice-chip eyes of Murdock’s widen, fixed on my homemade bomb. His hand creeps toward his blaster and I grip my knife, white-knuckled. Raise it up and press its blade against my throat.

“Guess what happens if I fucking die,” I croak.

04 December 2016 @ 02:59 pm

I can almost hear her lips purse, as though my name tastes sour on her tongue. Tension tugs at a spot between my shoulder blades, and I brace myself for what’s to come.

We’ve done this dance one time too many, and I know I’m in for a lecture; I always am, when she calls me by my given name. I linger at the window, prolonging the inevitable. It’s only once the sleek black car pulls away, my young companion safe inside, that I turn to face my fate.

“Yes, Lilly? I ask, meeting her glacial blue gaze.

With swift, efficient fingers, she plucks a vial from my living room table and tucks it into her medical bag. “I expect you already know what I’m going to say, not that it’ll make any difference.”

But she’s going to say it anyway, I suppose. My teeth clench against a retort, and the action sends a flare of pain through my newly set nose. I hold myself still, forbidding my face to betray my discomfort. It’s a cardinal sin, after all, for a man of my ilk to display any sign of weakness.

“It hurts, doesn’t it?” The hard line of Lilly’s mouth quirks up at one corner. “Good.”

“I won’t fire him.”

“Oh, of course not.” She snorts, crossing her well-muscled arms over her chest. “The last one tried to stab you on more than one occasion. What’ll it take before you let this one go?”

“They have names, you know.” Heat rushes into my cheeks, and I’m certain that whatever I’m about to say, it’s going to be the wrong thing. “You met Mosan tonight. The ‘last one’ was Jasen, and I hired him on your advice.” My voice rises in pitch, becoming a feminine falsetto. “‘At least take a Majerian boy this time,’ you told me. ‘They’ll talk less if he’s one of our own.’” I let out a gusty breath, raking a hand through my hair. “That certainly worked out well, didn’t it?”

She regards me with narrowed eyes. “You’re really going to blame me for that.”

“I’m not --” I pause and replay my own words. “I suppose I just did, didn’t I? My apologies. I only mean to say that there’s a reason I prefer Umani sidearms. They’re --” I glance down at the dark stain on my uniform shirt, and a ragged laugh escapes me. “They’re less prone to violence.”

“So I’ve noticed.” She lays a hand on my arm. “Sit down. You look exhausted.”

I open my mouth to protest, but her fingers close around my bicep.

“Yes, yes, I know.” She shakes her head, all but dragging me to the couch. “You’re Major Aidan Ellis, a fearsome Majerian warrior, and are therefore impervious to fatigue. Now sit.”

I do as she says, though I suspect it’ll only make her more insufferable. She settles herself beside me, her back straight and strong as a girder, and waits for me to state my case.

“What happened tonight, it wasn’t Mosan’s fault,” I say at last.

“He was drunk,” she says, each syllable clipped and clinical. “At a military ball.”

“He’s Umani." My pulse quickens, and I fight to keep the pleading note from my voice. "His people don’t frown upon such indulgences the way we do, and it settles his nerves. He suffers from anxiety, you know, and he’s little more than a boy --”

She lifts a hand, and my defense dies on my lips.

“It’s never their fault, and they all seem to suffer from something,” she says with a dismissive wave. “You’ve always liked the pretty, broken ones, and --”

She shakes her head and stares off into the distance. I know what’s coming next, the list of allegations. It’s difficult to watch me sabotage myself, she’s going to say. If I’d only held my tongue when the general baited me, or hired a female sidearm instead, I’d never have been demoted.

We’ve done this dance one time too many, after all, and I’ve long since learned the steps.

“It’s never your fault, either, is it?” She speaks slowly, moving to an unfamiliar rhythm. “You parade them about like exotic pets, with no thought for how it affects them. Do you think they don’t hear the whispers on the ballroom floor, or do you let them drink to drown them out?”

I flinch as though she’s slapped me. “They know the truth, regardless of the rumors. I don’t… indulge myself with any of them, nor have I ever wished to. I’ve only ever --”

My words catch in my throat, Mosan’s shrill accusation ringing in my ears.

You say you don’t look at me that way, but -- you get off on this, don’t you? I’m not a person to you at all. I’m just here to make you feel good about yourself, to inflate your stupid ego.

Once more I hear his screech, the crunch of bone and cartilage beneath his fist. I blink, my vision hazed. “I’ve only ever had their best interests at heart, haven’t I?”

She tilts her head to one side. “Have you?”

31 October 2016 @ 06:17 pm
It turns out that there's going to be another season of LJ Idol.

I tend not to actually write things for Idol when I sign up for it, but I'll give it a shot anyway. Wish me luck?
05 October 2014 @ 09:41 am
The Voice in my Head
(inspired by Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat)

The words would not flow.
It was too hard to write.
So I stared at the screen
all day long and all night.

I messaged Alicia.
We chatted a bit.
And I said, "How I wish
all my writing weren't shit!"

My muse was away
and would not come to call.
So I wasted my day.
I wrote nothing at all.

So all I could do was to
And I did not like it.
Not one little bit.

Then I said, "What the fuck?
I don't care if it sucks."
I typed,
then deleted and whined to my friend,
"It's tripe!"
And I heard it.
The voice in my head.
And it said to me,
"What kind of 'writer' are you?
Your plot's full of holes
and your humor's not funny.
And nobody
likes your main character, honey."

"I know some good ways I could help,"
said the voice.
"I have some good crit,"
said the voice in my head.
"A lot of good crit.
I will give it to you.
"Your 'readers' will thank me so much if I do."

Then suddenly I
did not know what to say.
My word count was already low
for the day.

But my friend said, "No! No!
Make that voice go away!
Tell that voice in your head
you do NOT want to play.
It should not be there.
It will make you morose.
It should not be there
With your deadline so close!"

"Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!" the voice pled.
"My crit is not bad,"
said the voice in my head.
"Why, this could be
quite a good piece," the voice said,
"with a technique I call
rip-rip-rip it to shreds!"

"Fucking Christ," said my friend.
"Let's not do this again!"
"Gotta go," said my friend,
and she signed off IM.

"Have no fear!" said the voice.
"I would not steer you wrong.
I will beta for you
I will make your piece strong.
By deleting this poo
and then writing instead--
good words," said the voice, said the voice
in my head.

"Look at this!
Look at your ghastly word choice.
And your info-dumps, oh--
and your character's voice!
He can't talk like this, dude!
He can't say 'fuck' this much!
Oh, the sentence fragments!
And your 'worldbuilding' sucks!
And look!
This is not realistic at all!
But that is not all!
Oh, no.
That is not all..."

"Listen up!
Listen up!
Listen up NOW!
It is good to use words
but you have to know how.
I can teach you to write
things that people will read!
Just as soon as you scrap
this ridiculous screed.
You must shitcan this 'plot'--
your 'protagonist,' too!
And then with my help
you can write something new.
You can write something great
if you do as I say!
But never your way.
Oh, no.
Never your way."

That is what the voice said...
So I sat on my bed.
I sat there like a lump
and I wanted to quit.
Then I said to the voice,
"Fuck you and all your 'crit'!"

So I took a long nap
and I thought and I thought.
I said, "Are you helping?
Oh, no! You are not.
You're not helping me grow
or write something worth shit.
No, you are not helping,
not one little bit!"

"Get out of my head!"
said myself to the voice.
"I have to write now!
Deadline's Monday--no choice!
You tore down my plot
and my characters too.
You wasted my time
and I wrote nothing new.
You SHOULD NOT be here,
mean old voice in my head."
So I banished that voice
and I wrote this instead.

28 August 2014 @ 06:57 am
I thought it would be fun to list the books I read this year. You know, because I don't keep track very well. This is based on my Kindle purchase history (which means I'm missing some I already owned or was given by my lovely book-pirating friends) and my memory (which means I'm missing some because my memory sucks. Anyway, here goes.

The scary thing is how many of these (5?) are books I'd read before. I clearly need new material.

(although my list of Kindle purchases says otherwise--I just need to read what I buy)

More or less in reverse chronological order:
1. Misery by Stephen King
2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
5. Island by Aldous Huxley
6. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
8. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
9. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (don't... just don't)
10. Crank by Ellen Hopkins (why do most of my work friends read YA, arghhhh)
11. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
12. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
13. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
14. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
15. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
16. The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin
17. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
18. Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir by Margaux Fragoso
19. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
20. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
21. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
22. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
23. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
24. The Giver by Lois Lowry
25. A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
26. The Talisman by Stephen King
27. On Writing by Stephen King

...That list is actually kind of short and sad. Oh well. I've been working 50-hour weeks since April while having a 3 year old and trying to write every day. And reading a million Idol posts. Let's not talk about how much of today's writing time I wasted making this list. Oops.

ETA: I decided I might as well keep updating the list for as long as I remember. And I also found some more books I had read this year and forgotten to note before. Oops.

28. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
29. The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
30. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
31. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
32. The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists by Eleanor D. Payson
33. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (bleh)
34. Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
35. A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer
36. Mean Mothers by Peg Streep
37. Sharp by David Fitzpatrick
38. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

09 June 2014 @ 08:07 pm
"We have to talk," Katie's eyes are hard and her brow's all creased up.

I nod and I try to look agreeable, but I don't say a word and I keep on brushing Daniel's hair. And I focus on the sweet floral scent of his shampoo and how soft his hair feels and the way it slides like black silk through my fingers. Katie wanted to cut it last year when all of this started, but I wouldn't let her. It's his pride and joy, or at least it was.

He won't be able to keep it up, Katie said, and you'll have your hands full anyway.

But my hands don't feel full, not with all I've lost.

"It's about Daniel," she continues, and her voice's so cold.

He doesn't react to the sound of his name, but I do. Because I don't want to talk about Daniel--not now with him here and not later, either. I know what Katie's gonna say, and I don't want to hear it. My hands won't stay steady and I almost drop the brush and it snags in Daniel's hair. And he turns to me with a small, hurt noise, and he's too pale and his eyes are big and shadowed and scared. But he's every bit as beautiful to me as he's always been, and for a second I swear he's there, really there--

And he blinks and the moment passes, and my heart breaks all over again.

"Sorry I scared you, dude," I whisper, and I lay a hand on his back. I can feel his ribs through his T-shirt and the too-fast beating of his heart. His whole body tenses under my touch, and I've gotta stay still 'til he relaxes. But then he leans in and rests his head on my shoulder, and I hold him close and breathe him in and remember how he used to be. How we used to be. And I remember those first awful weeks last year--how lost he looked and his endless questions.

What happened? Was I dead? Am I alive now?

One year and who knows how many tests and treatments later, and we still know so little.

Every thirty seconds and sometimes sooner, his memory resets and for him there's nothing in between. And he's quieter now with all the meds they've got him on, but those questions are still there and I can see them in his eyes whenever he looks at me.

Where'd I go? How long was I asleep?

But there's never any answers to give him, because even the doctors're stumped. It's a brain injury, they say, but they're not clear on the cause and I can't help because I wasn't around when it happened. They tell us it's a rare case and they look at Daniel like he's a puzzle for them to put together. But they can't find all the pieces, and they can't say for sure if he'll get better or how long it'll take if he does. It could happen tomorrow or in a year or not at all. And that's the worst part, that nobody really knows anything.

All I know is Daniel's gone, maybe forever, and I wasn't there when he needed me most.

"Jess?" Katie's voice is softer now, but she's not gonna let me ignore her.

"What is it?" I ask, and I'm so tired, all worn out from fighting so hard to hold onto what's left.

And I feel selfish saying that when Daniel's the one who's lost everything. It's not so much work taking care of him, really. Because it turns out he can take care of his hair and his showers and all those things just fine on his own as long as you remind him every day. The doctors call that procedural memory, and it means his body remembers how to do things even though his brain doesn't. So he can still tinker with his circuits and wires and stuff, and it makes him so happy and it's the only time he's almost him.

But you've gotta watch him so he doesn't get distracted and burn the house down... like he almost did the other day.

Katie twists a lock of her own black hair around one finger. "I think we need to consider... other options for his care."

My eyes well up and my stomach's in my shoes and I think I might choke on this lump in my throat. But I knew this was coming and I've gotta stay calm, so I wait to speak 'til my voice won't shake. "There are no other options."

"Jess." All the steel's gone from her now, and her voice's flat and kinda robotic. "He's not getting any better."

My arm tightens around him of its own volition and he lets out a soft little sigh. And there's no way I'm gonna abandon him again, not now and not ever. "He's--" My words come out all squeaky and I swallow and start over. "He's calmer, isn't he?"

Katie snorts. "More like catatonic." She shakes her head, and her dark eyes flash. "How long do you think you can keep this up? You're only nineteen, Jess. You're supposed to be going out to parties and... doing whatever normal people our age do."

"You don't understand--" I start, but Katie cuts me off.

"Understand what?" she demands, and her face might as well be made of metal except for the flush rising on her brown skin. "That you blame yourself for a breakup that wasn't your fault? Or that you're wasting your life playing nursemaid to make up for it?"

Her face's too close to mine and her breath's hot on my cheeks. Daniel squirms away and he huddles in the corner and makes himself small and I want to tell him it's all gonna be okay. But it isn't okay, and I don't know if it ever will be. And I want to tell Katie it is my fault, because I knew he didn't mean all those things he said to me, the last time I saw him before. I knew it was just a fight and I walked out on him anyway, and he never takes care of himself when I'm not around, and--

"Snap out of it, Jess," she growls, and she lunges toward me and I think she's gonna slap me. But she grasps me by the tops of my arms instead and lifts me onto my feet. She shakes me like a ragdoll and her long nails dig into my skin.

"H- he belongs with me, K--"

"Yeah, right," she snaps. "That's why you were on that six-week 'vacation' at your parents' house when all this started."

And she might as well have slapped me right across the face, the way that stings.

"You didn't break him, you idiot." Her arms fall to her sides and she stares at the floor, and I've never seen her look so sad. "I heard him yelling at you clear across the house, and I heard the front door slam when he left. He walked out on you first, and you were right to leave him when you did. He was broken from the start--"

"He's. Not. Broken," I hiss through gritted teeth, and that low, icy voice's coming from my mouth but it doesn't sound like mine. My blood's pounding in my ears and there's this crazy strength surging through me. And I'm shaking but it's not because I'm scared, and all of a sudden I don't feel like sweet, harmless little Jess anymore. I march right up to Katie and I stare her down and I swear I could throw her across the room. Daniel shrinks away from me, and he mutters something I can't make out.

But Katie doesn't back down one bit. "Well, he's not coming back, is he? Look at him."

He's cowering against the wall, and his eyes are bright with fear.

"Is this the man you love?" Katie won't let up, not for one minute.

And all my rage drains away in an instant, because that's a question I can actually answer. "Yes."

She hollers something back, but I don't hear what it is because my eyes are on Daniel. And he blinks back at me with this light in his eyes and I want so much to believe it means something. That this time it's him, it's really him and he's back for good. But I've been hoping so hard for way too long, so I swallow and I brace myself for the moment the light flickers out again.

But it doesn't come.

Daniel's perfect brows knit together and he clears his throat. "Don't fight," he croaks. "Please."

His voice's like a thousand rusty hinges but it's the most wonderful sound I've ever heard.

I throw my arms around him and I snuffle into his shirt and he holds me like he's never gonna let go. My hands tangle in his hair and now I'm the one with all the questions but I'm too busy clinging to him for dear life to ask them.

"She's right, y'know." His words're soft puffs against my ear and they make me shiver. "Did this to myself."

I'm drenched in tears and my head's spinning and I don't want to pull away, but I do. "What d'you mean, dude?"

"Might not want anything to do with me once I tell you," Daniel mutters.

He leans forward and he lets his hair fall over his face like he always does when he's ashamed. And it's so him it makes me ache, and there's nothing he can say that'll change the way I feel, and--

"You left, and I--" He pauses and picks at the carpet, and he takes a deep breath. And he leans his head back against the wall and closes his eyes. "Look, I fucked up, okay? Knew this guy..." He trails off, and he looks straight at me with his big wet eyes and shakes his head. "I don't deserve you, Jess. I wanted this."

And I can't think straight, because nothing makes sense. "You wanted this? To lose all your memories?"

"Not all of them." He sighs. "Guy wasn't supposed to take everything. Just--" His voice cracks, and my heart does, too.

Because I already know what he's gonna say, but knowing doesn't make it hurt any less. He cups my chin in one gentle hand and he plants a soft kiss on my forehead. And he whispers the words against my skin.

"Just... you."

Author's Note:
This story and its characters are fictional, but the idea was inspired by a real person. They did not teach me about Clive Wearing when I got my psych degree, and I feel a little cheated (especially since I'm still paying back my student loans).

31 March 2014 @ 04:55 pm
"There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up."

--George R. R. Martin, on the difference between outlining and discovery writing

I'm only writing this because I can't finish my book.

It went so well at first. I banged out a first draft, sat back, relaxed--and then realized it was crap. Which I was okay with, because I hear this is a common problem with first drafts. I figured I was home free, since all I had to do was fix it in the second draft. How naive I was. One does not simply write a second draft--not if one is a discovery writer.

In the fabulous world of discovery writing, the process goes something like this.

1. Write your first draft.
This part is pretty easy, because the characters kind of just do things. You'll probably spend a lot of time asking yourself, "Why would he [or she] do that?" Other than that, things are good, your creative juices are flowing, you're thinking, "Wheeeeeee, I can do this! I can really write a book." If you're writing 1000 words a day or so, you're done in a few months.

2. Review what you've written.
Here's where you start to run into trouble, because this is when you realize 90% of your "novel" is character development. Say you've got a 100,000-word first draft. The typical novel has 250-300 words per page, so you've written a 400-page book with, at most, 40 pages of plot. Whatever plot you do have bears little resemblance to the story you thought you were writing.

3. Write an outline for your second draft.
To a discovery writer, outlining might sound like pure torture. It's not so bad, though--all you have to do is pick up the cues your characters have given you and develop them into a coherent plot. It's satisfying to see it take shape, and you're optimistic for your second draft.

4. Begin the second draft.
Oh, boy. Remember that outline you wrote? Your characters laugh in the face of it. Within a few thousand words, your plot's taken an unexpected turn, thereby invalidating most of your carefully thought-out storyline. You may still have a basic idea of where the book is going, but how you're going to get there? That's a bit of a mystery.

5. Regroup.
Stop expecting your characters to cooperate and resign yourself to the fact that they're going to do what they want, when they're damn well ready. Give up on writing "in order" and write the chapters in the order they reveal themselves to you. Attempt to determine what order everything is really supposed to go in. Practice deep breathing.

6. Panic.
At this point, you may begin to lose your mind. It's not unusual for your characters to feed you lines of story as you're waking up or falling asleep. While you're driving, in the shower, during sex. You have 200,000 words of random notes for your book but only six chapters in your second draft. Your characters lie to you. You argue with your characters. They argue back.

7. Repeat steps 3-7 as needed.
Do them in any order you please. Rewrite the same chapter five times. Whatever. It's not like you're finishing the fucking book anyway.

8. Realize that your "main character" is not, in fact, your main character.
In hindsight, this probably should have been obvious. Oops.

9. I have no idea.
I already told you--I wouldn't be writing this if I could finish my novel.