Learning to love or weighing me down?
Quiet at night or just another sound?
How do we tell what we know from what we feel?
How do we learn to separate the right from the real?
Love comes along polluting our minds,
Can’t tell if its the high or the boy,
But damn am I learning to love this,
Just as I loathe this feeling of uncontrol,
And watching him spiral two and fro,
And I’m learning myself as he’s finding himself
And I hope we both find unobtainable wealth,
And yet I’m learning…
That it comes with frustration and pain,
And kisses like this in rain,
And…I do not know what else to say
Because am I losing my way?
Am I finding me through the sway?
How do you make words or rhymes when nothing…
I am learning…
Learning the difference between what I
And what I,
I wrote a lot of awesome ideas as a teenager. That wasn’t that long ago really, and though my teenage years felt like they lasted forever in retrospect I can’t help but realize how quickly they went by…and how with all that time I could have finished more than three or four stories! I was a chronic unfinisher, suffering from a dreadful case of “Great ideas and no execution” beyond a few powerful scenes. There’s so much I’d like to tell myself back then, and so much more I’d like to tell all the writers making the same mistakes. So here’s some advice that I wish I’d known and internalized back then.
Writing by the seat of your pants is great, but you will never feel accomplished until a story is done. You won’t. You’ll fill over 30 journals, teenage D, but you will always feel a touch incomplete. Some of those stories you’ll revisit in college and after, but you have to really want to finish them and if you do you can begin really engaging with your teachers and mentors as someone aiming at publishing and not just the idea of it. Stop putting stories aside because you hit writers block or lose interest even though you know you’ll be wanting to write the story. Keep trying to write even if its garbage. Write to an end point. Maybe not the one you planned by a point where it could end.
To write by the seat of your pants effectively you have to plot. Not bullet by bullet point , though that works for some people, but you have to write out the greater plot elements: Who is involved, what are their relationships, What events effect the over all plot, and why? Answer those questions succinctly from start to finish.
Don’t try to do this and end up writing an omnibus of lore instead of an actual book. Look, readers and younger me…I spent several months on a world building project for a story I never finished and developed not just basic elements, but the economic system over the last 200 years in the world. It was headache inducing…why did I do that? Because sitting down and writing seemed like a hassle and this seemed like it still helped my writing. It didn’t. It usually doesn’t. It can help you only if you’re writing at the same time. Now speaking of time…this next one is gonna take a minute…
Drama doesn’t = story. I’m sorry. I know I used to love Lifetime movies and melodramatic manga. They’re great, but they have story elements. It isn’t just scenes for the sake of scenes. The element that makes the drama in those movies and manga work is that the drama between characters is woven through their lives. Most movies, books, shows, and manga fail when their love stories are one of two things…horribly cliched or the story doesn’t connect on any real level. They just sort of sit there and happen because of romance cliches, because of drama cliches, because of mystery cliches. A series of dramatic events doesn’t inherently make for a story or a plot. You don’t have to follow classical plot structure, but you should write a story not just a series of events. I used to have a habit of having stories that went: Event 1; Event 2; Event 3; Event 4; Big Event and then so on for 12 more events. The story never really ended, but it never really began. The characters didn’t really get to know each other, and in some ways they weren’t so much characters as reactive puppets.
Drama must have meaning. This is a big one. I love fan fiction, and began reading it years ago with Sailor Moon and Xena stories. After a decade reading some of the best and worst unknown and hobby writers one thing that almost all young writers seem to do is thrive on drama without weight and meaning. Stories of sorrowful and dramatic miscarriages that have nothing to them than sorrow and no real sense of what that sorrow means. Stories of couples hating each other then suddenly falling in love without sense of what that would take or why other than…because the writer wanted it. Couples betraying each other and then forgiving not because they’ve grown but because one is just misunderstood and its excused because the betrayal only serves to make the reuniting sweeter; also this happens over one chapter. Nothing that happens hold weight. What separates the good stories from the bad is a world with weight. Pride & Prejudice is remembered because it is a story about love and marriage in the context of the socio-political politics of the regency era. The drama of Legally Blonde is situated in the context of what the world sees in Elle Woods as a blonde, rich, attractive, and overtly feminine woman. The inherent drama of Call the Midwife, True Blood, or Warehouse 13(All very different shows) is situated not just on character drama but in a world where those character dramas are inherently impacted by and impact the worlds they inhabit. The drama has weight, and so it feels reals. Being a teenager is high octane emotional drama…but those moments in-between and those moments where we’re just responding to the world define our stories . Life builds to crescendos of emotional heat. The betrayal of a lover doesn’t vanish in a chapter spanning a week. It takes something climatic, it takes an awareness that one was hurt and regardless love must be rebuilt. When you don’t take the time to understand what your drama can/should mean for your characters then your drama will mean little and leave so little impact. Your writing will feel young, and like an “edge lord” trying too hard to force everyone to feel because its a story so full of meaning.
Don’t just try to impress people or mistake being edgy and dramatic for good writing. Edge lord, for those who don’t know, is slang for people who essentially try too hard to edgy. Some people tell funny off color jokes about, for example, assault as though to say “I’m a hard core person”. Others are constantly judgey. A desire to be edgy is very consistent in most teenagers writing. It is healthy and natural, and annoying as hell even to other teenagers. Teenage D agrees even as she loved sorrowful drama herself. You have to sit and think, and research. Read more about the world, think less about the drama and more about what those dramas mean because that will inform the feeling.
I wrote some damn good stuff as a teen, stories and scenes I’m proud of, but as you mature you learn to recognize the worst of your tendencies and that of others. These were just a few of mine and my friends. I hope you don’t take this too harshly, my teenage readers. Even if you do the things I warn against you can still have talent, but maybe my tips will help you mature your writing a little faster. Maybe you can be a bit further along than me by the time your my age as a result. I’m not old, but I definitely wish I could make more efficient use of my time and stories by going back and talking to my younger self. In the self-publishing world having stories published as quickly and as well as possible makes all the difference. If I started really focusing in on where to improve and how then I could have gotten in on the ebook boom of 2012. I could have had several books out and be comfortable saying I had some up for sale. With that said I’m comfortable where I am. My writing is better than ever and I spent a lot of time getting to where I am.
Let there be a memory for her, that’s what they’d say when Damian would bring her body back the temple. They’d dress her body in white, paint over her wounds, and lay her to rest in laurels in the golden fields of tulips just beyond her childhood home. The thought made him sick, as he tried to cover her fun shot wound with her hands and a towel. Blood soaked through the cloth, turning it from white to pink to red in seconds, and then coating his dirtied fingers.
“You can’t, ya know. You just can’t!” Megara was in hysterics beside him. She turned to the men they’d bargained with who seemed just as shocked as they were. One with a mouth open like a tunnel to hell, stood with his shotgun pointed taunt. “She was giving you what you wanted!”
They looked at the girl in front of them, now covered in blood, and shaking, gagging. The girl was born with a keen sense but unsound mind. They thought the priestess of the Blue Lady would be able to ease her spirit…she did. She helped everyone and now?
The girls father grabbed the gun, and the group’s leader, a tall red wood like man, grabbed the boy. He looked about 17 next to the bearded grown men. Why did they bring him?
“What the fuck did you do?” he asked
“I-I thought the priestess was going to use her…her weird voodoo powers!” The boy stammered. Damian turned away, not bothering to hide his grimace behind a stoic or rage filled face. He felt so tired. These people feared the church of the blue lady, and they feared the “deviants” the church saved, called it strange…wicked except when useful.
“She was supposed to help…” Damian said. His hands trembled, and he pressed down until she gasped. “Honey?”
Her mouth moved, her eyes rolled back and then back to him. She looked like a strange and feral thing when she’d always been so elegant. Long black braids, perfect, flowing gowns, blouses. She looked…mythical. Her eyes were glazed, a vision. The lesser of the powers that boy feared.
“Megara who slayed the child,” and as though her words were prophecy Megara stood and ran, she bolted through the men, knocking them down like dolls. Damian watched as Cassandra pushed the group leader away and fired her pistol against the boys stomach. “And sowed the fields and…will always survive.”
“Stop,” Damian said. And she did and her eyes began to roll. “Stay with me.”
She grabbed his collar and pulled herself up, urgency coming.
“Athena will come to luna. They will not listen.” She chuckled and shook her head. “I’ll die. I wanted to not though.”
“Did you know?”
“No…but others did. I told them…they liked my conviction. I don’t know. It was important. Fuck this hurts” The church. The church!
They always knew!
“I’ll kill them all,” Damian whispered.
“There will be war. Ares on chariot, weeping for the innocent in vulgar wars with no honor: Nicomachaen Ethics…” Her blood felt so hot, and she began to look pale. “Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
He wouldn’t bring her to that church. To those vultures who wanted a martyr. He heard Megara being restrained, and the boy shrieking as though he’d seen the spectre of death looming over him. He should’ve suffered. He deserved no tulips. No white. Nothing, but who was he but them? His people? Who was he but their fear?
“Am I good?” She asked.
“Yes, Cassandra…perhaps I am not.”
—Not gonna continue unless asked, but this isn’t a complete story or proofread or anything…but stray thoughts.
Luna. That is what they named the colony on SVX99, a robust planet known for its silver and grey flora which were the diets of equally robust fauna. Instead of insects as Earthborn knew them there were these butterfly sized birds with wings with as many colors as the human eye could see. They’d nip the pollen from the plants with snouts, tongues, beaks, or suckers of all kinds and would drop them as they went. There were actual butterflies and moths, massive, but Dr. BJ Martinez had proved they were mamlian and at the time had theorized they were simply a bird varient. There were seven legged exceptionally tall creatures with silver backs and black legs, which were somewhere between the noble elk and the adorably goofy giraffe. They had a habit of trying to eat human tints, and ate these lavender bushes that seemed to grow everywhere from the mountains to the snowyplains far down south. I’d see all of them during my stay, and I intended to see many more, but there was one I was quite fond of.
My favorite was the Dalaxia, named for its discoverers Mia Dalan and Joon Xia, it resembled a moomin type creature. It’s medium sized hippo like body had large floppy ears on the side of its head and then another set of multi-directional hippo like ears on top. There round faces had many whiskers and their swatting tails were beaver like. They were the first creatures I saw, and though I’d been instructed to stay in the camp to merely document their habits before being escorted to Luna. Perhaps it was because we were the first ship in range, or perhaps it was because we’d brought food, but within 30 minutes the Dalaxia had begun inspecting the camp. They ate a whole canister of economy sized dried green beans, two sugar filled canisters, and one baby Dalaxia befriended Captain Edgar’s dog Maxine. The baby kept making these whimpering and honking noises until poor old Maxine had to indulge it and they ran around for what seemed to poor Maxine to be hours. The old girl kept looking back at me like “Are we done yet? This youngin is making grandma tired”. The sixty of us must have looked quite comical as we handled these creatures.
I could not put pen to paper, or pen to tablet of course…I was too busy laughing as Dalaxians began trying to sniff each of us, and mouth our hands. The beasts were almost unnaturally gentle, and reminded me of the seals make-a-wish took me to see before my miraculous recovery. The seals had surrounded me, and seemed to sense exactly the right amount of play I could endure. One simply decided to lay on my tummy, and another tried to share its frozen fish Popsicle with me. The handlers had laughed and said I must have a way about me. I didn’t know what that meant back then. Even on SVX99 I didn’t know.
Really I didn’t know why I was there, or why I had signed up for the four year long mission. There was no tragic backstory though plenty of my friends died on Earth, but that was to be expected. My first love died too. Maybe that’s tragic. We had the same problem, chronic asthma due to a degenerate environment. Earth’s atmosphere was too thick for our lungs and laden with fumes and particulates. As a little girl a breath for me felt like swallowing both cinnamon and broken shrapnel; lungs would be filled, corked, choked, and I’d imagine new holes forming, arteries being torn asunder. My chest would expand and I’d be ravaged by pain my childlike mind could not process. At 14 I still could not, and Dylan would sit in my room with me during my attacks and we’d be lost together. It was the best of the worst time. We weren’t the strong ones, and we couldn’t adapt. Maybe that was the sad or tragic part to some, but “that’s just been how its been” as my father would say.
My life was one of millions, and only significant in my sudden recovery from both the slow cancer discovered shortly after my asthma was diagnosed as terminal. I was just a glorified documentarian really; good at drawing, describing, and with some training in both anthropology and biology. Yet it didn’t take training to figure out the Dalaxians enjoyed head pats and side tummy rubs.
I stood in the center of a ring of sniffing snorting Dalaxians, trying to make sure snot didn’t get on my face as one unceremoniously sniffed my hair.
“Aren’t you friendly?” I laughed.
“They are very curious creatures,” Captain Edgar said, giving a large old Dalaxia a solid head pat. The Dalaxia had a large scar across its front leg, rather odd sense they had no known predators and we certainly didn’t intend on becoming any. “They’ve been watching the camp and colony every time I come back.”
The Dalaxia sniffing my head suddenly dragged its long tongue up my cheek, leaving sweet sticky saliva, and I shuddered. It must have been one of the ones to eat a sugar canister. Three small babies popped up from between their mother’s legs and began sniffing my knees and hands before I could wipe off the stickiness. I suspect the big Dalaxia who’d licked me used that act to signal I was ok because the youngsters began to gently butt my thighs.
“They want you to play with them,” Captain Edgar said.
“Do they now? Do they do this with everyone?”
“No, but they do it with people who meet their exacting standards like Maxine” He pointed to his dog, barking and yapping as an adolescent Dalaxian began to head butt the other before rolling onto the ground submissively at Maxine. Maxine licked its face and the Dalaxian licked back. MAxine’s tail wagged and the Dalaxian’s did the same.
“How can they speak the same language when they’re galaxies apart in development?”
“I suppose because they’re a lot better than we are. We can barely understand our selves let alone each other,” Captain edgar suddenly pulled a handful of edamame from his vest pocket and fed the Dalaxian. “I met this fellow when he was just a young bull trying to impress the ladies. He stole a whole canister and rolled it to lady after lady. The first simply wasn’t interested-”
“The second was probably insulted,” I said, patting the Dalaxians heads softly one after another, as though I were learning to play bongos. “No girl wants another’s bouquet. It’s like being an after thought…though personally for dinner I’d make an exception”
Part One End.
I love old descriptions of creatures and places. It’s a required taste, but its so exciting and adventurous even in the meticulous detail. I think I’ll try painting some of these scenes or at least drawing some doodles for next time. Also I love hippos…they’re great.