Simmer

Prompt: Simmer

cook illustration cartoon

Nanowrimo Day 2 and I can tell you I won’t be appearing in the role of the above illustrated cook any time soon. I love to cook, but Nano is too damn distracting.

Today I wrote a little bit about the youngest of my protagonists, who while on an adventure learning to ride, was mortally injured in an accident. She can’t die, but she can feel pain, and that was the hard part about today’s session.

Meanwhile, I got a chicken to have for dinner and then leftovers. Whole chickens are easy. You roast them until done, and they become delicious. We may be eating a lot of chicken this November.

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The Mystery Deepens

Prompt: Mystery

cartoon easter island bandaid

It is November 1, the first day of National Novel Writing Month, in which participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel, of any level of quality, in an effort to prove that it can be done.

My posts here are usually less than 500 words, so it is a true challenge to churn out 1600 words per day, especially since I have no detailed outline nor clear ideas about my protagonists. It will be a very long month.

One day I will write a mystery– I always think there is some kind of trick to a mystery novel that I can’t quite grasp. My problem could be that I have a terrible habit of writing as if I’m reading… I don’t like to spoil the experience (my experience!) with too much information. I irrationally don’t like spoilers, even when I am the author. So I avoid thinking too much about the details and even the resolution and ending, which makes novel-writing pretty impossible.

Nanowrimo is hard. I keep trying, because though I’ve always hit my 50k word count on time, and thus “win” the challenge, I have yet to produce a book that is readable, even in raw form. So onward I go.

The novel I am writing this year has six characters and unlimited settings. If I can’t find 30 stories for 30 days for the month of November, then maybe I should throw my pencil off the roof. Because I’m not throwing my Macbook Air off the damn roof.

Interview with the Immortals, Part 2

Prompt: Orange

orange tree art

In which journalist Lindsay Hatcher sits down with Immortals Harp and Donny to discuss the rules and vagaries of not dying.

Lindsay Hatcher: Harp, as the elder female of the group, do the others look to you as a mother figure?

Harp: What? No. I don’t think so. Do you, Donny?

Donny: What’s a mother figure?

Harp: So much for your expensive education.

LH: Donny, I see you are juggling four— no, five— oranges, rather adeptly.

Donny: I had time to practice. Oranges are my favourite fruit of all time, at the moment. No matter where you are, how filthy or grimy, when you peel an orange it’s clean and fresh inside. They are juicy and quench your thirst. They are full of vitamin C. And some of them have seeds you can plant and grow a whole tree full of oranges. Amazing.

Harp: It is, when you think about it.

LH: How many Immortals are there?

Harp: Six, in our group.

LH: How many outside your group?

Harp: I don’t know. I’ve seen others in the cave. Sometimes when I’m in the world I see people I suspect are immortal because they behave so recklessly, like the first few times I went back.

LH: How many in the cave? What do they do? Do they form their own, separate groups?

Donny: Nah, they are scared. They just stay in there and don’t get any older. It’s gross.

Harp: That’s true, no one ages when inside the cave. And there are some who never leave it. We call them the Undead, because they aren’t exactly alive. Because they don’t actually live.

LH: Do you talk to them? Do they have, like, friends?

Harp and Donny exchange looks.

Harp: Some inside the cave seem to form friendships of a sort.

Donny: They fuck.

Harp: …

LH: And do they venture outside the cave? On the ridge?

Harp: I’ve seen a few people out there. They don’t follow any of the paths.

LH: The paths are marked with bits of coloured string. Who marked the paths?

Donny: Goff did. He’s been down most of them. He knows where they lead. He’ll say, if you want to go to Nettle Valley, find the blue and black string. If you want to go to Pyongyang, find the black and green string.

LH: Why would anyone want to go to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea?

Donny, shrugging: For an adventure. To see what it’s really like.

Harp: Goff has only marked the paths that he himself has followed. There are others.

LH: Have you ever wanted to stay somewhere in the world? Set down roots? Have a normal life?

Harp: It’s not possible.

Donny: What’s a normal life?

Lindsay Hatcher, Harp, and Donny take a break to peel and eat oranges.


==

Sunblock

Prompt: Brave


Dear Wednesday,

What day is it? Are we close to Nanowrimo? I’m not ready to write my 1600 words per day. This takes courage. I don’t have any!

As in, I’m not brave, which is the daily prompt.

Why am I scared of a laptop and a keyboard and a story half-formed in my head? There are killers and monsters of all kinds out there roaming the earth, most disguised as human beings. Every time we step outside our door we risk being struck by lightning, attacked by a vicious dog, being in the line of fire when our neighbour cleans his rifle, looking up to see a nuclear warhead directed towards our front porch, or, sure, getting hit by a runaway bus. Yet I am ‘asceered’ of a number (albeit a large number) of words.

I forgot to mention other perils when we set forth into the world, which include failure, falling on our face, trailing toilet paper under our shoe, tucking our skirt into our undies, getting publicly caught in a lie, losing an ethical battle, being unable to pick up the fragments of our shattered lives and… well, you get the picture.

National Novel Writing Month challenges us to face failure– and win, or at least die trying. Not die exactly, but expend as much toil and angst as if he had written the full complement of 50,000 words. Which, they tell us, is an accomplishment, too!

Sure it is. Fine.

But I am a competitive person. Not with you, your him, or them, but with myself. It’s how I quit smoking! It’s how I managed to ‘win’ all previous Nanos. A better word might be stubborn. And, I love the couple of days after completing the challenge, when family and friends are so damn proud, even though they have not yet seen a word I’ve written and are taking my achievement on faith.

So to lessen the anxiety of the swiftly approaching November 1st, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, precisely none of which relate to today’s word prompt:

cartoon book of sunblock


cartoon Cat-Guru


cartoon image lineup


Have a happy, productive, courageous week.

~~FP

 

The Emergence of Language

Prompt: Exceptional


Wednesday! Already?

You know, Nanowrimo is swiftly approaching. This is an event in which writers and would-be writers are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. It can be done! This is my fifth or sixth year. I’ve always submitted the required wordage, and a book of sorts, but to the dismay of family and friends, never a novel I would readily share.

I’m hoping this year will be an exceptional year. My premise for the novel is based on a dream, but as I play with the concept I see there might possibly be a book in there, somewhere.

What is this premise? That there are a group of people called the Immortals, because they simply cannot die. When they are “killed” they retreat to a cave, from which they go forth again. My story germ revolves about a group of six “immortals”, of varying ages, who join together to enjoy adventures with no thought of being heroes or changing the world or doing anything actually positive. They’ve found themselves in a fantasy cum horror story, and decide not to play along.

They are kind of selfish.

So the story arc possibilities are quite prolific, and so I might start with my immortals come November 1, even though sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult fiction are not exactly my wheelhouse genres.

So I might play with this concept here on the blog, too, so please indulge me.

Meanwhile, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is tangentially related to the Daily Prompt, “exceptional”:

cartoon penquin identity crisis


cartoon gorilla in bath


cartoon cave people language


Have a happy Thursday (and Friday. And oh hell, Saturday too.)

~~FP

The Fall

Prompt: Translate

woman-bath

The worst part was the ride back across the river in that little wooden punt. The stream was high and jostled them, and the rush of adrenalin that had earlier blocked out the pain had subsided, leaving her to feel the intense pain in her foot, and in her right elbow, where she had landed so hard, and in her upper rib cage, which had borne the impact on the massive tree root as she landed. The scrapes on her hands and legs she didn’t yet feel.

Paul was concerned and apologetic, though why he kept saying he was sorry was a mystery to Catherine. She had fallen under her own steam, if not intentionally. Colin wondered where the nearest doctor might reside, he rambled on and on about it. Emily took her left hand and squeezed it encouragingly. That hurt, and Catherine winced. Everything hurt.

Back at the Soulis house, Mme Soulis greeted the three healthy hikers and the one battered one with her usual aplomb, as if it was to be expected that one of them should pitch down the dry waterfall. Colin wanted a doctor but she ignored him and summoned old Soulis, who gave her a rather personal, and painful examination right there in the front foyer; twisting her ankles and arms, poking her abdomen and asking questions in French that Catherine could not understand.

“I think he asked if you have a headache?” Paul said, from his position beside her chair, a large carved piece of furniture more like a throne, and completely out of place in the hallway. He put his arm around her shoulder as he bent over to ask.

Dammit, she did have a headache, she hadn’t noticed until he asked. Dammit. Colin took it upon himself to feel her scalp for bumps, and found none.

“I want drugs,” Catherine said.

“Nothing is broken,” Paul said, “He says you are fine.”

“What?” said Catherine, who felt for the first time the sting of a scratch on her cheek.

“It is probably a sprain, that left ankle,” Paul continued.

“A sprain can be worse than a break,” Colin said unhelpfully.

“And maybe a nasty bruise on the elbow,” Paul said, wincing in empathy.

“We need some stretchy bandages for the ankle,” Emily said, and Mme Soulis, whom they hadn’t notice had left the foyer, suddenly reappeared as if on cue with a roll of beige stretchy tape. She also had a bottle that suspiciously looked like Iodine, which Catherine, remembering it from her childhood, planned to resist.

Mme Soulis spoke, and Paul did his best to translate. “Your condition is not serious, and you do not need a hospital, but your own doctor when you get home. Something like that.”

“It feels serious,” Catherine said sulkily, her eyes welling with tears. “Ow, I might have broken a rib!”

“Can you breathe?” Paul asked, on old Soulis’ behalf.

“Um, yes.”

“No broken ribs then,” said Paul morosely, as if it would have better if she was right even if it meant broken ribs.

Mme Soulis disappeared again and returned with a cup of hot herbal tea. Catherine sipped while old Soulis wrapped the tape expertly around her left foot, under the watchful eye of Paul and Emily, who had done many an impromptu ankle taping. Someone handed her a kleenex to blot her tears. Then old Soulis took the nefarious little bottle from Mme Soulis’ hand, and dabbed it on a square of folded gauze.

“I’ll do that,” said Colin. And as he dabbed, painlessly, at her legs, arms and cheek, Catherine sipped the last of her tea, suddenly drowsy, aching, spent. “You’ll be ok, baby,” said someone. Colin?

Later, she slept. The soft, cool dry sheets of their bed felt heavenly against her aches; she didn’t think she had ever felt so comfortable, the fall notwithstanding. She awoke when she heard the door close tentatively. On the bedside table was another cup of tea, and a large ceramic basin, steam rising from warm water, a pale yellow sponge floating on its surface. She didn’t have the energy to give herself a sponge bath. Where was Colin? She tried awkwardly to heave herself up into a semi-sitting position, and saw she was naked and pulled a white sheet up around her chin. Not before noticing one large rib bruise and two small purple smudges on her right breast. Ouch.

Catherine took the cup of tea in her hands and sipped—it was obviously medicinal in some way, some crazy magic Soulis way, and the closest thing to drugs she was likely to get here— and stared out the window at the clearing around the house, and the forest beyond, edging closer. It was grey, and she had no idea of the time and no idea where her watch was. It must be late— dinner time? Was Colin with Emily and Paul, enjoying a gourmet dinner while she suffered with a basin of water and a cup of indeterminate tea?

Colin burst in to the room at that moment, flush faced and a glass of white wine in his hand. “Ah, you’re awake!” He sat in the desk chair that had been brought close to the foot of the bed. Catherine hadn’t noticed it there before. “I’ve been sitting here for ages, honest! Just went down for a glass of wine. It’s happy hour. Emily and Paul send their love.”

She could tell by the flush in his cheeks and they way he unintentionally mimicked their English accents, that this was not his first glass of wine of the evening. Colin was what she would call a cheap drunk. Drinking was not his thing.

“Madam Soulis is making a dinner tray for the two of us,” Colin said happily. “I think it’s chicken.”

“With wine? I wouldn’t mind some wine. A lot of wine.”

Colin stood and set the almost empty wine glass down on the desk. “Is the water still warm? Let me give you the sponge bath of your life.”

The water was still warm, and he bathed every part of her body with the soft yellow sponge, silky and soothing, kissing all the tender places. If it hadn’t hurt so much, it would have been the most erotic moment of her married life.

 


Irksome, Enraging, or Good and Day 7

Prompt: Irksome

irksome

The word “irksome” is itself irksome. It is fussy and strange. He irks, she irks. No.

I didn’t put it in the chart, but Scrivener, the writing program, is also irksome, because I can’t figure how to use it most efficiently. So NaNoWriMo Day 7 is irksome. Or maybe I am irksome.

I think I finally understand.