Showtime

Prompt: Mirror


Dear Wednesday,

Novelists often have their protagonists gaze into a mirror and assess their sorry lives as a way to develop character and interest the reader. I don’t know anyone who actually lingers staring at themselves while pondering their existence— there’s too much else to consider: That hair, what happened? Is that a pore or a crater? When did my left eye shift so far down my cheek? Is that nose mine? Why does my smile look painful? …We might have a moment of sharp mortality when we see wrinkles canyoning across the face, but that is the most reflection I indulge in while reflecting on my reflection.

The purpose of a mirror is to paint a fine stroke of eyeliner or tame a shock of hair. We are too much inside our heads at other times to bruise our egos with life assessment and judgement.

And in the right hands, mirrors are the source of fun and pleasure, and so may I present a few of my favourite cartoons related to today’s prompt, “mirror”?

cool cat

bad dog

showtime


Peach and lug,

~~FP

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Still Life with Chocolate Cake

Prompt: Superpower


Hello Wednesday!

I’ve been busy with Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), having completely changed the novel almost half-way in— as if the challenge isn’t daunting enough for me as it is. So I’ve neglected Fluffy Poolity and have some catching up to do!

When I haven’t been also neglecting household duties and ignoring friends and being housebound and opening cans of soup for dinner, I’ve been rigorously trying to go Trump-free since his presidency keeps outstripping every low— subterranean—expectation. When he goes low, he then goes lower. I now talk like a millennial: I just can’t…

So it calms me to think of a world where Trump is no longer in my face. I wish the man no harm; just happily dream about his retirement, which is what I love about the following collection of sketches. Hope you enjoy too.

trump_paintings_USE_this_051917


Peace and love,

~~FP

Perhaps the Room is Too Warm

Prompt: None, it’s NaNoWriMo!

cartton suffer writer


Dear Wednesday,

Here we go on another miserable yet wonderful adventure, also called National Novel Writing Month. I’ve done my 1600 words for the day for a novel tentatively titled Cherity, about something or other I’m not entirely sure of. Anyway, in the first chapter a bomb goes off. Fun!

In keeping with this theme of writing, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, which I did not present yesterday because it was Halloween and ghosts were more important?

cartoon-you-write-to-penny-my-darling-ex-wife-who-nurtured-me-and-suppo-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9178976-8419449

cartoon procrastinating-writer-writing-on-paper-about-his-writing-implements-and-h-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9173157-8419447

cartoon-here-it-is-my-novel-i-ll-be-interested-to-hear-your-compliments-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9181104-8419449


The middle cartoon is me around Nano: I prevaricate, procrastinate, delay, clean my keyboard, download writing apps, try to print out worksheets, order printer ink, wonder what else Staples has on sale, brush the dog, and google “What’s a cool injury”? because I am so bereft of ideas.

To any of you also starting your 50,000 word novel draft today (try it!) good luck and happy writing!

~~FP

Corn for Tallness

Prompt: Express yourself


My dear Wednesday,

I (and you, and anyone) have the opportunity to express myself (yourselves) for thirty days this November, which is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, or Nano. The idea is to sit down with a fresh sheet of real or virtual blank paper and start writing— about 1600 words per day for a total of 50,000 words (about the length of Catcher in the Rye) by the end of the month. A first draft of a book. A novel. Written by me/ you.

I’ve met the challenge every five or six times I’ve “competed”— it is an honour system tally. You post your word count to the NaNoWriMo website and your finished manuscript, which they mechanically verify and then declare you a Winner. You get to print out a full colour certificate, frame it, and hang it on the wall of your office or dining room or nail it to the fence.

I am generally a “pantser” which means I start writing without the benefit of detailed outline, as opposed to a “plotter” who organizes most the structure, theme, plot, and characters ahead of time.

This year I am trying the Save the Cat formula, which divides the story into three acts with specific pivotal plot points (called Beats) in each. So I actually have a story outline, but as yet no defined hero character at all.

I realize plot and character are interactive; each forms part of the other. As the plot affects the character, so does the character affect the plot.

…So what makes a compelling character?

I await your answer.

Seriously.

Meanwhile, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, only the first of which is even tangentially related to today’s casual prompt, “express yourself”?

cartoon decorator-farming-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9180543-8419447

cartoon freshly-ground-pepper-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9476900-8419449

cartoon man-on-deserted-island-writes-tuesday-nov-27-dear-diary-still-no-si-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9168868-8419449


Peace, love, and lots of writing,

~~FP

Barnaby

Prompt: Snippet


Hello Wednesday,

I am immersed in finishing NaNoWriMo before tomorrow (November 30) and so have drawn up a random snippet of the book to share. This is not a wonderful snippet, or representative of the book, but here you go. Cartoon to follow. 🙂

Ivy opened her eyes. Had she died, again?

No. While it hurt to breathe, she could smell leaves and mud, and hear birds arguing in the distance, and what she saw, straight ahead of her, was a cloudless blue sky.

She heard a snort. It was her horse, Barnaby, probably nearby, contentedly feasting on shoots of fescue and wildflowers, instead of returning back to the ranch riderless, thus alerting Sable and Mr Clarence and Dean and all the others that there had been an accident, that there was an emergency.

And there had been an accident. Ivy felt like she was hanging upside down, and while she couldn’t move, she could see that she lay on a steep slope, a rocky slope with persistent white flowers and creeping horsehairs that grew from every crevice and crack. She could move her right hand, and her fingers wrapped around a handful of gravel.

“Barnaby— shoo!” she cried, but her voice was ragged and raspy, and barely above a whisper. She heard him snort. He was a nice horse, a handsome horse— a glossy coat speckled with white, grey, and soft brown— and a good horse, but he wasn’t hers. They hadn’t bonded the way Dean had bonded with his working horse, or Clarence with his old mare, and even Sable and her lively stallion seemed to have a special connection.

She was Barnaby’s temporary burden, and Barnaby was her temporary mount, or he would have sensed that she was in grave danger, and raced back to the ranch instead of hanging about, taking a break, snacking on sweet grass, enjoying the sunshine, with no one pulling at him this way and that way— someone inexperienced, green, and who pulled too hard or not hard enough, jostled on his back like a sack of rocks, and almost strangled him when they dismounted.

Barnaby didn’t know she was injured, in trouble. For all he knew, she was taking a pleasant break in a rather harrowing ride, just as he was.

For she had ridden him hard, across the meadow and through the river, anxious to prove herself to Dean and Sable, because she wanted to enter the race. The race was all anyone talked about. Even Mrs Donovan’s pregnant ladies, when Ivy accompanied her on her rounds, talked about the Nettle River Cross County Race.

If you were underage, as Ivy was, you needed a sponsor. Mr Clarence, Dean, the ranch manager, and Sable agreed she wasn’t ready. She’d made good progress! She’d graduated from the corral to the trail quickly, and what she lacked in innate skill she made up for in determination.

Of course, neither Ivy nor Sable told Dean or anyone that she was learning to ride so she could go with the other Immortals on a grand, dangerous adventure. They were to join an army, Sable said, an army on horseback. They would travel across country, camp in tents, learn to protect themselves with swords and agility, defend the weak against the powerful. Sable said it was a lark for the ages. Sable said they would live on their horses, and Ivy needed to learn to ride, quickly and very well.

It was crazy that they wouldn’t let Ivy race. She could handle Barnaby. Barnaby was fast, when she let him. She was smart enough to give him free rein across the wide spaces, and to let him pick his way through a narrow path on the side of a mountain, and to let him choose the safest route down a steep incline— but wait.

The long meadow ended just beside Peggy’s Rock. They flew over the edge of the cliff, because that’s what all the riders did. The drop looked steeper than it was, and the horses gained their footing quickly. The trick then was to lean back, keep the reins loose, and let the mount fly down the hill, then take control again at the bottom.

Ivy got scared. Yes, that’s what happened. She knew the cliff was less fearsome than it appeared, but as she and Barnaby approached, she was reminded of the cliffs at the plateau, the ones that surrounded the cave, and how the drop from those ledges was a drop into nothingness, to mist, to death.

So she pulled up on Barnaby. In a panic, she pulled on the rough leather reins with both hands as they cleared the ledge and, for a few seconds, they seemed to float. Barnaby was off balance though, and instead of landing cleanly he faltered, tripped forward, and there were several moments of sheer panic as the horse tried to regain balance, before Ivy was thrown.

Then the blackness, then the awakening to a sky.

Ivy felt a sudden stab of pain in the back of her neck, then her left shoulder blade. She realized her left eye was closed, and there was something wet on her cheek and neck.

She could just make out Barnaby from the corner of her eye. He was not bothered by the steepness, he relaxed his legs and lowered his elegant neck and pulled vegetation from between the rocks with his teeth. His tail swished.

With all the strength she could muster, she lifted her right hand from the ground. It trembled, it resisted, but she heaved the handful of gravel as hard as she could at Barnaby’s rump.

“Go!” she tried to shout. “Shoo!”

The small rocks landed near Barnaby’s hind hooves, and he lifted one as if in acknowledgement of a small distraction, then continued to feed on the grasses.

Ivy couldn’t see her hand, so she opened it flat and groped and scratched blindly across the earth until her palm found a rock about the size of a ping pong ball. She gasped with a new pain as she raised her right forearm again, and taking as deep a breath as she could, flung the stone with all her might.

The rock found its target. Barnaby felt an intense sting on his rump, kicked, and if suddenly snapped from an idyll, he shook his head and started scrambling up over the ledge, where he disappeared.

Where there had been no pain, a blanket of agony slowly began to cover Ivy with its heavy warmth, and she started to cry like a child.



cartoon horse jumper

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.

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.