I am loathe to admit that maybe I’ve been too busy writing lately, but it would appear that this is a “problem” from which I am currently suffering — It’s day 5 of Nanowrimo and I’ve written 1500 words. Argh! I’ve finally managed to finish a medium-length commission tonight (at least the rough draft of it, anyway; waiting on its approval), only to find out I have another project for me within the next day, as well as one within the next week. Then I was approached today by a website that specializes in helping creative types find jobs; they were responding to a resume I had sent out looking for a blogging job. They don’t offer pay with their work, but they’re fairly well known, and I guess I could benefit from the exposure (plus it’s only one 500-word article a week!). I interviewed for a writing job at a start-up company today, and I received a lot of unexpected praise for my skills, so hopefully I’ve landed this opportunity as well.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging – I am just stunned. I have enjoyed writing for a long time, and I have only very recently begun to share my love of the craft with others while simultaneously getting paid to do it. I was silent on the internet for a very long time, meaning not posting on forums, blogging, or even commenting on videos or articles. I just hid from everything, hoping that I wouldn’t upset anyone or receive negative feedback. I’ve talked about all this before, of course, but it’s similar to when you step out of a dark room into the direct sunlight – it hurts your eyes, it’s overwhelming, and it feels incredibly intense. I’ve worked on flexing my creative muscles and getting back out into the world once more, focusing on being innovative and being active. My eyes are beginning to adjust to the light, but it’s still intense.
So with that, I want to post an excerpt of what I have accomplished in my first chapter of my novel here!
“I will find more later, I promise.” Aria looked at her mother, whose eyes searched those of her daughter. She knew that her mother sought something more than the comfort of words that would only serve to die in the air, mere moments after they had been spoken – she wanted a tangible token of hope instead: a method of transport away from their makeshift shelter, or the friendly hand of a soldier to lead them to safety, away from the desperation and ruin. But all the young woman could do was smile and kiss her mother on the forehead, as if that would seal away her doubts and fears, because presently, she could only offer words and kind gestures in place of their freedom. Then, before she had to listen to her mother refute her food in favor of feeding her daughter instead, she opened the scrap metal door to their home and stepped out onto the snow, into the quiet night, and closed it as softly as she could behind her.
As far as she could see, the white powder was blackened by the soot and ashes of the destruction. It had been three weeks. Nothing had changed; darkness still ruled their days, and their nights were yet ruled by restlessness and misery. They had to maintain vigilance against looters – they were thieves, all of them, but they were also desperate souls wanting kindling, clothes, or a weapon to protect themselves. How could she blame them for trying to take the things that would allow them to keep their lives?
Aria felt tears stinging her eyes, and her nose began to tingle – both from the cold, and from her sudden onslaught of melancholy. She sniffled. At the age of twenty-six, she had not expected to be living in a shanty town, with no reliable food source or a way of earning her keep. Her mother, in her mid-fifties, was not an old woman by any means, but she had lived a comfortable, happy life until the blackening, protected by naivety and, in part, by her complacency. She had married Aria’s father at a young age, and soon after lived a relatively quiet and sheltered life as a housewife and mother. Now, she was like a child, without the skills to take care of herself in the volatile land, or the gumption to attempt to learn how. Now Aria took care of her mother, without recompense or complaints, as her mother had done for her when she was a babe.
She took a deep breath, trying to calm her spirit. In moments like this, she didn’t want her mother to see how hopeless things were; how lost and small she felt pitted against the elements in the way they were. She shivered, not wanting to think of what could happen to them if they didn’t hear anything from their government soon, and turned to go back inside. Whether tonight would bring more broth made from their frozen stock, or perhaps the treat of a lost rabbit that had the misfortune of wandering into one of Aria’s traps waiting in the dark around the shack, she didn’t know. And presently, she couldn’t think clearly enough to care. She closed the metal door behind her, observing her mother cleaning the kettle and the bowl. Chantal looked tired, her eyes with bags underneath them, her face fixed in a frown, deep lines of concentration etched into her skin. She dipped a cloth in warm water that they had siphoned from melting snow, and rubbed the rag over the stone slowly. Steam rose from the cloth and wafted to the woman’s face; tendrils of vapor caressed her pale skin, making it glisten in the light of the fire emanating from their improvised stove – a sorry pit dug into the ground, stones surrounding it, and, above it, scrap metal twisted into a spit of sorts. Aria’s eyes followed the movement of her mother’s rough, red knuckles as she rubbed their dinnerware free from debris, so that they could eat another meal from clean “dishes”. Just like before.
“Mom, I’m sorry, I think I’m just gonna turn in for the night,” Aria said, offering her mother another smile. “I’m so tired. And it’s so cold tonight.”
“Wait for me, Aria,” her mother replied softly. “I’m tired, too. And I’d like to tell you a story about your sister before you sleep.”
Ah, Carivel. The girl who disappeared six years ago, after dad left. At least she didn’t have to witness this. I wonder if she’s still—
“Is that okay? Do you mind?” Chantal’s voice broke through her daughter’s thoughts, pulling the latter from her dream.
“Yes, of course, mom. Tell me a story.”
And now, I am going to go write more for Nanowrimo. I’ve gotta catch up! 🙂 Again — good luck to all who are participating!