The sky and sea were frantic. Every cannon on every ship was now propelling bottles through the air, and the sky and sea felt every blast and every projectile. On the shore the sand grated against Talan’s ankles as the combined force of the blasts shook the earth. Although the very first cannon blast sent him into a panic this barrage was so deafening the cannon blasts melted into the background, and all he could hear were the thunk, thunk, thunk of messages being received from all directions.
He reached down to scratch his ankles to relieve the irritation from the biting sand, and broke his gaze from the sky briefly to watch the sand dance across the ground. As he began to look back towards the sky he noticed a pair of depressions that resembled crude footprints. He took a few steps, knelt, and inspected the footprints. The footprints lead straight into the sea, but there were no indications that anyone was out in the water unless they were on-board one of the ships.
He had to get to one of the ships. He had to know what was going on. Maybe someone knew where the great library was. Someone had to know.
Placing his index finger at the toes of one of the footprints he dragged it through the sand leaving a small trough. Before the waves made their return he quickly pulled out his bota bag and filled the trough with fresh water. From the trough small vines began to sprout and radiate out over the footprints.
Once the vines completely covered the footprints one vine split-off, approached Talan’s feet, and interwove itself among his toes.
The ships varied widely in shape and size, and Talan quickly found himself lost in their mystique, but before his mind could wander too far a thundering blast assaulted his ears. He fumbled for his ears as he tried to cover them and determine where the blast had come from. Looking across the sea he thought he saw a wisp of smoke coming from a ship a short way north. Immediately he thought the ship had been hit by something and he would soon see the whole thing go up in flames, but as he made his way north and could see the ship better– there was no smoke.
Suddenly, a second blast to the south grabbed his attention and he spun around to find out what was going on. Scanning the sky something caught his eye- if he wasn’t mistaken it was a message in a bottle sailing just below the clouds. He followed it as it reflected the sun, and it made its descent toward one of the ships nearest to the shore. With a loud thunk the bottle was sucked into a tube standing a few feet off the ship. That’s when he noticed what looked to be a cannon near the bow of the ship. His observation was soon confirmed when the cannon sent a bottle flying south. Another thunk echoed off the ships and Talan knew the message had been received.
Then the sea shattered.
Yesterday Kateri Morton, a fellow Blaugust participant, said something that really stuck with me:
My struggle at the moment is not having nothing to write about, but not having long enough to do the posts I want to do properly.
This is exactly how I feel. I’ve been keeping a list of topics to write about, and I can always refer to the writing prompts over on Anook. But on days like today when I am not exactly sure what to write and I’ve given myself little time to write- I look at the things I want to write about and I feel like I won’t be able to do them justice. So far I’ve deliberately avoided topics that require anything more than a little research. It would probably help if I just picked a topic at the beginning of the day or night before and brainstormed ideas throughout the day until I was ready to write, but that hasn’t happened much.
Anything I have been writing outside of Blaugust has taken me a few days to collect my thoughts and write down. And, that is more of the norm when I write. Lots of thinking, lots of listing, more thinking, a bit of procrastination, and then write. With Blaugust it’s been different, and I’ve had to change my normal writing habits and fight those mental blocks (especially when it comes to starting) to make sure I am posting daily.
It all makes me a bit uncomfortable and insecure about my writing, but at the same time it is a much needed challenge. If I want to overcome years worth of built-up aversion to writing- I’m going to have to write.
As I read more and more about drawing and writing one of the things I keep coming across is the necessity to get all bad drawings and bad drafts out of the way as soon as you can. This quote or some variation of it tends to show up often:
“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.”
For some us we may have to do those 10,000 drawing or write 9 novels before we’ve crossed the threshold of beginner and finally are proficient at our craft. Others may not have to produce near as much. To get good, we have to put in the work and push ourselves.
We have to let go of perfectionism and produce drawings and drafts that are terrible. The grammar stinks, the perspective is off, characters lack depth, and the composition makes your eyes go crazy. But, with each new drawing and each revision or new draft we learn more and eventually we start to get better because we’ve put in the effort.
Blaugust fits into this concept. It’s about quantity, not quality. Proving to ourselves that we can write everyday- that we can in fact get words on a page even when we are not feeling it. Quality comes later after we’ve made mistakes and learned from them.
Just don’t give up even when you’re not happy with what your producing. Keep trying, keep learning. One day you’ll look back and realize you’ve mastered that skill and didn’t even notice the transition from all those bad drawings or drafts into the good ones.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
-Thomas A. Edison
[A few days ago I said “at this point nothing is off-limits for this blog- within reason of course” and now I find myself writing about something that I did not expect to.]
In the past when it comes to writing I think the only thing I have loathed more than writing in general is writing poetry. I have nothing against poetry, and quite enjoy reading it, but writing it felt like torture.
The only times I have written poetry that I can recall are in school- mainly high school. Where we were generally given a subject and asked to base our poem on it or were asked to write a certain type of poem. After these experiences I never expected that I would voluntarily write poetry- write it for fun, write it to clear my head, or to sift through my thoughts.
Yet, on Friday just before leaving for a walk a little saying popped in my head, and from there it developed into a short poem as I strolled from street to street.
Words are fickle
Words are fine
Weave them, mold them
In your mind.
Relinquish your hold,
Break the binds
Share them. Pair them.
Let them shine.
After I realized what I had done my mind entered a state of shock, trying to process what was going on. All I could think about was all the times I’ve toiled over words and despised my attempts at constructing poetry. Yet, at the same time my brain was flitting about enjoying the words it joined together.
Later on Friday, I think as way to process I wrote another poem.
I do not know what’s going on
But to the words I must succumb.
To flit, to fly
to reach the sky.
Forsaken worries in fact were not .
For the journey of the meek will start
If only fear and doubt depart.
When Saturday rolled around I didn’t expect to write anymore, but before morning’s end I had written three short poems. Here are two of them:
A soiled path
A sullied journey
My path in wake.
If only for a moment to
Forget what’s not,
And start anew.
Indeed I feared I broke the line
Severed the path on which you mine
Now I flee
Only to hope you now be free
And today, I wrote another. Although it took me nearly all day to find the words.
In this land content I lay
A cool wind to guide my way.
And in the sky a giant waits,
And as I turn I see,
a dewdrop hanging listlessly.
Signaling the stars to wake.
I have shared three of these on Twitter and find myself wondering things like: Are others going to read it the same way I read it or say it? Is the punctuation or lack thereof conveying the rhythm I was hoping for? And, can I sacrifice grammar for rhyme?
While poetry still confounds me I now have a newfound respect for anyone that writes it.
Talan brushed away the vines concealing a small nook in the cliff face. With uneasy steps, he eyed the darkness that consumed the passage ahead and rummaged about feeling for his flint and steel to ignite his torch. The flame of his torch wavered as did the beating of his heart as he made his way through the narrow passage. His only comfort was the gentle stroke of moss across his soles and the cool breeze that caressed his cheek.
When he stepped beyond the recesses of the nook his brow tilted and his torch dropped singeing the moss that reached beyond its borders. Forgetting the torch had been in his hands, he reached for his map and exposed the tattered paper to the cool air. Legends told of a great library that occupied these lands. It was said a single Aggronaut collected the scrolls and tomes held within its archives. Talan lifted his eyes from the map and gazed out at what lay before him. Meeting the sun as it rose was a sea that seemed to have to no end.
This was perplexing, just four days ago a trio of battle bards had recited tales about the construction of the library and the exploits of the Aggronaut who oversaw it. Talan had even approached the trio after their performance to confirm the accuracy of his map and persuaded them to tell him more about their own journeys to the library. The battle bards had spoke of no ephemeral sea that concealed the great library. This particular trio was known for their occasional jiggery-pokery, but during Talan’s conversations with them they had seemed quite genuine.
Nevertheless, the sea was before him, in that there was no doubt. He made his way toward the sea which was now bathed in amber as the sun continued its climb. As he approached the waves that seemed so desperate to linger and the sun’s rays pierced the very clouds trying to contain it, he looked out across the sea and saw that scattered across its surface was a multitude of ships.