Writing Prompt Challenge Week 9

My friends and I are challenging ourselves to weekly writing prompts to varying degrees of success. We aren’t required to share any of what we write but I like to, if only to have something to post while I’m in a reading slump. 

This week’s prompt got so far away from me that it comes in parts. This will be part one as I have not gotten super far into part 2. I think I will work on this as a side project for a bit. It is a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth which is one of my favorites. 

Also forgive the lack of formatting. I’m on mobile for the first time and trying to figure it out. 

Week 9: “The islands in the sky are real!”

The legends say that there are islands, populated by monstrous beasts, high above the clouds. No one alive has ever seen one but mothers still warn that the winged monsters from the sky islands will swoop down and snatch up naughty children who stray too far from home. Picture books depict these creatures beside unicorns and lorelei, they are children’s stories from times long past; it is the Kraken we must fear.

The day is clear when the people of my city come for me in the home I’ve made myself. It’s in an out of the way place, where three buildings meet at odd angles, no one wants the tiny alley it creates and no one wants me. We fit together quite nicely. I am asleep when they come, as I always am during the busier parts of the day, and the rough hands that grab at me catch me unawares. I screamed and kicked, but there were more than I could fend off.

“Finally going to be rid of this one.” some says, as if I am an old piece of furniture they have finally found a replacement for.

When my head clears and I blink the sun spots from my eyes I see that I have been dragged out into the street and around me dozens of people are watching as my attackers bind my legs and arms with rope.

“What is this?” I call out at them. “Why are you doing this?”

I know the men binding me, they are the blacksmith and his apprentice. I know all of those come to watch my torment, yet few look at me with any regret or shame. I meet eye after eye and no one gives even a look of sympathy.

“Not enough sheep this season Portia,” the smith says as he drags me to a cart. “Feeding it pig this time.”

As I slam into the bottom of the cart I can hardly feel the thump. Our city is built atop a cliff, the ocean sits many yards below except for a handful of times each year when the tide washes up, almost lapping at our fields. This is when the monster visits.

It is like a squid but larger than any we know of, it climbs the short distance between the water and our grazing fields, it’s weight crumbling the rock as it feasts on our sheep. It is destroying the cliff face where our sheep are safe, and so, years ago it was decided that instead we would lure the monster to another area with excess sheep. If it is not fed the creature has been known to crawl overland snatching at anything that moves.

They mean to feed me to it.

“No!” I shout when I find my voice. “Please no! I’ll leave, I won’t beg anymore I’ll go far away!”

Someone laughs at my pleas but I cannot see who. Tears blur my vision and I flail against my restraints.

“More like a fish than a pig it seems.” comes a woman’s voice. I don’t recognize it in my panic.

They laugh at her joke, they laugh at my tears, they laugh the entire way to the far rocky cliff. There the laughter and my tears both stop.

“It has to be done, “ the smith says. “For the good of us all.”

“Any of us would go in your place if we didn’t have families to think of.” the woman who called me a fish says. She adjusts the babe strapped to her back to emphasize her point.

Words don’t come as I try to speak and I end up gaping at them all. They will justify this to themselves like they justified turning me out on the street after I became orphaned, like they justified keeping food from me, beating me; I am just a pig after all, and pigs must go to slaughter eventually. I have no response for them. No last words for the people who have hurt me so much.

One of the men hammers an iron stake in between some rocks and once they have tied me to this they all depart with sad farewells and backwards glances. They will sleep poorly tonight but tomorrow, when the sheep are safe, and no monster has come crawling for their wayward children they will tell themselves it was worth it.

Once they are gone I stare out at the endless sea before me, swollen and angry even on such a beautiful day as today. Gulls fly in circles above, screaming at themselves, or their food, or the wind. Gulls are simpler creatures; they eat, and mate, and when that no longer suits them they fly far away and do it all again.

My back begins to ache as I stand on the uneven rocks. As a final cruelty they have tied me standing up with no way to move or sit. At this angle I will be able to see the monster as it crawls out of the ocean towards me. I am sure they have thought of this. I stare out at the ocean, waiting, mesmerized by the unbroken blue around me.

As the Sun shifts in the sky the terrible gnawing in my gut gets stronger and I find myself crying again. I want to go home, not to my little alley with my hard earned blanket and harder earned shoes. I want to got back to the cottage where I was not a pig but a little girl who had a name, a real name, and parents who loved her. I know that life was real, even if I only remember glimpses. I hold on to them. If I am to die today I want to die remember a woman in a yellow dress, and a cottage of white stone.

Then I see it.

I cannot stop the screams that pierce the air, I scramble with my feet on the rocks trying to move backwards away from the thing I see emerging from the water but the bindings on my body are too tight. I throw my body to the side hoping to loose the spike keeping me in place but nothing works. Nothing at all works.

“No!” I call in vain. “Please no I promise I’ll do anything. Please!”

The tentacles keep emerging from the waves, with no regard for my pleas or my tear stained face. They are as thick around as my body and they grope for the rocky cliff like a blind man until at last one touches the rock face. Four, five pink arms come out of the water and attach themselves to the rocks. Then, like a nightmare come to life, it began to climb.

From my place at the top of the cliff I can look down and watch the slick legs climb towards me until, at last, the head emerges from the water.

“No no no no, PLEASE NO!”

My feet slip trying to find traction but there is nowhere to go. It’s head is a giant sack with two black eyes the size of my head staring straight at me. Worse is its mouth. It is not the fangs I feared but a beak; instead of being torn apart I shall be pecked to death.

“Please! Anything I will do anything you ask please don’t leave me to this please!” my words are little more than sobs. There is no one to hear me, and no one would risk themselves to save me if they did.

One of the tentacles reaches over the cliff edge, groping for a hold, I can see the large cups it uses to stick itself to the rocks. It’s so close.

The next arm that reaches up comes right for me, the monster knows I am it’s meal today. It doesn’t hesitate but wraps around my body like a snake. It is cold and the slimy feel makes my skin crawl. The air is squeezed out of me as it tightens it’s grip. I cannot even scream.

Then there are long metal arrows on the arm, they appear like magic right before me but I am too out of breath to react. A sizzling noise and the smell of burned fish fills the air and the monster lets me go. I gasp, sucking in so much air I choke on it and cough.

Before my eyes more arrows pierce the krakens body and legs, each causing the creature to flinch and lash out. It opens it’s mouth and lets out a shriek as it’s body burns. Then, one by one, the large cups holding it to the rocks begin to fail and it can no longer support its own weight.

I watch as its legs peel back and it scrambles for grip before a final arrow pierces one of its eyes and the entire head erupts. It’s body slide down into the water below while I watch open mouthed.

I begin to look around for my savior, waiting them to free me so I may run far from these shores and never return. There is no one in sight, they have left me still to the mercy of the sun and the gulls.

I feel a touch on my arm and swing my head around to thank the archer who saved my life. Yet there is no one. Invisible hands tug at the ropes binding me and I see them begin to fray as if they are being cut. I have gone mad.

The rope continues to cut, when it finally breaks through will I fall to the rocks or will it simply begin again to tease me forever with a freedom that will never come?

I do not fall, though my legs wobble and beg to collapse; instead, as the ropes fall down around me, I feel an arm ease around my shoulders supporting me. My heart is pounding in my ears. There is still nobody there. Another arm snakes under my knees lifting me up off of my useless legs. The body I lean against is solid but does not feel warm like a person, and I can see nothing there.

“I have gone off.” I say aloud just to test my voice and the chuckle and breath that comes from the invisible man makes me jump.

“That may be, but will you keep your promise?” comes a deep male voice that rumbles up from the chest that is there and not there.

“I-” I begin before, mercifully, I pass out.

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Writing

Writing a book is HARD.

I have never had something make me love and hate myself the way writing my book does. it is so much more of an emotional experience than i would have ever imagined. I amaze myself everyday when i read certain scenes or lines and I go “Wow. I wrote that. Way to go me!” but then I take a breath and I read it again and i know deep down i can do better.

That’s the hardest part, knowing that no matter what I could always make it better.

But I am doing it and it’s almost done and I have set a deadline for this draft to be finished.

Then I can breathe.

 

 

 

Writing Prompt Challenge Week 7

GAHHH!

Okay. A couple friends of mine and I are doing weekly writing prompts to encourage us to write, to think outside of our boxes, and to just have some damn fun. I am choosing to share my terrible, rushed, unedited attempts with the internet because I hate myself or something. Again this week I grabbed inspiration from my beloved oc’s, and while I think the idea was alright, the execution was not there at all.

ANYWAY!

Week 7: A Taxi. An old enemy. Valentines Day.


Read More »

Book/Movie Chat: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly is, in a word, beautiful. In a few words it is a masterpiece of storytelling, weaving an accurate history of the machine that is the American aeronautics industry with the true stories of the Black women who made that machine run, the marriage of which ultimately lead America to the moon, into a narrative that is informative, entertaining, inspirational, and heartbreaking.

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This book is first and foremost an accurate history; there is no dialogue and no plot, but there is plenty of detailed information about the mathematical problems that the West Computers were tasked with solving each day. Shetterly does not want to bore us though and the subject matter hops about from maths, to race relations, to the womans personal lives, and back again. The flow of the narrative is perfect; never sitting on one topic for too long without being jumpy, never letting the reader grow bored but never letting us notice when the shifts occur. Shetterly does a phenomenal job letting us know this is not just an isolated bit of history, no, the math, the racism and sexism, the political climate, the women themselves do not exist in bubbles; Black history is not a month, it is American History and we need to hear it all or we aren’t getting the full story.

“Sometimes, she knew, the most important battles for dignity, pride, and progress were fought with the simplest of actions.”

And what a story it is. I started Hidden Figures with a roll of blue tabs to mark every time I cried. By the seventh marker I realized there were too many too frequently; I had cried, settled myself,then cried again over a different incident later on on the same page! I wasn’t just tearing up either, I was full on, have to sit the book down and collect myself, sobbing.
It isn’t that this book is “sad”; this book is inspiring. This book is powerful. This book is the story of the foundation of my very existence; the names and stories that led our country to the moon, led women into STEM, and ultimately led me to a world where I would never have to be one of the “girls”.

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This is the reason I was so disappointed with the movie.
Now we all know the movie can never be as in depth as the book, this is the downside to any transmedia adaptations, and I was willing to accept the inaccuracies I saw that were made for times sake. I get it; you can’t adequately cover the period from WWII to the Moon landing in two hours and its best to rearrange some things to make a good story. It is annoying. It is not a deal breaker.
My deal breaker came with the realization that the East Computing pool had been retconned into existence, well past the time they had been dissolved, so that a made up white woman could be a featured role in the film. It came when I noticed that every incident of segregation, every microaggression, every bit of blatant racism was fixed with hard work or the help of a white man. It came when I realized that this movie was made for white people.
In the book the women featured take down “Colored Girls” signs to preserve their own dignity; they use the “Whites Only” bathrooms and dare someone to stop them; they pester the white men to join meeting daily until eventually they just give up and let them in. In the the movie the not racist White Knight character fixes all of these problems for the women allowing a white man to take the spotlight for “saving” the day.
The racism depicted in this movie is the glossy, G-rated racism that doesn’t make white people uncomfortable to look at because they know that in the end it will all be set to rights by the white characters who aren’t really racist if you give then a chance.
If I look past the fact that the movie adaptation completely undermines the entire point of the story then, yeah, sure, it was a good movie. The acting on almost all fronts was superb, the sets were glorious, and they did an alright job squeezing the book down into a film. Its okay. I hate that it blunts the sharp edges of racism while trying to act as if its showing you racism. I hate that it undermines the accomplishments of the West Computers by giving them to a white man. I hate that it can’t hope to portray the emotion of the book. But as a stand alone experience it’s okay.

Hidden Figure by Margot Lee Shetterly is a solid 5/5 stars.
Hidden Figures directed by Theodore Melfi is a weak 3/5 stars. Maybe even 2.5, I am just that disappointed.

A-Z Book

Happy TAG! Tuesday everybody! This little time capsule (for it is still Feb 5th) is going to be the A-Z TAG! It’s 26 questions so let’s jump right in!

Rainbow!
Like my Rainbow! I don’t.

Author you’ve read the most books from?

Philippa Gregory; I’ve read 17 of her books.

Best sequel ever?

Toss up between Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch and Meridon by Philippa Gregory.

Currently Reading?

I am still reading 1984 by George Orwell! I’m in the Afterward though

Drink of choice while reading?

I only drink water, tea, or juice. So basically water, grassy water, or sugary water

E-reader or physical book?

I’m sorry what kind of question is that? I read books thank you very much.

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school?

Okay no one because high school Tarina was. . . look it wasn’t great. Probably Victor from Write Naked by Peter

Glad you gave this book a chance:

Habibi and Blankets by Craig Thomson. I HATE graphic novels but I picked these up to challenge myself and they were two of the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read.

Hidden Gem:

There area lot of books that I think too few people recognize but, because it’s on my mind.I’ll say Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Important moment in your reading life:

Ah. There are a lot. I guess the most important was all those years ago when i managed to read Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book all by myself and the rest, they say, is history.

Kinds of books you won’t read?

I won’t read romances. I have. I regret it.

Longest books you’ve read?

Maybe Stephen Kings Under the Dome? It clocks in at 1,075 I think. I believe some of AsoIaF are longer but they were also physically shorter books so I think Dome is still longer.

Major book hangover because of:

Kingkiller by Patrick Rothfuss. That got me in some kind of head space for like 2 weeks.

Number of bookcases you own?

Technically 0. My shelves are attached to my wall and came with the room so I’m just renting them.

One book you have read multiple times?

Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory

Preferred place to read?

In bed.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book?

My first thought was “Hope is swift and flies on swallows wings; kings it makes gods and meaner creatures kings.” which is from Richard III by Shakespeare. I’ve never actually read Richard III but when i was 10 I read a book in wich one of the characters was a homeless drunk who would quote books at people to prove he used to be somebody and he quoted that to a group of children; it wasn’t until I was in high school that I learned he’d misquoted it saying it was from Hamlet. In any case that quote has stuck with me for 13 years even if I can’t remember the book I’d actually read it in.

Reading regret:

I didn’t read keep better track of what I’d read growing up. I used to keep sporadic lists but nothing complete and now there are so many stories floating around in my memories, and some I know I’ve forgotten. It makes me sad not having a way to look back. I would also like to have an idea of how many books I’ve actually read. I usually guess somewhere between 600-700 but who fucking knows.

Series you started and need to finish (all books are out)

I don’t really start series unless I’m able to finish them, or get caught up quickly. I guess maybe The Jenna Fox Chronicles because I didn’t know there was more than one of them until recently.

Three of your all-time favorite books

Childhood End by Arthor C. Clarke, Meridon by Philippa Gregory, Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory

Unapologetic fangirl for:

Gentlemen Bastards, Kingkiller, Lunar Chronicles, The Three Musketeers. No shame.

Very excited for this release more than any other:

THE REPUBLIC OF THEIVES!

Worst bookish habit?

Laying my books face down and open probably. It’s really bad for their spines.

X marks the spot: Start at the far left of your bookcase and pick the 27th book:

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

Your latest book purchase?

Well i just got Wires and Nerves Vol.1 by Marissa Meyer but I just ordered Hidden Figures

ZZZZ-snatcher: last book that ket you up WAY late?

1984 by George Orwell; I have been working nonstop and yet I still spent hours up the other night reading

Now I know my ABC’s. . . If you’re reading this I TAG you to answer these 26 questions

Book Chat: The Kingkiller Chronicles

“I have stolen princess back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written song that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.”

And thus begins a tale as old as time; a tale of revenge, magic, stupidity, and a young man fumbling to understand women. Our narrator is right, you’ve probably heard it.

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss is one of those stories that attracts a following, a cult if you will. It is a story that inspires artists, fan theorists, and fan fiction writers. It is the perfect story, so much so it makes me want to rip my hair out.

The tale begins with The Name of the Wind and is told as a story being recited by Kote, the innkeeper in Newarre, and recorded by the Chronicler, who collects true stories. Each novel comprises one day in the present time allowing us to see the troubling events of today as well as hear the story of the man who claims responsibility for it all. The war, the demons, the poverty, Kote says it is all the fault of the man he used to be, the legend who is said to be dead; Kvothe Kingkiller.

If you go looking for reviews of these books you are going to find one of two attitudes; it is a “classic” or “cliche” depending on who you ask. It is convoluted; it is clever. The narrator is unreliable giving the story depth, flavor, and mystery. The narrator is a typical humble brag twat who is too good at everything and is designed to make you hate-love him. Rothfuss is building to the plot twist of an age, or Rothfuss is capitalizing on an age old, well worn story model. The only things everyone seems to agree on for sure is the The Doors of Stone is never. Coming. Out.

Personally I love the novels, novella, and short story that make up the Chronicles. I think the story-telling framing devise that Rothfuss uses is perfect for creating just enough uncertainty among readers that we can enjoy the story for what it is while still never truly trusting that we are getting an accurate depiction of events. This slight mistrust add depth like you wouldn’t believe, I honestly hate it. Not because it’s bad but because it’s so good you almost don’t see it. I want to rant and rave about the shallowness of some aspects of the plot but if I think about it for more than a minute I start to see that maybe this isn’t all it appears to be. Fan theories add to this convoluted overthinking of every detail, and spending a bit of time discussing “clues” with others always opens my eyes to things I had over looked, or things I hadn’t quite connected before.

Basically these books are the definition of a humble-brag.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t perfect. There is clever and then there is trying to hard to be clever and I think Rothfuss crosses that line a few times. There are several places were I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and go “But of course.” and shout “Unreliable narrator” at me all you want if I’m not enjoying to story because of something, that’s more an excuse than a plot devise. I also adore the way Rothfuss writes. To a point. When I say there are whole sections of The Wise Mans Fear that are written in rhyme I fucking mean that there are whole sections of The Wise Mans Fear that are written. In. Rhyme. Rothfuss writes pure poetic word porn but he also has a hard time not using adverbs every single line. I’m with Stephen King on this one; “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Not only are they lazy when overused but they don’t sound great. They are like one sour note in an otherwise perfect harmony.

The second book in the series, The Wise Mans Fear, has one of the worst cases of Middle Book Syndrome I’ve seen in a while. It’s not that Rothfuss seems to be rambling or is even a little unsure of himself; it’s more that he has X, Y, and Z that need to be accomplished but they are in no way related so he has to play Connect The Dots with various plot points. The result is me having to take a minute part way through the book to go “And this is where he ran out of ideas and went ‘Fuck it!'”

While the two novels tell us the story of Kvothe and events surrounding the telling of the tale itself the other two additions to the series are focused on two mysterious and well loved side characters. I say “side characters” but what I mean is they are life itself. Plain and simple. They are beautiful fae children and Kvothe does not deserve their love. (This is me warning you about my bias)

The first is Auri, the enigmatic (gods I can’t ever use that word without thinking of Aysl) young woman Kvothe finds living underneath the University. In the novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things we follow Auri for a seven day period in her solitary life in the Underthing. This book made 3# in my Top Books of 2016 because of the beautiful word porn and unique, single character plot…if you can call it a plot. I didn’t mention in that post that Auri, our only character, exhibits signs of severe mental illness, namely Obsessive Compulsive Disorder brought on, in theory, by the same stresses of University that cause a few students each term to “crack”. Rothfuss himself says it is not a book for everyone, it is a book for the broken people. It makes a lot of things about Auri clear though so if you are even a little bit interested it’s worth knuckling through.

The second is Bast, Kotes fae student and the only person in any of the books that is good enough for Kvothe. Even if Kvothe doesn’t deserve it. His story is told in The Lightning Tree, a short story that appears in the Rouges anthology. His story is also pretty Day-in-the-Life, showing how a fae princling amuses himself in the middle of Newarre. It does give a good look at the type of person Bast is but not much more that you’d get from his actions in the second novel. It is, if I’m being honest, a story of no consequence but if you love Bast, and you should, it is well worth your time.

Then there is The Doors of Stone; the novel that is never coming out (I’ve gone on about this before). If you want to get into this series I wouldn’t blame you if you waited for the last book before diving in. That being said not having an ending and being able to get caught up in discussion and fan theories is half of the fun of these books.

If you love fantasy, if you love to hate your protagonist, if you love a book written in poetry and rhyme, and most of all, if you want to hear a good story The Kingkiller Chronicles is for you.

All told I give the whole lot 5/5 stars. Have you read Kingkiller? What did you think of it?