I hate the third of September. It’s the only day I actually hate. I wish September third had never been because I lost my brother eight years ago today. The rational part of me knows that even if there hadn’t been a third of September eight years ago I still would have gotten the early morning call, it just would have happened on another day. My inner five year old, however, is sure that if all September thirds were abolished, he would still be alive.
I have dreams of him, often. In those dreams he is happy and we do silly things like ride around in a bus and catch fish. I wake from those dreams still thinking he’s alive and the moment I realize he’s not is always painful. I relive that phone call again and again, trying to convince myself it was a nightmare. I want to call him. I want to hear him laugh. I want to thank him. I do not want a chance to say goodbye–never that.
I don’t think I’ve ever expressed this here, but all of my writing is because of him. Writing was his dream first. I borrowed his dream because I wanted to feel a connection with him. I fail at NaNoWriMo every year because of him and the threadbare NaNo 2003 shirt that I liberated from his room the day he died. I write quirky characters that he would have loved to read.
He introduced me to so many of the things I love that every day I am reminded of him and what a blessing it was to have him in my life. I am so thankful and I miss him so much. Today especially.
In honor of his life and his writing I’m adding a story to my Flash Fiction collection posted here that reminds me very much of him. I hope you enjoy A Mother’s Love.
I’m afraid of lots of things—spiders, germs, and that you’ll think I’m a moron, just to start. I’ve been thinking about the nature of fear a lot recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that self-confidence and fear are in direct opposition to each other. This may not be ground-breaking news for anyone else, but for me it’s come as quite a surprise.
A few months ago my husband suggested that we get motorcycles. Frankly, I thought he was kidding because, let’s face it, I’m way too neurotic for that shit. Some days I can barely manage to leave the house because some random thing might kill me. This was a terrible idea—maybe the worst idea in the history of ever. People DIE on motorcycles.
At the time, I think I probably laughed and said sure. I think I imagined that the whole idea was a flight of fancy that he’d forget about given time. Well, he didn’t. He started to research how one goes about getting a motorcycle endorsement in this state, which involves a riding class. I figured a class couldn’t hurt, right? We’ll go, see how terrible I am at it, and then we’ll have a bit of a laugh and forget about the whole awful idea.
The first day of class came around, and that was when fear and I became reacquainted. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the first time I sat on a motorcycle I almost dropped it because my hands were shaking. Somehow, I managed to move the thing. I still had my feet on the ground, though, and I was pretty sure I was never going to be able to pick them up.
I cannot properly express the heart-pounding terror of picking my feet up that first time. I was sure, no, I was CERTAIN, that was going to fall over, both injuring and embarrassing myself in the process. I didn’t. I actually managed not to fall the entire day. In no version of that day that I had worried about for weeks in advance had that happened.
In the end, I passed the class and didn’t drop the bike once. Holy shit! Now what had I done? I had a piece of paper saying I could get my motorcycle endorsement. I kind of had to follow through, right? I mean, I’d already done the hard part. This isn’t really the story of how I ended up with a motorcycle through what felt like no fault of my own, but I think it’s relevant to mention that at no time in the process until the very end, when the nice gentleman dropped off my gorgeous Yamaha Bolt, did I ever imagine myself the owner and rider of a motorcycle.
Here’s what I really want to talk about: how fear is a manifestation of lacking self-confidence. Throughout this motorcycle saga, I’ve encountered and conquered a lot of fear. I piled minor victories on top of each other until I surpassed what I had imagined I could do by so much I could barely see the starting point. Each time I managed to do something, I also learned an important lesson: when I knew I could manage a situation, I wasn’t as scared of it anymore. The simple act of knowing I could do it lessened the fear the next time the situation came around.
The point of this rather rambling post, dear reader, is that the lesson the motorcycle has taught me can be applied to everything from submitting stories to saying hello to someone I admire. Facing and overcoming something I am afraid of can only make the fear less menacing and give me the confidence to do it again. What’s the worst that can happen if I submit a story and it’s rejected? They say no. That’s it. The world isn’t going to end. The editor isn’t going to think I’m a moron. (Honestly, if they think anything at all about me I’m pretty much winning!) The story isn’t going to self-destruct.
Frank Herbert was right, I think: Fear is the mind-killer. So do something that scares you (safely!), and learn from it. Tonight I’m going to get on a highway for the first time on my motorcycle. I’m terrified, but I’m not going to let that stop me. Tomorrow I’m going to apply for a job I really want, but don’t think I deserve. I’m terrified of that, too. I’ll survive both experiences, I’ll gain confidence from them, and I’ll go on to do bigger and better things. Because this is my story, damn it, and I’m not going to be too afraid to live it.
Hearts and puppies,
Okay, so I really suck at this updating regularly thing. To those of you who know me, that’s no surprise. To those of you who are new here, that’s what you’re in for–infrequent and inconstant updates. Sorry, that’s just how this writer girl rolls.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, a bit of a state of the writing union. Forgotten Magic has officially been finished. The words “THE END” were written and everything. I haven’t started the editing process yet, because that’s the story I’m going to be workshopping the start of at Viable Paradise in a month. (Please hold while I do a little happy dance about that. – – – Okay, done.)
I’ve started working on another project in the meantime, a shorter-form piece to act as a bit of a palate cleanser between my novels. I am going to really try to get some more shorts done in the coming months. I’ve got several started, but they always seem to want to transform into something longer and I put them aside before getting sucked in. I have one flash piece and a poem I need to spend some time editing and then shop around. Maybe I’ll set some time aside this weekend for that so I can submit them next week.
In Broods of Fenrir news, I’ve started the third book. It’s just a handful of scenes right now and the plot is still forming in my head, but at least there are words and some of them even form sentences! In fact, I’ll share what is currently the first scene with you now. As usual with the snippets from my writing journal, it hasn’t been edited and is still rough. There’s also no promise that this scene will remain in its current form, or any other form in the final manuscript because many things can change between now and then. Be warned, there are spoilers from the previous books in this scene if you haven’t read them yet. And now, on with the show…
I wrote a poem last night. I was kind of shocked because I’m not really a poet. That wasn’t the only amazing thing about the experience though. I think it might have been the first moment when I actually thought, “Holy shit, I’m really a writer.” I’ll explain, because I’m sure that’s a little strange to hear from me. The poem summarizes a week’s worth of interesting experiences into a single moment that never really happened, but shows what those disparate points in time taught me when taken together.
I’ve never really thought of myself as ‘that writer.’ You know, the one who’s deep and tortured and has a message. I write stories I’d like to read. I invent characters and put them in difficult situations to see how they’d react. This is the first time I learned something about life that I wanted to share. It was kind of amazing. Anyway, I’m not posting the poem up here just yet. I’d like to polish it up and send it out a few places to see if anyone picks it up. I will tell you the title though: “Old Woman in a Cuban Bakery”
If you like, tell me something awesome that happened to you this week. I’d love to hear about it.
I bet you thought I forgot about you, didn’t you? Come on. You can admit it. Well I didn’t! It just so happens I was actually writing something new. Since November last year I haven’t written anything but Forgotten Magic so I’m kind of relieved I actually felt the itch this week. I decided to change the name of this little column, because I like how Moore Writes sounds.
This is a bit of a character profile from something new. It will never make it into the book, but it’s part of my ‘getting to know you’ process to write out a few scenes with my characters just so I can get a sense of them and find their voice. Right now it feels like this will be a straight-forward distopian, but that could always change. This particular lady wakes several decades after some sort of cataclysm and finds the world very different from the one she fell asleep in. Only about a thousand word peek. I have to keep some mystery!
This is a completely unedited first draft, so please excuse the roughness.
Andi lifted her face into the sunlight and concentrated on blocking out the cacophony of sound behind her. The warmth of the sun drove the lingering chill from her body, but didn’t feel quite right. Not that she trusted the fragmented memories that rose like waves into her awareness, descending once again into the inky darkness of her subconscious too quickly for her to sense more than the vaguest of forms.
The droning alarm gave a final choked whine before cutting off once and for all. The silence left in its wake was almost disorienting after the constant noise. She shook her head, hoping to clear some of the fog that drifted there, but was only rewarded with a cloying dizziness that would have emptied her stomach if there had been anything inside. She rested her head against the metal door frame to avoid falling to her knees as her stomach heaved. Her hands shook as she drew in a harsh breath and steadied herself.
She looked around the room she had just passed through to reach the outside. Dark computer terminals, two chairs knocked to the ground, and a closet marked ‘emergency use only’, it had to be a control room for the complex she’d been in. She headed to the closet and fumbled with the latch for a moment before her fingers cooperated. She didn’t know what she’d hoped to find hidden away for just such an occasion, but inside there was nothing, not even a layer of dust.
“Figures.” The rough sound of her voice echoed in the empty room, upsetting the uneasy silence that had replaced the dying klaxon.
Andi didn’t dare go back to the room she’d woken in. The choking cloud of chemicals had almost done her in the first time. Then there were the forms she’d only barely made out in the darkness and confusion, mummified corpses entombed in enclosures exactly like the one she’d found herself in on waking. Curling fingers of dread gripped the back of her neck. With effort she willed the gruesome images away and concentrated on getting herself out of this alive. Though she was having trouble with her memory, at lease her sense of self was intact.
She checked the pockets of the white coveralls she wore and found nothing, not even pocket lint. The logo sewn into the right breast wasn’t one she recognized, the letters A and E inscribed in a circle in green and blue. She searched the drawers in the control room, coming up with a disappointing handful of paper clips and rubber bands that she stowed in the hip pocket of the coveralls.
Glancing back at the room passageway she’d entered through, she dismissed the idea of going back to scrounge a second time. She had no idea about the source of the black smoke, or what prolonged exposure might do to her. She returned to the exit and climbed the stairs to look outside, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the brightness. Cracked earth and scrub brush stretched to the distant horizon in every direction, unbroken by hills or trees.
A rumble from somewhere under her convinced her that she needed to get moving. She climbed the rest of the steps and hauled herself outside, crouching for a few seconds and looking around before standing. Even from the higher vantage point, nothing in the landscape stood out. Where the devil was she?
She strained to put together her memories of where she’d been before waking, but they eluded her. The harder she tried to grip them, the quicker they seemed to slip away. She filed that as a problem to deal with later when she had the luxury of time without the threat of something exploding under her feet. She picked out the largest shrub in her field of vision and moved toward it.