Where to Write? (Location, Location, Location)

 

Have pen, will travel...
#amwriting

I’ve been a little at loose ends. Scattered and off-kilter.

But I’ve been discovering that wandering around with that “lost-between-worlds” feeling is a staple for me as an emerging writer.

But back in the real world, I’m having to look for a new locale. 

I miss the the ocean. Lush forests. I even miss the swamps of my home state. But economics, of course, are playing a large role in the quest.

Even though my search has to be practical, I still like dreaming over the maybe-someday homes at Old House Dreams. (Who could resist this one that lends itself to a horror writer persona? https://www.oldhousedreams.com/2019/06/05/c-1940-log-deerbrook-wi/)

Location, to me, has evolved to be an essential part of my creative life. (Perhaps it always was but I wasn’t paying attention in the drive to be somebody; anybody.) I draw inspiration from my locale. From the atmosphere I’m in. I’ve heard other writers have their favourite places they go to seek creative nourishment. Some write in noisy cafes, some seek out solitude, others, well, I’d be interested to know what your go-to places are to write, to refresh, to find that next great idea.

Share in the comments, if you like.

 

Letter to a Literary Muse

Letter to a Literary Muse

Your time is spent nurturing your fans, and I am preoccupied with once and future worlds. I am never in sync, but I see you in each parallel; we touch and go on our way. Constantly inconstant forces in each other’s lives.

But I, unlike you, have never been anytime; born in a thistle maze, kept captive in a briar patch, wandered worlds only in my head, where I dream dreams in Mobius strips: nightmares and fears; misplaced intentions and missed chances; a thousand thousand deaths, countless lost and founds.

This night, I dreamt in Celtic lore, both modern and past, simultaneously; my mind’s eye’s mirror reflection; dark red hair in cascades, hunter-green dress, among glass and metal and life-in-a-pod on a strange new world. There is no prickly nest to trap me; to hide me in thorny safety. I am exposed. Alone.

You. You see me. Not a mirror reflection. No haint from a past world. This is the future. Our future. You gently work a twig from my hair, and hold it for an eternity while our worlds dream themselves together.

 

Inspiration by way of Manman Brigitte

 

Among the tools I draw on for creative inspiration is tarot cards. The skeptic in me doesn’t believe in fortune-telling; instead, I use them for guidance when I’m feeling a little lost or am in transition.

Today I drew the card of Manman Brigitte from the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot. (You can purchase it via that link, if you’re interested in the deck.).

Since the book and deck is copyrighted, I’ll refrain from including detailed descriptions from the tarot deck’s book, but it does allude to her being an advocate of change.

According to the Maman Brigitte entry on Readers & Rootworkers website, she acts as both healer and judge, and is linked with Brigid in Celtic mythology (or St. Brigid, depending on your viewpoint).

Wikipedia has more about her link with Brigid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maman_Brigitte

Justice, retribution, healing, transition–plenty of writerly inspiration to be found in any of these areas. Especially if you, like me, write in one of the speculative fiction genres.

This morning I spent retiring my Facebook page from my social media collection. Because, you know, Facebook, although I also had other reasons for doing so.

I hope you have a productive writing day!

Wee Quiz: Facebook, Yay or Nay?

 

 

Nature’s Army

(Inspired by my own writing prompt I posted on Twitter, et al, today)

This past decade has been quite the journey for me as an unemployed worker  graduate student historian admin assistant temp gas station attendant substitute teacher and eternal job seeker.

It was only in the past year that I really set aside time to dedicate to writing.

What surprised me was how quiet the process was. I’m used to living in a state of chaos. Neither one thing or another. Always fiercely banging against things, trying to prove I could fit in. “Notice me!” my efforts would scream. “I’m a hard worker.” Trying to conform to hold down jobs I hated.

I was a real-life Don Quixote, tilting at society’s windmills.

I wouldn’t say I was clueless about who I was–I just had to ignore it. Hide it away. Because it wasn’t relevant, hireable, marketable, socially acceptable, important, and, therefore, had zero worth to the world. Or so I had been taught to believe, from a very young age.

Like I said, the process of writing is quiet. The development of a writer, or any artist/creative soul, cannot be forced. It has to grow on its own. It was hard to let go. To relax. But then I had expended years of energy and had nothing to show for it.

I had to push my way up from the morass to figure out what kind of writer I wanted to be. I shed growth when it no longer fit. Dropping leaves that had been grafted onto me. (The drive for money being one of them–proof positive I wasn’t a failure.) It was scary to let go. It still is.

I suddenly realized, though, that if I was going to do it, I couldn’t do it inauthentically. Writing is demanding; it won’t let you be what you’re not. You can’t grow against the grain. At the same time, you have to write to write. Write where the topic (and submission guidelines!) takes you.

I stopped trying to be all things. One of the lessons passed down in workshops, articles, blogs was “find your niche.”

This was probably the hardest. I’d never been allowed; subsequently, never allowed myself, to have a niche based on my actual self.

“Who am I,” I asked myself.

The winds started howling from deep within. I shivered a deep bone chill when I realized I had no idea. I had had my existence wiped. I had been reprogrammed.

So, I had to dig deep. Dig through a frightening past, risk getting lost in nebulous dimensions, all to excavate a handful of fractured remembrances.

It’s still going on. Slowly. Quietly. And my self is still fractured. But I’m rebuilding. Even if people still want to classify me by their negative terms.

But here’s some discoveries.

Writer.

Artist.

A sensitive soul.

A creative mind.

Someone who played the violin.

Who likes classical music. Atmospheric music, without words.

Drawn to what’s now classified as speculative: horror, fantasy, science fiction.

I write these things.

The spooky.

The unreal.

The mystic.

A world of make-believe.

The impossibly possible.

So, if you made it this far, what does that have to do with the title of the blog, “Nature’s Army”?

Because I also love nature. Trees. Plants. Insects.

And that’s the stuff of nightmares dreams.

Working its tangled way into my stories.

Building a fictive world where nature has agency.

Where nature wins.

[See my 66-word story (and others!) in Speculative 66’s Issue 20, on April 6th. https://speculative66.weebly.com/ ]

 

Now it’s your turn to “tilt at windmills”. How has writing/creative ventures helped you develop your sense of self?

 

A Lily for the Valley

A Lily for the Valley

Frosted guardians keep watch

yet I still feel alone

winter blue, and

I am tired of angels

angling towards me

handfuls of bait outstretched.

How do I know what’s true,

even here in the empty desert

with no hiding place for cruelty.

Trapped by four walls, I burrow down for winter,

sinking deep in the depths of my splintered-ice mind.

There, I dream of a greening world from long ago,

tangled, wild, warm,

just like you.

 

–Willow Croft 2019

 

(My inspiration came from these Canva-created posts I made and shared via Pinterest and Twitter. Feel free to use them for today’s creative inspiration, and link back if you wish.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/422986590001080493/ or https://twitter.com/WillowCroft16/status/1100425111042174983 )

 

New LinkedIn Group for Women Horror Writers

 

As I struggle with time management, especially with ADHD and a day job on top of the writing and business duties, I’ve been diligently working on a social media plan and schedule. It’s led to me to try some new things and to try to figure out which social media platforms I like the best (Twitter, for example, mystifies me more than infomercials).

Among my new ventures:

  • I just started a group on LinkedIn, for women horror writers: Fear-minists: Women Horror Writers Around the Globe. Join up if you are a horror writer that identifies with being a woman (safe and welcoming space) or even if you just love a good horror story.
  • I think I will try to focus more on Pinterest. I don’t care what the detractors say; it’s fun. Especially for the visceral, visual type of writing I plan to do more of in the future. I started setting up a writer’s inspiration board.
  • I’m also going to try to be more active on Goodreads.
  • My blog will still carry on as my main author website, of course!

 

I’ll still be on Twitter somewhat, but since I never really got the hang of it, there probably won’t be much of a difference there. Until I can hire someone to manage social media. And, Facebook, well, aside from the well-publicized news headlines it’s been racking up, I only use it to keep in touch with IRL connections. Or to get notifications about local events. And, yes, I use it to play the game formerly known as YoVille. I can justify wasting time on there because it’s actually a great ADHD focus tool for when I have to do computer work, without which I also wouldn’t have survived grad school. Thanks for keeping me on track, YoWorld!

 

 

Black CATastrophy Writing Prompt: Puppy Love

 Gone

 

                                                              Puppy Love

They found the bike propped up against the wall, but Allison was gone.
“Dammit, I knew I should have never got her that bike.”
“Dad, it’s not the city anymore. She’ll be okay.”
“I know, it’s just…”
“Yeah, I miss Mom, too.”
Samuel gave his son a side hug. “I love you, Marius.”
“C’mon, Dad. Let’s find her before she stumbles across a backwoods meth lab.”
“Ha, ha.” He watched his son load the bike into the back of the SUV. Hard to believe he’s already a senior.
“We’ll hit all the stores on Main Street before they close. Then head over to the dog park, then—”
“Then we’ll swing by the trailer, then the community pool, then out to the farmhouses on the outskirts. Can I drive?” Marius asked.
“When you get your own car.”
None of the store owners had seen Allison.
“Next stop, the diner,” Samuel said. His son was too busy texting to answer.
“Hey, Rhonda, seen Allison today?” Samuel asked his boss.
“No, hun, not since you all were here for Sunday brunch. She missing again?” Rhonda inched closer. “You just need a good woman to look after you all.”
He could smell peppermint Schnapps on her breath. “We’re doing okay.”
“C’mon, Dad, it’s going to be dark soon.”
“You all just let me know if you need something.” Rhonda patted Marius on the head.
Samuel hustled Marius out the door.
“Seriously, Dad, a head pat? Please tell me you don’t like her.”
“Why not? She’s a good woman.”
“Now I know you’re full of shit.”
“Watch your mouth, son.”
Their laughter stopped when they got to the trailer and saw Allison on the steps.
“Oh, no, she’s got Mrs. Wilson’s dog.” Samuel said.
“Daddy, look. I have puppy friend.” Allison stood, the dog struggling to get free.
“Dad, what’s all over her dress?” Marius said.
“Hopefully just mud.”
“It’s all in her hair, too.”
“Sweetie, that puppy is Mrs. Wilson’s.”
“No, daddy. Is mine.” Allison held the dog even tighter.
“Allison, we’re going to get hamburgers at Charley’s. Mrs. Wilson is going to watch the puppy while we eat. Okay?”
Allison smiled crookedly. “Okay, Daddy. Then we go get puppy, if I’m good?”
“I promise.” Samuel gently took the dog from her. “Now, go with Marius. He’s going to get you all cleaned up.”
Samuel carried the dog over to Mrs. Wilson’s trailer and knocked. The tin door squeaked open.
“That girl of yours stole my dog again?” Mrs. Wilson flicked her cigarette into a bush.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m very sorry. Allison doesn’t understand when she does something wrong. And she just loves dogs.” Samuel said, as the dog ran inside.
“So you keep sayin’. Next time, I’m gonna call the police.” Mrs. Wilson slammed the door.

********

Later that evening, Samuel made sure the childproof locks were set on the front door. At least she couldn’t wander outside at night.
“But what if there’s a fire,” his wife said to him, in his head.
“I tried my best, Janine,” he whispered, as he poured himself some Scotch. After a couple of sips, he took the glass to the desk in his room. He pulled out a glossy pamphlet from the drawer. “I’m so sorry, Allison.” Salty tears mixed in with the whiskey taste in his mouth.
The next morning, Samuel dropped his son off at school.
“Allison not coming to school today?” Marius asked.
“Nope, we’re taking the day off. After yesterday, I’d better keep an eye on her. Figured we’d go get pancakes. Can you get a ride home after band practice?”
“Sure, Jessica’s mom can drop me off.”
“Pancakes?” Allison said from the back seat. “Chocolate chip?”
“You betcha. All the chocolate chips you want.”
After Allison had her fill of pancakes, Samuel drove her to the state psychiatric hospital that Allison’s doctor had recommended.
“Daddy, where are we?”
Samuel unloaded her suitcase. “Sweetie, you’re going to go on a vacation.”
“Are there puppies inside?” Allison asked.
“Let’s go see, shall we?” He held her hand tightly while he led her up to the white building.

********

He got home well ahead of Marius. There was a dog sitting on the front steps of the trailer porch. At least it’s not Mrs. Wilson’s dog.
“Shoo,” he said, and the dog took off. The trailer was so quiet. He turned on the TV and then took a new bottle of Scotch and a glass from the cabinet. The house was still too quiet. He turned up the TV volume. Some old action movie.
He poured one drink, then another. Then a third. His hands hadn’t stopped shaking, but at least he wasn’t crying anymore. Have to be strong for Marius.
Five o’clock, and the winter darkness started to close in. Someone started yelling in the movie. Then a cacophony of barking dogs erupted from the television. I don’t remember dogs in the movie. How much Scotch did I drink? He shook the bottle. Almost empty.
He squinted at the TV, but the picture was blurry. He turned it off. The yelling stopped but the barking persisted. No, it was more like howling, now. He fumbled with the childproof locks and opened the door. Animals streaked from the small porch into the shadows.
“What the—” He took the flashlight from the shelf by the door and shone it into the darkness. Dogs. Hundreds of dogs. Some even looked like wolves. And they had stopped howling. Instead, they were growling. Growling and snapping as they sprinted forward. Samuel stumbled backwards and fell, dropping the flashlight.
“I’m so sorry, Allison,” he cried as the dogs closed in.

*********

“Hi, Marius.” Allison hugged her brother. “Are we going to go get pancakes?”
“Yes, Allison, pancakes with chocolate chips.”
“Then home?”
“Yes, home. But only after we get you a puppy from the shelter.”
“Puppy.” Allison clapped her hands. “I love puppies.” Her smile was no longer crooked.

 

–Willow Croft

Writing Prompt Link: https://blackcatastrophy.com/2017/12/03/black-catastrophy-writing-prompt-16-gone/.