Day Three

There is an old Cherokee legend called “The Daughter of the Sun” that has been translated from oral tradition to print, and the print versions vary greatly. The first version I encountered, and my favorite, delivered a chilling moral as well as a lesson in one of the oldest beliefs of the People. The moral, (I am paraphrasing) is that using magic to exact vengeance against higher powers is foolish and never ends with the intended results. Simultaneously, the story explains that one such foolish endeavor revealed that the dead cannot return to the land of the People.

I appreciate this particular version, because it makes an overt statement of division echoed in the legends and myths of many cultures that has lent to religious doctrines and have since been investigated and explored exhaustively in many the fictional tale and horror flick — there is a place for the dead, a place for the living, and never the twain should meet. So don’t fool with it!

As happens with many oral traditions, it becomes difficult to distinguish from the ensuing translations what might be the original intent of the story, and what might be a total screw up. I cannot locate a definitive “origin” of this story, and that bothers me. As much as I love that first version I read, I wonder if it might be a complete bastardization of the original telling. The lack of absolute proof bothers me, because I want to weave this legend into one of my stories.

Another legend that I have a great (and disturbing) affinity for is that of “The Poet”. This, as far as I can gather, originates in Ireland, (again, I dare to paraphrase)and tells of a mysterious stranger who was often witnessed in the vicinity of a young wife or maiden the day before she disappears into thin air. Once the search is on for this fair female, a member of the search party always discovers a slip of paper on which is written an indecipherable series of words. It is surmised after several of these events occur over fifty years or so, then centuries, that the mysterious stranger lures women away with an incantation of some kind. Not one person who claimed to have seen the stranger prior to the women’s disappearance was ever able to give a thorough description of him.

Creepy. And absolutely perfect for another of my stories.

In spite of how inspiring these legends are, I wrestle with the ethics of using either as the foundation for one of my stories. What if the translations I like best were mistranslated, either deliberately or otherwise? I do no want to offend any one person or society, but these stories are so delightfully inspiring I could easily adopt them!

What would you do?

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Those Boring Writing Assignments …

Last night got a little weird. I had work left to do on the manuscript, had neat little lists all written out, and was very excited about getting so close to being done. Then, shortly after surviving a trip to the grocery store I just… blanked. I suppose it could be described as a “stupor” from which I woke at 11 p.m.

I was eye level with the computer screen, sitting in my office chair. Netflix was playing an episode of Jericho. To my left was a stack of print outs from the z-fic I’m not scheduled to work on until Tuesday (wait, what). And to my right was a saucer of chocolate cake scraps.

I brushed my teeth and went to bed.

Dim and early this morning it was necessary to take care of a writing assignment I’ve been putting off for weeks—revising my resume. As of 7 a.m., I officially joined the job hunt.

Now that’s out of the way, I think it’s time to get back to my carefully plotted weekend schedule. The Table of Contents must be completed today, a final read-through of the manuscript, then a little happy dance toward the laundry basket that’s piling up and the kitchen floor that needs mopping.

As for the Netflix and the cake scraps, well, that will all have to remain a mystery. Apparently I left no witnesses to what transpired between 6 and 11 p.m.

That Light Is Getting Brighter

I need four pages, not including Acknowledgments. Four! It’s silly, but I already feel as if I’ve won a prize. Also, my head hurts from pulling a good chunk of my hair out yesterday. Yip, I was a bit stressed.

The stress shows up in other ways, such as the way I eat and the way I sleep. Weather is not helping in the least. Outside is an ice cube and all I want to do is scarf down french onion dip and doze in front of Netflix after short bursts of writing. This can’t be healthy.

Whatever. I’m almost done!

Besides taking the time to alternately whine and squee, I would like to repeat my request made last Friday in this post: I want to hear from REAL WRITERS. How do you stay productive in the midst of everyday responsibilities? Y’all exist, right?

How do you put yourself in the chair everyday? How do you avoid developing unhealthy habits, like existing on caffeine and nicotine and french onion dip? Or, is that acceptable behavior as long as the words are filling the page and we’re not brushing our teeth with scotch like applauded, published writers of the not-so-distant past?

Comments, people! Comments!

Obsession?

It is important to take breaks from writing, I’m told. However, since my writing production has been so terribly spotty the past few years, taking a break scares the hell out of me. What if the words don’t come back? What if I don’t finish?

The hubby was out of town all last week on a business trip and will have to leave again mid-afternoon today, so I promised myself a break to spend quality time. We had a lengthy phone conversation during his trip home in which we hammered out plans for Friday night, then toyed with the idea of spending Saturday driving in the winter sunshine before he went shopping for vintage golf equipment and maybe go to the range (which we did). Then we’d have dinner and watch a movie.

The moment he stepped into a golf store what did I do? I shuffled over to a shop next door and bought pens and a notebook. Then I sat in the car and wrote a poem… then I started reorganizing To Do Lists and writing schedules …

We got home, had dinner, couldn’t decide on a movie so we settled for TV and did some chores. Glamorous, right? Maybe not, but it was leisurely, quiet, and enjoyable. Hubs is early to bed and early to rise. Once he was asleep, what did I do? I read a story in Gaiman’s Trigger Warning, then I began to work on a scene from one of my stories. Yikes.

The good news is I didn’t take a step toward the manuscript file. And I have some really nice new pens.

I Have A Confession To Make

Yesterday when I said out loud in print that I was going to finish … I may have been just a wee bit high on caffeine.

Yes, I have been very productive over the last five days. Incredibly so. But I have to admit that trying to edit and revise so much is beginning to shut my brain off the possibility of creating new work, and this project is in need of some new work.

In hopes of opening the tap a little, I sat here for an hour listening to music and making notes last night. It’s been a long, long while since I’ve done that sort of thing. Music is very inspirational. The inspiration yielded a poem, a crappy poem. Crappy in the sense that it’s way too confessional, way too expository. Had a nice rhythm, though. So, I’ve created a new file entitled “The Scrap Pile” and tossed that sucker right in.

Which …. and this causes me to groan … made me want to begin organizing all my files and perusing old dusty ones page-by-page. Really? Really! Ugh. I had to force myself to turn off the light and go to bed.

I’ve got some pressing responsibilities today and tomorrow, so I’m well aware that I won’t be writing for hours on end again until Sunday night. What I wish I could do during this next couple of days of non-writing is hear from dozens of productive writers about how they get the work done.

Oh, sure, I’ve read all about the process that various celebrities swear by. I probably know way too much about celebrity writers. In a totally uncreepy way, of course. I want to hear from people like me. People who must leave their writing every day to put dinner on the table, do the shopping, pay bills, walk the dog, medicate their mother-in-law, go to the day job. I want to hear from people who, despite all that, get the work done. You get published. You’ve self-published, or have actually had lengthy conversations with your very own agent/publisher. Y’all exist, right?