It turns out getting your home ready for an open house takes time. That’s why I haven’t been posting as regularly as normal. I hope I never end up selling a place I’m still living in again.
The Star Trek and Doctor Who online fandoms have gotten really toxic. I don’t consider myself a Star Wars fan but I’ve read enough comments to see the toxicity there too. To be clear, you can like or dislike a show, and express your like or dislike, without being toxic. There are certainly fans in that category. But when looking at the loud and toxic mess, on one hand there are people talking about how liberal virtue signaling Social Justice Warriors have destroyed these beloved franchises and on the other hand there are accusations of racism, sexism, and Trump support against those who aren’t fans of the current iterations of these franchises. It gets so tiring and depressing to see and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
I want more fun in my fandoms.
On an unrelated note…
It was the dining room table that destroyed our “friendship,” if you can call it that. She put it in far right hand corner. I centered it in the room so that my friends and I could all sit around it. After this, she declared war. Of course, I didn’t know that until weeks later.
I have various tricks to help me not lose my flow when writing. If I’m going to reference a statistic that I haven’t looked up yet, if I can only think of a word sort of like the one I’m after, or I haven’t named a character yet, I put a descriptor of some sort in brackets. For example:
The next days are an indistinct mass of noise. First there are the numbers.  dead.  missing and presumed dead.  wounded. Only  of us escaped unscathed. No, no. Physically unscathed.
Those numbers aren’t real world statistics I need to look up, I just need to double check that all the related numbers I mention throughout the novel make sense given the progression of events.
Today, in looking back at a story I never finished, I found this and it made me laugh:
We are going to [place] to do [something].
In my defense, this is all the way at the end and is going to illustrate that my character has overcome the terrible things I inflicted on her and is ready for another adventure.
This may be one of the funnier paragraphs from my high school and college stories:
The directors couldn’t have looked more surprised or confused if a marching band of vampires had somersaulted into their office wearing pink tutu dresses and carrying a singing mermaid between them. And I couldn’t have been more bewildered as to why they were so astounded. What, did they think it was unlikely that someone so young would have been assigned to this case?
I’ve been noticing similarities in my stories from high school and my more recent writings. It’s only the first two sentences here, but they still reminded me strongly of my novel:
It was a scream that woke me. A hoarse, panicked scream. Followed by a flailing arm smacking my face. And then a series of desperate sobs and the dull sound of hands and feet striking out against sheet and mattress.
As a reminder, here’s the first paragraph of my novel:
The scream is agonized. It cuts the cold air, the walls, the closed door, fierce like a siren, too loud and too close. It echoes in the chill that tickles my spine, in the shiver that embraces me.
I wasn’t surprised. When I heard Ellis say those cold, cruel words to Hannah, I wasn’t surprised. I wanted to be, even tried to be, but I wasn’t. After all these years, after knowing him for all these years, I’ve mostly moved beyond surprise. It’s only natural.
I’ve seen him do more spontaneous, insane, thoughtless, and just plain stupid things than I can, or even care to, remember. I’ve seen him be arrogant and unkind to the point of near viciousness
I’ve also seen – and been on the receiving end of – his unwavering dedication. Though I can have trouble reconciling his seemingly contradictory behavior, it rarely surprises me anymore. I’ve simply known him for too long.
He is wild and unpredictable. He always has been.
So I wasn’t surprised.
“You stand accused of disregard for human life, blood rape, and murder. How do you plead?”
“I plead guilty,” Elijah replies firmly to the matron of the proceedings, noticing the subtle shift in the stances of those assembled around him. A human wouldn’t see but his enhanced senses detect the indication of surprise. “I ask that I be allowed to argue not in defense of what I did, but in defense of what I’ve done since. I have changed. I would like to call a witness who can attest to it.”
This is not something those who stand in judgment must discuss. They consider themselves to be fair above all things. “We will allow it. What is this person?”
“He is human.”
Another near imperceptible shift. “Have you broken the conventions of secrecy?”
“No. He knew of our kind before I met him.”
From another story I wrote in high school, inspired heavily by a scene in a Deep Space Nine episode:
When I finished eating I looked across the table to see if Ellis was also done. What I saw puzzled me. There was still a good amount of food left on his plate but he was not eating it. He was cutting it into little pieces and setting it on a napkin he had spread out beside his placemat.
“Hmm?” he didn’t so much as glance at me.
“What are you doing?”
Flushing, my friend abruptly dropped his knife and fork, letting them clutter noisily against the plate. “They hardly fed us in the hole. When they did, I learned to save as much as I could,” he mumbled, not once looking at me.
Oh. How…sad. I swallowed. Feeling ill at ease, I averted my gaze. What did one say to something like that? Was I expected to express my sympathy? Should I tell him that I was sorry? Offer to listen if he wanted to talk about it? I felt so powerless. I wanted to help him but had no idea how.
I’m really not kind to my characters. This week I’ve been rereading stories I wrote in high school. These lovely little paragraphs are from one of those stories (I’ve cut out a lot of the exposition):
He sighed. “It’s not as bad as you think.”
“Not as bad as you think,” I repeated dubiously. “What exactly happened to you last night?”
“I tried to fight them off but I was sluggish and couldn’t see. There were too many of them.”
“And why did they attack you?” I pressed.
“Why do you think?”
“And what did they do to you?”
“They broke my wrist and four of my ribs,” he began, eyes never leaving mine. “They fractured my jaw and nose. They beat me severely, causing multiple contusions, cuts, and bruises, as well as internal bleeding and two concussions. Apparently one of them nearly choked me, which almost crushed my trachea. Shall I continue?”
I swallowed, unnerved at how emotionlessly he could say all of that and appalled at what had been done to him. “And all of that,” I gestured vaguely, voice guttural, “is not as bad as I think?”
When they bring him in I jump to my feet like there’s something I can do other than clench my hands into fists so the nails dig into my palms. But he’s covered in gashes and blood and mud and I’m no doctor. They wouldn’t let me anyway. They’re already rushing him into the back and telling me to wait here. This is a waiting room, after all.
“Waiting room.” That says everything. A neat little description for this helpless, teetering limbo, for standing at the edge of a void.
I understand now. The warnings they gave me… I understand. I can’t do anything. I can’t help him. He’s alive and I’m not and we lost our chance of a relatively painless parting when my cruel words drove him to avoid me until it was too late. Now he feels guilty for words left unsaid and forgiveness denied and I feel horrible for having brought him to this place.