On crafting a story

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about how I have crafted stories, both the ones that are complete and the ones I’ve been working on. The novel I’m working on was a combination of two things. I began writing it in December of 2014 after the protagonist (name and all) popped into my head. The other thing was a few pages of a story beginning I had written in I think it was 2008. I don’t know what happened to those pages and it still kinda haunts me. The story itself was really just a scene or part of a scene I could never figure out what to do with it. I tried different things and nothing worked.
It is odd how things work themselves out eventually.
The other project I’ve been working on this year is a short story that I started last year, one that I have since abandoned which is partly the reason for this post. It was quite a journey with that short because when I wrote it initially I thought it was very comedic then I read it months later and was stunned to discover the opposite. It’s just weird. And I love the ending. I think a lot of that story has to do with current events and I tried to present something positive. I think on that front it succeeds, on a certain level. But ultimately I decided the story didn’t work because I found upon a few read-throughs that I did not care about the protagonist at all. Even after I tried to give to flesh him out more. I cared even less.
But there was an idea I had about the story that would involve tearing the whole thing apart and rebuild it from essentially nothing and I decided I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t believe in it. I still don’t. I found that what I liked was the ending. That was a lot of what the story always was for me. There are two images that I dreamed up that I loved and I haphazardly put a “story” around it.
That approach has worked for me before but after some thought I have decided I can’t do that anymore. I need to be more intentional. I don’t really want to be someone who creates only popcorn fun entertainment.
I’ve been listening to Brian McDonald’s INK SPOTS which is a collection of blog posts on writing, his other book INVISIBLE INK is probably my favorite book on the craft of writing that I’ve come across. There’s a part in INK SPOTS where he talks about a writing student who was having trouble with an ending for her short story and he asked her:
“What is a story?”
She thought it was a trick question but he wasn’t playing at anything. He just wanted her answer. He believes that every writer should have their own definition of what a story is or rather a definition that fits their writing.
It really helped me and I’ve thought about it a lot. I keep coming back to the word intentional. As I’m making my way through the third draft of my novel I’ve kept that word in my mind. There are things I want from the story and their are things the story wants. It’s fascinating how a certain idea has come out of it that I didn’t see until recently but it has been there since the first draft. I just couldn’t see it and that’s why the previous iterations have had disappointing endings because there was something there but not fully there. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me…
One thing I have learned so far this year is about slowing down. I didn’t have a plan for the novel when I wrote the first draft of my novel and I’ve rebuilt it so many times, it’s been exhausting but also very informative. But going forward, I have other novels to write and I’ve actually been working on those ideas in the background over the past few months. I’m developing these ideas rather than just diving into things headfirst. I’m not sure what I’m going to write first but there are two novels vying for my attention once this one is complete-ish. One is the obvious sequel and the other is something new and exciting. I’ve been careful about crafting and preparing it. I’ve been building the characters and not thinking about the plot much. I have the broad strokes because the character stuff informs that. It all has to work together to form a unified thing. I should be saying I’m building a novel rather than writing one because it’s more like building than just writing.
I don’t want to craft stories based on one or two cool images. I can’t stop my brain from having those cool things pop in and out but those aren’t stories. An arrow isn’t an arrow without a point.

Don’t call it yet…

She said to the doctor, who had just turned his wrist to take note of the time. The time of death.

So it’s been about three months with no updates here, I’ve been busy with the third draft of my first novel. It’s going well and coming together. I should be finished with the draft next month and after that I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I did have a rough plan for the year earlier that was very ambitious, it included starting two new novels and finishing their first drafts this year. Yeah that’s not going to happen. The second half of this year is going to be a lot busier than the first half. I think editing and revising and getting the book into a presentable state for agents is going to be all I will be able to handle. And the more I think about it the more it makes sense to keep it simple in the writing side seeing as everything else is going to be hectic and overwhelming and I need to be present for it all.
Over the next week or so, I will be posting more content to get the ball rolling on the blog again. I have reviews of things in the works. First up is reviews of episodes of the new show THE CROSSING. As of writing this, I’m only a couple episodes into it (I’m about a month behind) but spoiler— I really like it so far. Tomorrow I will be posting at least the first. I also have a couple other things that are in the pipeline. I don’t think I’ll be doing book reviews nor will I be tackling big/popular things. I don’t feel the need to share my take on the latest blockbuster. I have a few ideas for things that are more popular but they are less reviews and more personal takes on things (could you be any more vague?).
The plan is as it was before to have more of presence here. I will be writing about different topics and things about my own writing process. I have one about my ideas on crafting a story that is coming.
Music is a big part of my life and I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to approach reviewing albums which is something I want to do.
Thinking about it now, I consume so many things.

Fun fact: it’s been three years since I completed the first draft of my first novel. And a year since I started the second draft. I wonder what next May will bring!

Thank you for reading.

27th October 2017

I had so many ideas of how to do it like I’m sure most people do. On the 26th I thought of doing it in this sort of little park nearby it. Park might be a strong word. It was a little spot with trees and a little fence and playscape, complete with a solitary streetlight. I could see us being there, coming home after a little light grocery shopping. I brought the ring with me but we came back a different way and there was no way for me to carry the bags and wrestle the little ring free. We always end up with more than we intended. See book store trips from September 2016. I was a little disappointed but it was that night I decided when I’d do it.
We had made plans to finally go up the mountain where the giant cross resides and I figured that was perfect. Because the ring looks better in the daylight and there’d be a memorable locale. Pretty much anywhere in Skopje, you can see the cross on the mountaintop.
Friday morning, we made our way up. Bus ride to the park where the cable cars reside, we rode the swinging things up. My first thought was damnit there are so many people.
We had lunch looking down at the countryside and I was reminded of the woods near my childhood home and all those times I’d sit and wish I had someone by my side. I looked at her and again for the millionth time I remembered how I never thought I’d be this lucky. Throughout my life I’ve gone through waves, for every great person that has enriched my life there’s a legion of others that make me embarrassed to be a person.
Most people I wouldn’t drive ten minutes down the road for.
On the mountain, I noticed an area that wasn’t so densely populated with strangers and I steered her that way. Because sure, I wouldn’t mind being that guy at the airport on his knee but she would. We found a place to sit and in my jacket pocket I’m fighting the little plastic bag the ring was in. I was quietly freaking out because plastic is loud and she’s going to hear and also WHAT IF I DROP IT CUZ THESE DAMN SWEATY PALMS?
IT’S SIMPLE. DO NOT DROP IT.
At the same time I’m thinking about this rock I used to sit on that was in the woods near where I grew up, it overlooked the street and in a way it felt like I was there again, but with her.
Then a new pang of fear: what if she doesn’t love the ring?
The only thing that saved me here was she was occupied by her phone. Finally, I got the ring out of the little plastic baggie. Godamn I should have thought this through.
Spoiler: She loved (and loves) the ring.
She was surprised and she didn’t notice my scrambling or the plastic bag trouble.

I love her. She’s worth traveling across the world for. Again and again. Until we don’t have to leave anymore.

When we finally rode our own cable car down, we waited so long because we wanted our own, our perfect day on the mountain became super perfect when we met this delightful gang of trouble.

But then the bus driver was late, just proof that there’s always a Richard around.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to my love. And to everyone else reading this too. Wait for the love you want, the love you deserve.

What I learned from my writing in 2017

The biggest thing about 2017 was how I sort of stumbled into a more business mindset when it comes to writing. It can be both serious business and a fleeting art like most things it’s about balance. Constraints can fuel creativity and level it up. For example, writing the first draft of my upcoming novel was not what I would call a fun experience. I mean it was and it wasn’t. I drank way too much coffee, thinking that it would spark something more and so in turn I didn’t sleep very well. Looking back it’s crazy because I was hurting myself for… art? That’s insane. You could argue about musicians and heroin or whatever other drug and that’s fine if you think the drugs did it. A person shouldn’t sacrifice themselves so someone else can enjoy something they made. Fuck that. Art should enhance all life, not a select group.
Wow, this got away from me.
What was I saying? Oh, constraints… I always thought outline was a dirty word because Stephen King says so. That’s what works for him. Advice is just advice, the confusing bit is how everyone presents it as fact. You know, like how I just did with the bit about constraints? Everyone is wrong and everyone is also right. I’ve found that outlining is super important to my process. Early on, the problem I had was HOW THE FUCK DO YOU OUTLINE. No one ever says how really. Some go into index cards and sticky notes but I haven’t done it that way. The way I outlined the first Piece of ACOT was fairly simple, I didn’t really understand what acts were and the whole “it’s the beginning middle and end” answer doesn’t fucking explain anything. What is different between the three? Is the end the last bit like the last frame of a movie? Is the end the bit before the end? Is the beginning this or that? And so what the hell does the middle look like? I listed out the events of that short story. And every time the protagonist (Vike) made a choice, I decided that was an “act turn” or “act break”.
So when he decided to try to save the stranger’s life at the Rift is the end of the first act. It might not be clear in the story but that’s what he was doing. When he decided to listen to what the Moth had to say and really believe he could help was the end of the 2nd act. It’s essentially him realizing he fucked up by “saving the stranger” and the end is when he decides what he really believes which results in… well just read it.
The first outline had all those things as bullet points and like the surrounding story points, so just a list of things. Not all of the Pieces were written in a structured manner, the second Piece was mostly just “more action and more cool things”. I’ve since learned more about structure and I apply a little of it but mostly I like having a dash of structure like having a very strong midpoint of the story that works really hard. I’m still really unsure about endings. That is what I worry about most because when I was first thinking about ending ACOT, I couldn’t think of any endings I really really liked. That series owes a lot to the Matrix and the ending of that is really disappointing. What I tried with ACOT was to have something real to hang onto at the very end. It’s all fairly ambiguous but there was something I really intended to say at the end because that story was about Vike and Amnee and how someone can come into your life and be a surrogate for someone else.
When it came to revisit the novel after two years away from it, I was afraid of editing it, of rebuilding it because I knew I wanted to change so much. It was written in first person and I wanted that to change and I wanted to be more intentional in genre and tone. I couldn’t describe the book until a few months ago when I would talk about the first draft it was: “Well it’s about this and there’s this and oh there’s this and this too!” I was figuring it out as I went. I only just realized what the book really is about this month as I restructure and rework the outline. This will be the third draft but this is the sixth or maybe seventh outline I’ve done for this. I’ve torn it apart multiple times.
I’ve only edited short stories before this, so the novel is a huge learning process and I’ve committed myself to taking it slower and trying things. ACOT may be novel-sized, it’s roughly sixty thousand words but it wasn’t written as a novel. It was written as four long short stories, the 3rd and 4th Pieces were originally one and the final two Pieces were written as one as well. Outlining those made it easy to know what I was writing any given day and I’ve applied that to the novel and to these other short pieces I’ve written.
In 2017, I tracked not only the things I wrote and finished but while I rewrote the novel from May through September, I kept track of the daily word count. I have gotten into the habit of tracking things and taking more notes, it all feeds into the business angle which has been very interesting and rewarding. I didn’t think I had it in me.
I’ve also been experimenting more with deadlines. It’s ongoing, I’m not sure how to make all of it work because I want to be realistic but also challenge myself but at the same time there’s so much to do. Again it’s fear because I am afraid to set hard deadlines and then not meet them and I’ll be really hard on myself and that would crash the writing.
2017 was a big year for my development as a writer and I’m looking forward to growing and evolving more this year.

What I wrote in 2017

I decided to try to be more productive and so I began 2017 with writing down what I wanted to accomplish for the year. Except I did it in smaller chunks, I went quarterly because to plan a whole year out in advance seemed crazy. (Plot twist- I have 2018 all planned out, as far as writing goes and as far as what I can plan on right now)
I wanted to keep track because I wanted to know what I was doing all year. I didn’t realize that the simple act of trying to organize myself would really change my entire mindset on writing.
The first thing I wanted to do was finish A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES, which I had originally envisioned as an ongoing thing when it first evolved from a possible idea of separate stories in one world to a focused narrative I had thought of it as a prose answer to TV sensibilities. But along the way it changed again, I realized I had to put those characters and that world away. I couldn’t leave it hanging open for years, I had this vision of it never being finished so I decided to end it and work on something else.
At the start of 2017, that something else was a little novella called THROUGH THE BLUR and I had the idea of going traditional with it and shopping it around with publishers but something happened that changed my life and most importantly my writing life. A little podcast called The Bestseller Experiment, which I found when Joe Hill retweeted his appearance on it. I distinctly remember listening to that episode and laughing at the intro where these two guys tell you what they are trying to do: write, publish and market a novel in under a year. Yeah sure, ‘cause that’s possible, I said to myself. (spoiler- they actually did it!)
Over the course of the first half of the year, as I worked on A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES and my short story A VAST EULOGY, I realized something and that was I was afraid. And not just of one thing but a few things. First, I was afraid to have THROUGH THE BLUR be my first professionally published work and put my foot down as a sci-fi author. I love sci-fi but I was afraid of putting that out front because I’m not sure I’m smart enough. The other thing I was afraid of was working on the novel I had started in December 2014 and subsequently finished the first draft in May 2015. I put it aside because I knew it’d need a ton of work and I was scared of that. Because at the time, I hadn’t seen any real advice or anything about actually editing and I was so afraid of looking at that manuscript and diagnosing it.
I don’t remember the episode exactly, but there was a shift in my thinking while I listened along to the two Marks on their Bestseller Experiment writing journey. It really crawled into my head and I began to think, oh this is all wrong. The right way to fully launch my writing career is with this novel, it’s not sci-fi, it’s something else and I really love that and could see a career based in and around that sort of genre mixing. So when I finished A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES, I pulled out this novel in April 2017. It’s been quite an adventure since then.
I grew so much in 2017. I finished ACOT and A Vast Eulogy, both of which are available now for you to read FOR FREE!
If you missed the little pop-up, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive A Vast Eulogy by clicking here.
Also, I wrote two other short stories both of which are unfinished. One is fanfic and will be up for free sometime in 2018, the other is one I hope to sell. I wrote the latter longhand and really loved that experience. Both of those are under five thousand words each. I wrote another short story, perhaps it’s more novella-size, it’s more novella in structure. I’m not sure what’s to come of that just yet. It’s safe and sound in a notebook, marinating.
All in all, I had a really productive writing year and I hope to write even more in 2018. I’m planning to give NaNoWriMo this year, instead of missing it like I have the past few years because I forget to plan for it.
There’s a second part to this post which revolves more around what I learned in 2017 as it pertains to writing. I hope you’ll join me for that one in a few days. Thank you for reading! And if you signed up for my mailing list, THANK YOU.

2017 in review – Five books I enjoyed the hell out of

One of my goals for my reading year of 2017 was to read more new releases and I read 6 books that were released in 2017. It was a big year of content consumption. I read 35 books and here are five that I really loved.

A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston
A truly lovely book, it grew my respect and admiration for the man and provided quite a bit of inspiration. It was really valuable to get a look inside an actor’s process. A quick read that is absolutely something I plan to revisit eventually. I highly recommend it.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
This is a captivating novel. It really blurs genres in a way that I haven’t seen before just thinking about it a little bit makes me want to read it all again. I’m looking forward to reading more by her, I have Shining Girls in my next up pile.

Cibola Burn by James SA Corey
This is the fourth in the long running Expanse series, for which the TV show is based, and it’s my absolute favorite besides the first installment. The stakes are higher, or at least they seem to be. I felt like there wasn’t a character or section that I was dreading unlike in previous books. It held me tighter than the second or third books did and that’s what I want. Hold me by the fucking throat and don’t let go. This series is really special to me because I can and do fall right into this mammoth novels which is quite the feat since I don’t really read a lot of longer works.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
READ THIS BOOK. The book is as great and as lovely as the cover is. It’s violent and shocking but in just the right way. It’s unforgettable and brilliant. Kat Howard deserves all of the success. She’s great. You should preorder her new book too! Unless you don’t like things that are great.

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
This book blew my mind, truly and completely. I’ve never been one that was ever drawn to Westerns and I thought this was more fantasy than Western, I guess it is but it really doesn’t matter because it’s a perfect book. I can’t wait to read the sequel and the rest of the series.

Three out of the five here are by women which sort of lead me to the idea I have for my 2018 reading. I’m not buying any books by straight white men this year. Okay that’s sort of a lie because I have one preordered but that’s it. If I want to be a stronger writer I have to read more than just the straight white male perspective.

This is the final of my reflective pieces on media consumption for 2017. Thank you for reading and following along.

A preview of my most recent published short story

Below is the first two thousand or so words of A Vast Eulogy, a short story about how a young woman while attempting to discover who she wants to be stumbles into another world…

One.

“Renee, you need to come home.” The phone line can mask many things but not the almost hysterical sobs that coat every word.
“We’ve talked about this, mom.” Renee sighs. “Look, okay I know it’s not easy to make friends but your daughter can’t be your only friend. I need room to breathe and figure out who I am. And you know I don’t mean any disrespect, it’s just I can’t. I’m not capable of mimicking your life and I don’t want to.”
“So you’re working in the middle of the night behind a glass window that they claim is bulletproof but we both know they are too cheap to have actual bulletproof glass. What happens when you get robbed and… he has a gun…?” Her mother drops the phone. She can hear her mother sobbing, her head resting on the wall that creates the corner of the modest kitchen. The cracked vinyl floor hangs in Renee’s mind like an echo. The texture of it and the memories of baking cookies and sneaking her vegetables to the family dog, Knob. When her mother brought the puppy home, Renee made a series of sounds and the only one that resembled a word was Knob. She was three at the time. Knob proved to be better than her father but still he couldn’t stay.
They say after high school it’s all downhill and Renee found that to be true, very quickly. Four months after graduating, Knob passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. It was a night that was especially hard for her. The longing for her father was strong and Knob protected her from the nightmares. She knows he took them on and fought for her and didn’t make it. She has a tattoo of his paw print on her hip. Knob is always by her side.
After a few moments, she hears her mother pick the phone up. “You’re doing what you promised you wouldn’t do. You know that, don’t you?”
“No. That’s not what this is and you know it, mom. We’ve talked about this. I’m not dad. I told you I was leaving and why and it’s only temporary. I promise it is. I just have to find my own path.” She can feel the anger rising in her. She wants to scream at her mother, again.
Her mother interrupts. “And you think you’re going to find it at that little shit shop?”
“Mom please.” She’s trying to keep her voice level. She knows that her mother is just worried and isn’t really angry. There’s no reason to snap at her. “Mom, look it’s late and we both know you need your rest. You’ll feel better in the morning. You can call me when you wake up. It’ll be like I’m home. We’ll sit and have coffee and chat a little.”
“Could we do that video thingy?” Her mother’s voice perks up like a child asking for entrance into the cookie jar.
“Yes of course mom. I really have to go. The fog really rolled in, I gotta take it slow on the way to work.”
“Okay honey, you be safe. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“See you later, mom. I love you.”
Her mother returns the sentiment and they click the end call button at the same time. She slides her phone into the front pocket of her hoodie, adjusting it to make sure that it won’t slip out. Then she takes her blue and white rectangle name tag and pins it above her left breast. Again taking the time to make sure it’s straight and level. She’ll have a total of ten, maybe fifteen interactions with people during her six hour shift but it’s the principal of the whole thing.
In the bathroom, she brushes her teeth quickly but efficiently. She swears she did it when she got up but the mention of her father left a bad taste in her mouth and she couldn’t recall exactly if she had brushed or not. The last of the minty fresh toothpaste is exiled from her mouth and she taps her worn out brush on the edge of the sink. Looking in the mirror, she adjusts her tight bun ensuring none of her pesky brown hair has tried to escape.
“Mom really has nothing to worry about. I’m a capable woman.” She’s thinking of the other night when a young skater punk pointed to the Skateboarding Prohibited sign and began to grind along the curb outside her booth. When she came out the rear door and he saw her standing there, all five feet and ten inches of her, he hauled ass out of there. Just another case of “look at the little lady all safe behind the glass.”
She wouldn’t say she’s a big or imposing girl. She’s an athletic twenty-five. Athletic. That’s the word her boss, Randy, always says. He’s nice and means well but his mouth doesn’t exactly have a filter. He hasn’t been rude, only that he says things that most probably wouldn’t. It makes her uncomfortable to have to describe people in detail but Randy, oh no problem at all. He’ll give anyone any detail they want and some they don’t. There was an instance a few weeks ago where a young college girl hadn’t paid for the gas she pumped. And Randy described her down to how her pants fit. “Officer, you know what I’m saying when I say that she had these jeans on that fit squarely. Oh man, the pockets were *nicely* seated in the center of her plump cheeks.” Every adjective gets an exaggerated pronunciation. Thankfully the policeman didn’t favor that sort of talk but Renee believes it was mostly for her benefit.
She smiles in the mirror. Then snaps her head around and rushes through her one bedroom apartment, switching lights off as she goes before scooping up her keys and locking the door behind her. The outside air hits her hard. A push of dense humidity. She likes the first floor apartment, easy to get in and out of. Though working nights is troublesome since she has to sleep during the day when her upstairs neighbor is doing yoga and other exercises while her husband is out pretending to work the job he was fired from weeks ago. The lady, Candice, doesn’t seem to care about much besides her advanced internet yoga.
The fog lays over her familiar surroundings. It’s enough to disorient her but at the same time she’s reminded of early mornings as a child—Christmas and the like—when she’d jump in her parent’s bed and they would hide beneath the covers. She would have to grope around to find their heads and hands. She thinks the world is allowed to hide under a blanket whenever it wants, there’s plenty to hide from.
The engine of her early nineties Ford Ranger turns over easily. The gear shift sticks so she has to really jerk into drive before releasing the brake and coasting down the hill. She isn’t sure why or how she started doing it but she won’t press the gas until the very last second. Just before the rising of the hill. Maybe it’s the freeing feeling she is struck by or maybe it’s a subconscious thing. She can almost hear her father saying, “Coast whenever possible—saves gas. It does.” She slams her hand down on steering wheel, cursing aloud. Again, punishing herself for thinking of him.
The street rises and turns toward the left before forking outward, there’s a light that guards the juncture. Another car approaches from the opposing direction but she manages through the light just as it turns from green to yellow. Now, the road is fixed on another hill that rises deeper into the foggy summer night. A few more twists and bends and she is entranced by the routine of the drive to work.
She takes her eyes off the road for a split second to hit the radio, it has cut out. Ahead of her a solitary street lamp glows into the night and through the fog illuminating a change in the scenery. A change to the road. It quivers and rises as her truck passes under the lamp. The road has blended with an otherworldly entity. And the lamp reveals the entrance into that entity, it forms a tunnel. She doesn’t notice the change because she is preoccupied. Even if she was paying attention she wouldn’t believe her eyes.
The road has become a tongue and the street light is the uvula of an entity that doesn’t call this world home. It is an intruder and Renee has returned the favor, unaware.

 

Two.

A bright light shines through the windshield, washing Renee’s face and waking her mind from a slumber she doesn’t recall entering. Yawn and stretch. “Oh fuck! I missed work.” She shuffles around for her phone but it’s gone. It’s not in her pocket. Quickly she unbuckles her seatbelt and leaps out of the truck, searching under the seat and around the truck.
The ground feels softer than it should. She looks toward her feet and almost falls backward. “Sand. What the—”
The truck is neatly nestled in a small sand dune. One of many that she can see. The view is brilliant. The urge to panic is knocked away by bewilderment. Sand rises and falls and glides and glitters under a somber blue sky with a falling sun. The light is quietly bright, the kind that speaks of evening to her mind. Morning sunlight is often too loud and inviting. This light, early evening light, is more of a soothing light that lets you go about your business. The morning sun is one that makes demands. Often, the demands are awful.
*How can anyone say life is awful when there are views like this?* She shuts her eyes gently and inhales deeply. Letting the calm take hold of her. There’s no use for panic.
She scans the land, looking for some landmark, a place to go. The question of how she arrived here doesn’t cross her mind, it might later but now she’s too enchanted by the view to care about what has happened. She’s locked in on what’s about to happen.
Quickly, she kicks her sneakers off and tosses them in the bed of the truck. The sand is delightful between her toes. It’s warm and fine, not coarse. After a few steps toward the horizon, away from the truck, she reconsiders leaving her sneakers and turns back to scoop them up. Her pointer finger rests in the left and her middle finger holds the right. She tells herself, okay and suddenly a loud crash seems to float through the air toward her. She wonders if it’s possible for someone to throw sound because that’s what it is like. Seconds later, another crash. It’s not thunder, she knows that much. It’s something… else.
The truck begins to shake and the ground rumbles with it. The sand dunes are shifting around her. Renee tumbles backward and gasps as her truck is swallowed by the sand.
The sun sets. Renee looks toward the light source and sees it’s not setting, it’s being hidden. A mountain is forming between her and the sun. The desert goes dark. The mountain is enormous and she knows it’s impossible to climb. She has no desire to try but she’s not quite sure how she knows or why she feels this way. It’s just something that is not meant to be conquered. It’s not sinister, though it is the source of the crashing pulses. She isn’t sure how she knows that either.
She wonders if it is trying to speak to her.
The outline of the mountain is beautifully illuminated by the falling sun. She turns around quickly realizing what it is trying to convey—within the clutch of darkness is where she should be focusing. Darkness hides a lot. The light isn’t an answer to her query but a distraction.
She looks away from the mountain, squints her eyes and finally is able to see. There is enough light beaming around the mountain to show her that the desert does have an ending. The horizon is shaded like the space between the two pages of an open book. The spine holds it all together. The horizon isn’t where the sky ends and the land begins. It’s where two ideas fold into each other.
She sees and is walking toward the truth.
*Land is below your feet and sky is above.* She thinks of this while stepping across the horizon. She has one foot on the sand and one on the sky but the blue sky isn’t really what she thought it was.
The sky is an ocean and the sun has fallen behind the solid ground. It shines through the cracks and the crevices. Gravity follows her like a stray dog. She looks back, gazing on the flaws of the solid ground, remembering fondly nights spent staring up at the stars.
“I’m never going to look at the sky the same,” she says with a smile, wiggling her toes in the shallow water.

 

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