Hello! As promised last week, the new story starting this week is a positive one. There's enough going on in the world that's stressed, anxious, and negative (and some things that are downright awful), so I'm taking a break from conflicts and overcoming troubles for a story about being in a good place and having the right people around you.
My past week seems like a bit of a blur. I veered away from working on my big manuscript to dive back into one of my practice short stories. Disclaimer: practice stories are great, but not fit for general consumption lol. I like doing them because they're my place to write terribly and figure out how to make the horrible ideas in my head into a format I can write well. It's my 'How to Make Bad Ideas Into Good Stories: 101' method, so that when I stumble into needing that kind of idea or writing style in something I'm seriously working on, I've already practiced.
That said, Fan Fic is a great place to work on erotica, graphic violence, and horror... after reading some to know how to form the ideas. Are these genres I've written in, will seek or read going forward, or that I'll ever write for, specifically? Probably not. Will understanding how to better add elements of these genres to my writing make weak parts of my stories stronger? Hell to the yes! Plus, it's fun to write the hard-for-me stuff knowing I can just delete the file or choose to not back it up. ;)
Of course, I do back it up and never delete it. Even my terrible writing. It's good to keep reminders of each step of improvement, especially on the days when I'm wading through feelings of being a talentless and hopeless writer. I can always look through old files and see where my skill level used to be, and that I've improved a long way since then!
Overall, it was a quiet week and this weekend looks like it'll be more of the same. I'm hoping we'll get our Christmas trees up this weekend, but if not I'm not going to stress about it. My biggest goal is to get everything mailed out that needs to be in the post to arrive at destinations in time for the holidays. I'm that friend with part of my holiday mind stuck in the 1950's who still believes the end of the year is the time for a handwritten good-will message in a paper card. Plus, the cards are so pretty now! Sparkles ship directly to friends in the mail! Hope you have a great weekend!
I stepped back, brush held at the ready just in case, and studied the last detail I’d just completed. The reflection in the water drop was perfect now. Emotion washed through me in the usual rush, taking away the strength from my legs that had let me stand for hours and paint through the magnifier. I felt shaky as I set the brush in its rest and pushed the magnifier’s stand out of the direct line of sight. Collapsing into the chair I kept in my studio for these exact moments, I sighed and let the cushions envelop me as I looked at the completed work the way it was meant to be seen: from half way across a room.
Three canvases stretched vertically, a set that had to be completed as a single piece because of the details in each, and matching exactly the way I’d wanted them to. The first was a far focus, with stars pin-pricked into actual overhead constellations and using colors in accordance with the spectrum readings I’d looked up months ago to ensure accuracy. The second was a middle focus, with only the brightest stars apparent but fuzzy, and the branches and leaves crisply detailed between sky and ground. The third was a near focus, and this one had been the reason for the other two to exist. The spider web covered blades of wild grasses and a patch of bark on the nearest tree, dew gathering along the silver strands, and its builder sheltered inside a crevice made by a tree root and small stones. The spider was looking up and the stars, blurred to invisibility overhead but reflected sharply in its upward turned eyes.
By the critics, this wasn’t going to be hailed as my best work. Personally, though, I believed this series was going to stay my favorite even after the glow faded from it being my most recent. Doing the jumping spider from an angle looking up at it, so showing off all the creepy undersides of its face, wouldn’t be popular. It was too realistic to be considered adorable – mine definitely didn’t look like those popular short movies I’d seen online about that animated spider – but each detail being scientifically accurate left me with the expectation that my created spider was about to move.
The dew drop I’d finished today was so much better with all the reflected things around it now part of the scene. I smiled and rubbed my eyes. Who would’ve thought the backpacking holiday where I’d been so enthralled with paintings on grains of rice that one of the painters had taken pity on me and taught me the basics would come into my art like this?
Well. Time to start cleaning up. But first… I snapped a magnified close-up photo of the dew drop on my phone and messaged it to the rice painter who’d taught me for free how to get that kind of detail into my work. I still couldn’t speak Mandarin, and Chen didn’t know a word of any of the languages I was fluent in, but our message thread was full of magnified photos of the things we’d done that we were proud of and wanted to share with someone just as passionate as we were, interrupted by holiday greetings from each of our cultures whenever one of our events came up.
Chen replied to the text with a heart emoji and then a gif of a sparkling thumbs-up. I was surrounded by supportive people here at home, but these messages warmed up my heart even more than most hugs from my peers. Chen was probably the same age as my parents, but he was the only artist I knew who enjoyed and respected details the same way I did. My friends here found the details daunting and fussy and I ended up being the butt of good-natured jokes for things like putting three tones into a white line whenever I gushed about the latest bit I’d finished. Chen just offered unwavering, unconditional support. As a bonus, his wife, Biyu, mailed me small care packages twice a year filled with the homemade desserts she’d discovered that I loved during the three days I’d stayed in their village, and posted private videos to me of squealing happily when she was opening the packages of fabric and craft supplies I sent to her. These two people were my sweetest friends.
My brushes were soaking, the drop sheets were tossed out, my pallets hanging to dry, the studio lights turned off, and I was settled in with a cup of tea after a hot shower to enjoy some well-deserved movie time before calling it an early night when my phone rang. It was my mom’s ring tone. I’d forgotten it was Sunday night and time for our weekly contact call.
“Hi, mom,” I said, sounding just as tired as felt.
“You sound awful,” she replied. “Are you sick?”
“Just tired. I finished that set today and then got the studio cleaned up.”
“That’s great! What did you have for dinner?”
“I didn’t eat yet. I’m just having a cup of tea while I figure out what to order.”
“You’re getting delivery this late?” she demanded, absolutely appalled. We definitely didn’t see eye to eye about eating habits. A couple of years ago I’d decided to silently agree to disagree with her on a lot of things and inside my brain had improved more than I knew I’d ever be able to tell her.
I listened to her most recent husband’s voice grumble in the background. Then there was a susurrus and my mom’s voice was a distorted muffle without any words. She’d put the phone against her sweater. I grinned into my tea. Shane was a lot more vocal about my mom’s meddling and misplaced opinions than all three of her previous husbands (my dad included), and it was cute to see her try and protect her adult kids from the harmless bickering they did. She’d married Shane ten years ago and he’d forced her to grow some empathy at the same rate she’d pushed him into a more positive mindset about his career, as in now he had the support needed to believe in himself and become successful, and my brothers and I marveled that our mom might actually be capable of understanding that other Humans had feelings. They were a good, healthy couple.
“Hi again sweetheart. I’m sorry about that. You know Shane, though, he’s –”
“Totally perfect in all the ways that matter for you,” I interrupted. She sighed into a chuckle. “As for dinner, I think I’m going to order some sushi and rolls.”
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.