Topic Tuesday: Failure and Mistakes

Failure, mistakes, trial and error. All ways of expressing the same thing, opportunities to learn, but heard to understand them as such in the moment.
I’m a planner, I love to plan, to come up with game plans and schedules. But rarely, RARELY, do we implement them for very long. There’s pleasure and accomplishment in the making of lists, in figuring out a good looking schedule but following comes with little of the same rewards. Once one thing slips, the whole plan feels useless.
We came up with the plan for getting content on to the site, for getting me to learn and to climb out of a lull but as I tried to research I realised that it wasn’t going to work. My brain just doesn’t take in information, reading and comprehension are just beyond me at this point. I wanted to prepare myself for writing, I wanted to have a good foundation but right now I just need to write, I need to get stories out of me and to get the words down. A good editor can help me with the things I don’t understand. So Topic Tuesdays are going to be a little different and more relaxed than I envisioned, but hopefully more fun to both write and read.
I focus on the thing that I’m not doing right now, example, I’m writing this and thinking about cross stitch. Another, last night I was desperate to design more cross stitch but all I could think about was my fantasy world. Another, I wanted to do exercise this morning so I focused on thinking about climbing a mountain, while John looked it up and I sat on the couch not doing anything. Urg!
Each cycle that I go through, each time I fail, I’m learning, and that’s what I’m choosing to focus on. Each time I get a little closer to who I want to be.
I have the time. Many people would kill for the time and the space that I have and I’m pissing it away worrying and stopping myself, but no more! (Well probably still some bumps in the road but I’m gonna try!!)
If you’ve failed, try again, change what doesn’t work and keep trying. Failure isn’t the end, it isn’t, it’s just the beginning!

The Crier and the Shopkeeper

The following is a short moment set in my universe. It is a fantasy world and this is set near the end of winter.

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The sun gazed dimly down upon a blanket of cloud, unable to see through it to the white world below. If you listened closely perhaps you could hear a far off sigh.
Far below, nestled at the foot of the tallest mountain, sat a city; an old city who some say was the first.
“The Dark Days are approaching!” The crier’s voice rang through an old market square, escaping and echoing down the alley ways between buildings. Bouncing from stone to stone.
In one of the buildings a shopkeeper looked forlornly around her empty shop. A narrow building, dark for lack of windows, but filled with a wonderfully enticing smell. A few bags were displayed, filled with the colourful and tempting sweets, but the bulk of the stock was safe behind the counter. Ella and her assistant Bes had learnt the hard way that people sometimes get too tempted by her wares.
“Be ready for the dark days!” The voice rang out, closer this time, heard through the slightly ajar front door.
“He’s getting closer.” Bes remarked, in a bored sort of way, as she fiddled with a ribbon around a small woven bag.
Ella noted the bell that accompanied the shouting.
“I have an idea.” She swept out from behind the counter and off to the front door.
Ella poked her head out of her shop doorway, eyes scanning to find the source of the proclamation.
“The Dark Days will be here soon!” The bell clanged along with his heavy tread.
“Aha!” Ella stepped a foot out into the the street, thought better of it a moment and went back inside to grab her cloak. “I’ll be back shortly, Bes, keep the shop running.”
Once outside, she struggled to find the crier again,so many people filled the narrow street. She walked in the direction she had last seen him, dodging shoppers. And there he was, walking towards her, a very short man with the largest beard she’d ever seen, it was a deep brown with a variety of metals and stones decorating it. He wore an emerald green woollen hat and tunic. The golden bell was gripped tightly in his hand.
“Good morn, fair crier!” Ella called out to the man, she raised a hand in part greeting and part beckoning.
He stopped and turned to look at Ella.
“And a good morn to you.” He nodded his head to her.
She took a step to close the gap between them, and was almost knocked over by a woman carrying an overflowing basket.
“Watch where you’re going!” The woman bellowed in Ella’s face before she pushed passed and on down the street.
Ella felt her face flush, her hand clenched.
“Never mind her.” Said the crier. “The dark days can bring out the worst in people.” He patted her elbow and they stood off to the side of the pathway.
“Was there something that you needed from me?” He squinted up at her, and she saw a glint in his dark green eyes.
Ella pulled back her shoulders and nodded.
“I have a proposition for you.”
The crier’s eyebrow rose but he didn’t say anything.
“I have a shop. An empty shop, and I wish that it were not.”
“And I can help with that?”
“I’m certain of it.” She pulled from a cloak pocket a bag of her wares. “Whether they realise it or not, everyone listens to you when you shout.”
“I wouldn’t just do this for fun.” The crier’s moustache twitched and his eyes twinkled.
“Hmm, I have met people who do like the sound of their own voice.”
He chuckled and waved his hand for her to continue.
“Well, people need to know what they need, what would make the dark days a little more bearable.” She swung the little bag back and forth.
“Is that something that will help?” He nodded to the little bag.
“It is. A succulent morsel, which will sweeten the long dark hours.” She passed over the bag. “Have a taste, I’m sure you will agree.”
The crier tore open the ribbon and removed a buttercup yellow oval sweet. He placed it in his mouth and pocketed the rest.
“Mmm.” He finished the sweet. “Very nice. An nut in sugar?”
“Yes.” Ella, was impressed. “I visited the great city a number of years ago and encountered this wonderful sweet maker, he taught me a few things. No-one else makes them here.”
“And yet your shop is empty.”
“It’s a busy time, people are getting other things ready, worrying about keeping safe and having family around.”
“Perhaps they should be worrying about bringing over a sweet treat for a special time, hmm?” The crier winked at her.
“Exactly.”
“What’s in it for me?” He eyed the pouch at her waist.
Ella shifted her stance, her cloak fell, covering her money purse.
“For each sale, I’ll give you a penny.”
He narrowed his eyes as he looked up at her. “I think you could do a better than that, hmm?”
“Two pennies?” She asked, not holding on to much hope.
He chuckled. “Five pennies and a few more bags of sweets, I think my family might enjoy them. And five pennies upfront.”
Ella thought for a moment, she sold each bag for ten pennies, losing half was almost too much. But on the other hand if she didn’t sell any she would be much worse off. Looking up into the sky she noticed the lightening, and realised that it would soon by turning to the second half of the day.
“Better hurry, not much light left.” The crier jangled his bell.
“A deal, then.” She stuck out her hand, the crier grasped hers in a firm, warm grip.
She dug into her purse, pulled out five pennies and passed them over to her new business partner.
She told him where her shop was and a few details about her sweets and left. She was excited by this idea, but her expectations were low, it was like nothing else she had ever tried before.
She returned to her shop, the enclosed space was slightly oppressive after the brisk air of the streets. But the sugary smell was a comfort.
“Where did you run off to?” Bes demanded, as she bundled up a selection of sweets, the white confections made a satisfying sound as they tumbled together in the bag.
“To carry out my idea, we shall soon see if it bears fruit.” Ella joined Bes behind the counter once she had removed her cloak.
Outside they could hear the crier, Ella smiled.
“Stock up on your sweet nuts, take a gift of sweets to your dark day sanctuary!”
Bes stopped in her wrapping as she heard the crier’s words.
“You didn’t?” She turned to Ella who was now by her side.
“Maybe.”
They laughed as the door opened and a couple of new customers walked in.

The End of NaNoWriMo

It is the end of NaNoWriMo and I did it!!

In the beginning I was so far behind and it took many days of multiple thousands of words to get to the end. But I proved to myself that I could/can do it.

How did everyone get on? Did you do it?

If you have not managed to get to fifty thousand words, do not despair! Nothing is a failure, it is all a lesson.

My story needs A LOT of work, I only got the very bare bones of the novel done. But it is going to be a great process of rewriting and making a cohesive first draft. However, I’m also looking forward to taking a break and trying to get ready for Christmas and to enjoy the wintry, dark times.

I will be getting back to posting stories here, I am hoping to get a little festive story up nearer to the solstice.

Overall Nano was a positive experience and I WON! I’m thinking of using the Scrivener reward and buying it at 50% off, does anyone have any experience with the software? Is it worth it?

Any hoo, time to rest my typing fingers and my dry eyes. Have a good weekend everyone!

NaNoWriMo Week One

The first week of Nano is over and I’m not doing so well. I have 4065 words and at the end of the day to meet the goal I should have 13336. It is a bit terrifying to realise how quickly that I’m falling being. The gap grows wider each day as I manage fewer and fewer words.
I’m by no means giving up, I’m still aiming to win (get 50k words by 30th of Nov). All it’s going to take is a few good days. I think the problem is I’m reticent to let my imagination just go wild. I want it to be a great story straight away but it’s not going to work that way, I will need many edits and such and I know it will get better each time.
So I need to relax and write, allowing all the crazy things fall onto the page and have fun with it. So that’s what I’m going to do now, I have a couple of hours before I need to be anywhere, let’s see what I can do.
Here’s to a great week two!

The Fall Of The Hamurai – Part 1 – Blossoms In The Wind

Kusai sat on the steps of the temple, leaning on the hilt of her sword. The cool spring breeze carried flurries of delicate cherry blossoms from high up in the temple orchard, swirling across the wide stairs and lazily down the hill, to where the farmers were tending the rice terraces and leading lines of Dusk Beetles to the pastures ready for the onset of summer. Kusai sighed and was content in that moment; behind her, up the hundred or so steps, sat the imposing Aghtai Pagoda. Her master, Gutoa, would be holding court and giving the attendants a hard time for the slightest error in their strict morning routine while quietly laughing to himself.

All these things made Kusai smile as her eyes roved over the valley that stretched away from the holy hill and out into a wide, glittering harbour. It was their home. Years of hard work had raised it up from barren land and swampy paddies on the sloping sides of a derelict mound of hard clay, to a green and pleasant land in which thousands of people lived comfortably; protected by the swords of the temple-dwellers. The hundred “Hamurai” as they were being called in the provinces, were formed by the wisdom of Gutoa, who had wandered the lands for over fifty years; both defending the weak and bringing justice to tyrants.

Kusai was his first student – Long ago, she followed a trail of destruction for three weeks as he systematically dismantled a fierce bandit ring that was terrorizing a group of villages. It’s leader was a Ferret named Kai-Lang; A legendary warrior whose very presence struck fear into even the twenty-foot tall Tanuki of the mountains. Gutoa fought with Lang for hours after easily dashing his elite bodyguard to the four winds. A silent village had greeted her and a trail of bodies led to a ransacked tavern, the battered door hanging off it’s iron hinges. Cold yellow light of many buckled lanterns spilled faintly out onto the blood-stained porch. Kusai entered and found her prospective master unconscious and barely breathing, his gnarled claws still wrapped around the handle of the bandit-king’s wickedly curved blade which protruded from the matted fur of the ferret’s belly.

She carried him out into the night after picking him bodily up and wresting the crimson knife from his grasp, replacing it with the shattered remains of his own sword which he reflexively clutched to his chest. Rain washed his enemy’s copious blood away but a worrying amount remained as many wounds ran thickly all over the old hamster’s bent frame. Kusai could hardly believe this little rodent, seemingly so frail, had carved such a swath of destruction in his diminutive wake. She looked around, counting twelve bodies in the village square and terrified eyes peering from every window and behind every door.

The people slowly came out; they were mice, hamsters, voles and shrews. All beetle herders, petty craftsmen or grain farmers. Yelling was heard as the apparent tavern keeper grabbed some local men and began hauling bodies out. It was then that the crowd came together. Kusai could hear them whispering: “Could it really be Gutoa the hero?”, while she stood holding this drooping warrior under his arm. Out of it all an old female vole rushed up dragging a litter: a triangular frame of wood meant to carry the injured. She laid the litter beside Gutoa and shouted around, scolding the onlookers for allowing their saviour to stand there, letting his life’s blood drain into the gutters.

Fifteen days passed without him regaining consciousness. The old vole, who was skilled in medicine and whose name was Juki, plied her healing trade as best she knew but the prognosis looked dire. Kusai never left his side, only pacing back and forth from the small straw bed to the door. It rained constantly upon the enormous pile of offerings that the villagers had presented to Gutoa and of which she picked modestly to sustain herself, refusing all the food Juki prepared, instead feeding the thin vegetable broth slowly and carefully to Gutoa, one laborious mouthful at a time.

On the sixteenth night, Kusai could only stare mournfully out into the stormy scene which reflected the tear stains trailing down the fur of her cheeks. A creaking caused her ears to pivot back and her head followed. Over the last two weeks, Gutoa had moved very little, only shifting convulsively from one ragged wound to another. This time however, her eyes widened as they locked onto his. Gutoa, inimitable master of the sword, who had looked so tiny and impossibly frail now held her in an iron grip with those dark eyes. Pain wracked his face, but he was back.

“I have become too old it seems…to go galavanting around the countryside…you followed me all this way, I know…and you became my student the minute I entered that tavern. I will never fight again, but you will.”

Kusai slowly padded across the straw mats and bent to his side, she grasped his outstretched paw, it trembled.

“Master Gutoa, I should not have doubted that you would return to us, but I did. I am sorry.”

The old hamster batted weakly at her paw.

“Fool girl, I am not some immortal spirit…Just good at what I do…it was you who saved my life. We shall rebuild this place…The infestation that plagues these lands shall be driven out by your sword…You will teach me how much good I can do when I trust in others…I have been a fool to wait this long to train an apprentice. Now, I shall sleep the sleep of the living and not the dead. Tomorrow we change the world.”

Kusai opened her eyes to the blossoms floating on the wind, fresh tears streaming down her face as she looked out once again into the valley. She took in the sweet smells of the place that would soon be shattered by what was coming. Ten years had passed, new dangers had arisen, and a shadow loomed over them all.

To be continued.

A Mysterious Egg – Part One

“A-ha!” Swooping a gloved hand into the undergrowth Rafie pulled up a glorius specimen of a Hedgehog mushroom. She admired her treasure for a moment before placing the fungus gently into her basket.
Sunlight streamed through the canopy warming the air, making the afternoon pleasant. Rafie had already filled the small wicker basket, but, enjoying the atmosphere, she carried on around the narrow forest path. Birds chirrped from all around, insects buzzed, her boots crunched fallen twigs. The path snaked around trees, patches of wildflowers released their intoxicating scent into the air. A sleepy peace washed over Rafie.
Some time later Rafie reached the oldest tree in the forest, as large around as her own cottage and taller by many times. Squirrels darted up the tree at her approach, flowers and plants quivered as unseen creatures escaped to their hiding places. Five strides took her right up to the trunk, its deep brown bark was almost smooth, many branches stuck out far above her head, full of deep red leaves. She placed her basket by her feet, after straightening and removing a glove she rubbed her hand over the trunk, a common ritual, bringing comfort to both woman and tree.
For over twenty years Rafie had lived on the edge of the forest, drawn to the area by this tree. Her sensitivity and openess led to a quick friendship and over the years they had become family.
“Do you need anything today, Lady Time?” Rafie closed her eyes, slowed her breathing and listened.
Above Rafie’s head leaves rustled, a branch creaked and something fell with a thud behind the tree trunk into the soft ground.
Slowly Rafie opened her eyes, adjusting back to the light, removed her hand and moved to investigate. Raking her eyes over the ground she searched for the fallen object.
It took only one pass to spot the item, a yellow egg the size of her head. It shone amongst the dark undergrowth. Carefully, Rafie scooped up the egg, it was heavy, cold on her ungloved hand. It was slippery so she cradled it in the crook of her left arm and went back to talk to Lady Time.
“Do you want me to take this somewhere? Look after it?”
Leaves rustled but only those which faced the way back to her cottage.
“Home?” A question, but not really, she could feel the answer, she was to take the egg to her house and wait.
A gust of wind rushed away down the path swaying all the trees.
“I’ll do my best.”
Egg and basket in hand Rafie made her way home, the air cooling.
When Rafie emerged from the forest evening was turning to night, dark blue sky smeared with the reddish pink of the setting sun. Her cottage glimmered in the waning light, smooth white stone topped with dark brown thatch. Her garden expanded around her house, bordered by a low stone wall. Behind her dwelling sprawled a wildflower meadow and far on the horizon a village visible only as a silhouette against the sky.
With her hands full Rafie backed into her door and leaned an elbow down on the handle, the door swung open.
Despite there being no light and the counters being completely covered with plants, bottles, clay sculptures and scraps of cloth, Rafie unerringly placed the egg gingerly on top of a pile of fabric. Turning her back on the egg for the moment she walked over to the wide fireplace, placed the basket of mushrooms next to the pile of logs and set to building a fire.
The fire and candlelight filled the one room cottage with a flickering glow, light bounced off pots and pans, illuminating herbs handing from thick black beams in the ceiling. Dusting off her hands Rafie stood, a great huff of air escaped her as she gazed at the mysterious egg.
“What are you?” She walked around a chair and leaned on the table where the egg now sat.
Rafie wondered whether the egg might want warmth. She picked up the yellow egg, cloth bedding and all, transfered it to the rug in front of the hearth.
Rafie eased herself into a plush armchair, kicked off her boots and pondered the new addition to her home. How long would it be until it revealed itself? She gazed until her eyelids and head grew heavy, still in her walking clothes. In the chair in front of the fire Rafie nodded off, and the egg began to shake.

To Be Continued…

This story is set in a world of my own devising, one in which I plan to set many stories. This particular story was only meant to be a short practise piece, however, as I began writing I realised I wanted to expand it a little. So here we end and next Saturday I will post the next (last?) part. Follow along and see where this takes us!