Story a day: 11.30.16

Four Gods lived in the realm they’d created, embodying sixteen Aspects. Their Aspects scattered into the world, first dividing in half, keeping two pieces bonded together as one, then distilling further, into 16, then distilling further, into countless little pieces of magic suffusing the world.

The four Gods concerned themselves with none of this. The four Gods concerned themselves with the Balance.

The Balance had broken. Four Aspects were missing, slain by their brethren. Thus, the Balance tilted always, sliding slowly, over ages and eons, toward chaos. The Gods did not have the power to permanently mend the Balance; they could not bring their fallen Aspects back from the Void of nonexistence. It was as though those four never were, as though there were ever only twelve.

But to the Gods it felt wrong, like splinters in their feet, nagging constantly. And they knew something about constantly. They had been for as long as Being had been; they would be until Being was lost to nonexistence.

Perhaps that would be soon. With four missing, it felt like it could be any moment. Ever, the Void had encroached slowly, in a measured tempo they felt and did not fear. But now it jumped and stuttered, sometimes drawing very near, sometimes retreating so far they could hear only echoes. Overall, though, it approached, step by step, jump and jerk by start and fit. It moved more quickly now, as though those four Aspects had held back a tide that now surged.

The Gods could not stop it. And so in fear and panic they produced a blight. The blemish would restore the Balance, or it would usher in the Void so quickly not even gods could push it back.

Story a day: 11.29.16

The dog barked at the mountain.

“Stupid, bitch,” the cop muttered.

The dog kept barking up the mountain. The police officer waved a child’s sock at the animal. “Find her.”

The dog barked at the mountain.

The cop gave up with a sigh. He searched around the dog. It smelled something in this tangled mess of scrub brush and broken boulders, even if that something wasn’t little Missy.

The cop kicked through the weeds and roots. They weren’t going to find the kid. The dog had lost the trail, if it had ever had it. Now it was barking at a damn mountain and he was waving around a sock like it would make the kid appear.

His foot struck something. It clattered like… He looked down and jumped back with a curse. Tiny bones laid out in an arrow. They pointed up the mountain.

WAW: NaNo Wrap-up

Writing About Writing: A once-a-week post about some aspect of writing. I’m not an expert; I’m just some guy. Take it with a grain of salt.

Tomorrow is the end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’m going to do a little introspection.

First, I’m going to finish. I have a couple thousand words left to smash out and a boring day job that affords me way too much free time. If I even consider trying, I’m going to hit 50,000.

But I’m not actually that interested in “winning.”

I have to admit, NaNo felt like an empty, and perhaps even destructive, exercise for me personally. I have before me a steaming pile of garbage that reveals the flaws in my planning, but provides little actual value.

This month, I worked on a novel-length story. It turns out it is dramatically too short and suffers from a couple other big issues. In my opinion, forging ahead for the sake of NaNo exacerbated those issues. Rather than going back and revising my planning documents, rather than delving deeper into the inner workings of my world, rather than figuring out the nuts and bolts that I now see are missing, I marched ahead for the sake of a word count. It may have been a better decision for me to quit and tinker and write some other time. I’m not optimistic about the salvable-ness of most of this.

But so many words!

Yay? I don’t know. They feel pretty worthless. They’re not an outline, but they’re also certainly not a story. They’re less useful than vomit; at least in vomiting you get some poison or junk out of your body. This is less than junk.

Debby Downer

I’m not trying to say anyone else shouldn’t do NaNo. And I’m not saying 50,000 words is nothing. For me, it was. But for lots of people it wasn’t. And that’s great. Good for them. I’m truly happy for my friends who set a goal and hit it and are excited about achieving that. I just happen not to be one of those people.


NaNo ain’t my thing. If it’s yours, cool. But this November taught me two important lessons:

  1. Don’t do NaNo anymore, you silly dope
  2. Never, ever, EVER go to New Jersey during a major holiday. EVER. (Ever.)


None. Take a break. Congratulate yourself, if congratulations are in order. Push through these final two days and then let your brain and fingers cool off for a minute.

Story a day: 11.28.16

Ab returned to the village. The singing birds sat in the trees. The summer beetles skimmed the surface of the lake. Ab searched the village, but found no homes.

Close to the lake, where weeds tangled into bouquets, Ab found a pile of reeds. It was all he discovered of the homes he’d once known in the village.

Digging between the reeds, Ab found a black rope. It looked like sealskin, too smooth and shiny to be anything else. But when he touched it it did not feel like the skin of any beast he’d ever encountered. He drew his hand back as though stung by a wasp. The rope felt… unnatural.

Ab looked around, but nothing else seemed out of place except the black rope and the lack of houses. Then he noticed it, a faint blemish across the sky, thin, thin wires criss-crossing overhead. They looked like pen strokes slashed across the clouds.

Ab followed the lines in the sky. They were rigidly straight – unnaturally straight. Eventually, they led him to a tower of metal shaped like a triangle with an arch cut out at the bottom. The latticed jumble of metal buzzed.

Ab unsheathed the Sword of Dragons, recovered from the Den of the Furkoni bored into the side of Mount Shadow. But the metal beast did not react.

Story a day: 11.27.16

Ancha stirred the pool of stars. The little lights turned the blackness of the void milky as they swirled. She wondered at the little lives tossed about by her play.

Bemma stopped her hand. “You play too rough.”

Ancha scowled at the other god, but his form flickered in and out of existence, making her anger feel ineffectual. “You never let me play.”

“You disturb the little ones,” Bemma said.

But through all the eons Bemma had always been that way. Ancha wasn’t fooled. He did not care about the little ones; he merely enjoyed order and stillness. His way was stagnation. Hers was creation. And better.

“Play,” Ancha said.

“I will not,” Bemma said.


His hand became substantial as he waved at the blackness of creation. “Things may, or they may not. In this place, things are. We must respect their being.”

“If you say so.” Ancha let her own being drift into potentiality. In this insubstantial form, she drifted to a different cauldron full of beings turning lazily in orderly circles. She returned to actuality and reached for the stars spinning before her, but Bemma caught her wrist. For an instant, they were both painfully real.

“Let them be,” he said.

The struggle continued, the little ones spinning on under the hands of Ancha and Bemma.

Story a day: 11.26.16

“It’s too dangerous,” Mom said.

“Please, don’t go out there,” Dad said.

Sheila would not be deterred. When night fell and the house got quiet, she donned her cape. She stepped out into a world where powers like hers were banned, the powers of Good to triumph over Evil.

She knew what Dad would say if he could see her sneaking around right now. “Evil won before your grandparents were born. There’s nothing you can do. They’ve had power for too long.”

“They won fair and square,” Mom would add. “We’ll just have to get by.”

But Sheila wasn’t getting by.

She’d known since she was 5 that she was special. She refused to let her powers go to waste. Besides, no one would see it coming, not from a scrawny 8-year-old girl. She’d feed the poor and heal the sick before the Evil leaders even knew what was coming.

Story a day: 11.25.16

“How much will you have?”

“Fill it.”

The bartender poured, but said, “Rough weekend?”

“Just pour.”

She scowled but finished the pour and left Ether with her drink. She swirled the glowing blue liquid. Long didn’t begin to describe it. Eternal, maybe.

She held up the glass. This would help. She shot the liquid back, savoring the burn that trickled through her body. The bartender was at the other end of the counter but had an eye on her. It didn’t matter. In a few minutes the liquid would hit her whole system and the bartender, the bar, the whole weekend would all disappear.

“A lot of requests for Forget Spike this time of year,” a man said.

Ether grunted instead of responding.

“Got a lot to forget?”

“Maybe. But it starts with you.”

The man muttered as he moved away. Even as Ether watched him go she felt the warmth through her whole body and saw him fading to an outline, then a shadow, then nothing. The bar began to drain away around her, like water draining down a sink. She relaxed into the feeling and waited to forget.