Story fragments

These aren’t stories. They are fragments of ideas, half thoughts that were never given the time they deserved. I am clearing up my hard drive and found these. Rather than wholesale deletion, I thought I would put them here. Maybe one day I can come back to them with fresh verve.

***

Weariness was like a weight, dragging me down into the abyss of fuzzy thoughts and half-heard conversations. I could feel my brain pushing against my eyes.

***

Each and every day the hiss and grind of machinery haunted the air, an elusive ghost of the modern age. The walls were smooth; metal, teak and whiteness blinding the populace into submission and cowing them into uniformity.

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Visions have crashed over my planned plot


It is really frustrating. I’ve been working on a story for Nano, because I decided that I need to be more methodical in my planning. I tend to ramble, and I was hoping to rein this in. So, the planning process was going well. I still had some more research I wanted to do, but I had the bones of the story mapped and was starting to flesh it out. But gradually, this other story has been creeping in. A dystopian is forming, and it is taking up all my thoughts. I am not thinking about a YA urban fantasy, but a dystopian with a raw character, and an out of control landscape. I see civilisation being reclaimed by nature, a nature which has been evolving, vaguely tainted by something which occurred in the past. The problem is, this story idea is half formed. I can see the landscape and the rag-tag people who populate it, but I don’t know what the plot is. I have no main character, I have no grand scheme. I just have the world in which it occurs building itself away in my mind, and blotting out the story that went before it. I suddenly have no passion for the previous story. I am sure it was a good idea, but I don’t want to write it now. It is in black and white, and the new story is in colour.Glorious, dreary colour. I am thinking washed out skies, faded browns, rich but tarnished greens, and glorious electrical storms. Even now, I can feel the fury and the awesome magnitude of storms ripping across the landscape, bowing before it everything which dare stands in its way.

How can I write a nearly formed boring urban fantasy when an epic landscape of potential is taking up all my attention? I don’t even know what will happen with this story, who is in it, where it takes place. I know nothing of the people who inhabit it, nor if they are peaceful or martial, desperate or content. All I can envision is this amazingly raw landscape in which it takes place, and the potential it holds for me.

Spiders Camp 2012

The Tree House, where Spiders Camp is being held this year.

I am excited. Quite excited actually. My writing group has arranged a little writing retreat at Pearl Beach this weekend. The landscape is gorgeous, the house we have rented is amazing, and I have all these brainstorming plans I want to put in to action.

I want to deconstruct a story I started writing a few years ago, and plan how to rewrite it. I don’t usually do in-depth plans, but I also end up going on long involved tangents as I write. I want to use this time to see if I can tame this habit of mine. I bought an A3 notebook, I’ve packed my coloured pens, and I’ve been trying to find all my notebooks with scraps of the story in it (I lost the original at one time so I continued in a different book). I know most of my friends will be working on their laptops or tablets, but I don’t have that luxury. I enjoy writing by hand, but it does make it harder to edit or change around parts of the story. I do plan to buy an Android tablet soon so I can start typing up all my bits and pieces, but until I do my tax return it isn’t likely to happen. I’ve been to Queensland five or six times in less than a year, and have another trip (the last one for quite some time!) planned for November – it sadly put a bit of a dampener on my plans to buy a laptop or tablet by November. So, I’ll continue writing and planning and editing the good old fashion way! I’m a stationery slut, so it gives me excuses to buy amazing pens and pretty notebooks 😉

Our Spiders Camp is in its second year. Last year it was in The Blue Mountains. I had just quit my previous job and wasn’t able to attend. This year it is at Pearl Beach in Broken Bay. I’m quite excited, because it backs onto the Brisbane Waters National Park. Most people would shrug and say it was pretty, but I am quite excited for its personal significance. I grew up on 40 acres backing onto the Brisbane Waters National Park before my family moved up to the Darling Downs. My first six or so years were spent playing in its creeks, riding over its hills and looking for fox kits and lyre birds in its ferny valleys. We used to go yabbying in the creek, swimming, exploring, and canoeing. It was quite idyllic. I wouldn’t change any part of it for the world. My family has been living on the Central Coast for more than 150 years, I say more than, because we also have aboriginal blood, and my heritage in that area spreads further back into the untraceable past than the history books go. Everywhere I go between the Woy Woy/Gosford region up to the Hunter Valley has little family stories attached to it. Some of the are as banal as ‘your auntie’s brother’s wife’s best friend grew up in that house’ to ‘your great grandfather was post master in that old building’. I called my Nan up yesterday, because that is what good little granddaughters do sometimes. She had heard from Mum where I was staying and became all excited. Apparently she and my grandfather met on Pearl Beach! Yes, where I will be staying this weekend. She then proceeded to tell me where down there she had lived at that time, and the nearby church where they had been married! I lived most of my life in Queensland were my Mum and Dad have their property, so I’ve missed about 16 years of stories my cousins down here have probably forgotten. It is funny how we perceive landscape. It is not only a physical landscape made up of trees and water and earth, but one made up of a tapestry of stories. Some of them may be woven from our family heritage, others may be about ‘that one time at band camp’ and yet others are a patina made up of stories and facts about wildlife or people we once knew. In this way, our ‘landscape’ isn’t just a physical thing, but an intangible sense of belonging that defies boundaries and property rights. I may never own a plot of land at Pearl Beach (prices there are astronomical and belonging is exclusive), but I own a piece of her history. I am so excited to be able to step in my grandparent’s footsteps tomorrow when I walk down to the beach. We used to go to the rock pool sometimes when I was little, so I’ll be walking in my childhood’s footsteps too.

And, before I forget that this weekend is mostly about writing, I’ll be doing a lot of brainstorming, plotting and serious work too! 😀

Writing Prompt: Memory

This is a writing prompt from Spiders Group from about a month ago. I just stumbled over the file I saved it in and thought I would share. I guess the “she” in this story is me, because this is how I feel whenever I leave Sydney and travel back to visit my parent’s property in Queensland.

 

 

The smell of hot dirt and eucalypts scented the wind, the din of cicadas drumming their drums filled the air. A shadow of a storm haunted the horizon, heralding a welcome end to a hot summer day.

She thought back to a summer long ago, when she had last walked down this meandering, dusty track. She’d had such expectations of the path ahead of her.

She had forgotten how vivid and alive the Australian bush could be, how many shades of grey and brown could herald life. She inhaled deeply, drawing astringent, savoury oxygen into her starved lungs. How clean the air was out here. No smog, no odours, no scents associated with man. Just the scent of eucalypts, dry dust and sweet grass. It was Life, in all its glory. Of course, most people wouldn’t have seen it that way. They didn’t really understand the land. They didn’t understand that verdant green grass was rare, and it was all the more beautiful for it. They didn’t understand how many browns, greens, yellows and greys could make up one dry husk of grass. They didn’t see the beauty in a waving sea of dried grass blades, or understand how the feel of hot dust under one’s bare feet could be so invigorating. She thought back to the dirty streets and faded buildings she had left behind her in the city, took a deep breath of air, and sighed in relief. She was home.

Planning Nano: a synopsis and working title

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I was really starting to despair. I would sit down to write a synopsis for my novel, and instead I would write a passage better suited as a thesis aim. This has continued for months. An example:

To explore the disintegration of Society and its adaptation (technological and behavioural) to a dominant environment.

It wasn’t a deliberate ploy, but reflects how caught up I have been with world building and how little I have known about the plot percolating at the back of my mind. I knew my main character was running from her past and dealing with an alien environment mostly beyond her comprehension as a girl who is from the constricted environs of the compounds. I’ve been talking to a lot of people at a lot of the Nano events Elle has been organising. The questions asked, as well as random comments overheard from different conversations and contexts has really helped me change the way I think about my story and my creative processes. It isn’t any profound realisation, nor has it had a big effect on my story, but some more pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place.

An example of this is an overheard conversation between Kris and some other wrimos at the Kick-off at Federal Park today. I have no idea of the context. I wasn’t listening to their conversation but rather I was copying notes into my nano notebook. She mentioned the word ‘jail’ and it fired a maelstorm of ideas, scenes and concepts about the origins and motivations of my main character. After overhearing one word at a key point in my thought processes, I was finally able to draft a synopsis that is about the plot of my novel, not the concept! and, FINALLY to discover just what Jade is running from! So here is my new synopsis:

La Pensée Sauvage is a dystopian set not too far in our own future, maybe five hundred years or so, after an unknown catastrophe stops Earth’s societies in their tracks. Some societies clung to their technology and became stagnate, others embraced the environmental changes and grew.

Jade is running from incarceration, caught between the technological fundementalist compounds of her past and learning to survive amongst the rampant landscapes that now cover the Earth and the wild people populating them. Her future is uncertain, her present more so, and her past is full of unanswered questions.

La Pensée Sauvage is a working title at the moment. It’s the title of a key work by anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. It is a play on words (thought/pansy,  savage/wild) and it really works in this context.

I’m taking part in organised activities for most of Nano and it will be interesting to see if continued exposure to other writers changes the direction of my plot. I’m deliberately vague this year. My 2010 attempt became bogged down in suburbia because I couldn’t think of a way to set Kellz free. I’m hoping being open to my percolaring mind’s influence will keep me from writing a glass prison again.

National Novel Writing Month starts on Tuesday at 12:01am! You can follow my progress here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/zjanoir

Planning Nano: shaking something loose

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I suddenly wish nano was here already! The first paragraph of my story just hit me! I jotted it down, hoping it will shake something loose.

Almost. I almost wish nano was here. I’m still worried that I don’t know what Jade is running from. It’s like a quest in reverse, because she is running from something, not the classic running toward a goal. All my normal responses are out of wack because of it. O need to know what she is running from before I can work out her past *sigh*

Planning Nano: aim verses plot

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Every time I write a synopsis for my nano novel it is so academic and like a critical analysis in its turn of phrase, rather than about the story itself. I keep writing the aim rather than the plot. My latest novel synopsis is:
To explore the disintegration of society and its adaptation (technological and behavioural) to a dominant environment.
The annoying part is I have a vague plot and can see the main character now, but I keep getting technical with my synopsis. It is like I am back at university and analysing a text.

Tomorrow I’m buying some A2 cardboard and mapping things out. It worked with my thesis *shrugs* hopefully it will with a novel too. I just wish I could hang a corkboard on my wall…