Drabble 112 – Heteropraxy

Heteropraxy

Since I was little, I’ve always pushed things. My mom told me that she once sent me to bed and said she didn’t want to hear another peep out of me. My response, naturally, was to get into bed and say, loud enough that I was certain she could hear me, “Peep!”

I’m not a thrill-seeker in any sense of the word. I didn’t ride my first roller coaster under after I’d graduated high school, you’ll never talk me into skydiving, and I like to drive within five miles per hour of the speed limit. But still, I push boundaries. When someone told me breathing near a cemetery would let ghosts possess me, I took a deep breath before holding it, just to check.

I guess it’s not that I’m seeking the thrill so much as I’m testing things, daring the universe to show me something I haven’t seen before. So far, it hasn’t–at least not when I’ve asked. I’ll keep testing.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 111 – Pyrolater

Pyrolater

I am notoriously good at building fires. This might be because of my weird obsession with survival books when I was in elementary school or I might have just really internalized the two days I spent at camp, also in elementary school. I can’t say I have a particular finesse or strategy for it; I just pile stuff up according to burnability, give it space to breathe, and let it go, and, most of the time, it works.

I take a lot of pride in this, in part because a group of friends once insisted I couldn’t be trusted with a lighter (why? I don’t know, but I do know that the moment their backs were turned I lit a fire so good that nearby campers came to grab a stick from us because they couldn’t get theirs started), and in part, maybe, because it’s like nurturing a temperamental and dangerous child. Feed it, care for it, let it grow.

I haven’t been able to have many backyard fires this year because of burn bans–I live in the Pacific Northwest, and there were weeks of heavy smoke turning our clear air into an acrid haze. Fire is as easily destructive as it is warming.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 110 – Saudade

Saudade

My childhood home burned down a few years ago. I can drive by the place where I grew up, but it’s all different–there’s a big, fancy house there, set far back from the road, so different from what I remember. The blackberry bushes I used to love are gone, the strawberries and azaleas I tried and failed to grow torn up, the woods where I used to fight off bad guys with a plastic sword bulldozed over and replaced with green grass.

It’s strange to drive by there and see something that still exists so concretely in my memory be entirely erased. I dream about it in intricate detail, reliving experiences there with such intensity that it doesn’t make sense that it wouldn’t be there. How can something so concrete in my memory be gone?

In actuality, I don’t miss that house. I’m past that time in my life and I don’t want to go backward, only forward. But when I think about that corner, about watching the fog roll in over the fields, about the taste of redcaps and blackberries, it feels like a haunting.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 109 – Revirescent

Revirescent

I have news.

The day I got the email from Adria asking me if I’d be interested in working on this book was the same day I got rejected for a job I really wanted, a job that would give me health insurance and regular work in a time when those two things were hard to come by. I’d just left the company I’d been with for two years, hoping I’d be able to make it on my own in freelancing. I had yet to sell or even pitch anywhere as a freelancer, and was seriously considering going back to school because everything in December of 2016 was so incredibly uncertain that I thought some stability might help.

Since then, I’ve published my first piece as a freelancer (it’s on white supremacy in Harry Potter, and you can read it in the current issue of Bitch Magazine). I’ve pitched elsewhere and been both rejected and accepted, and I’m formulating new ideas all the time. I also apparently wrote something good enough that Running Press is willing to publish it, with beautiful illustrations by Lily Seika Jones and tons of support and hard work from Adria.

It’s been a weird journey. I keep feeling like I have to quit, like I won’t make it, but something drags me back in. I keep finding ways to tell myself this doesn’t really count, that I should quit before everybody realizes I don’t actually know what I’m doing. But it does count, and I have improved, and I will continue to do so because as much as I tell myself I really ought to quit, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 108 – Humicubate

Humicubate

It’s been a while, huh?

I’ve been phenomenally busy for the past two weeks. I went to two conventions, covering PAX West for Women Write About Comics and spending too much money at Rose City Comic Con. I had this drabble ready two weeks ago, but life got in the way and I’m trying to do better at taking care of myself.

At any given time, I’m trying to spin plates and juggle and live life as well, and sometimes I have to take a moment to set everything down and breathe. I don’t work better when I’m stressed, nor do I live better when I’m working all the time. And though I love the vast majority of the work I do, sometimes I need to put it aside.

In establishing arbitrary limits on myself–both in terms of when things need to be put online, for example, and in when I need to stop work for the day–I’ve found I’m getting much better at it. My work is better, more consistent. I sleep better. I’m in a more positive mood.

I know this, but it’s so hard to do. Give yourself a break regardless.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 107 – Scelestic

Scelestic

I’ve never been the kind of person who’s drawn to the villain. I get the appeal–really, I do–but with a few exceptions I’m not interested in understanding the villain’s perspective. That’s not to say I don’t love a good motivation, nor that I don’t enjoy villains (someday I’ll write about how excellent Rita Skeeter is), only that I’m not overly fond of stories that seek to absolve a bad person of any wrongdoing by showing how they’re secretly wounded or actually worthy of my sympathy, not my scorn.

There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part I’m just not interested in the but-he’s-just-troubled serial killer, nor the didn’t-get-enough-attention-as-a-child abuser. We all have darkness to us, but that doesn’t absolve us of personal responsibility. The same is true of villains–they’re villainous not because of what they’ve endured, but because of what they’ve chosen to do. We can’t control our pasts, but we can certainly control our actions.

Villains are interesting, and having a multidimensional one is often the key to a great conflict. But maybe I’m just not good enough at forgiving to appreciate the stories where he was good all along, really, if only I’d just taken the time to get to know him.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 102 – Algomnemonesis

Algomnemonesis

I somehow missed drabble number 102 when I was numbering them, which is actually perfect because algomnemnesis is a neologism (another fun new word–and that’s no joke) related to memory. Painful memory, specifically. My missing the correct number is not a particularly painful memory, but I’m addressing it all the same. Without it, my list of drabbles won’t be complete.

I’m sure the ground of painful memories has been tread at least a billion times, and I don’t have much to add to that that hasn’t been said by others. If I could jar up my bad memories but keep them on a shelf, I would. I don’t want them gone, because, unfortunately, they are as much a part of me as all the good ones. But how much of a relief would it be to excise them like a malignant growth and preserve them for study?

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 106 – Cacoethes Scribendi

Cacoethes Scribendi

Writing advice is as individual as the writing we produce. I know we all like to hear absolutes, but they’re not practical. There’s no one path to success, no one tried-and-true tip to become successful, no easy-peasy method to ensure everything you do will find a reader.

That’s part of why I have this strange relationship with writing inspiration. I’ve never been a particularly touchy-feely person when it comes to writing; for me, it’s not magic or muses that makes me write, it’s a desire to make something. I’ve never been the type of person who feels like some great story is working through them–it’s great if you are, but it’s not my thing–so sometimes the quotes and inspiration that work for so many others just make me feel tired.

Take the above image. I’ve cropped it to suit my own needs, but the full version, instead of inspiring me, gave me the giggles. What’s that pine cone doing there? Is that the secret to writing I’ve been missing my whole life? Will all my prose improve, all my adverbs disappear, all my insecurities and imposter syndrome and typos be vanquished if I keep a pine cone at my desk?

I guess I like to keep a sense of humor about my writing. It’s work, but it’s also play for me. I guess maybe I ought to put a pine cone on my desk after all.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 105 – Hoxter

Hoxter

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a bank robber.

I have no reason for this–it’s just one of those unreasonable aspirations I had as a kid, just like wanting to be a panther. I knew, even then, that bank robber wasn’t a reasonable career, and maybe this all came about because I read something about Bonnie and Clyde and thought it sounded cool, but for a good chunk of my childhood I imagined myself planning heists and escaping from close shaves with the police, escaping my bonds in darkened cellars and returning to my life of crime, where I stole from the wealthy for my own gain.

In reality, I once returned a mood ring to a Zumiez after accidentally walking out with it on my finger. The clerk looked at me like I’d lost my mind, not because I accidentally stole it, but because I took the time to return it.

That’s part of what fiction is for me–a way of exploring all these things I’m incapable of in real life. The real stuff creeps in anyway, but I’ve always loved fantasy precisely because I don’t have to be beholden to the things I actually say, think, or do. I can rob banks, date the queen, solve a murder mystery with my werewolf boyfriend.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 104 – Mimp

Mimp

I was never good at playing house as a kid. I never wanted to be the mother or the child; I wanted to stab things with a sword or either cast or break magic spells. Asking me to play house was equivalent to asking me to sit and pout in the corner.

I feel a bit different, now–I enjoy cooking, cleaning, gardening. I like making fancy little sandwiches and eating them daintily. One of my favorite things to do on vacation is go out for afternoon tea, in part because I like tea and in part because I like the ceremony of it, the fancy dishes, the feeling that I’m doing something that’s foreign to me.

Because it all still feels like play. It’s not the environment I grew up in; it’s somebody else’s upscale upbringing, and they probably know the names of each little pastry. That’s fine–it loses none of the magic for me, even if I’m just playing pretend.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.