Drabble 116 – Nighttide


I think we can all agree that 2017 being over is a blessing, right?

I’ve had a weird year. I suspect we all have. 2017 has been an absolute roller coaster of elation and despair. I’m more politically engaged than I’ve ever been, which is undoubtedly a good thing. I wrote a book. I spent much of this year afraid for how much longer I could keep it up, because dread creeps into everything. I lost some things that were very important to me, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get them back. I’m not sure that I should.

I don’t know that 2018 is going to be better. I wish I could say with certainty that it will be, but I just don’t know. It could be worse. We’ll keep fighting, no matter how tired and hopeless we feel. We have to.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 115 – Hederate


The first dystopic setting I remember reading is Camazotz. It didn’t register as a dystopic at the time (probably because I had no concept for what a dystopia was) but the idea of a place where everything was the same, where one person’s difference and struggle was something to be feared and stamped out, stuck with me. As I got older and dystopias became more common reading for me (The GiverFahrenheit 451The Hunger Games, and so on), I found that there was something about them that wasn’t really working for me. Where was the rebuilding? What kind of hope could I have when these stories were about how terrible the world was, not what it could become?

I try my damnedest to be an optimist. I have to. While I love to see the oppressive past destroyed (looking at you, The Last Jedi), I also want to see what comes next. It isn’t enough for me to know that it’s gone; I want to know where the story goes next, how we recover, how we start again. I want to see what grows up between the cracks.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 114 – Fidimplicitary

A photo of a pen on paper, which reads, "I Agree" next to an empty checkbox.

I use a random number generator to pick which word I’ll write a drabble on next. Sometimes the words that come up feel too on the nose. I suppose it’s apophenia, but sometimes it’s a little eerie to see what words come up when they’re most relevant.

Today’s word only just counts. It’s not a word that ever entered the common lexicon, despite being a handy one. And it’s relevant not just right now, but all year and into the last, and probably for the foreseeable future.

My first field of study was journalism, back when I bought that I’d never make it as a writer and I should really just pick something practical (so I went with journalism as newspaper shut down, ha). I didn’t stick with it because fate (and classes that were full by the time I tried to register) had other plans for me, but I’m so, so grateful for the time I spent learning about how the media works, how stories are constructed, how to read between the lines and fact-check and seek out the truth.

I’m a little bit of a skeptic now, but it’s for the best. We all should be.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 113 – Ophiophilist


It’s been a while. As much as I wanted to keep doing these, it turns out writing most of a book in a little more than a month takes up a fair bit of my time. I’m a slow writer to begin with, and getting the first draft of The Compendium of Magical Beasts written was a pretty substantial task. I learned a lot from the process–enough that I have exactly zero guilt about taking a month off from writing drabbles–and can’t wait to start working on some of the projects I left by the wayside while working on it this year.

The experience of writing a book like this, which is fundamentally different from anything else I’ve ever written, has been incredibly informative and rewarding. I know a lot more about what I’m capable of, and I’m blessed to work with such great people on this project; every time I get a new sketch from Lily in my inbox, there’s another moment of elation because that sketch! is based! on something! I wrote!

I can’t wait for this book to be out in the world, and I hope it brings people as much joy as it brought me to write it.

Anyway, at long, long last, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 112 – 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


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


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


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


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


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.