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Changes …

I suppose I should have probably put this in the ‘Inane Thoughts’ category, but it really does have … something … to do with writing. Obviously, I’ve been making a lot of changes to this place recently, and I’ve been through a lot of changes in the past nine months or so as well.  I don’t really know how relevant any of that is. But the more I look back at old pieces, the more I’m starting to consider whether these changes in my life have actually been reflected in my writing.

I’ll start with style and tense, though, because to me, this is the most obvious change. Upon looking back at things written pre-2012 I’ve noticed mostly that it was almost impossible to tear me away from third person past tense. I wrote everything in third, I guess because it was comfortable, because it was what I had been used to reading and it was comfortable enough for me to write in.

Now, I just can’t stand it.

I don’t mean for this to be insulting to anyone who writes in third person past, because I don’t mean I hate this type of narration. I’m just not comfortable writing in it anymore. And for me, this is more than a little strange because it’s all I wrote in for nearly a decade. Like I said, it was comfortable. It was straightforward. I liked that as much as anything else.

Really, I couldn’t tell you what my issue with it is now. I feel slightly out of my comfort zone when I try to revert to it, not that I wouldn’t like to try, and as though there’s something missing. There’s a connection I’m not making because of the way I’m writing the story. And I start to consider how each story could have been so different if it was just written in a different way; I mean, there are some that probably wouldn’t have worked, but a number that would have, and these seem a little like missed opportunities to me. I also feel as though there’s something I’m not quite reaching or tapping into that I desperately want to, and that the narration is important in relation to this.

Anyway, self-indulgence over for the time being, I suppose what I’m really getting at is how much does narration and style really govern? As I’ve stated above, there are times when I feel as though the direction of an entire story hinges upon it. But then, are there novels that would remain almost the same regardless of how they’re told? I’ll use a very well-known example here; how different would the Harry Potter novels have been if they’d have been written in first person? Considering J.K. Rowling followed Harry for the most part (and yes, I did read these, even though they’re not my usual ‘bag’, but it was quite a while ago now, so the details are probably off anyway), how much would this have impacted the story? Then, on the other hand, we have a favourite of mine, American Psycho, which would not be the same novel if written from a different perspective, and there is no way around this. If Tim Price was telling the story, it would have been impossibly different. It probably wouldn’t have been titled American Psycho either, though, because in Price’s mind, Patrick Bateman doesn’t butcher women in his apartment. Price just doesn’t know anything about this. 

I digress (if only slightly). The easiest answer to the question would be that it depends entirely on the novel, and to some degree, it does, but I do think it also depends on the writer. There are certain hallmarks we come to associate with certain writers; so it’s not too far-fetched to guess that this is also the case from a more personal standpoint. Part of writing, in and of itself is, after all, establishing your own voice as a writer, as well as allowing your characters to establish theirs. I would guess that this has a little something to do with knowing yourself before getting to know anyone else; knowing yourself as a writer before getting to know the people you’re writing about. Because no matter which voice you use, it’s never entirely possible to shake the feeling that you’re still telling someone else’s story. You’re writing  about them, not  as them. (Oh, look, I switched into second for a while, there).

And I have to wonder, is this really anything more than drunken rambling?But it’s been bothering me for a while now. So I suppose I just had to get it out there.

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I’m Crazy. That’s It. I Must Be Crazy.

Really. Not content with lining myself up to write more short stories than I have, quite possibly, ever written in a short space of time before … I’m actually committing myself to writing a novel. I mean, I was already considering working on a novel, maybe at a much slower pace than usual, but … I’ve opened up a new Write or Die window. There is truly no turning back, now.

At around 11:54pm, shortly after posting my latest post (with the exception of this one), I decided to try my link to the NaNoWriMo website, to check that it did, indeed, work. I’ll bite. I haven’t exactly been checking the site regularly because I feel out of the practice of doing so, and if truth be told, I’ve been trying to suppress the novel I wrote in November, simply from being at a loose end with it. Yet, some gravitational pull led me to visit, and I soon found myself on a one-way journey to the all-inclusive holiday resort of Camp NaNoWriMo.

I might have mentioned in my earlier post that November is a successful month for me because of the looming pressure that having a deadline and an empty word counter imposes on me. There’s something about looking at that lonely little graph, and seeing stunted results; a day I haven’t been writing for, a slower pace than usual. I anticipate filling it up as quickly as possible and getting those results. It works, too.

So, to find myself without a graph or a word counter means that I write maybe one to two hundred words every few days or so. To find myself participating in Camp NaNoWriMo means that I am more likely to write, on average, between 5,000 and 10,000 on most days, slipping below the bar only when I’m feeling particularly drained, lazy, or tired. Considering I’m aiming at anything from 80,000 to 120,000 words for this project, there’s a good chance I’ll get the main brunt of it done within the next month or so.

I really will have to start questioning my sanity sometime soon, however. I have no idea why I choose to do these things to myself, I really don’t. Maybe I’m some kind of literary masochist, or something.

The kicker? This post clocks out at around 410 words. Those are 410 words of a novel I could have written in the past … oh, ten minutes, shall we say? I’m most definitely on a roll.

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Overexertion, Maybe

Of course, I’m not sure how notable it is to say I’ve been entering a large number of competitions lately. They’re mostly forum-based, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that I fear I may have entered too many.

That said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I love the sensation of feeling a little overworked, and knowing that I have strict deadlines to keep to. It’s part of what makes November such a successful month for me. It may also be some kind of reasoning for my constant procrastination and borderline laziness that usually produces results before the clock strikes twelve, rather than six hours before that when I was well within the deadline limits.

Nonetheless, I’ve been writing a lot more than I usually do as of late, and it’s actually a very refreshing change of pace. My problem is usually that an idea sparks, and I want to write it, but then spend so long hung up on where it’s going that I lose that sudden urge, and the excitement that comes with it, usually resulting in a project of much less quality than I expect of myself. With less passion and drive behind the words. That won’t do at all.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m writing a lot, and yes, it feels very good.

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Girl Talk


Girl Talk: A short story based on characters from a longer writing project, taking place after the events of said project (a novel). A little grisly and disparaging in parts, not for kiddies. Any and all criticisms, critiques, and pointers are welcome, as I consider this an initial draft and more an exercise than anything else. As well as a chance to revisit some familiar faces.

~*~*~

“Hot as hell out here,” Already, she had her dark brown hair scraped back, the bikini just a little more than she was used to wearing back home. The thick smog that had obscured the city for so long was not present here, and instead the sky was suspended above, clear, cloudless … the sun burned and there was no breeze. It was the only illogical place for him to have hidden, being that he spent so little of his time outside. “You said you knew where he went, Sylvia?” The blonde nodded in the corner of the room, bare feet gently padding against the marble floor as she dried off, wrapped in nothing more than a towel. The time for leisure was over, of course; impressing the men of every nationality that gathered at the edge of the pool was unimportant, compared to what came next.

“I guess. Eddie might have mentioned something that the pretty young thing he was spending all that time with left behind. Either way, their shit was gone once he got to the apartment.” She wrung the chlorinated water out of her hair, scowling at the inherent dryness of her locks. The idea of Eddie mentioning anything at all was strange to the two of them, but it didn’t matter. Without his brute force and status, they would have never been able to gain entry.

“It’s a surprise she took off with him, y’know,” Jannah breathed smoke from her lips as she considered it. “I told you what happened to Isaac right?” Sylvia nodded her confirmation as she approached the balcony.

“Ate his gun, right?” The dark haired female grinned at the question, not even bothering to answer it. Sylvia already knew everything she needed to know, of course; she knew what Bryson had done, and why they had come all the way out here in search of a man they were supposed to have forgotten about. That was, after all, what he wanted; prior to Christmas, things had not just become troubling, they had become a damn mess, and it only really made sense for him to spend the six months that followed holed up in a run-down hotel room, stuck in architecture and interior design that had taken root four decades ago. He was probably doing tequila shots off the chest of his fling right now, but … no. He had not been quite so brazen when she had known him.

“Damn well did. The cute little copperhead he was dating watched and everything. Then, next thing you know she’s flying out here with a guy almost twenty years older than her,” Another breath of smoke as she looked out across the ocean; in spite of all the reasons they were out here, she would be sorry to leave once their business was done. Perhaps a little longer. Eddie had enough authority to deal with whatever needed to be dealt with, and she hadn’t exactly booked their return in advance anyway. She tended not to think about those kinds of things. Acting on impulse was so much more fun than that. “Well … she didn’t look much older than sixteen, anyways.” Sylvia grinned at the comment, everything a malicious girl should be. She was, of course, the type to make underhanded, jealous snipes at girls she deemed prettier or luckier than her. That didn’t really matter when she was the one holding the gun, though.

“Speaking of which … are we going to do this or what?” She had slipped off the towel before she was even inside, bare back to the outside as she searched for suitable clothing. Truth be told, she was not used to the heat. Her pale skin shimmered with sweat while Jannah’s olive tone seemed so much more suited to her surroundings; since arriving, she had not been able to find something that she was comfortable wearing, and had instead resorted, like Jannah, to wearing only the bare minimum. When she had weapons to carry, however, this was not really an option. She had seen the white halter neck dresses the local women wore, but none of the patterns had managed to catch her eye, and already her shoulders were red and sore from the sheer amount of sunlight they had caught. Jannah finished off her cigarette and tossed it off the balcony, letting down her dark brown hair as she did so.

“Damn it, not yet, Sylvia. Way too obvious. We’ll enjoy ourselves at a bar or something ’til it gets dark,” She started, pulling on a barely-there chemise and fastening a belt around her hips. “Nobody cares much after that. Most people are out at dinner or in the streets. Where we need to be going … well, we should be able to get through pretty quickly.” She swung a heavy purse over her shoulder; anyone who tried to steal it would most likely bag themselves a prize, but Jannah was not about to let that happen. Touch her, she could care less. Touch her possessions, however, and it was another matter entirely. A matter of seducing, setting up the honey trap and letting them know it was too late only after the last moment had already passed.

Jannah let the door swing shut behind herself as she padded out of the room. Smooth, cold floors, naturally designed to keep the interior of these buildings as tolerable as possible, as opposed to the insufferable heat that permeated every locale within miles; it was really a relief to tread them, just as diving into the private pool before dawn was … just as the first drag of a newly lit cigarette, or the prospect of finally finding the one she was after. Sylvia caught up to her the moment she had managed to pull on her clothes; some kind of a white halter-neck cotton dress that did not quite obscure the fact that she wore nothing underneath. Fine for the patrons, but not so fine considering the faint outline of a jet black holster could be seen on her upper right thigh … perhaps it would be too much to hope that many would be too drunk to consider it anything other than a provocative garment.

Things were almost cruelly different here Jannah considered. Partly due to the disrepute of the bars she and Sylvia frequented at home, and partly due to the fact that most remotely attractive girls had found less efficient ways to make money than she had, Jannah had come to accept her concerted beauty as something that would be second to none the world over. She disliked the golden honey torsos of most of the girls that passed by her, body jewelry and cheap, filigree tattoos, bikinis printed with neon stripes and flowers and large shades obscuring their eyes. She grew jealous of the fact that they were gaining more attention than she was, from the loud, raucous British males in their polo shirts and flip-flops, laughing with beer cans held high, here on a package holiday with no need to drive back to the hotel; it was within walking distance.

Una … una … cer-cer–” Sylvia dissolved into incoherent giggles beside her, as the bartender merely looked on, unimpressed. He was of an average height, with average looks; nothing too remarkable, and nobody who would leave a particularly vivid impression in her mind. Nonetheless, Sylvia’s girlish giggles suggested that she had been looking to gain his attention, and she most certainly had done, if only through her abysmal use of his native language.

Cerveza, Sylvia.” She muttered, not taking her eyes away from the dance floor, where the same bikini-clad girls twirled around in an alcohol-fueled mating ritual, swinging their hips and crouching suggestively, heads pressing against the crotches of total strangers. All control lost, legs wrapped around men and women alike … at least when she engaged in such things, she was the one in total control.

Una cerveza, por favor.” Her friend finally managed to mutter, before laughter took hold again, and she pressed her cheek to the wooden surface of the bar. The sun would not go down for a long time, yet. It was only seven-thirty, yet already, the bar had collapsed into a vicious orgy of troublemakers and flirts, otherwise respectable girls whoring themselves out to the latest shaggy-haired, clean-shaven idiot. Jannah swilled the bright cocktail in her hand, not bothering to take a sip, momentarily distracted as one of the same clean-shaven idiots made to take her hand, but–

“No.” Her mouth formed a perfect circle, that might have seemed suggestive, had she not just abandoned her drink and grasped Sylvia’s wrist tightly. It did not seem conceivable that the same cute little copperhead they had been discussing maybe half an hour ago was here, now, and yet she would have recognized the cropped, auburn style anywhere. No longer dressed in ill-fitting clothes, she wore a white cropped shirt that displayed her washboard stomach in its entirety, and an outdated, tie-dyed teal skirt that fell to maybe just below her knees … a transformation indeed, but this was not the thing that Jannah’s eyes were momentarily drawn to. She carried a beer in each hand … which had to mean …

She followed the girl through the writhing crowd, skirting the dance floor and narrowly avoiding the kind of horny male who could only construe something more than a mission from how tightly she was holding onto Sylvia’s arm, all the while staring intently at another, younger female. Whether or not the girl she was following was aware of their presence was unclear, but one thing she did know was that it wouldn’t matter once she set those beers down on their coasters and the male she was returning to saw exactly who she had in tow.

Jannah hung back for a moment, watching as the girl slid into the lap of a forty-something male, dark hair, unusually colored eyes … and … yes, he most certainly had gained a little weight since she had last seen him. That much was clear even through his gray wife-beater. They kissed, touched, entwined their hands, and she winced at the gestures; far too sugary for her tastes. He had been rough with her, even threatening on once occasion, and yet here he was, being gentle with a girl who looked young enough to be his daughter.

She thumbed the barrel of the gun inside her purse. Ordinarily, she would not have hesitated to pull the trigger from this distance, but this time … she licked her lips, caught up in a memory, only awakening when Sylvia nudged her shoulder, causing her to look up.

“Jannah,” He was grinning. Not the kind of grin a boyfriend used to greet a lover, however; it had more in common with a cold, arrogant smirk than a gesture of friendship. “You really were missing me … flying all the way out here. They let you out of prison for screwing the judge or something?” While many girls, she realized, would have been incensed by the suggestion, Jannah stared into his eyes, unflinching. When it came down to it, it was all about having friends in the right places, nothing more, nothing less; little did he know that she had never so much as seen the inside of a prison cell.

“You know me too well, Bryson,” She smirked, regaining her composure at once. She pressed herself to him, showing no regard for the copper-headed girl watching them, refusing to break eye contact. “So you should also know that you need to do what I say.” Still, her thumb stroked at the barrel of the gun. He raised an eyebrow as he looked down at her; when she wasn’t wearing heels that gave her an extra four or five inches of height, the difference between them was nothing if not surprising. His face instantly broke into a cold grin, the kind that would suggest that he had the upper hand … why was he doing that? It was not fair of him to do so.

“You’re fully clothed in a place where half the girls aren’t. What happened? You’ve lost your touch.” She did not even have to think about her next move, grabbing his wrist firmly, and forcing it into the depths of her purse. The smirk was wiped from his face; even as he stumbled backwards, Jannah caught a glimpse of Sylvia hitching up a part of her dress in the corner of her eye, unsure of whether or not Bryson had actually seen the gesture.

“We’re going for a walk,” She stated, suddenly feeling much, much taller than he was, in spite of herself. “You can take your teenage dream, or you can leave her here. Doesn’t matter. You and I both know there’s no need for her to get caught up in this again.”

“Even after you were so quick to involve her the last time?” Jannah paused for a moment; Sylvia’s eyes were upon her. There were some things she had never felt much of a need to inform her partner of, and this was one of them. Sure, Sylvia knew that the girl’s then-boyfriend, Isaac, had ‘eaten his gun’ as she had so eloquently put it. This was all she needed to know, however.

The music thumped in her ears as she followed him down a set of wooden stairs, growing closer and closer to the DJ’s booth the whole time. She didn’t care for it. Alcohol had little to no part in all of this, and instead, adrenaline rushed through her, fear and excitement all at once. She had done what she had set out to do, at last, but could she go through with it? Ruthlessness was one thing, but did nothing to undermine the fact that this man was better than her at some things, in some instances. No more disturbed, naturally,but he was able to kill efficiently, even if most of these murders had been, mostly, accidental. She had been the one to force his hand. This said nothing for the very first kill he had left in his wake, though …

By now, the sun was gone, and of course, both of them had been too absorbed in their own affairs to know it. Sylvia got the distinct impression that she was able to enjoy the humid, balmy evening much more than Jannah was, almost tempted to jump down barefoot into the sand, blissfully void of topless women and sun-seekers now that night had fallen. She guessed that it was maybe ten, now, far too active for them to do any real business of course, but substantial enough. They would not be making death threats out in the open, as such; plenty of people were more focused on getting to dinner, or drinking themselves into the ground, but it was still not a safe time or place to do it. Early, he was aware that Jannah had brought a gun. This was all they really needed.

“I thought you might’ve given up,” He stood with his back to them, facing out towards the tide. It wasn’t the same, vivid blue as it was during the day, lapping, navy, at the shore. The sand was cool, now. Not impossible to walk on at all. Not impossible to die on, either. “Let me be for a while. I thought you got a kick out of playing with your victims, Jannah.” He did not quite place his hands at the back of his head, as though he had been ordered to do so by an officer. He froze where he was, however, knowing that to take a step forward would mean to fall, and he did not want to do that, not quite yet.

“I think we’ve done enough playing.” Jannah muttered, hitching her purse a little higher onto her shoulder and readjusting the smock she was wearing. It was warm enough to get away without wearing it at all … she had come to accept that this would be the case for the entirety of the time she and Sylvia spent here. Without another word, she slipped a hand gently into her purse and withdrew another cigarette, as well as her lighter, placing the thin, white stick in her mouth and lighting it. At last, at the familiar smell of smoke, he turned, unable to see the hand she was hiding behind her back, but already guessing at what she was holding.

“Wouldn’t it be a waste for you to shoot me, all the way out here? Nobody to pay you for your hits, after all.” He had a point … but whoever said that she was going to shoot him in the first place? She was far too well prepared for that.

“Doesn’t matter,” Sylvia interjected quickly, all threat lost on her. Drunk, she was not her usual self; she became girlish and demure, hand twitching at the hem of her dress not to display her weapon, but instead to lift it up, over her head. “Eddie’s sorting the hit out back home.” She muttered, but fell silent when Jannah dismissively waved her hand. There was no doubt as to who controlled the operation, though Sylvia’s part had undoubtedly been played well. Jannah watched carefully as Brsyon’s lip curled; a familiar name, supposedly interwoven with a familiar situation. Tanned, he looked different in the moonlight than she remembered, heavier, not so much muscular as ever inch of his body suggesting that he had gotten lazy. Spending all his time in a hotel suite did that, she supposed. Drinking, screwing, god only knew what else … she tossed her hair back uncomfortably, regaining her composure.

“Then we couldn’t have done this shit inside?” His eyes flashed, suggestive. She knew what he was remembering; in particular, the very last night. She did not shudder, but considered that he might. She had, after all, abused him more severely than his paltry life would ever have caused him to adjust to, and yet not quite so severely as her previous lovers.

“We couldn’t,” She did not know why she was bringing the gun up to meet the right side of his chest – she was being merciful with that. The music up and down the coast was still thumping in her ears, as though it had gotten louder in the short space of time it had taken them to come here. Lights up and down the sand. They were in a secluded place that nobody needed to stumble across … well, maybe a drunkard. Easily dealt with. “I mean, the beach is so lovely at night, wouldn’t you agree?” A step closer, flicking her cigarette butt to the ground and not bothering to stamp it out. It would slowly burn out upon the concrete anyway.

“And if the cops – policía – hear a gunshot?” She had thought it through. His eyes betrayed him, because he was already well aware of this fact – she had thought it through, and ultimately, didn’t care. She had slept with the judge back home, there was nothing stopping her from doing the same here … supposing that they even caught her. Within the next twenty-four hours she and Sylvia could be on a flight long gone, back in a country they were used to even if they did not so much belong there as exist.

“Anything. A car backfire to a gang war, or something in between. I’ll do myself a favor and let out three or four more after you’re dealt with make it seem realistic. Get the hell out while we can.” She glanced over at Sylvia, who seemed entranced by the situation that was unfolding before her eyes.

“Bryson!” Jannah wasn’t sure, even in retrospect, what caused her to pull the trigger. She considered that it was almost definitely the shock of hearing that voice, when she had thought that they had not been followed. She considered that it had been a knee-jerk reaction; the last time, she had, in a moment of weakness rejected the opportunity to shoot him at point-blank range, and so now had taken the opportunity to prove to his copper-headed girlfriend that she really did have the guts – and the gun – to do it. What she did not consider was that if she could not have him, no other girl would; in spite of it all, she had at least found someone she could control and abuse in him, and he would always come back for more.

She often found it pathetic how anyone involved in a shooting of any kind would describe the exact moment of the sound of the first gunshot as happening in slow motion. She was not quite sure why it felt this way, halfway to a drug-induced craze where strobe lights caused the effect, but instead they were in the clear air, and he had stumbled, at first. She had seen the look in his eyes, some kind of plea, but also questioning. A certain kind of shock – he had never expected her to do it. Her dark hair whipped around her in a haze as she turned this way and that, looking for an exit, glancing across at Sylvia who was dumbstruck, mouth open wide, about to dash over to the ledge before she grabbed her arm, circling and running directly towards the well-lit road.

The girl had seen everything. Even as they slowed, Jannah could have sworn that she was following on … perhaps this was what had caused her to run to the middle of the road, rather than stopping dead next to the street vendors and jewelry stalls. Like Thelma and Louise … she thought to herself, the pain of the impact numbed by both adrenaline and fear.

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