Thursday, December 4, 2014

in which i share a bit of story

November was National Novel Writing Month, and I read a great pep talk from Brandon Sanderson, who is one of my all-time favorite authors. In 2002 he was starting to write his 13th book before he finally got his first call from an editor that wanted to publish a novel that he had submitted two years earlier. As he says, "this thing you're doing isn't about publication, bestseller lists, or reviews. It's about you, your story, and the victory inherent in completion."

Around my birthday in October, I began to think much more seriously about writing a book. I've always wanted to write one, but had neither the gumption nor the confidence to actually commit to a story. I have so many ideas tumbling around in my head, but they're all rather nebulous bits and characters that don't quite fit together. To actually commit to only one of those, until it's actually fleshed out and completed, is a very intimidating feat. I made a list of goals that I hope to complete in my 26th year, and a few of them had to do with writing.

My love of reading has led me to write many posts on the subject, and I have also written a few thoughts on my insecurities as an aspiring author. I love stories and could talk for hours about ones that I particularly adore, but this is going to be the post where I take a really deep breath and post a bit of writing from my book.

I'd like to preface this by saying that I love bards. It's a strange thing. I grew up reading Lloyd Alexander books and for some reason I was always overly attached to the bard. I just love the concept of a man with a harp traveling the world and singing stories. Books like The Last Unicorn and Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time have elaborate storyteller characters and history told in song, and I love that. When I started thinking about what kind of book I would write, I immediately thought of a bard. Because he must exist in whatever world I create.

Welcome to a bit of my story.

Redge jumped over the small gap of dark sea between the side of the godforsaken ship and the splintery dock, stumbling to his knees in relief. He briefly considered kissing the salty wood, but thought better of it as he heard a bubble of laughter erupt from the sailors observing him. He didn’t mind, really. As a bard he was used to being the entertainment. He wasn’t crazy about ridicule, though. But he just figured they’d get what they deserve. Mean men usually did, either in this life or the next. No use trying to force it. He clumsily lifted himself back to his feet, adjusting the case on his back and giving the sailors a slight smile and an exaggerated salute.

The drumbeats of many boots hitting the dock followed him as he made his way toward the beach. He wasn’t much for sea-travel, but the life of a committed poet called for travel of every kind. And he was committed. He had even ridden a tratta a time or two, and those wormy creatures were most certainly worse than riding a ship. They slithered around like monumental snakes, ugly nocturnal things. They weren’t much use during the day of course, so the only times he had encountered them he had been quite desperate. Supposedly this island had a rather large population of the beasts, and he direly hoped he wouldn’t need to use one. He shivered at the thought.

Redge was a small man with a decidedly pointed nose and dark hair that was tucked under a velvet cap. It was impossible to tell his age, although most might guess he was somewhere in his twenties. He suffered from a rather childish face, which kept him from enjoying the majority of his youth. No one ever believed him when he announced his age, so he had stopped trying long ago. He decided to use it to his advantage, courting younger women at his leisure. They didn’t often accept his proposals, but if they ever did, no one would think him indecent.  

He was wearing far too many colors for such a small person. He enjoyed them, but he wasn’t blind to the many eyes that were lingering on him for a bit too long. They were either trying to uncross their eyes from the offensive pattern or coming to the slow conclusion that he was a bard. Color and bards went together like, well, music and bards. They were colorful people because they understood the beauty in all things, especially music. They were artists. Their clothes were simply a reflection of the color of their souls. He nodded to himself as he walked, pinning a mental note to write that down: reflection of the color of their souls.

Redge took in a deep breath as he neared the end of the long dock. The toe of his right boot caught against the raised lip of an uneven wood slat, and he lurched forward. His case swung forward and smacked into the back of his head but he caught himself, groaning, before he fell to the ground. He didn’t bother looking around to see if anyone had observed his clumsiness. It was better not to know.

The only luggage he carried was a red leather bound case in the shape of a small harp. The way it settled at the top of his shoulders made him look a bit like an ant trying to carry a boulder. The ship he arrived on was emptying its men and contents onto the dock far behind him, and he was happy to leave them to their work. It was a small fishing boat that had been quite unkind to him. The ship itself, not necessarily the men. Although in truth he wasn't fond of the men, either. The vessel was named Heaven's Glide, which must be the captain's idea of an ironic joke. It had "glided" like a bucking horse. His stomach still churned uncomfortably. Not much for sea travel, indeed.

The first of many drafts of Redge, a little bard character that may never be read or adored but who exists in my head, and for now that's enough.

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