About Lif Strand

I write, therefore I am. Unless I'm taking photos. Or sewing. Or not.

Falling Apart

“I knew my body would fall apart in time,” he said, “but I didn’t know it, you know what I mean?  All those core strength exercises I ignored till my back started hurting and my belly wouldn’t stay in place.  I started them too late.  You shouldn’t put those things off.”

“So you say,” I replied.  “But it’s not like it matters with you.”

“Of course it matters!”

“Only because you’re still so vain.”

“Not so.  You think it’s been easy being me?”

“Well, as a matter of fact… yes.  I do think it’s much easier being you than it is being me.  And I think your vanity has no bounds.”

“For someone who thinks she’s had such a tough time of it, seems to me you’re being rather snarky.”

“And so?  It’s not like you can do anything about it in your condition.”

“I think you’re lacking in sympathy.”

“What if I am?”  I made as if to spit but with no follow-through, of course.  Manners count.

“That’s so petty of you.”

“So I have no sympathy and I’m petty.  At least I’m not falling apart.”

“There is that,” he sighed.

“Besides, you’ve been around a long time.  A long time.  So it’s not like this is some sudden tragedy.”

“Easy for you to say.  You’d feel differently if you were me.”

“But that’s just the point,” I said.  “I’m not you.   You’ve had it all and I haven’t.  So your whining is… just whining.”

He didn’t have much to say about that, though I could tell from his expression I’d pissed him off.  He was used to great masses of people hanging on his every word.

Now it was just one people, me.  Waiting as he fell apart.  A little bit of me that I wasn’t proud of wanted to help him along.  Not help him get better, mind you.  Help him get on with the falling apart business.  I’ve got as much patience as the next person, but the clock was ticking.

“Someday you’ll understand,” he said in a voice thick with phlegm.

“I suppose I will.  But that’ll be a long time from now.”

“You’ll be just as surprised as I am now.”

“Maybe.  Probably.”  I looked at my wrist.  How much longer?

A squishy sound caught my attention.  Another part of him sloughing off, though nothing essential, not yet.

“You’re female, you know,” he said.

“Duh.”

“That makes it harder.”

I shrugged, though he probably couldn’t see subtle movements anymore.  “I’ll manage.”

“I’m sure you will.”

We waited in silence.  More of his flesh oozed off of him.  It was a rather unpleasant sight.  The smell didn’t help.  I’d been at his side for long enough that it shouldn’t bother me anymore.  But it did.

“You remember what to do.”  It wasn’t a question, not anymore.

“How many times have you told me?” I asked.

“A dozen?”

“Hah.  How about once a day for oh, maybe a thousand years?”

“You haven’t known me a thousand days much less a thousand years,” he pointed out.

“A figure of speech, meaning enough times that there’s no way I could possibly forget.”

A slight splash when the tip of his nose fell into the puddle his tissues had melted into.  I stepped back, not wanting the noxious liquid to touch my naked toes, even though that wouldn’t matter in a while.

“It will be very soon,” he said, as if he had read my mind.  For all I knew he could do just that.  Three years was not long enough to have gathered even a crumb of what he knew.  Fortunately I would not have to wait till I was as old as he was now for all to be revealed to me.

Any moment now.  At least I hoped so.  I was getting a chill.

“Get ready, child,” he said.

“I’m no child.”  He snorted in amusement, as I meant him to, but there was nothing behind it.

“Remember to–” he began, but the words became a wheeze as his whole body collapsed on itself and bodily fluids splashed over my legs.  I gritted my teeth and stepped into the steaming muck, kicking at the big bones that were taking too long to dissolve, hunting for…

There.  I forced my fingers into the disgusting mess, snatching the walnut sized lump before it could escape.  The bloody blob burned my fingers as I held it, waiting as the pulse weakened and slowed.

I waited… waited… the timing was precise.  A moment too soon and disaster for me.  A moment too late and true death for the both of us.

And then I felt it quiver: the thrill of a soul on the cusp of fleeing the physical.  I popped the lump into my mouth, my tongue shrinking away from the nastiness.  I gagged it down and cried out as it burned its way to my stomach, where it promptly seared through the muscle and aimed itself at my heart.

I steeled myself for the possibility of death even as I prepared for the agony of metamorphosis.

Thy will be done, Master.  My will be done.

 

 

 

 

 

What I’m reading

What I’m working on
(I like to have several books going at the same time):

Goodnight L.A., by Kent Hartman.
“The rise and fall of classic rock — the untold story from inside the legendary recording studios.”
Fat Chance, by Gilbert Klein
” We Were the Last Gasp of the 60s and the Birth of Americana Music But Was America Ready For Us?”
Urban Enemies, by Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, et. al.
“Stories from the villains of your favorite urban fantasy series”
Play It Loud, by Brad Tolinski & Alan Di Perna
“An Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitar”

What I just finished:
(Rated on a scale of 0 – 10, where 0=horrible)

An Obvious Fact, by Craig Johnson (2016)
Rating: 8 A fun book, though Johnson’s characters are becoming caricatures of themselves

The Practice Effect, by David Brin (1984)
Rating: 5  An okay book that started out well but with a predictable ending.

 

In the immediate queue:

Sound, by Bella Bathurst
The Path, by Peter Riva
Teresa of the New World, by Sharman Apt Russell
High Tide in Tucson, by Barbara Kingsolver
Loving Pedro Infante, by Denise Chavez
The Shipping News, be Annie Proulx
Damnificados, by JJ Amaworo Wilson
The Western Star, by Craig Johnson

NaNoWriMo is coming

2017 NaNoWriMo

Yes, writing maniacs, it is that time of year again.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.”   About NaNoWriMo

So.  Why do that crazy thing?
If you’ve never completed writing a novel it could be because you become overwhelmed with the idea itself.  Or you figure it’s just too hard to find the time.  Or that you never could write that many words.  Or… well, there’s lots of reasons.

The one thing that I found to be true for me was that it’s easy to start a novel but not so easy to finish one.  Somewhere not that far into the process I lose momentum.  It wasn’t until I started with NaNoWriMo, coming on 14 years ago, that I discovered the secret to writing a novel:  Write lots of words.

Hey, if you don’t believe me, believe Stephen King in his great book, On Writing (p 145), “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others:  read a lot and write a lot.”

I read a lot — no problem there for me.  And I thought I was writing a lot, but if that was true seems to me there’d be at least one novel completed.  Understand — I’ve been writing for a living for longer than I have been messing around with NaNoWriMo, but non-fiction writing is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.  It’s easy to write 50 page and longer documents for a client month after month.  Fiction?  I had to come up with my own stuff to write about – stuff that hadn’t happened anywhere but inside my own head!  And trust me, that was scary!

Do not be fooled by 50K!
Coming up with that many words is hard to do at first.  It seemed impossible that first year or so.  But it was worth it because it turns out that 50,000 words is enough to push me over the hump and onto the slide towards The End of a proper length novel (i.e. significantly more than 50K words).  But I didn’t know that when I started.  And I didn’t find out the first year, or the second.

I forget how many years till I did it for the first time – and let me tell you, that was quite the day, the day I got to submit my 50K.  And what came of it?  I mean, do you see a novel around Amazon with my name on it?  (Yes, I do have a book on Amazon, but it’s not a novel.  It did come about indirectly because of what NaNoWriMo taught me, though).

So what did NaNoWriMo do for me?  I learned I could make up enough stuff every day to seriously write.  I learned this by setting my butt on my chair and my fingers on the computer keyboard every single day for a month to churn out at least 2000 words a day.  Yeah, I know — if you do the math, you “only” need to write 1666.66 words a day to get your 50K by the end of November.  But there are days when Life Happens.  Thanksgiving, here in the USA, for one thing.  And other real obligations that mean missing a day of writing now and again.  So I learned to write more than the minimum each day.  If, somewhere before the 30th of November I reached 50k, well, so much the better.

Along the way to 50k (hey, that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it), writing the required number of words every single day taught me to stop getting all caught up in writing the correct words, instead of  just writing words.  Because it’s writing words that gets the story out.

The need to churn out the 2000 words meant I dragged in all kinds of ideas that I might not have otherwise in order to make my daily quota.  Those ideas led to other ideas, and had my characters doing all sorts of interesting things that they might not have done if I had been wedded to writing correctly.

Because you can always come back and fix the writing.  But that takes precious time.  And besides, first you have to have something to fix.

A close corollary is that I learned that my words weren’t precious.   I had churned them out and when the time came to edit, well, hey.  I had proven to myself I could churn out more if I had to.  I don’t just delete, mind you.  Because my words are a teensy bit precious to me.  My darling words that get cut from my edits go into file folders for later use.  Not that I tend to ever bother looking at them, but I could if I wanted to.

It’s a comfort knowing they’re safely there.  It allows me to be more ruthless than I might be otherwise.  Believe me, ruthless is necessary, but not for NaNoWriMo.  For after November 30.

Counting down to November
So here I am, about to embark on my 14th NaNoWriMo.  I’ve reactivated my account for 2017.  Donated some money to the cause (not a requirement, but it’s a non-profit, and if/when I get my first novel out there, I’ll have gotten so much more out of NaNoWriMo than I have ever given them!)

I’ve given no thought whatsoever as to what I’ll write in a few weeks.  It doesn’t matter.  I’ll write.  For 30 days (well, 29 since Thanksgiving is happening no matter what) I’ll have the luxury of telling people, sorry.  I’m doing NaNoWriMo.  I can’t go anywhere.  I can’t do those things you’d like me to do.

I’m a writer.  I gotta write.