Tired and aching from shoveling the driveway, my heart sank as I heard the snow plow scraping down the road. I sighed, grabbed my toque, and went back out.
The plow had left a thick strip of the worst kind of snow, piled up to my knees. There was nothing to do but dig in.
Half-way through, muscles sore and weakening, I noticed a rusty, aged tractor making its slow way up the mountain. I waved hello, thinking I could use a tractor of my own, when it stopped, turned, and scooped up the rest of that nasty, heavy snow. The young fellow inside tipped his hat once and drove off up the mountain, his cape flapping in the wind.
We invited the Moon for dinner last week. To our delight, the Moon accepted our invitation and was courteous enough to shrink down for the event. I served a meal of mulled stardust and broiled comets from a recipe book I bought in a dream when I was seven.
The girls, of course, wanted pictures and the Moon obliged. I must say, I am happy with how they turned out. It’s nice to have memories of special guests the girls can look back on once they’re grown.
Little Nim, who rarely stays up late enough to enjoy the night sky, marveled at our guest and screamed when we tried to take them away.
Evening, who can often be seen waving to the Moon and shouting “Hi, Moon!” every chance she gets, was especially joyful to see her friend up close.
Toys were pulled out and stories created. Evening insisted the Moon must have dragons, and the Moon did not disagree. Blizzard the cat wanted in on the fun and investigated Evening’s carefully staged dragon silhouette.
Shortly after taking this photo, Blizzard snapped up the dragon in his fuzzy jaws and ran off with him. Much hissing and fire-breathing ensued. I was embarrassed over the cat’s behavior but the Moon insisted it was the most excitement they’d had since the Pleiades passed through last month.
Blizzard returned with whiskers singed and bent. We haven’t found the dragon yet but we can hear him in the basement at night, breathing fire and munching stolen cat food.
Nim cried when it came time for the Moon to leave. Evening gave them a hug goodbye. I packed up the leftover comets and sent them along in case the Moon got hungry later. We stood on the porch and watched the Moon float up into the sky.
Welcome to the first Wednesday of December! Its time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG), a blogging group created to support and encourage fellow writers. If you’d like to join in and/or see other IWSG posts, click here.
This month I’m feeling insecure about this whole Climate Change Apocalypse. What’s the point of honing my writing craft in the face of mortal peril? Scientists can land Insight on Mars but they can’t make people save their damn planet. Ugh. We should have focused our collective imaginations on this apocalypse instead of the zombie one. Why are we still struggling to gain an audience, write our stories, and put them out there if we’re all going to die?
Here’s the thing: we’re not all going to die.
Some of us will live, and when we’re holed up in our bunkers, a dirty collection of bored, dispirited individuals waiting for the world to end or maybe, just maybe, NOT, you know what’s gonna get the survivors through? Canned tomatoes, Spam, wool socks, and stories. Stories are going to pass the time and remind your fellow survivors to be heroes, that life has meaning, and everyday is another chance to save the world.
When the Spam runs out, your story skills might save you from getting eaten, too.
Let’s be honest. You’re going to have to find a way to be more important than say, the surgeon sitting across from you when its cannibalism o’clock. You can provide escape via stories on the daily, she can what? Fix a ruptured spleen? Pssh. How often is that going to happen? Think about it. Humans have been screwing up basic evolution in favor of the short-game for generations now. Ruptured spleens are long-game thinking. A story can make tonight bearable. Who cares if you’re screaming over a kidney stone in four or five years and it attracts starving predators that wipe out your village? Right now everyone misses TV and if they close their eyes, stories are kind of like TV without the pictures and the human brain will hold tight to something that feels like normal.
See? You can survive this apocalypse, but you’re going to have to nail your hook and build tension like a pro. I suggest you start practicing now, while you still have the internet to tell you when you’re doing it wrong.
You should also become a story prepper right away. That’s right. Stockpile concepts, practice whipping out a killer first line when you have a spare moment; in the shower, the toilet at work, those precious lost seconds in elevators.
Hone your craft like your life depends on it, because it does. On the other side of the Climate Change Apocalypse, your writing game is going to be AMAZING. Unfortunately, there probably isn’t going to be much of publishing industry, or any industry, left. Which is kind of the planet’s point.
The good news is that throughout history storytellers and bards have been kept around for one reason or another. You’re simply evolving the profession. Try to write on something which preserves well, like stone tablets, birch bark, and cave walls to assure something of your work survives now that the average life expectancy is probably substantially younger than you are in this moment. Don’t think about it. Just. Keep. Writing.
A recent social media meme asked me “If you could be a goddess or a god, what would you be the patron deity of?”
My first thought was ‘semi-colons’ because my brain doesn’t work well under pressure. Still, I supposed semi-colons are better than colons, considering that at some point someone is going to misunderstand that title and the colon gods will be elbow deep in proctology.
Then I thought about it a little more and decided I’d like to be the goddess of unfinished stories. I don’t think there is a current goddess of unfinished stories and just think of how handy I could be. Instead of letting unfinished stories rot in a notebook, characters frozen in whatever terrible situation you’ve put them in, you could call on me. Deadline looming and not sure how to end your story? I’m your goddess.
I’m not comfortable with prayer (my mind-reading skills are terrible), but feel free to text or email.
Writers could leave offerings of freshly ground dark roast coffee, Sharpie pens (fine), the occasional smudge stick. For big messes maybe some HP75XL printer ink (cough cough George R. R. Martin). In return I’d help them finish their stories.
The upside will be all the books dedicated to me and my mentions in acknowledgement pages at the end of books. Do you ever read those? They’re strangely dull considering the authors are… well, published. When I become the goddess of unfinished stories, that is going to change. The acknowledgements will be epic, full of entertaining doodads and hilarious anecdotes. They will become the book version of end-of-credits sequences on beloved films. The true fans will adore them and hipsters will covet them.
All in all, I’m not sure we as writers can afford to not make me the goddess of unfinished stories, except for this whole mortal thing I have happening. If anyone has any suggestions or hacks for becoming a goddess, please pass them along so we can get this thing started.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Submission Sundays. Each week, I bring you a unique call for submissions. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance.
Where ever you are on your writing journey, calls can inspire creativity and lead you to new markets. If you’re starting out, getting used to submissions – and rejections – is important. Every established writer has a stack of rejections behind them. It takes guts and a willingness to fail.
Ready? This week’s call is a favorite of mine:
Unidentified Funny Objects 7
Eligibility: *humorous* speculative fiction from 500-5000 words. No reprints, multiple, or simultaneous submissions.
Caveat: this is a tough market. According to Duotrope, less than 1% of submitted stories are accepted. Does this mean you shouldn’t submit? Heck no. It just means you shouldn’t be discouraged if you receive a rejection.
What makes this call stand out: Neil Gaiman, my favorite author, has headlined a previous issue of UFO. Do I want to be published in the same series as my hero? You bet!
Payment: $0.10 per word (American) plus a contributor copy
It is a little known fact that certain rocks of the intertidal zone can be something of a dandy. The moment the tide begins to withdraw finds them whipping out their combs – often the backbone of some unlucky minnow – and combing flat their wigs of algae.
I’ve heard them brag they got the idea from adolescent mermaids and preening ducks. Others say they have to do it or their wigs are plagued with sand fleas. Since I’ve asked all I see are flea-ridden, preening stones who wish to look like little girls. I’m not sure of the appeal, but then again I am not a lady rock.