Weekend Writing Warriors: The House Guest

Hey everyone, and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors and my NaNo story Aned! Last time - a little long while ago, Eloise entered a grove searching for the white shepherd dog that seems to be following her everywhere she goes. I'll move forward this week, to where Eloise finds the mysterious dog hiding in the backyard, in her own dog's hut...

Eloise approached Aethelia's dog house, where the grumbling noise grew into a clarion growl.
"So what is the deal with you anyways, dog?"
She slowly knelt down by the hut, facing away from the entrance, with her heart hammering against her chest.
"It's not very polite to growl at the host, but I guess you must have your reasons to distrust humans."
She reached for Aethelia's red rubber ball and tossed it from one hand into the other. Moments went by. The growling turned into a soft gurgling, before it stopped. Startled, she felt something touching her arm; in the corner of her eye, the dog's nose quickly withdrew from her elbow, back into the darkness of the hut.

Aned - character drawing


True Detective reviewed

There are a couple of shows on TV that quickly gain a large following a few episodes in their first season, thus making it hard to keep an open mind starting to watch them with a little delay - being flooded with first impressions. Although I don't read stuff about anything beforehand, I can never completely avoid those flashy headlines. A review for each new episode on blogs seems excessive, but it's not unusual.

It shows that a series does something right in terms of presentation during the first crucial episodes, being the cool new thing to talk about. I'm not saying it's not OK to be enthusiastic. But it immediately raises more than a few expectations in regards to where a show is heading (and oftentimes before it has found its pace).

The flavor of these last few months appeared to have been HBO's True Detective. It's an anthology crime series, mysterious, with nods to film noir and an eery, almost romantic gloom hanging overhead. I might even go as far as say that I got a little depressed watching it, realizing that there is little happiness to be found for any of the characters, just a nihilistic sense of loss, guilt and regret moving them forward. The title True Detective stems from a factional crime magazine by the same name. Award-winning writer Nic Pizzolatto wrote each of the episodes, and in many ways the concept for the show builds on his 2010 mystery novel Galveston.

It didn't take long for it to grab me. There was something about Harrelson's narration that left me wanting more. A few episodes in I also noticed what I didn't like, namely that it has become somewhat of a stylistic means of expression to have writers argue out what feels like personal beefs over certain topics, to utilize characters as messengers of outrageous dialogue. OK, this is mainly an HBO thing. After nudity and violence, it is about questioning other forms of expression and overcome boundaries, things you weren't allowed to say on TV a mere ten years ago.

"Safe to say that nobody in here is going to split the atom, Marty"

People enjoy a writer's defiance. Strangely enough it makes an audience feel empowered. But since it has become a trademark of progressive shows to be anti-establishment, being known for scandalous dialogue can get old. Adding that to the fact that within the last few years it has risen to be a standard to depict main characters moving within the dark grey areas of morality makes it even harder to find a truly new angle. We're forced to empathize with not-all-good people. And even if we find someone who seems OK at first, it turns out the good people have a skewed moral compass as well, and maybe even worse so than those who promote their flaws more loudly.

Since it's such a commonplace, it takes away from some of True Detective's visionary sense. Yes, there is novelty to the show, in cinematic style, production and writing. The show is very ambitious. But aside from presentation and directing toppings as for instance demonstrated in the awesome 6-minute single-take tracking shot during episode 4, the plot is pretty run-of-the-mill. I see an end to this trend of finding new ways to tell old stories, and soon. After a lot of antiheroic types have braced the TV landscape, it's time for the opposite; classic narratives to tell new and exciting stories. As long as stories feel stale, there is no further value in neat packaging (except to ruffle people's expectations).

It would be a refreshing change of pace to empathize with protagonists who believe in something beyond their own rationalization. Like, for example, to create suspense, a story needs a certain element of impulse, even plausible screw up on the part of the characters to create misconceptions and prejudice on the part of the audience, especially in the crime genre. It's true to genre to deflect the audience while they're trying to connect the dots. At least if the plan is to create that one surprise moment at the end that no one suspected, but, in hindsight, wasn't far-fetched at all - the ideal goal of any story, if you ask me.

The mystery part turned out to be a disappointment. It seems True Detective stumbled over its own sense of mystique. The character arcs, well, I see what they were heading for. It ended about halfway between where it started and where it wanted to be. For the next season, there are other quests to be undertaken by an all new team. I think I'll miss Harrelson and McConaughey the most.



Motherhood's Kicking in!

I was wondering about this for a while now, ever since the moment the other little strip turned a faint shade of pink. Surprise! The idea of pregnancy wasn't something my mind could fully grasp, the consequences being too extensive to even imagine a world beyond ginormous belly.
Sentenced to 9 months to life!

The first 12 weeks of any pregnancy are known to be shaky, a fearful stretch of hit-or-miss, and to be completely honest, I had no reason to believe it would stick this time. It tried to pay as little attention to it as possible plowing through NaNoWriMo. And it stuck. Now that it's past half-time and actual proof is hitting me from within with violent little earthquakes, I'm still having trouble believing it.

Thoughts like is that belly that has long begun to cast a shadow really a baby or did I just let myself go over the winter? Are these strange bursts I'm feeling coming from my intestines after all? Are these kicks telling me that my bowels are in trouble, do I have some kind of abdominal epilepsy?

I don't know whether it'll ever start to feel real in a way that will allow me to fully commit to the idea of having a child before it's factually there.

To go out there and buy stuff for the nursery, because I am certain it's going to happen. No way. I will give birth to a human being. Seriously!? I can tell myself that over and over. I'm two people now, one of them living inside the other. Get that: one of them is not a woman... Still not quite sure if it's me after all?! Him? There's going to be a him? Maybe I'm just fat and schizoid!

I feel motherly towards my cats, and even more so than towards children. I have never been needed by a child. I think we're biologically prone to like whomever we're responsible for. (Or what we've tamed, in the words of The Little Prince)

I'll have a lifetime to make horrible mistakes once it's in the world. I'm sure I'll never feel like I'm doing a good job, or that I'll be making the right choices; living up to some absurd standard of parenting that I don't even know I'll have. That's just how I am in life. Let's hope the mistakes I'll make will be glorious ones, and my shortcomings will make me smile rather than want to make me beat myself up.

Also I'm not sure I'm ready to accept that once I'm a parent, a part of my life will be in freeze mode, the parental stage of preservation. Worrying and caring override any impulse to run for your life and join a cult in search of self-fulfillment. Parents are a different species. Biology forces them to zone in on a tiny piece of life other than themselves  - at least for a little while. Some people go nuts, others blossom in new-found meaningfulness, and others yet again see their children as some kind of investment opportunity.

The only thing I ask is that you, lovely baby, will not make me stupid..at least be kind enough to merely put my brain on ice. Don't eat it. I'm not ready to give it up for good...

June. Not too far away. Still some time to get acquainted. If not with baby, then at least with the concept of change. If that's ever possible before it is thrown upon us. Bloody hell!


Journalism, Morality and other Conundrums

Journalism is important. Journalism is inquisitive, and news analysis provides an indispensable service to the public. What ever would we do without the daily coverage of a wide range of subjects, too complex to understand, or too insignificant to appear worthy of our mental efforts! Thank goodness, all those news we consume are served in neat little packages, rehashed like microwave dinners fit for the attention span, we, the public, are willing to provide. The absurd part is that generally we don't want to know things we don't already know. Per definition - that would be real news.

What we do want to know however are old news, not really new things about people we already know; things we suspected all along: the oft-cited confirmation bias.

With the rise of the tabloid and the public's binge for information about celebrities, one has to question what happened to so-called investigative journalism. The kind of journalism that offers a social service to all of us, the one that puts fear into the eyes of politicians and the government in its place. It's basically degraded to a supplier of daily outrage. What falls under investigative are things hardly suitable for public education, but short-lived indignation, like, if someone we know carts off money to an account somewhere else. Yes, I don't like it when they do that either. For one, because I myself am not in a position to do so.

More importantly though, it's lowly for someone who indulges in the advantages of a country's benevolent legal system not to pay for that privilege (among other things). We all need to contribute to the status quo. And how good we have it here compared to those other countries we don't want to hear anything about!

And although many of us don't have enough coin to cart away towards a Swiss bank account, how does our lack of riches put us in a position to judge those who do have some money?

Law says there is such a thing as voluntary declaration. Legislature decided that it's more important for rich people to pay what they owe, stay in Germany, than be labeled guilty. Them moving away to other countries and taking their money and business with them for good would be a loss worse than allowing people to call them frauds and wave them goodbye. Money comes first. I understand that logic. Voluntary declaration appears to be an extraordinary privilege given to the rich, when in fact, it's in favor of all of us, since we all profit from those rich people's riches, and taxes, if paid. And they will be paid one way or another. A statute of limitation speeds up the practice.

Someone who carts away tax paid money and doesn't declare earned interest needs to pay what he owes. Someone who refuses to pay interest is a criminal and will be penalized. Someone who does everything along the lines of legality, even paying back charges after the fact that he initially didn't, is not. And that's the difference. In fact, in the latter case, the law retroactively rids him of his guilt.

The only problem is, that we, the lecherous harpies, who, self-absorbed as we are, feel as though we're the reason for that person being that rich, need to make sure that he is not rid of his personal guilt, at least not in the public eye, because that's the celebrity's cubicle, and we built it. He apparently relinquishes the right to make any more money with the deceit. And it seems we really are that powerful. The media, being the mouthpieces of stupidity join in on the sad sad song of we make and we break.

And we won't forgive anyone for being that rich, while we're not, and for trying to get away with it, while we can't, although we'd all do the same if we were in that kind of position.

Unfortunately greed is not only a malady of the rich, it's a sickness of the little ape trying to get his grabby little hands on what he doesn't have. That's what we are. Hairy little wannabes. And morality starting from a sense of jealousy is not a good position to judge other people by, or to do any kind of thinking, especially about the principles of our legal system. Sadly it's all we have, and it's all we are. How could we be more, when all we can focus on is the shiny and how much we want it for ourselves.


Weekend Writing Warriors: Into the Dark

Hello everyone and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. Wow - it has been one year since we started this nice little Sunday tradition and I'm glad be a part of it and to have met such a talented bunch of writers! Today, I'm diving deeper into my story. Eloise, being haunted by the sight of the white shepherd dog that appears to be stalking her on her daily walks, curiously follows him into a grove...

Eloise plunged into darkness. Like crossing a line, the tree trunks, broad and mighty, swallowed the light of day, and with it all evidence of the outside world. 
It was a strange place, unfamiliar, and foreign to her senses and
without a flashlight, she’d soon be lost. 
Eloise moved forward regardless, and the air lay still and cold against her quickening breaths. 

“Come here, dog, I won’t hurt you.”  

Two small lights lit up between trees like pale blue crystals.


Eloise Walsh is a woman of modest needs - she lives with her husband George and French bull dog Aethelia in a quaint little house in the heart of Southampton, England. When fate strikes and her husband suddenly falls ill, Eloise barely accepts the seriousness of his situation. Desperate to do something, she persuades her husband to go on medicinal walks through the elaborate city park. She notices a white shepherd dog trailing them from a distance.
The dog appears to be cut off from his pack, determined to following them to the point of stalking. Struggling to shake him off, the dog makes himself comfortable in their backyard, and soon Eloise finds herself at a turning point; challenged to take care of her sick husband as well as taking in a stray dog with a strange set of abilities that cause a wild amount of trouble in their household and between the married couple. It doesn't take long before she realizes that there is a reason why the white shepherd Aned is in her hands, an how not only her life but the lives of others will be in danger if she doesn't take on the responsibility of being his guardian.




Weekend Writing Warriors: Proud Little Lion

Hey there, warriors and welcome to another edition of 8sunday. I'll gladly share the next snippet from Aned, my most recent work of fantasy fiction. Let me set up the moment for you: Eloise Walsh more than brashly imposes her dog Cabby on Artie, a traveler she just met. He is less than thrilled but agrees to dogsit for a day, for Eloise clearly has no one else, and the arrangement strikes him as an opportunity to make some coin. A day goes by and she still hasn't returned to pick up her dog. Another day until he receives a letter.

I knew my time had come, as it was inextricably linked with your arrival.
Let me tell you that I used to dread imagining the moment you’d be standing at my doorstep, coming to claim your right.
I think I'm ready now.
Know that he is yours, he always has been, even when you didn’t know he existed. And although I was just watching him for you in your absence, I did everything in my power to guide him and give rise to his true nature, and I loved him, and boundlessly so, like a mother loves her child.
I trust you will too some day, and I’m fairly certain that once he strides by your side, my boy, the proud little lion, you won’t be able to close your mind against his.
You will see the world anew through his eyes, the imprints of the Gods, the strength to protect and to foresee; all his talents now will be yours to uphold. And once you understand this truth in all its bearings, it may very well be that even you, Arthur, will bow down before him and call him king.



Bad Mother of Ideas!

Writing is such an odd activity compared to some of the other things I do for fun. First of all, unlike the other stuff, the process is not as much fun whilst I do it, as it is to file away a story - and knowing that an entire universe just sits there, right inside a folder. Finishing is the ultimate reward to writing.

Unfortunately, the finishing line is not always in sight. While I noticed that something always gets my writing started, the commitment to completion part is much harder. It happens, that as I write down an idea, another one pops into my head and as it sits there, making waves, I'm beginning to wonder if the new one wouldn't be much more inviting. Why bother carrying on with a mediocre idea when there's a better one out there? However, I learned from NaNoWriMo that the purpose of writing is not only the idea, but the sticking it out part, and that's why the yearly writing challenge is such an essential experience.

As I'm looking through my archives, there are tons of orphaned beginnings, some of them only one sentence long. It's fun to look at these fragments from time to time and think about what they could have become, if I hadn't so callously abandoned them..

This is me in the front yard! one of them begins (and it ends right there as well).

And I still have no idea which direction this would have gone. Yard - then what? Kitchen? Probably nowhere.

Mother never was particularly versatile in her ways to torture me... another one goes.

I like to believe that there is a story to be told, second nature to my first.

I usually hate re-reading these kinds of self-important notes. 90 percent of the time I am convinced I can barely compose a full sentence, let alone swoop anyone away with the cut of my quill. Writer's baggage!

Anyways, there is more.

Ryku, I’m yelling, Ryyyykuuu, but she doesn’t look up from the thing she made out of mud. That’s the thing with kids. I approach her and she finally looks up at me. There you are! she says, and I detect rebuke. Typical, I think, that she’d twist it like that; as if she had been waiting for me, not the other way around. 

A cute children's story I was working on for a bit. Well five sentences long to be exact. 

The quickest way to hell is taking in a visitor. I titled this one Purgatorial Suspense.

Barlo was a vile man, a boy who grew up to bring nightmares. He had outgrown his father by the age of ten...