With my focus turned to refining one story for submission, or on illustrating other projects, it seems far too long since I’ve worked on a fresh piece of writing. It’s been even longer since I’ve typed out ‘the end’. I’m beginning to fear that I’m getting a little rusty with my pen-wielding.
One of the ways I find encouragement is to look at my old work. Seeing the things I’ve accomplished in the past, and the lessons I found in them, gives me a boost for future projects.
The duo jogged down a narrow hiking trail, finally stopping at a half rotten beaver chewed cedar stump. Adreo placed a finger to his lips and knelt down beside a crack in the log. Terren did the same; suddenly he heard a faint sound.
click click click click click click click click click click click click click
Terren turned to his companion and raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“What is that noise?” he whispered
“Golden dragons” responded Adreo, also in a hushed voice
“They are so rare. I’m surprised to find a nest here.”
“Nest? We are right in front of a dragons nest? But, that is dangerous…”
“No, these dragons are not dangerous… at least, not very much.”
“And if they find out we are here….”
“We are quiet, they won’t find us.”
He licked his finger and held it out in the air, then gritted his teeth.
The wind had changed.
Suddenly the clicking stopped, only to start soon after, growing nearer and more rapid.
Click click click clickclickclickclikclikcliclicliclick –‘Blah ditti blah blah’ 2009
I started writing this story with my cousin (the name may have been her idea.) But after a while, her interest in it waned, and mine waxed. I remember the excitement I found in building worlds, discovering problem-solution sequences, and typing out the closing words. Although this wasn’t the first ‘novel’ I worked on, it was the first I finished.
Then he felt a hot blast of air at his back, and he saw behind him a stream of flames, illuminating a long and reptilian face.
With a yelp Hari launched himself off the banks and back into the water, his only hiding place.
He hoped the beast could neither smell nor see him under the water. But a strong pair of claws clutched the back of his jacket and pulled him out of the water and up in the air until he was looking straight into two bright dragon eyes.
“You are very confusing” The dragon rumbled
“You speak of how cold you are, but when I try to warm you, you jump back into the water.” -unamed 2012
The best part about this story was the fun I had putting my ‘brave’ little tailor through one disaster after another. But as much as I enjoyed the story, I could see that it was weak in several places. I tried editing, and renaming the character several times. Unfortunately, the story remains unpolished.
“Hey, stable-master! This horse is well past his prime! I can’t take him with me, he’ll tire too fast!”
The stable-master, standing by the haystack, jabbed his pitchfork into the pile with more force then was necessary. It seemed we were both suffering from ill-tempers that day.
“Better you take the old one to go and die with you than waste my finest horses.” He grunted.
“Did you not see what was in the purse I gave you? I gave you all I had; that was enough to buy a horse twice the worth of this one!”
The stable-master stabbed and the haystack again, the motion was almost like a threat.
“Maybe so for the common farmer’s nag. But these are quality bred horses, mighty pricy and too good to throw away.”
I nearly tore the pricy horse’s pricy saddle blanket in my fury.
“’Mighty pricy and too good to throw away’? Listen, aren’t my people worth a dozen of your fancy stables?”- OYAN project 2012
The One Year Adventure Novel course was one of the last- and best- that I took in high school. I loved being able to study the art of storytelling. It was through OYAN that I learned the value of theme and structure. I could now see where I went wrong with the previous story. Unfortunately my OYAN story and character may not have been my favourites, so writing was more work than play.
Mr. Cashmere is making shoes
It is his job
And there’s no time to lose!
He’s working hard inside his cart
It is his home
Pulled by his wagon turtle, Bart
(Bart’s short for Bartholomew. I think it’s simpler, don’t you?)- Mr. Cashmere and his Turtle-Buggy 2013
There wasn’t much to this children’s story- but I still think some of the ideas for it were neat, and may be recycled. I was going to tell the story through felted figurines of the little gnome cobbler and his turtle friend.
“Cannons!” I shouted, and we ducked behind the next nearest tree. It was more of a sapling really, but there was not much in the way of shelter in these parts.
“Why is he firing at us?” Perry demanded
“Can’t he see we’re not Varien?”
There was another explosion, dangerously close to the tree. It was so close we could feel the heat as the grass burned.
“I guess not. Wave your toque, Perry!”
“But if he can’t see us properly how can he see my toque? Besides, I like my toque; it would be shame to ruin it. Can’t we use yours?”
“Oh, come on! Yours is white, it means peace, right?”
“Fine, fine….” Perry removed his toque with an air of sacrifice and whipped it around. There came another blast, the tree shook and the leaves above us flamed like a thousand candles. Perry withdrew his arm like he’d been stung.
“Maybe waving something white in this world means: I’m an enemy, please kill me!”-Unnamed, 2014
With bickering cousins Perry and Lewis, a portal from a Canadian basement to a new world, and a healthy dose of explosions, writing this story was great fun. But it was also a great effort. This was the first story to which I dedicated several re-writes. I even gathered the courage to send it to a couple of beta-readers. This story is nowhere near complete, but I learned from its development.
“Helena was the most clever, elegant, and beautiful princess in the world.
She was also evil.” –How the Knight Rescued the Dragon from the Princess, 2014
This story, similar to my snippet about Lt. Theophilus and Diperie, is completely ridiculous- and that’s why I’m so fond of it. I suspect it’s the best of my older works. However, I found that it’s difficult to share a book with an ending that promises another story….another story I don’t yet have.
As a general rule, one should have breakfast before adventures. For Basil, however, this was not to be.
Basil did not see it coming. Indeed, how could he? It was a morning like any other morning, and Basil thought he might like an egg for breakfast. He reached into the fridge and found one to his fancy. It was large and had earthy green speckles splattered across a stone gray shell. True, it was unusual, but Basil had seen green eggs, pinkish eggs, cocoa brown eggs, and eggs half the size of a thumb. This one did not scare him. Maybe it should have. – Early beginning to David’s Dragon…back when David was Basil. 2014
‘David’s Dragon’ (now renamed Dragons in the Kitchen) went through so many ideas and edits that I’ve almost lost count. I’ve simplified some of the descriptions, and did my best to purge out the ‘British-isms’. This is also the story I have shared the most. By ‘testing’ my story on both children and adults, I’ve learned that feedback is wonderful for encouragement…even if it means many trips back to the drawing board.
Sue tried to keep her mind and house in order, she really did! But something was always misplaced, forgotten, or just plain lost.
One day, Sue wanted an omelette. But for omelettes you kind of need eggs, and Sue couldn’t remember where she put them. When she finally found them she opened the carton and frowned. One egg didn’t look like the rest. It was sea-green, and had blue streaks. “It must be from one of those fancy chicken breeds.” She said with a shrug, and cracked it. – Early beginning to Sue’s Sea-Monster, 2014
This story is meant to be a follow-up of ‘Dragons in the Kitchen’. I think it still needs some work, since the plot is a little thin. But when I was testing this story on my little cousin, she pointed to my quick illustration of the tiny sea monster and said ‘I love the baby!’ It was the only feedback I got from her, though it’s making me think that the best thing I could do to build ‘Sue’s Sea-Monster’ is to build on the characters.
The night wind was the first one to spread the message. It flew its course across the small island, bringing the sea-side chill mingled with the summer’s heat, the fragrance of ripe fruit mingled with the tang of smoke. The wind passed by a near-hidden village woven like huge nests deep in the jungle foliage, where one wakeful man tasted the air, and noticed something amiss. He launched himself from his basket woven house in the trees, and landed on a bluff, where he stood staring out at the sea. The light of the full moon filtered through the thick leaves, creating dappled patterns on the man’s folded wings. The sea shone silver, but the moon’s glow was not the only light. In the distance there was a flicker of orange. – Early beginning to Tah’s story, 2015
I’m particularly proud of this story. It has some of my best settings and characters, and I invested much research regarding caves, ships, and dynamite. While I’ve worked hard to refine my prose with this story, I’ve decided I need to go back and re-do much of the plot.
One morning, one of Felicie’s fat chickens ran out of the coop with tail feathers smoking. The squawking hen flapped around the pen, and then sat –kerplop!- into the nearest puddle. Felicie stared at the chicken with a confused frown. Normally things on her farm followed a peaceful routine.
Felicie shrugged and ducked into the coop to collect the eggs. – Felicie’s Phoenix , 2016
This is the final story following ‘Sue’s Sea-Monster’ and ‘Dragons in the Kitchen’. This may be a favourite of the three, partially because fussy farmer Felicie reminds me so much of myself, and partially because I’m pleased with the snowstorm scene.
“Here’s one of the most important tips for survival, honey: Never interrupt a girl when she’s trying to read. Especially when the book is a delicious one. Too many knights and princes have interrupted a princess in the middle of an intense scene, and then both the quest and the book are ruined. – Granny’s Guide to Rescuing Princesses in Towers, 2016
This story is somewhat similar to ‘How the Knight Rescued the Dragon from the Princess’. I seem to enjoy writing things with quirk and non-threatening dragons. ‘Granny’s Guide to Rescuing Princesses in Towers’ was interesting because it heavily relied on the illustrations to tell the story. I suppose this story prepared me for all the illustration that was to come in ’17 and ’18.
I may have more stories in the idea or embryonic stage than I have finished. But when I look back at this list, I see that it is possible to see a story grow and come to a close. I see that a failed project can be worth something, and I see that it takes time for a project to produce fruit. Things may seem slow now, but that’s fine. To everything there is a season, and if I keep working now I will eventually have harvest.