This was submitted for a short story competition. I didn’t win, but it at least gave me the impetus to finish something. Therefore, I thought I’d share.
All of the trees were made of bones. Bleached in the sun’s harsh light, they gave off an eerie glow under the moon. Skulls, ribs, tibias and pelvises, all linked together in a macabre approximation of a forest, warning off all who approached.
The moon shone brightly over the bone lands that night. The blood moon, rare in its beauty, cast a strange blush over the trees, highlighting their cracks of age, the brittle nature of their being.
A girl stepped into the central grove of the bone forest, her pack weighing heavily on her slim shoulders. She heaved it off, sat cross-legged in the middle of the clearing, and hoped that the moon would be more benevolent this time.
“I just want my brother back. Please, just give me my brother back,” she intoned shakily, her breath forming misty spirals in the cold air. “I don’t want to be here without him any more…”
Hearing her call, the souls of the forest began their ritual. The bones began to creak and stir, their cruel branches shifting to form new paths in the woods. The light of the blood moon intensified, painting the trees crimson red. From the shadows, a figure started to emerge. She did not know whether it would be the right one this time.
I am tired. I always feel tired now. Even restful weekends, meant to help rejuvenate and rebuild, leave me feeling knackered. It’s silly, really — being 25 shouldn’t mean I’m forever worn out, forever battling against the tide, but lately, that’s been the case. I try and ignore it, tell myself that everything will be fine in a few months. I tell myself that it’s okay not to be okay.
Creatively, I’m drained. Ideas zip through my skull as I drop off to sleep, as I drive from place to place, but never make it to the page. I never used to be scared of the blank page, but now it seems like a void. Content, content, content. A constant need for content. Watching, reading, tweeting, twitching to ultimately end up cycled out of the dark recesses of the mind and into the mental recycling bin, replaced by the next relevant post the algorithm decides you need to read.
I know that I am loved. It is a comforting thought. But I sometimes wonder whether I am liked. I often know that I have been forgotten. I think that’s why I always wanted to write – I was so desperate to be acknowledged and to be remembered. I wanted my words to be tattoos, quotes scribbled on notebooks, phrases whispered in the dark. I wanted to be a friend, but I’ve never been very good at making friends. I tell myself that I want moments of peace, that I’m good with my own company, but I crave attention at the same time. I want nothing more than to be heard.
My anxiety continues to grow and gnaw at my soul. Like a virus, it courses through my blood and infects my sense of wellbeing, my sense of tranquillity. When anxiety bears down, it is never quiet. I play loud songs to drown out its carrion call, but music is no longer the escape it used to be. It has been around a year since I came down the stairs in tears and told my boyfriend that I had to give up my website, because I no longer felt worthy enough to keep its heartbeat going. Since then, I have felt like a fraud at every show. Even when music was my every breath, I still felt like an interloper in the scene, like I never truly belonged. I sometimes wonder if I will ever belong to something greater, whether I will ever gain a place in history. I hope that I will learn to be content with where I am, but I am ever reaching for the stars, and cursing everything but my own poorly engineered ship for not taking me there.
Believe it or not, I’ve not read that many books this year. It might not seem like a wildly shocking fact, but I used to read a book a week – sometimes two, if the mood struck. It’s not that I don’t have loads of books to read, it’s that I have a tendency to get a bit too attached to my 3DS or a show on Netflix. That’s the thing – with so much media to consume out there, when do I have time to do it? Something’s got to take a back seat, and sadly, it’s been books for most of this year.
However, with the weather getting colder, and the fact that I’d not joined the library service in this county yet weighing on my shoulders, I decided to pop up there and grab some books. I’ve now read more books in a month than I think I’ve read in about a year, which is great! Here are a few I’ve really enjoyed so far…
Barbara Hambly – Those Who Hunt the Night
God, I love vampires. I especially love vampire books with really 80s covers.
Set in Edwardian London, this is a mystery novel worthy of Conan Doyle, but with creatures that skulk in the darkness and a hero that rides an early Norton motorcycle. It’s not a huge book, but it’s gripping – I finished it off in just over a week. Although its main character is a human – the unlikely warrior James Asher, don at Oxford University with a secret past – the vivid nature in which the vampires are portrayed, particularly the dashing Don Simon Ysidro, won me over. Ysidro is a total babe.
Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez – X-Men: Exogenetic
I’m a comic person too (Marvel pls), but I don’t have time to keep up with single issues, so I usually grab a few trade paperbacks when I can. Exogenetic, set in the events following M-Day, sees seemingly dead mutants revived with Sentinels lurking within their hollow husks of a body. It pits the X-Men against some of their biggest enemies, all at the hands of one particularly evil genius. It’s not Ellis’ most cerebral work, but it is great fun.
Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice
Where to start? I can’t believe this is a debut novel. It’s so elegantly crafted, a true tale of revenge but from the eyes of a ship’s AI, no less, stranded in an ancillary body and left to seek out its destroyer. Most interestingly, the novel’s main character (and the Radchaii in general) uses the pronoun ‘she’ to refer to people of all gender. Although it threw me to start with, it made me realise just how male-centric most sci-fi books are, and it was a refreshing change to visualise a character as female upon first instance, rather than male. I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.
On the to-read pile, I’ve got The Relic Guild by Edward Cox, of which I have heard Very Good Things.
What have you been reading lately? Please post your recommendations in the comments!
xoxo – Robyn
It’s been a bit of an odd month so far, September. I started it full of hope – I’m a bookish creature, and harking back to those not-so-halcyon schooldays, I’ve always considered September to truly be my ‘fresh start’, rather than January and its new year promise of change. Then I got norovirus, and it pretty much buggered up the first two weeks of the month for me. God, I hate vomit.
Also, work has been mad, to say the least, which doesn’t really put me in the right frame of mind to do much at all of a weekend except batter the shit out of Victorian gang members on Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
So while I’m very good at doing that, I haven’t been so good at getting started on a) fixing up the blog and b) kick-starting my creative writing again.
What I have been fairly good at is buying stationery. The back-to-school stationery rush is one of my favourite things about September, and I picked up a few choice items to try and ignite my writing fire.
I’ve also tried to salvage a few items. Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, is a big fan of writing things out by hand – at least to begin with. So I dug out an old Parker fountain pen that I got as a present one year, cleaned it up and put a new cartridge in. Fingers crossed, that’ll help. In the process, I also found a Shrek edition Vector, which is possibly the most ridiculous pen I’ve ever owned. I cleaned that one up too – it might make a good editing pen, after all.
In terms of actually doing some writing, I’ve been seeking out short story competitions to give me a bit of a kick up the arse. I’ve found a couple with entries closing soon, and I’ve begun working on something that will hopefully become a nice little flash piece. I say nice, but actually, I don’t really do nice – I do macabre, or futuristic, or stuff in space, but very rarely nice.
And, as you can see, the blog itself has taken a bit of shape! I decided to give up on the idea of coding something myself and picked up a theme that I think will suit me for the time being. I’ve created a portfolio page and updated it with the few bits I have done over the past five years or so, and am very much hoping to add to the ‘published works’ section with a few of these short story competitions, although I won’t get too excited about them just yet.
So, my blogging journey begins once again – hopefully I won’t forget about it for half a year again! I’m very much looking to start reading other blogs on the writing process, and pieces from other aspiring authors, so if that’s you, please drop a link in the comments! September’s not over yet, and I plan to seize it by the balls, with a pumpkin spice Frappuccino in the other hand.
xoxo – Robyn
Although I’ve not really been blogging (or writing much of anything outside of work), I have been noticing all the ‘your bandwidth has nearly run out!!’ emails coming in from my hosting company. Yeah, I guess I didn’t really get the hang of that security thing.
So I’ve been doing a bit of research today and found a few plugins that should, fingers crossed, stop a load of the brute force login attempts I’ve been suffering from. But hey, at least it reminded me I still have this thing, right?
While it’s been somewhat freeing not to worry about having to put out new content each week, I’ve missed having deadlines on my personal creative stuff. So now that the Big Event is over for the year, I might be able to concentrate on getting some story drafts together, sprucing this old girl up and actually getting a grasp on my creative life again. That is, if Pokemon Go and Star Trek on Netflix don’t eat up my evenings for the next few months.
xoxo – Robyn