I’m in an uncomfortable spot many writers will recognize. I can see the thin spots in my plot and character development for Ferals & Blights, and in trying to strengthen those areas, I’ve found more weak points. This manuscript now feels like a house of cards.
My job is to fix that, and today it feels like I can’t do it.
I wish I already had an agent to help. Or an editor to sweep the path clear. Instead, I just have me and my will and skill.
Before I started writing for keeps, I tried knitting. One of the lessons I learned from sticks and one long string, is the impermanence of it all. If you screw up when knitting, you have to undo back to the mistake and start over. You often end up with a pile of crimped yarn in your lap and a lot of curse words in your mouth.
I saw a Tibetan monk making a sand mandala once. Intricate and time-consuming. Also? Meta-impermanence. Creativity carries this shadow. I need to relearn how to embrace it. There are no guarantees in art. No one promises if I succeed, it’s for keeps. Continuing to write in the face of that reality is one of the hardest parts of this work.
The three Fathers stood stock-still for a moment, the shock of Jackie’s action rendering them momentarily stunned. She didn’t waste a second; she ran.
By the time the Fathers recollected their wits, Jackie was shimmying up her rope. Melody could handle this. Jackie would vanish back into the shadows and maybe lob insults or rocks, if that’s what it took, whatever was needed to keep Sharna’s soft heart from becoming her undoing.
Sharna hadn’t been knocked unconscious, just dazed. A righteous indignation spread from the throbbing of her cheekbone toward her brain. She wanted to yell, “What the everlasting salt, Jackie?!”, but her face hurt too much. Instead, she rolled over with a moan to find her hands and knees. Movement caught the corner of her eye, and she remembered the danger of proximity to the Fathers and their magic.
She scrambled upright and swayed on both feet. Her face ached. The three Fathers were standing around a rope hanging from a balcony. She heard the destruction before she saw it. The rope creaked before dissolving into a fine powder, and the slab of stone thinned with a whine.
“Hey! You can’t just walk around destroying whatever grabs your attention. You need to think, first. Maybe the Mothers didn’t hate your magic. Maybe they hated the reckless way you fling it around.” She put a hand on her cheek. Talking made her feel like she was being punched again.
The Fathers turned to study her, and the middle-aged one said, “We don’t fling it around. We have a purpose.”
Sharna winced and forced her lips to move around the pain. “Look. If you want me to stay, we’re going to need some rules.” A rock sailed out of the dark and struck Sharna in the shoulder.
“Jackie! By the stars, I’m going to yank you into the light if you keep it up!”
A small voice called out of the dark, “You’re being too nice.”
The eldest came toward Sharna and she backed away. “Ah-ah, no. See! That’s the first rule. Stop trying to get close to my body. I’m not —” she waved her hand at the three of them, “-whatever you guys are. I’m a human who happens to know some magic from the Mothers. I’m not a Mother. I’m a Mage. Got it?”
The old man stopped and turned back to the others. “Shall we hear her little rules, gentleman?”
“Excuse me? Do not act like you are in charge here. Ouch!” She cursed at the pain that lanced up her skull when she raised her voice. Furious, she healed her own face with a soft command before stepping toward the Fathers with a pointed finger. “Without my magic, your little world is going to starve, dry up, and blow away. There will be no Cloud Realm. You will lose whatever powers you suck off these poor people, and I will watch you expire without much remorse. Or, you can listen to me and save yourselves. As a matter of fact, I’m done playing with you. Let’s go fix things, Jackie! We can at least feed people, unlike these losers.”
“Wait!” cried the youngest. “We didn’t mean it. I’m sorry.”
The mist that had heralded the entrance of the Fathers swirled around the boy’s feet. “We will listen.” The mist drew into a curtain around the child, and the other two men stepped into its shadow, disappearing from view. A crack of thunder made Sharna cover her ears, and then a single man stepped into view.
He was tall and handsome, dressed in clothing all in shades of blue. A crown of white gold nestled in his black curls. “I apologize for all of the theater. Let us begin again.”
(Thanks for reading!)
Just a side note: If you needed confirmation – Black Panther is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. The details are phenomenal. The plot is excellent and powerful. The characters all have depth. The acting is excellent. Everyone is beautiful. We saw it last night, and we’re going again today. Don’t wear mascara, and take tissues. Be ready to be overwhelmed, thrilled, and blown away.