The Writing Process
I'm playing with these fake flowers in a glass vase filled with milky fluid when I notice some of the leaves are dying and they're not fake after all. I got lucky with my little bouquet; some of the vases on the other tables are the size of salt shaker and have only two or three blossoms, while I have a full seven, because I am a very important customer. It's also the only one of the square tables in the darkened Greek cafe that has a power outlet next to it. Took the busing barista several seconds to figure what I meant when I asked whether the table had the thing that the other thing goes into. Words always get in my way. Outlet, is the word. Like a Manufacturer's Direct Outlet.
One of the flowers bends in half from my fondling of it and I take my hand away and feel guilty.
My computer is a petite stripy brown netbook with the internet disabled. I no longer have the complete lack of self-control I used to, and I can enable it long enough to look up maps and photos and words, always words, but psychologically it's much easier to leave it off. It was comedian Andrew O'Neill I think who said that using a laptop attached to the internet was like using a typewriter attached to a circus. So many shiny buttons to push!
The software I use is called RoughDraft, a brilliant piece of Windows freeware that autosaves, provides a notepad, autofills words, and has a complete screenwriting suite. It's great and very stable.
My messenger bag, aka the Mighty Mighty Manpurse, is an American Tourister also containing two pens, two GhostWriter-style composition books, and a Kindle I literally haven't read a book on in four years.
Beside me I've got a pretty gross falafel sandwich I really shouldn't have bought. The chickpeas are whole and harder than Stonehenge. The chamomile tea is weak--I can't have caffeine anymore, not since I picked up a neurological disorder from a medicine I was taking to combat a different neurological disorder. Say lavie.
I write a few paragraphs, hate em, feel ashamed, shift-pageup and then delete. Much easier to throw a page away than continue it and have to throw away five pages later.
Check comes. $19.47. F'ing Seattle. I look at the crust of rubbery pita and add a dollar because sure I'll tip, but I'm not going to not resent it. I unplug the cable, fold it, stuff it into the zipper of the Mighty Mighty. I'll get the rest written later. Along with the tiny reservoir of internet self-control I've built, I'm also not half the procrastinator I used to be, although I'm twice the resenter, so it balances out. On a long enough timeline, things get written. Nowadays it's about five hundred words a day, which is a lot less than when I could have caffeine. Again, K Sarah Sarah. It's still a hundred and eighty thousand words a year, which is a solid twoish books. More if they're short. Writing short books is endlessly satisfying. "I wrote four books this year!" Yeah, but they're short.
Outside is hot and sunny. Ironic twist of fate; I hear Denver, which I've just moved away from, is facing torrential rains. It certainly was when I left: Half my packing boxes have water damage, but luckily all my books made it intact. Took three days to dry my tweed cheese cutter out when I arrived.
I'll edit this guest blog post tomorrow. Heck, haven't I done enough work for one day?
Edit: It's tomorrow and I think it's ok.
Fool School by James Comins
Author: James Comins
Genre: Young Adult, gay romance, historical
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Published: 22nd May 2015
In the year of our Lord 1040, fourteen-year-old aspiring jester Tom is en route to Bath to begin his studies in the art of being a Fool, following in the footsteps of his father, and his father before him.
Along the way he meets Malcolm, a fire-haired boy with eyes green as forest glass. A Scotsman who's escaped from the ravages of the usurper Macbeth, Malcolm elects to join Tom at school. Though the journey to Bath is hazardous, it pales in comparison to what they face at the austere and vicious Fool School, where all is not as it seems. A court jester must aim to be the lowest rung on the ladder of life, and the headmaster will not abide pride.
As they journey through life's hardships together, Tom and Malcolm find they only have each other to depend upon.
::: REVIEW :::
It’s strangely gratifying when one of your audience finds joy, actual joy, in the music you make. Reassuring. The ealdorman conducts with his fat fingers, a genuine stupid smile on his lips.
There’s danger, too, in overplaying to the one man in the audience who’s happy with your performance. I overplay to this man.
“Enough,” sighs the ealdorman’s wife before long, and my tune dies away. I feel a pit of danger inside my chest. A warning. I see that the ealdorman himself is not the most powerful person in the room.
“But... eh... darling,” he murmurs, “don’t you think... couldn’t we... he’s but a boy-”
“Enough,” she repeats.
“Madame,” I find myself saying, “how may I entertain you?”
The room fills with a terrifying void, borne from her cold Welsh blood. A mist of icicles forms over the longtable draped by the red tablecloth, and people find their hands halfway to their mouths, food raised but uneaten. I fear for my life. I will be hanged now, taken to a gallowbraid and thrown off the side of the platform by this dark-eyed woman and her timid, complying husband. I will be kept in the wine cellar until dawn, swatting drunken mice, and in that moist-eyed fresh breath of day I will see the whole of creation pass before me as I take fugue steps up from the damp to the sunlight and the dew of summer’s toil, my feet drawn by the woman’s harsh words toward a fate of breathless... and... but here the ealdorman’s wife is speaking to me.
“Play a love song,” she whispers, and this is somehow worse than being executed on the gallows.
I don’t understand love. I say so. She dismisses it.
“Madame,” I repeat, “I’ll play for you, but I know nothing of love.”
“Yes,” her lips say, “that’s what I want to hear again.”
I’m frightened of her passion.
There is an old song, some say it comes from Master Boethius himself, that speaks of the devotion that the constant Penelope felt toward her husband, the warrior errant, Odysseus. It speaks of long years alone, sequestered in a house surrounded by enemy lovers like flies buzzing. They’re trying to convince her that her husband is not coming back, that she is alone, but she is strong, a fire buffeted by the wind, and she maintains, year after solitary year, tending her flame.
I cannot sing it-there’s a thousand thousand verses, well, not really, maybe five, but they’re long. However, the melody is familiar. I can play it on the recorder.
There is a very different world inside your head and in the shape of your mouth, playing a love song.
It begins in the first note.
Meet James Comins
JAMES COMINS is incapable of writing about himself in the third person. His future autobiography will probably be titled, “The Man Who Groaned His Way Toward Death.” He writes stories for children and adults.
Born down the street from Stephen King, he now divides his time between Denver and Seattle.
Prizes: $20 WIP Gift Card and 1 ebook copy of Fool School