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Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

 

I’ve never been very good doing stuff just for me. I’ve always had to have some outside force, like my parents or teachers, to really keep me motivated to hit a goal. That’s the little kid in me still striving for approval. I’ll do whatever it is for them, but forget doing it just for myself, because I’m not worth it. That’s the sinister secret of depression. Too many people hear “depression” and expect you to be crying your eyeballs out for no known reason, but the truth is most of the time depression is just a blanket of doubt shrouding your every being, weighing you down and nit-picking your self worth to death.

The last few months I’ve really let the depression have way too much control over me. When you’re constantly fighting a chronic condition, there come times when you just don’t have the energy to make even the slightest protest against it, and that’s where I’ve been. I just didn’t care anymore, because nothing mattered and the blackness would continue without end until my urn corroded into dust on some mantel somewhere. I was just so tired. I’m still so tired. But I had a brief moment of clarity a couple weeks ago, during which I finally connected to the notion that I’m a writer. Yeah, I’ve called myself that for a long time, but I was all talk and very little do. I may still be, but I’ve decided maybe it’s time to try some new things and see if I can shake something loose.

For a number of years now I’ve been on what I consider to be my natural circadian rhythm – sleeping during the day and up at night. I’ve always preferred the night, mainly because it’s usually quieter, cooler and not so eye-throbbing bright. I’ve always felt I’ve done my best creative work at night. But in looking back, I’ve learned that I’m not necessarily at my optimal productive capacity. See, when you don’t’ HAVE to be somewhere at any specific time, when there is no one expecting or demanding anything of you, it’s very easy to keep putting things off. Nah, I don’t feel like it – I’ll do that tomorrow. What’s the point in getting dressed? I’m not going anywhere. It’s cool, and dark and safe in here – I’ll just stay in bed. Let me tell you right now – it’s a trap.

Getting into/staying in a regular routine is a vital part of combating depression[1]. And while my “routine” was sort of regular as far as when I slept and ate, there wasn’t a whole lot else to it. During a discussion with my ever-patient and supportive husband, two things came to light: 1) writing was the last thing I was doing in my “day”, and 2) my husband didn’t like sleeping alone. I had so isolated myself in my supposed quest for the creative muse that the two things most important to me were, in reality, on the back shelf. I was not living up to my half of the bargain made when we decided I was going to stay home and try life as a word hack. And that’s when it really hit home that I wasn’t doing this just for me, but for both of us.

So I’ve made a major scheduling change. I’ve flipped back to a daytime existence. My alarm (yes, I’m actually using it) is now set for 8:00am. The morning routine is now the same as when I was working for someone else, minus the power suits. And after breakfast I head to the office and get to writing. That is now the FIRST thing I do in the day. That is now my JOB. Monday is my blog and any business related writing things (queries, submissions, research, etc.). Tuesday is short fiction day, whether I like it or not. The rest of the week is scratching out the latest novel. Weekends tend to be a crapshoot because the husband is home and a lot of the household errands end up being done then, but sometimes words get snuck onto computer pages here and there.

I do the household chores and make dinner beginning in late afternoon, and then spend some rare conscious moments with that big lug I agreed to live with the rest of my life. A couple hours are spent watching TV and working on needlework or weaving projects, and occasionally I end the night off with killing a few things on a computer game. Then I go to bed. With my husband. Snoring and farting and blanket wrangling aside (he puts up with so much from me), it’s been really nice feeling him next to me. Research has indicated that sleeping with your partner has some positive health benefits,[2] and that certainly can’t hurt either.

So here I go into the second week of this change. It’ll be a few weeks more before it settles in. I’m still battling the urge to sleep in the day (that bright thing in the sky – it burns the Precious!), mainly because my nighttime sleep isn’t regular yet. But I’ve already written more in this last week than I did the two months previous. Sadly, not really saying much, but that too will come with regularity. At least, I hope so. Wish me luck.

PS: I’ve made some changes on my site, adding a page where I’ll be sharing my short stories. Check it out and let me know what you think. https://ckendsley.wordpress.com/

© Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

[1] “Lifestyle Tips for Treatment-Resistant Depression”

[2] “The Powerful Benefits of Sleeping Together”

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I’ve decided I need to do more short fiction, namely short stories in particular (anything less than 7,500 words). I came to this conclusion because sometimes I just need a break from novel writing, but mainly I need representation of my work out there in the real world. There are a crap-ton of publications and contests waiting for word fools like myself to feed them. I looked around at the writers I like to read and to a person they all had bunches of stuff besides their full-length novels. Besides the additional (hopefully positive) exposure that comes with short story publication and/or contest wins, there’s also that little bit of cash that usually accompanies such things. A definite bonus in a cash-strapped environment. Plus, I’ve always been intimidated by short stories and one should tackle head on that which makes one most afraid.

One writing day a week will now be dedicated to short fiction writing. I have a couple ideas to get started with, and will be trawling the world for more. Since I’m a science fiction geek, most of my stories will head in that direction, and some will even occasionally show their faces here. You’ve been warned.

And, in that vein, below is one I did for a contest a couple years ago. I never heard anything back from the contest so I’m assuming it was a bust, but I still like it and thought it would be fun to share. It was one of those “write a story to match this photograph” kind of things. The photograph was of a modern era middle-aged man sipping tea on a train. The story that follows is what my little brain did with it.

 ****************************************************************

From Afar

 He had seen her on the platform, a leggy brunette with luminous green eyes. Fresh-faced with that type of glowing soft skin you only get from Mother Nature, she walked down the aisle with a dancer’s grace.

She was so much prettier in person.

Watching her melt into a padded seat and then shuffling her bag underneath, he wondered if she was off to another film set, or vacation. Not that it really mattered either way. He was content to enjoy the long ride up the mountains before their next stop. It would be plenty of time.

She was recognized by several people and graciously signed their proffered memorabilia as the train eased away from the station. Not a big celebrity, not like some of the others, but she was a favorite of housewives and college kids and was often seen on the cover of one fashion magazine or another. Within a few minutes she had fulfilled the demand for her attention and sat back to gaze out the window at the passing landscape.

She looked tired, he thought. The sharp tang of lemon rose from the tea setting the steward placed before him, and he pondered on the reasons why she had that look while making sure the steward had indeed brought Earl Grey, and not green tea or chamomile.

No, the look was something else. Glancing back up, he saw that it was a pale shadow of remorse on her lovely cheekbones. A weary ache of loss sat on her shoulders. Maybe that’s why she had taken public transport instead of a private car or plane. Being lost in the crowds could chase off that sort of feeling, for short periods. Just long enough to make it from Point A to Point B. Sometimes that’s all one needed to survive.

Though he didn’t count himself a fan, he had seen a number of her appearances on that comedy serial, and a couple of those low-budget horror movies, too. Neither was much of a stretch for most actors and she had done her job as well as any. There was potential there, despite only being allowed the ubiquitous beautiful bimbo roles. So sad when potential was wasted.

Dribbling honey into the tea, he envisioned her as Lady Macbeth, wringing her hands and babbling about spots. He could see that she had that kind of darkness in her, that kind of depth. It was something he knew well, since he saw it every day in the mirror. Though not in the acting profession, his job often gave him opportunities to play various roles: the tough protector, the gentle rescuer. And that one time in Istanbul, with the clown hat, but that was so long in the past it was just a shadow of memory anymore.

This time there was no need for such theatrics.

He sipped his tea and watched as she stared out the window, and occasionally looked out his own. The train chugged up the grade into the mountains and within minutes snow could be seen scattered on the ground. Then more snow, and then lots of snow, and then great mounds of snow on either side of the tracks. The evergreens were laden with white and he could almost feel the heavy silence of the mountain forest. It was hours still until dark, but a grey haze crept over the landscape as clear skies were supplanted by threatening clouds.

How appropriate, he mused. A dark day for a dark soul.

He hadn’t always been such. His youth had been much like anyone else’s. Normal parents who worked much too hard for what they had. Average school grades with average friends who had built jump ramps for their bikes on the back lot of the local pub. Good with his hands and a football, he had made a minor local name for himself in the rugby league. He even still played, when time allowed.

But something had changed somewhere. He wasn’t even sure where or when anymore, just that it had. He could empathize with others, from a distance, but there came a point when he could just turn it off and feel nothing. That’s what made him so good at what he did.

He watched the sway of her hips with admiration when she walked down the aisle to the restroom. She was truly a beautiful woman, and in another time he might have been interested more than professionally. But this was not the time.

Using his tablet, he pulled up the maps for the next station and examined them closely. It had a small platform, with really only one way out. He knew from his earlier research that many of the train’s passengers would be getting off there, ski season being in full swing. It would make for a crowded exodus, people bumping and brushing each other in their zeal to make an afternoon run or two before the clouds covered the mountain for the night. The perfect cover.

He slid the tablet back into his bag, covering the pistol with attached silencer therein.

No one would ever notice, and she wouldn’t feel a thing.

 

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved

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