Author’s warning: Strong language
- Never write. Anything. Ever. But if you do happen to break this first and most integral rule, make sure that you at least follow the next four without fail.
- Remember that whatever you write absolutely must be perfect. And brilliant. And stunningly original. It must make everyone who even glimpses the title weep over the emotional resonance of it. It also must make you millions, and very, VERY famous.
- Care, deeply and desperately, about what every single person in the world thinks about you and your writing. It is essential to your self-worth.
- Never try to be published. That’s so gauche. You must be discovered by accident, preferably by someone stumbling upon one of your throwaway, scribbled poems on a paper napkin. No name, of course, but they were so enchanted by your unusual way with words that they spent six months and a small fortune tracking you down.
- Give in to fear. Fear knows best. And whatever you do, never ever try anything new, for God’s sake.
- And play it again, kids, once more with feeling: the Golden Rule of How to Not be a Writer is never ever write.
This is the prologue to the young adult novel that I have been working on for the better part of the past year. It is absolutely still a work in progress, but I would love to know your thoughts. Continue reading “The Brotherhood of Adam: Prologue”
Already, autumn has come to claim the year.
I’m trying to force these rhymes
to illuminate these grey-washed streets
and the ache in my chest at the death of summer.
The slow fade of the childish glee of sun-soaked
days and languid nights, of all the time in the world
to do whatever we please. Autumn heralds crisp winds,
shorter days, the contracting of time and the slowing
of my blood, preparation for a long hibernation.
I love the sparkle of fresh fallen snow, the deep, sweet
comfort of being warm indoors while frost steals over
the world outside, the crack of a fire, and the rest
for my bones, but I long to be alive, and part of me
fears the deep stillness of winter. It fears that I will never
wake up. So I walk these damp fall streets with wistfulness
and joy and not a little bit of dread.
Author’s Note: strong language throughout
The beach. Sundown. A cool breeze lifting my hair. A tight pain in my chest, the twisting ache of nostalgia. Worse yet, nostalgia for that which has not yet passed.
A hundred yards down the beach, firelight flickers, shadows dance, laughter echoes. It touches me, but barely, like a ghost trying to make contact through the veil. I am here, but I am removed, hugging the edges. They have all submerged themselves completely, and I just can’t. I hug my sweatshirt tighter around me, let the ocean nip, playful, at my toes. The heavy crash of distant waves is a comforting infinity, endlessly repeating itself, never tiring.
Stars scatter overhead, a goddamn cliche, but they’re so bright and close I could lick them like rock candy. In the city, you sometimes forget that they exist at all, but out here, they are the prima ballerinas, en pointe at centre stage. I suddenly don’t ever want to go home.
I have known this time was coming. It is why I’m not at the bonfire, drinking and dancing and laughing. It’s why the romantic spark between Peter and I fizzled almost immediately. It’s why I feel sick to my stomach and currently contemplating wading into the waves and allowing them to pull me away from shore, to join them in their tireless, rhythmic eternity.
Tomorrow, this all ends, and I must return to my real life.
But I am different now; I am deeper, I am more fully human, more fully me, more fully awake than I’ve been in my life, and I don’t know how that fits in back home with the soulless 9-5s and the desperate, scrabbling consumerism. The well-worn path that I am expected to trod now that I’ve “got all this out of my system” – my mother’s words, not mine. I’m petrified that I will be sucked right back in without much of a fight, and I’ll wake up twenty years from now to find that the grandest, riskiest adventure of my life amounted to nothing. Meant nothing.
The tears threaten. Strains of garbled song drift on the breeze; I curse myself for the sentimentality that is causing me to mourn for this night before it has died, to weep for it rather than embrace it. I try to drag myself out of the malaise but it is like swimming against a rip current. I stop.
A distant light glimmers on the horizon. A boat way out there, reminding the world that they are alive. I wonder how long they’ve been out there, if it’s a cruise ship or a fishing vessel. If they miss their families.
The crunch of feet on wet sand, then a shoulder brushes mine. “Deep thoughts?”
I manage to dredge up a smile from somewhere. “Deep and meaningful.”
Peter sprawls out on the sand next to me. Tall, gangly, not particularly beautiful, he carries himself with a kind of grace and good humour that immediately drew me to him. The tattoos don’t hurt, either. I’ve always been a sucker for a man with some ink.
His eyes glitter in the dark, bright with alcohol and the hint of ‘this could be our one last chance.’ Things have been cool between us since that night in Belize. Not hostile, just lacking in the warmth and security that I had grown accustomed to between us.
I open my mouth to speak several times but can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound trite and insincere, so I opt for silence. Peter’s eyes are closed, his arms folded behind his head. I think he’s fallen asleep until –
“You’re missing the party, you know.”
“Don’t do this to yourself.”
“What’s that?” A slight defensive edge.
He cracks one eye open. “Deny yourself the fun because its easier to inflict the pain on yourself than feel it afterwards.” He props himself up on one elbow, all earnestness now. “Seriously, April. You’re only hurting yourself. You can either enjoy a great party and be a little sad later, or you can just be sad. I’d rather have the party.”
And he is gone, brushing his hands on his shorts, casting a smile over his shoulder, retracing his footsteps across the beach.
I sit there awhile longer, arms wrapped around my knees, arguing with myself. It is the most Herculean effort of my life to pick myself up off the beach and follow him. My heart rages in my chest, but I console myself with the idea that maybe my plane will crash before I ever have to deal with all the big questions weighing on my mind.
And then I am engulfed in voices and arms and light, and I forget to think about tomorrow, or anything much at all.
Constructive feedback and comments are always appreciated! Leave yours in the comment section below if you’re so inclined. <3
Author Warnings: dark themes, language, violence
I run from words.
I live for them, too, but mostly I run from them. I run from the stories that live inside of me and beg for escape. I run from what I feel called to do. I fear failure. And success. I fear losing the love that I have for writing, like if I submerge myself in the deep end, get really messy, really try, and succeed, I won’t love it anymore. Like it will be tarnished somehow. But even if that’s true, how is this constant shying away any better? This constant excuse-making and distraction-seeking? This constant ache in my chest that knows I am capable of more. That I owe myself more.
Ashlee Gadd once told me, “Be generous with your gift.“ Unfortunately, since getting that email, I have gone the route of fear and hoarded my gift instead. I’ve barely written anything. I’ve let my blog lapse. I’ve backed away at warp speed from my professional aspirations. I feel like something inside of me has started to rat and fester. Probably my dreams.
I’m not going to live forever. Sometimes I think that I have all the time in the world to decide to pursue my dreams. But I’m reading Marina Keegan’s book right now. She was an incredibly mature writer for 22. Her stories in particular are beautiful. She had a buttload of potential, and she was on her path, and then she died, and not a single one of us knows how much time we have left. The thought of dying with all of my words still inside me makes me sick with fear.
So I have started noticing that tug of resistance that means I want to write but I’m finding excuses not to. I had just sat down with Marina’s book, in fact, when these thoughts swirled inside my head and my hand itched to hold a pen, and I nearly cracked the book anyway, but I forced myself to write instead. Because how will I ever know if I can make something of this passion of mine if I don’t lean into the fear and actually do it?
I have to stop running from the words.
From last year, three weeks out from leaving Ireland.
* * *