Worth the wait

I apologise for posting twice in one day (sort of – it’s after midnight here), and a largely unedited piece at that. I would have waited, but it seemed a good example to complement my A to Z posts. Sam has been in my head for the last two days, and has been driving me mad! 

Worth the wait

“Talk me through the risks again.”

Sam barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes as she turned to look at her best friend. “Talk you through it, huh?” Oh, what the hell. She let her eyes roll and watched Michael’s lips twitch. “Tell me…who’s having this operation?” she demanded, even as she swallowed down her own amusement. She couldn’t help it. His green eyes were dancing with devilment, despite the underlying concern.

“You.”

“And who has considered every single angle when it comes to the procedure?”

“You,” Michael said, though he jabbed a thumb to indicate himself and pulled a laugh from her.

“Uh-huh. So, one more time, who should be freaking out about being put under the knife?”

“Nobody should be freaking out.”

They both turned at the reprimand, eyes to the door where Sam’s father stood with his arms crossed over his chest. “And don’t talk about Dr Conners like he’s a butcher. He wields a scalpel not a cleaver.”

“You two are as bad as each other,” Michael grumbled.

That earned one of her father’s grins; wide and unapologetic – just like the man. He walked over to the bed and placed a hand on her shoulder. “You’re going to be fine.” His voice held the kind of authority others feared, like his word was law.

So, when he placed his other hand on Michael’s shoulder, and said, “You too, Mikey,” her friend visibly relaxed. Or he did until a porter entered the room with a thick folder tucked beneath his arm and a harried look on his face.

“I’m here to escort you down to theatre,” he said, as though the operating rooms were situated in the bowels of hell. Hmm, she was more nervous than she thought.

Time to pull up your big girl panties. The thought made her snort out a laugh when it dawned on her she would need them soon enough.

“Okay, let’s do this,” she said, slipping out of bed, even as her father was slipping her robe around her shoulders.

“You’ve got this, kiddo,” he whispered.

Calm washed over her at the familiar words because, after everything she had endured, every treatment, the endless therapies, his reassurance had been the glue that kept her together. It was the reason she walked out of the room with her head held high.

***

Michael squirmed in the hard-backed chair, staring into his cold coffee so he didn’t have to meet David’s knowing gaze. Christ, but he wanted to pace. If he didn’t do something with the excess energy his emotions would strangle him.

The waiting was killing him, or perhaps it was the knowledge he would soon have everything he wanted – Sam.

It had been so easy in the beginning. She had asked for his patience, and he had given it to her. He loved her, so how could he not? But the longer they waited, the more their need grew until friendship wasn’t enough for either of them. Of course, Sam was strong one. She wouldn’t even kiss him. Not until after the surgery.

“You know,” David said, conversationally. “You have every right to be angry that she held out on you for so long.”

The laugh tore loose from his aching chest. He was shocked that he had it in him to laugh, though Sam’s father had a way of cutting to the heart of the matter. That, at least, wasn’t a surprise.

“I understand why she wants to wait,” he said, because it was the truth. This was about her, it had always been about her, and she gave him everything he needed. It wasn’t Sam’s fault that he was an impatient fool desperate to begin their life together.

“Thank you.” David’s large hand covered his own, and he looked up into watery brown eyes the colour of his daughter’s. The man never hid his emotions, yet in all the years Michael had known him, David had only cried once – at his wife’s funeral. “Thank you for always seeing her.”

He was too overwhelmed to reply. Thankfully, David took pity on him. He pulled his hand back and rose to his feet. “Why don’t we take a walk through the grounds. If nothing else, it will settle that nervous tick you seem to have developed.”

Michael looked down to where his leg was bouncing, and then back up. Like Sam, her father understood what he needed, and right now, he needed to move.

They had just left the cafeteria when David’s phone buzzed, thwarting their plans. Not that it mattered. The alert was from the nursing staff. Sam was in recovery.

“You’ve got this, kiddo,” David said, making him laugh again. It didn’t shock him this time. Not now the wait was over.

***

The moment Sam awoke, she was hit by a wave of pain so strong it took her breath. She knew she should hit the morphine button, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Not yet.

Instead, she concentrated on what was beneath the pain, a dual sensation she struggled to process. She certainly wouldn’t have been able to put it into words. She felt at once complete and empty, though the latter was more an absence of the weight between her legs. That heavy, awful appendage that seemed to pull on her soul. And really, wasn’t that the thing she couldn’t truly explain, the loathing she’d felt for something that formed part of her body. It hadn’t belonged. She might have been born with male genitalia, but she didn’t have to like it.

Now it was gone, and the knowledge made her breath hitch. It was finally over, and regardless of whether it made sense to anyone else, she could finally be who she was meant to be, without a physical reminder that there had been a mix up in the organ department.

“I can’t decide if that’s a smile or a grimace,” her father said, rising from the chair beside the bed. “Press the button, stubborn girl.”

Her finger moved to trigger the morphine into her system as she turned to look at him. When their eyes locked, her father smiled so wide it had to hurt. Her cheeks certainly did. “I’m okay, Pop.” Everything they felt passed silently between them – there was no need for further words.

Her father nodded, glancing briefly across the room before he turned to leave.

A second later, Michael was filling her field of vision. “Hi,” she whispered.

“Hi.” His smile lit the green of his irises. “How do you feel?”

Sam didn’t even need to think about it. “Whole. I feel whole.”

“I was hoping you’d say that,” he said, running a hand down her cheek. And then he kissed her. It was everything she had hoped it would be.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

 

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Under no illusions #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

UUnder no illusions 

When my cousin was younger, she had an imaginary friend. Her parents would even set an extra place for her at the table. I remember wondering what my own dinner table would look like if I invited all my imaginary friends – the ones who follow me around in my head.  

It’s often one of the ‘getting to know you’ questions – if you could invite ten people to a dinner party, who would you choose? – They might be real people (past or present), they might even be characters from your favourite books. But can you imagine a room filled with the characters you’ve created. What would that look like? Would it be beautiful chaos, or a little frightening!  

Not difficult to picture though, is it? Because, the thing is, although we’re under no illusions they’re real – except in a metaphysical kind of way – we live with them every day. 

Readers experience it too, when the characters they love become three-dimensional. It’s one of the ways we connect. Although, as I said earlier in the challenge, there’s understanding the passion we feel, and then there’s trying to assimilate that with the way writers talk to the characters in their heads. And sure, it can be jarring. But, for a writer, it’s all part of the fun! 

Thanks for stopping by 

Mel     

Taking liberties #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

TTaking liberties 

I had intended to talk about titles today because, like the dreaded blurb, we often shy away from them. I won’t go as far as to say we’d rather write the novel than title it, but still…there’s pressure! 

Instead, I’d like to talk about creative/poetic license, or taking liberties – basically whatever you want to call the technique writers use to bend the rules. We do this for many reasons, though mainly for effect – to engage and draw our readers in. It could be that we break the conventions of grammar, not because we’re arrogant and believe the usual rules don’t apply, but because it serves a purpose. We want to entertain, to amuse, and to create a positive response. That’s not to say that using poetic license isn’t criticised or misunderstood. It’s just a risk we take. As long as we’re careful, our readers will understand what we’re trying to achieve. Plus, a lot of the decisions we make are part of style – a recognisable voice in our writing. 

It’s easier to bend the rules if the world we’ve created isn’t dependent on factual accuracy (crime, for example). That being said, you can create a whole town (or even another dimension) and apply different rules. It gives you more freedom, but not exactly carte blanche. You still have to follow the laws of human nature and at least some social order!  

Some writers use creative license to challenge societal norms, perhaps to educate or raise awareness. If done right, this can be powerful and highly effective. 

Thanks for stopping by 

Mel  

Scribble away #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

SScribble away 

Some people might wonder what all the fuss is about…so what if a writer uses ink instead of a keyboard to work their magic? Visually speaking, most images convey writers as sitting behind a computer or – something I’ve always dreamed of owning – tapping away at an old-fashioned typewriter. That said, if we’re talking a visual language, in BSL you would use the action for writing on paper. I digress… 

It doesn’t really matter if it gets the job done. In truth (and being the versatile writers that we are!) it’s probably a combination of the two. I used to be stubborn about my own process, and even convinced myself that the writing was better if I used pen and paper first. Using ink and letting the story flow is still my method of choice, especially if I’m suffering from writer’s block, but I’m more confident going straight to the keyboard now. I guess part of it stems from the way my creative energy translates itself. I love the freedom writing by hand gives me, and it does feel like the words come from a well inside me that I tap into whenever I have a pen in my hand. It’s difficult to explain to those who don’t write. The experience of letting go and allowing the story to tell itself – it’s a beautiful kind of magic.  

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Rack your brains #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

RRack your brains 

Let’s start with a scenario…you’re scribbling (or tapping) away, totally in the zone and the characters are behaving themselves so it’s smooth sailing. You’re totally going with the flow, your mind is racing, the words pouring forth, and you start to wonder why you ever thought writing was so hard. Then the inevitable happens, you stumble over a simple word choice and reality hits you like a slap upside the head. 

I’m over dramatising, of course, but it happens more often than we like. The sudden and overwhelming desire to find the perfect word to describe a feeling, communicate meaning, or simply connect a reader to the scene. Flicking through a thesaurus doesn’t always help because the word or expression likes to hide in the deep recesses of our minds – on the tip of the tongue (or should that be fingers?) 

We can be perfectionists when it comes to our work. We want to get it right – to do justice and reflect what is in our hearts. Sometimes we are so passionate about the tale we’re weaving, we trip ourselves up over the little things.  

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes we just need to take a step back. Use the tools we’ve developed and hope the answer will come to us. When it does, it will probably be one of those inopportune times I talked about. Like deep in the night, when our minds wake up and we’re grateful there’s a notepad beside the bed so all is not lost! 

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Quiet please #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

QQuiet please 

Writers love their solitude. There’s nothing quite like being in the zone, able to give yourself over to the story without any distractions. Many writers crave the quiet, which is fine unless that develops into social isolation. It’s often hard to make the transition from being in a writing space, to being around others in the ‘real’ world.  

That said, a quiet space isn’t always possible. For some it’s a luxury. So, in those cases, when we are bitten by the bug and we have to write – like, right NOW – we need to adapt to the environment. That might mean writing in a café, at the kitchen table surrounded by family (which basically equals chaos), or somewhere outdoors – like the park. 

We’re writers, so we go with the flow. But whether you can ‘switch off’ and write to your hearts content while drowning out a cacophony of background sounds, eventually something is going to invade the bubble. That’s when we need to make like we’re in a library, put up signs if necessary (sshhh!) and negotiate a little quiet time. 

shhh.gif

Thanks for stopping by 

Mel 

Picking out of a hat #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

PPicking out of a hat 

Let’s talk about names. There are many techniques writers use to find the perfect name for their characters. We often talk about them as though they’re our children, so it’s kind of funny to get caught researching baby names on google and having to talk family members down from a ledge! But seriously, name generators can be useful, as can reader polls. Then there are the times we sit with the characters awhile, get to know them better, and like a new born (kind of), the name we choose just seems to fit. 

Okay…moving on.  

Whether you write out a description, or just close your eyes and conjure an image in your head, a name often follows without too much effort. If you enjoy to wing it, then names often come naturally as the story begins to unfold. Other times you might have a name, along with characteristics circling around in your mind long before you put pen to paper or sit down at a computer.     

As with anything else when it comes to writing, there are occasions when the process breaks down. Times when we can’t think of a name, or the one we choose isn’t the right fit. It’s easy to get tied up in knots, especially with secondary characters or those who later become an integral part of the story. Attempts to change a name part way through a novel never really pan out, at least in my experience, because by then it almost feels like you’re stealing the character’s identity. Yes, I know how that sounds! 

Needless to say, we take the whole naming ceremony seriously! 

Thanks for stopping by 

Mel    

Obsessive much? #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

OObsessive much? 

For writers, the editing process is tricky business. Once the first draft is finished, the revision stage begins and by the time it’s ready for another set of eyes, our own are crossed! 

We go through it so many times we start to obsess over the little things, like comma placement. The more we deliberate, the more we doubt ourselves and then we start to pepper them everywhere. Well, okay, not really, but I do have a tendency to get comma happy! 

It’s not surprising, either. As writers we have a tendency to over-analyse. I can’t send an email without checking it a dozen times, and don’t even get me started on text messages. I could write an essay on text speak and the use of acronyms, or worse abbreviations. 

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Night owl #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

NNight owl 

Today mainly relates to writing binges, and since my binges invariably happen during the night, I took a few liberties with the title. What can I say? I’m a night owl. Although it’s fair to say that many a creative soul would fall into the same category. Either that or an early bird – those up at the crack of dawn with a spring in their step and a muse on their back! In either case there are less people around to interrupt! 

I’m not a particularly disciplined writer. Perhaps if I followed a schedule, I’d get more done. But I’ve found that I’m more productive when I follow my inner clock, the rebellious gatekeeper controlling my creativity. It flows without restraint…perhaps because there aren’t any! 

Still, it’s not entirely healthy when I give in to the urge and binge on words throughout the night. It’s like a writing delirium, when I can’t stop because the ideas are coming so thick and fast I can’t keep up. It’s almost like something takes over. When the fog finally clears, and I’m hovering somewhere between elation and exhaustion, I’m surprised at the results on the page.  

writing binges

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

My bad #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

 

MMy bad

Yesterday I talked about the difficulties writers face when it comes to letting go. Today is closely related to that, or it is in the sense of how we view our work. If we’re talking facial expressions, this time it’s less like we’re sucking on a lemon (cringe) and more like we’ve discovered that it’s impossible to make lemonade out of the drivel in front of us.

Whether that’s a confidence thing, a state of mind, a step out of our comfort zone, or we’ve just hit a rough patch, there are times we hate the work. And I’m talking serious dislike here, the kind of thing where you want to burn it, tear the pages into confetti, or jab at the delete button like you’re holding back aliens…(come on, you remember Space Invaders!)

That might seem a wee bit temperamental, but we are nothing if not passionate about our work. I’ve found taking a step back works for me, in fact, more often than not it’s how the writer’s block starts, so I don’t have a choice. Sleeping on it is always a good thing, getting out of the space so you don’t do something crazy like destroy it all (the work that is), or techniques to that effect.

destroy everything.gif

On the plus side, once you have your objectivity back, you can get stuck in and start those revisions. That’s when the fun begins because, even if the writing is bad, at least you have something to work with!

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

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