Friday, April 30, 2010

week three: the monarch

In a place like this, there isn't much to do. It's the morning and the sun has just come up. I'm looking out my window and I see that Spring has come and is full. Nature is busy flourishing. The trees are at their greenest and the flowers have blossomed in every color I know. The grass is growing on the hills and sometimes I'll see a rabbit frolicking in the new-found beauty. I love the Springtime. It's quiet in my room though. They built it so I can't hear much from outside, but if I listen closely, I can hear the birds singing. Their songs are beautiful. I wonder what they sing about. And then beautiful butterfly landed outside my window. I know this kind. It's a Monarch butterfly. It's wings are orange and black, with just a touch of white. It is splendid. I put my hand on the window because I want to touch it. But I can't, because I'm not like the Monarch. I'm not like the Monarch because I'm not free.

They put me in my room when they want to and they let me out when they want to. I do what they want and not what I want. Sometimes it seems that they think I don't know the difference, but I do. I know what it means to be free. To be free is to be like the butterfly. The butterfly doesn't have to wait on breakfast time to leave his room in the morning. Someone knocked on my door and then it opened. It was the man in white. He told me to come with him. Yeah, it was breakfast time.

When I walked down to breakfast, I saw other people like me. They were coming out of their rooms too. Just like me, they weren't free either, but not like me, they don't care. I sit down at a table and I eat the eggs and the bacon and the hash browns. It tastes fine, but I don't really care. Then the man in white brings me my pills. They look like candy, but candy is fun. Pills are not fun. I tried to figure out what they do. I worked hard, but after I took them I didn't care about what they were. That's when I figured it out. Just like this place is a prison for my body, the pills are a cage for my mind. They trap me into thinking about what they want me to think about.

I don't want to take them, but the man in white is big and he scares me. So I put them in my mouth and I use my chocolate milk to make them go down my throat. Chocolate milk is my favorite thing they give me. It comes in cartons, I hate the cartons, but it's what's inside that matters. It's like this prison. The prison doesn't matter, it's who is locked up in here. And that's me. I matter, right?

Then they take me to the other tables. The mind-prison works by now. I don't think about freedom, about the ghosts, or about the monsters in my mind. No, they say I think like a normal person. Normal, normal, normal, just like everyone else. I don't want to be like everyone else, but here I am. I'm drawing dogs with crayons, making macaroni pictures, or playing Connect Four with Doris. I always win Connect Four. Doris is more broken than me. She doesn't know her lefts and rights and she can't even talk straight. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be like her. I can't be though. I'm just crazy, she's crazy and stupid.

The tricks they pull at this place are pretty good, but they don't fool me. We aren't free, but they want us to think we are. You can see outside, but the windows won't open. Even if you broke them, there are still the bars. Sometimes they tell me lies like how they make us safe. I told them that I don't want to be safe, that I want to be free. All I got was their assurance that I am free, but that's just not right. They're wrong. One day I'll be free like the Monarch and I'll show them what it means to be free.

The best part of the day is when I get to be with Robin. She's my therapist, but I like to think that she's my friend. We talk about things, sometimes happy things, sometimes sad things, sometimes angry things. She's like the birds. Robin is beautiful and she sings nice too. I asked her to sing to me once and she did, but then she wouldn't do it again. That made me sad, but I didn't tell her. She talks to me like I matter. Robin talks to me and makes me feel good. Part of me wants to love her, but another part of me tells me there's something wrong.

When they put me back in my room, I got in bed. I laid there and I thought about things. I thought about the San Diego Padres, I thought about the Queen of England, I thought about Star Trek, and then I thought about the Monarch butterfly. I want to be like the butterfly. That's when I thought of my plan.

When breakfast came and they gave me my pills, I didn't take them. I pretended to but I didn't swallow them. My mind was free, like the Monarch. Instead of drawing dogs with crayons, I drew monsters and shadows. I didn't play Connect Four with Doris, instead I read books. I didn't know how much I liked reading better than Connect Four until my mind was free. I read about a lot things. Everything seemed different, everything was scarier and I didn't feel as safe, but I knew I was free at last.

When it was time to talk to Robin, I told her about how I was feeling. I tried to not tell her about not taking the pills, but she figured it out. That's also when I figured Robin out. She wasn't trying to help me, she was just another part of the prison. She tried to do something I read about called manipulation. She made things seem one way, but they really went a different one. I was betrayed. The men in white came and they made me take my pills and then they put me in bed early to punish me. The sun was still up. It's not right!

When I woke up again, I looked out and I saw the butterfly again. It looked so happy. I felt happy for it because it was not like me. It was free. Everything outside is free and I'm stuck here on a hard bed doing everything I don't want to do. I hate it. I hate it so much. I watched the butterfly some more and then something bad happened. A bird came and the bird saw the Monarch. It flew in and then it ate the Monarch butterfly. I was angry at the bird. The bird took away the Monarch's freedom. I thought about that and I knew that Robin was more like the birds than I thought before. They were pretty and they could sing, but they took freedom from the butterflies like me.

Remember when I said that yesterday I read about things? One thing that I read was about the Monarch butterfly. I learned a lot about them. I learned how they live in North America and migrate every year. I saw lots of cool pictures of them and I think they're my favorite now. But the best thing I learned is that if you take their freedom, you'll regret it. The bird that ate the Monarch is going to die because the Monarch is poisonous.

I am the Monarch. Like the Monarch, I've been eaten. They ate my mind and my freedom so that I'm not what I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to be flying free, but instead I'm stuck inside this dark place. People always told me that life had a meaning and that we have a purpose. There is something for all of us to do. I know what I'm supposed to do now. I am the Monarch and I have to do what Monarchs do: I have to kill the bird that takes away my freedom.

Friday, April 23, 2010

week two: the bureaucrat


Alone with nothing but paperwork, Blythe Redding sat in the waiting room. It was exactly typical of what a waiting room should be. Worn furniture, nondescript magazines, a subtle smell of lilac-scented air freshener, and a respectful silence added only more to the monotonous dullness. The atmosphere was cliché enough to be noticed, which was something nearly respectable, but mediocrity stands only as mediocrity, no matter how extraordinarily mediocre.


That was his cue to proceed. Blythe stood to his feet and carried himself into the office. The floor creaked in a subtle way, but only enough to be noticeable in near-absolute silence. The interior of the office was just as bromidic as the waiting room. He could recount the details. There was a tired desk, rusted filing cabinets, a musty smell of old papers, a slowly spinning ceiling fan, and an overbearing sense of bureaucracy. The most remarkable feature, however, was the only one living. The man sitting behind the desk wore a slick haircut that perfectly matched his suave black suit. There was a fancy delicacy to him that completely mismatched his nominal surroundings, yet he was exactly what Blythe would expect.

“Take a seat,” the bureaucrat told Blythe as he looked over a file. “I'll take your LV form.”

Blythe suddenly noticed the worn-out chair in front of the desk. He hadn't seen it before, but his observational skills weren't always up to par. As he handed the paperwork to the man, Blythe sat down. The chair could never be noted for its comfort, but it wasn't uncomfortable either.

The man read as he took notes, “Redding, Blythe. Born in Jackson?”

“That's right.”

The man then looked up, “I am going to skip the small talk and pleasantries in favor of moving this right along, do you object?”

“Uh, no, go right ahead; let's just get this done.”

“Very well,” the man picked up his pen again and resumed note-taking. “Let us see here, ah, you married. Bethany Hill Redding, is that correct?”

Memories filled his mind. He could see her maple hair swaying in the breeze, contrasting her chestnut eyes. She held a white rose and inhaled the sweet fragrance. The scent filled Blythe's nose despite the flower being away from him. There was a sultry smile on her face as she looked at him. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and it filled his heart with joy just to think of her. They were together atop a lonely hill marked by a single oak tree. Then he remembered. This was where he had proposed to her. Memory then flashed forward to their wedding day. That first sight of his bride in her stunning white dress was absolutely unforgettable. And then there was that first kiss as a wed couple. How could he forget?

“Yes, it is,” Blythe answered, barely concealing a smile.

“And you honeymooned in the the Smoky Mountains?”

There was a single picture that had managed to capture those two weeks perfectly. To the outside observer, it might not have been anything special, but to Blythe it was spectacular. The picture was the two of them standing before a beautiful mountain vista, both of them smiling and projecting a duet of true love and happiness. It was curious to note that his fondest memories weren't of the consummation of the marriage, but of the time spent together. Again, details filled his mind. There was the crisp mountain air, the subtle commotion of the people around them, and the solemnly absolute focus on his bride. It was about them and no one else.

“We did,” Blythe could no longer hide the smile. But it turned into a look of dazed curiosity as he realized that there was a certain unfamiliarity to the memories. They were undeniably his but there was something disjointed about them. Words would not come to him to describe it, so he set the feelings aside.

“And you never had any children?”

“None,” Blythe quietly answered as his facial expression became one of remorse. His mind went to the doctor's office. He remembered the balding doctor explaining to Blythe and his dear Bethany that they could never have children because she was barren. Details again surfaced: there was the sterile smell, the mix of white and ocean green tiles, the various medical instruments lying around, and finally the droning hum of the air conditioner. He could recall standing next to his wife as she sobbed. His own feelings were of sorrow, disappointment, and even a hint of anger. Blythe had always wanted children and a part of him regretted marrying a woman who could never conceive. Still, he loved her.

“Perhaps you should have adopted.”

“Perhaps,” Blythe answered. It was then that he remembered that she didn't want to adopt because it would only be a reminder of how she could not conceive them herself. It was a selfish decision, but she felt confidently that she could not fully love children that were not her own. Blythe wanted to adopt. Part of the reason was that he wanted a legacy; he wanted to leave some mark on the world. Children were the best way to guarantee such a legacy, especially if they were well-raised.

“It says here that you were an accountant, correct?”

“Yeah, I like to work with numbers, especially practical numbers like money,” Blythe told the bureaucrat as he recalled his job. His desk was in a cubicle and he was surrounded by other accountants. Blythe would sit there for hours crunching numbers. The clack of the keyboard, the soft ticking on the calculator, the snapping of the receipt machine, and the humming of the printer. To many, it was a dull job but to Blythe it was exactly what he wanted: stability. His job looked like it was going nowhere but up. His coworkers liked him and he was consistent at his job.

“But then you were caught up when your company downsized, or more simply, you were fired.”

Blythe only answered with a nod as that meeting with his boss came into his head. It was such a cold day, both figuratively and literally. His boss was an uncaring man who Blythe swore fired the required number based on his personal taste in personality. Blythe remembered nothing of that day except for how rejected and disappointed he felt as he his dreams went down the toilet. He had just started a separate bank account with which he was saving for retirement. The plan was to buy a nice house close to the Smoky Mountains. But there was no longer any income and no longer any purpose to it all.

“That was when your relationship with your wife started to deteriorate.”

It was true. She tried to hide her disappointment in him, but Blythe knew that she resented him for being fired. Suspicion never left them and they would fight. He still loved her, very much, and part of him still knew she loved him. But the constant questioning and the change in status quo shifted their relationship. Words were tossed between them that should never be said to any human being. Love may have been felt, but it wasn't expressed. Soon, even the feeling was gone and all that was left was disdain.

“And then there was-”

“The affair,” Blythe knew what was coming. The memories of figuring it out and finally catching her came to mind. Anger swelled through his body, and this even overshadowed his sorrow. In his mind he wondered how it had come to this . Where had the love gone? What did this man have that he did not? He remembered the beautiful woman from before and only saw regret and anger. The love of his life was now the great betrayal. She no longer loved him, that was obvious. So, why should he love her?

“So that was when you killed her.”

Those words sank in deep and after tears swelled up in his eyes, he remembered the cold steel of the gun pressing on his hand. Her face was remorseful as she looked up at him. There she was: naked and in bed with the other man. Blythe could care less who he was. With only a second's hesitation he pulled the trigger: twice for each of the adulterers.

Blythe replied to the bureaucrat with tears running down his cheeks, “Yes, but- No. That can't be right.” That feeling of unfamiliarity arose again and this time it was stronger than ever. He felt the memories and they seemed real, but something was screaming that something was wrong. “No, that never happened!”

“I'm afraid these documents are infallible, now, let's continue, shall we?”

“No! I didn't kill my wife!”

“We can discuss afterward, let us finish,” the man went back to the folder as Blythe resigned sobbing. “Ah, here we were. You then took the gun and pulled it on yourself. You took the coward's way out.”

Blythe remembered looking down the barrel before putting the gun to his head and taking his own life. But it wasn't real. It couldn't be!“Wait, if I'm dead, then how am I here?”

The man leaned back in his chair and chuckled, “You mean you don't know why you're here?”

“No, and I demand an explanation!”

“Mister Redding,” the man stood and went to the window behind him. “You're dead. Dead as dead can be.”

“That can't be true,” Blythe rose to his feet with his fists clenched.

“It is my job to evaluate your life and determine where you go from here. Your record shows you have a double homicide, one of those being the one you vowed to love, and a suicide. I'm afraid the only path I can give you is damnation.”

The words didn't quite register, he didn't understand what had just been said. So he asked, “But this office? Why an office?”

“This is how your imagination, your mind, chose to make his place look. It's different for everyone. People see different details and people go different places. No one is the same.”

Blythe sat back down, “But those memories... they seemed so unreal!”

“Because those are not truly your memories.”


“Mister Redding, you were killed by a drunk driver at the age of seven. Do you remember?”

He remembered being on the road at night, which was blatantly disobeying his parents. It was cold out, but the street! He could at last know what it as like to walk upon true rebellion. His parents had told him never to walk on the street. And he would find out exactly why. Dead center in the road he stood when he saw the headlights rushing towards him. He screamed just before it all went away. Tears rolled down Blythe's face again, “Yes, I remember.”

“It is unfortunate you had to die so young.”

Blythe wiped the tears away and then it hit him, “But if I died so young, then what was all that with the wife and the murders? And how can I remember it?”

The man sighed, “Because those would be your memories. Those would be your memories had you not died on the road.”

Blythe stood back up and anger flared, “You're judging me based on things that never even happened?!”

“Blythe, you died as a child. You died before there was anything with which to judge. So, we were forced to assume that you hadn't been killed and then see what would happen. What happened was that you killed your own wife, her affair, and yourself.”

“But that didn't happen! Couldn't my life have gone a different way?!”

“No,” the man answered. “I could never explain it to you and make it satisfactory. This is how events would have played out and there is no questioning it. You were killed young and you were given the chance, like everyone else, to live a full life. You have the memory of a full life, but based on the person that you are, you made the wrong choices. We care less about what actually happened and more about the quality of the person before us. Unfortunately, you do not meet our standards.”

“Standards for- for what?”

“Mister Redding, perhaps you missed it before. Your punishment is eternal damnation.”

“I'm- I'm- No! No!”

The man sighed, “I can't do anything about it. I'm sorry.”

Blythe fell to the ground, barely catching himself before his face hit the creaky floor. After propping himself up, he then realized he had only one real question. The one thing he found he cared about through all of this, “But what about Bethany? What will happen to her?”

The man answered, “She hasn't died yet, Blythe. She never met you. I honestly don't know, but if she was an adulteress in your life, she will be in her own. It is unfortunate, but you will get to meet her in hell. The saddest part about that though is that you won't care.”

“I won't care?”

“No, such is hell, I'm afraid,” the man came over to Blythe and took a knee. He looked down at the damned man and then put his hand on his shoulder. “I'm sorry, but it's time for you to go.”

“No! No! NO!” Blythe screamed as he vanished into abyss.

The man stood back up, straightened out his suit and returned to his desk. He took another look at Blythe's file before he put it back in the filing cabinet. The room then shifted into the imaginings of another person. It was time to get back to work.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

music for inspiration

One of the great necessities of writing is inspiration. Without inspiration, there is nothing to write about. One of the curiosities of inspiration is that it comes from just about everywhere. You can be inspired by something that's happened to you, or maybe be a picture you've seen. One of my favorite, and most frequent things to be inspired by is music. Every night before I nod off to sleep, I put on my headphones and put my Zune on shuffle. For some reason, I get my best ideas just before I drift into my slumber. It is a constant rabble of hit and miss, but I've come to find that certain music stirs my imagination better than the rest.

Let's take a look at ten general guidelines to inspiring music. These aren't rules, just guidelines and there are always exceptions. Remember: inspiration comes from everywhere.

1.Find music that you like. You aren't going to do anything other than annoy yourself by listening to music you dislike. For myself, I really don't like pop music and I'm not going to be thinking anything amazing with Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus as accompaniment.

2.Listen to new music. Branch out and try something new. You might find something you really like and then that feeling of newness and exploration in the sound will give you creative motivation.

3.Find music that is musically complex. Simple songs generally don't have much to them, but if you find a song that you need to break down its parts in order to appreciate it, you'll probably find yourself inspired by it. Think about what images or feelings each part gives you and take inspiration from that.

4.Listen to instrumentals. There are plenty of artists that write songs without words and while some don't appreciate this, there is a certain advantage to not having lyrics. What is that advantage? It enables you to create your own imagery based on what the music makes you feel. Perhaps that imagery could be your next story?

5.Find music with good, thoughtful lyrics. You can't always only listen to instrumentals, there has to be some kind of balance. So, if you're going to listen to lyrics, why not listen to something that provokes thought? Find lyrics that promote imagery or thought about a particular topic. Thinking is always good for writing.

6.Find unpopular music. What are your friends listening to and talking about? Okay, don't listen to that so much. Why? It's popular and you're likely to derive ideas that they've already thought of. When you listen to music that no one else really listens to, you kind of make it your own. There's definitely something to that sense of belonging that makes you feel you.

7.Find unique music. There are a lot of budding artists out there who are exploring music in new ways. Their sound is very different and likely to affect you in a completely different way. Different is great for getting inspired.

8.Find artists to be passionate about. Alright, so you've found a great band and they've inspired you. Now, get passionate about them. Go to Youtube and watch the artists give interviews, especially about what inspires them. Chances are, you've just found some great creative minds to get advice and inspiration from. Talk about your music too. Share it with people.

9.You've heard this a thousand times, but here it is again: Classical music. It really is the best for any of the reasons above. It has a wide range of sounds, tones, and source material. There is something out there you can find that you like.

10.Vary what you listen to. Even the deepest well eventually runs dry. Make sure you take from different places periodically and never stop looking for new stuff. Listen to a lot of genres, a lot of artists, and a lot of styles.

--WA Julian

Friday, April 16, 2010

week one: time and regret

As merely a young boy, Nick discovered his curse. A boy of eight years discovered his possession of the ability to manipulate time. It started one afternoon in the kitchen when he accidentally burned his hand on the stove. Shutting his eyes tightly, the burns disappeared as he moved backwards into the hall. Everything moved with him and all that should fall down fell up. When he exclaimed, “Stop!” it stopped. Scared, the boy inquired of his mother if she knew anything about this phenomenon but she told him that he was crazy and should stop watching so many cartoons. But he wasn’t crazy, he was the sanest of them all.

It happened never again until the passing of a full year. The occurrence was when the resident bully took a swing at Nick. Falling to the ground, he suddenly rose back to his feet and the fist pulled away. When time resumed its normal course, Nick ducked and then struck a blow of his own; knocking the surprised bully to the ground. He became the hero for the day but his deeds were soon forgotten and the outcry soon became the normal and life went on. But not Nick’s, he could never forget.

Within the month, the power manifested itself yet again. On strange impulse, Nick told a pretty girl of his love for her. Before she could respond, fear overtook him and then again everything went backwards. He felt his lips mutter those three nervous words in reverse, all the more painful this time. When he mentally told it all to stop, time resumed, and he instead asked what they had for homework. She smiled and delicately told him. Of course, he didn’t need it. He would ask for a lot of things he would never need. And he could get them.

As the pubescent years dawned, he started to focus and try to learn to control his strange, anomalous power. In his dark room, he lit a candle and then blew it out. Nick soon found that it wasn’t any form of focus that granted him his power; it must have been something else. It would have to have been something present each time that he performed his deed. Perhaps it was emotion. Doing his best to draw up various emotions, he finally found one: regret. It tied together every instance perfectly: he regretted touching the stove, antagonizing the bully, and then saying, “I love you.” He made himself feel regret and then the candle lit once more. He laughed one of the few laughs of his lifetime.

Soon, he began to use his gift. In math class, he answered a question aloud incorrectly and drew scrutiny. But once the teacher gave the correct answer, he went back and gave that one instead. His life started to become easier. He received good grades in school and appeared to make no mistakes. But he was pained, afflicted. He had to live with every mistake that was only technically uncommitted. Nick regretted what he did not do. He could forgive, but he could not forget, especially for that which never happened. Sorrow and then depression took in for what others could only see as no reason. Not a man, woman, or child understood this boy.

For a while, thoughts of never using this curse again filled his mind. Nick went a week in its entirety where he failed. Repeatedly. They were such sweet, sweet failures. But then the reality hit him that these were public failures, not the private and secret ones from before. They were so real to him. And what pained him most was that they were. Tests were failed, relationships were destroyed, and feelings were hurt beyond healing. Profusely, Nick apologized but none of it was enough. It wasn’t enough for him or for anyone else. When it was too much, he went back and did the whole week over without failure.

Nobody ever told Nick that they were sorry because he covered up the mistakes of others as well. There was not a way for him to fix everyone’s mistakes, but he could try. For a while Nick believed that he was a superhero; that destiny had called him to fight for justice. Images danced in his imagination for hours on end. He could fly, he could save the world, and he could save himself. But that was when it stopped: when he realized that he could either save himself or the world; not both. Every time he went back, part of his soul would erode. He would see a friend do something he never thought possible and he would go back to stop it. But he knew what his friend was capable of and could never fully trust that person again. With that, his social life began to vanish along with his humanity.

But Hope would always come knocking. That was her name: Hope. She knocked on his door one day after he had started his own life. He promised himself from then that he would marry her. She was truly and absolutely beautiful, not just in appearance but in spirit. Her cerulean eyes were timeless in his and something kept him from going back when he was around her. She was intoxicating in the best of ways. Hope was his cure. There was nothing for him to regret with her and it was regret that gave him his power. Hope took away his regret and his power, but in other ways she empowered this boy more than before. She put light where there was darkness, but obscured other places. Nick would never fully know her; the infinite mystery. The best part was that she shared his feelings. Not his problem, but his feelings. They shared things that only go to and fro with soul-mates; because they were indubitably soul-mates.

But his life was turned upside down when he made a terrible mistake. And this one would have to be faced because with Hope, there was no regret. He hurt her. His depression and agony took reign again and then he hurt his one salvation. Through the next days, he found no control because he found no regret. Without regret, he could only justify his actions no matter how bad they were. His salvation was his destruction. She left him and then he finally regretted. When he called upon the pain of regretful sorrow, it only turned her away. She had fallen in love with the boy who regretted nothing. From her perspective, Nick faced life head on without looking back. But when he tried to at least fake regret with her, she found no attraction. Worst of all, she saw his lies.

Nick used his regret and tried going back but it all stopped at the last time they were together and he had to feel her departure once again. He tried more than once because his former bride was worth all of the pain. But finally, he learned. He learned that he would have to win her back the way he had stopped a long time ago: the hard way. Nick would fight long and hard, journeying however he must to win back his dear Hope. Without her, he had none.

After a month had passed, he had prayed that she would be open to listening; to at least hear him out. When she did, he tried to explain his problem. He explained how he had become addicted to reversing time and that it was fueled by the stains of regret. Nick tried to explain to her that she cut off his feeling of regret and that she loved what she had caused. She completed him; healed him. But the boy couldn’t prove it. She had lost faith in him. This was beyond belief to her because she no longer saw a soul-mate: she saw a crazy person in the sanest of them all. Hope had not faith and so he had not either.

They say that hope is the last to die. But for the boy, it was first. Instead, all he had was his fuel: regret. All of his life he regretted and the more he tried to stop it, the more he regretted. What was thought to be his cure was his affliction. So this is when he decided that his life was where it had all started. He decided to end it. A noose was tied to the ceiling and the boy kicked the stool away, dropping his miserable body to the end. His life flashed before his eyes. There was a certain beauty that he could not waste. Nick knew he would regret his death. Taking in the regret, he spun the wheels of time back again. The stool came back under his feet and then he descended. He took down the noose and then realized that life was still miserable but not worth ending. Perhaps he could find a way to start over. His sanest decision was his biggest mistake.

Hope came by his home and looked in the window. She found him sitting on his couch with a weary smile. He didn’t notice her. Something on his face told her that it would be alright. This reassured her and then she left, never to see him again. Eventually, the boy attempted suicide again, this time he was dead with no turning back. There were no more regrets but there was also no more Hope. Regret overtook her and she joined him in death.

But had he not reversed time to save himself, Hope would have found him dangling and dying. She would have broken in and then saved his life where she would heal him again. With that healing, their relationship would mend. They’d marry again and have many children. The boy and his beloved Hope would live together until they were old and finally dead. Their life would have been nearly perfect to the outside observer, but to the boy: flawless. The ideal that he had tried so hard to regret himself to simply could not be.

Through chamber and barrel, death pierced his brain. Days later, lead and powder destroyed Hope. Regret, the single strongest of all feelings, for once, gave something. The boy received the gift of erasing anything that had come to pass. It had even come to allowing itself to be removed by way of truest and purest love. But even its gifts were too strong for man to bear. Regret destroys even when it seems to build. Its wrath not only caused the destruction of its experiment but also its love. Regret made a man worth less than his own life because it had directly ended another. Had he never existed, Hope would live on. But it was this logic that had killed her in the first place. This sane logic kills.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

wanna contribute?

There are going to come times when I've run out of creative juices or just won't have time to get a story going for the week. It happens to all of us. So, I'm gonna need a little help. There are three ways you can help me.

The first is that you read, visit, follow the blog, and leave constructive comments. I'll take criticism, compliments, etc., but try to keep it constructive. Please don't bash, hate, or troll.

The second is that you click on the ads on the.... wait... ads? What ads? Well, Google shut the Adsense down. Oh well. I'm not going to ask for money, but if you would like to contribute monetarily, I won't say no. Send me a message and we can work something out. Your money would go to placing ads for Story a Week or possibly towards books, mostly writer's reference books.

The third is the coolest of them all. You can get a story featured as the story of the week. All you have to do is get in touch with me. The process is simple:
1. E-mail me at and introduce yourself. Be friendly and if all goes well, I'll let you send me your story.
2. Send me the most up-to-date copy of your story and include a little bit about it.
3. I'll look over it, approve it, and if I like it, I'll probably make a few edits, then send my edits to you for your approval
4. If you approve, then it'll be put in the queue to be the story of the week!

A couple of tips to get it posted:
-- Try to keep it less than 3000 words. Any more than that and I can almost guarantee you I'll cut it down in the editing phase.
-- Be creative! We've all heard the same cliches over and over, so show me what you can do outside the box!
-- Twists. I like twists.
-- Get editing help. Have some friends look it over before you send it to me.
-- The biggest tip of them all: JUST DO IT

I won't pay you anything for sending in a guest piece, but you will get recognition if it gets posted. Also, the criticism and peer review you get will be invaluable.

Anyway, thanks for reading and please, I would love to hear from you!
-- WA Julian

Monday, April 12, 2010

story a week: an introduction

I, like thousands upon thousands of people, am a writer. I'm not an aspiring writer, like some might say, I'm a writer. I write. That doesn't mean I have it down perfectly or don't have anything to learn, in fact I have much to learn. That's why I'm here.

This is my latest writing project. I have decided to dedicate myself to keeping and maintaining a blog about writing. The real dedication, however, comes from dedicating myself to a writing a new short story every week. Sometimes I might post something old, sometimes a chapter from the numerous novels I'm writing, sometimes maybe I'll have a friend contribute, or maybe I'll even post an essay from a class. Either way, something new will be posted at least every week.

I was told by a fellow writer that talent has little bearing in contrast with dedication. While talent can make being great easier, it all goes to waste should the person lose sight of their goals. That's what this is. I want to put in as many dedicated hours as possible to writing and having a blog is a good start, right?

I'm also going to post any good writing links I happen to come across. For now, this will count as this week's story. I haven't decided on what day I'm going to post a story yet, but rest assured, it's coming.

I'm WA Julian and I'm a writer.