Hiccoughing – Day 338 – Bodie

Bodie told me he has explosive hiccoughs today.

He had been hiccoughing for years. He got teased at school, kicked out of lectures for being too loud and his first kiss was a disaster. He wondered why he had been cursed with this affliction. He’d gotten very good at suppressing them but he’d never be rid of them completely. One day he decided he wouldn’t hide them any longer. He embraced the urge and let out one huge hiccough. It was so forceful it launched him into the clouds and he could fly around for quite a time if he continued to hiccough, and with that he left the teasing behind.

A World in Your Eye – Day 337 – ZoomQuilt

Today I discovered this: zoomquilt.org

It’s amazing.

“Ouch, there’s something in my eye,” he says. “Can you take a look?”

I look in his eye, there are buildings, tiny trees and even a little monkeys swinging around, no wonder it hurts. Before I can say anything, he starts jabbing around in his eye.

I swear I can hear little screams.

~

I’m picking fleas off Ooo’s back. I look at his hair closely it looks like there is a little temple perched upon his spine. But I don’t get another chance to look at it because suddenly the ground tips and we are both screaming.

~

I’m meditating, looking at the bowl of water in front of me. I can see a reflection, it looks like there is a tiny sea monster eating swimming around. I look again but the water is vibrating, I can feel the entire temple shaking.

~

I tell him to stop jabbing, he’ll hurt his eye. I take another look, the little monkeys have stopped screaming. I tell him there’s nothing in there, except a whole world.

“You’re sweet,” he says. “I like you.”

We kiss.

~

We hug. I am careful not to touch the temple on his back.

~

I pick the bowl up and try to scoop the monster back into the water.

What Dogs Really Think – Day 336 – Krysten

Got a tweet last night:

The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs Of All Time

Ahhh time to try the walking again. I’m so excited! One day you might even be good enough to do one by yourself. Hurry up, strap onto me so you don’t get lost.

Keep up! Today I am going to pull extra hard, just to make it that little bit more challenging for you. Hmm, you still don’t want to go fast. I get it, don’t feel down on yourself, I’ve got twice as many legs as you.

Is that kid “woofing” at me? Make him stop, it’s so patronising, he completely doesn’t understand the subtleties of this ancient language. You’re not even stopping him! I’m not allowed to bark at strangers, why should he?

Hey look, a dead pigeon! What a find! Here can you carry it? I have to admit those arm things you have can come in handy.

Fine, don’t take it. You’re always so fussy. You know those tins at home are full of dead things too you know? You can be so frustrating sometimes! That fence you built isn’t high enough you know, I can jump it. I could leave anytime and then you’ll never learn how to walk properly!

What’s that you’re doing? Ah you’ve found a lovely stick! Oh you’ve dropped it. Here let me get that for you. Oh you’ve dropped it again. I’ve got it, here you go. I’m sorry I said I’d leave, you wouldn’t make it on your own. I’m here, don’t worry.

Gripping – Day 335 – Susan (Mentor)

At the start of the year I met with my old writing lecturer, Susan (read full story here). Today I met again with her to ask her how to survive after this challenge. She said “tenacity”. In the dictionary the first definition for tenacity is the ability to grip something tightly.

No one knows exactly what is on the island, but anyone that manages to get in never comes back. It was rumoured to get in, you must prove our tenacity by hang on to a rope dangling over the water for as long as you can. The safekeepers of the island will then judge whether you have enough to enter or not. Some people believed this to be the path to great riches but most thought it was a fairytale and a sure fire way to be eaten by barbarians.

Lu was born without arms and lived on the street. She hated begging and stealing. The only thing she liked doing was imagining the island, the way trees might look and the smell of the grass. One day she decided she had nothing to lose. So she stole a small fishing boat early in the morning started the engine with her teeth.

When she arrived two children came to meet her.

“We are the safekeepers.”

“But you’re kids,” Lu said.

“We are the wisest. Would you like to live on the island or not?”

“Yes,” answered Lu.

The two children looked at the space where Lu’s arms would be.

“Er, you know the deal with the rope don’t you?” one asked.

“I still have tenacity,” said Lu. “I can grip things with my mind.”

Lu began to describe how she had imagined the island.

“The bark on the trees have fingerprint patterns, the purple grass smells like rust after it has been washed with soap…”

At first the safekeepers just laughed, but ten hours later most of the island had come to watch her all through the night till her voice was just a husky whisper. One man even broke the rules to give her some water. She described for another day until the safekeepers spoke.

“We see you have much tenacity, welcome.”

When Lu walked through the gates. Everything looked just as she had imagined.

“How could I be right?” she asked.

“The island is what you imagine, most people just see a generic city with money or cars,” answered a safekeeper.

“Yeah all I see is a bunch of trampolines,” said the other.

Chalking – Day 334 – On Train

Today I am on the train everything I am seeing out the window is dark and concrete. 

Brian is a train driver. Everyday he goes through several dark and boring tunnels. One day in the small hours of the morning he begins to draw lines in chalk on the dark walls. It’s just stick figures but he is pleased that they will work as an animation as the train drives through. That morning the train is filled with oohs and ahhs. At first his employers gave him a warning, but after many packed trains they have given him a day off each week just to chalk.

Adaptation – Day 333 – Wall Stickers

I was looking at this wall sticker and it gave me an idea!

Displaying 20141026_170555.jpg

We are a wood tribe. Traditionally everything we own was made of wood, so we used to cut down a lot of trees. But long ago the trees began to adapt. They grew thinner and thinner. Nowadays our trees are all 2D. It stopped us from cutting them down, it was chaos at first.

We use the trees differently now. Our houses are just trees growing in strategic places, and they are much more obliging now. Most will even grow their branches into doors and windows if you treat them well enough.

You Are Not Your Phone- Day 332 – New Mobile

I got a new phone and it is giant. I couldn’t seem to avoid it- they are all massive and I don’t really understand why.

You are not your phone, my mum used to tell me decades ago when I texted too much. Today my sim card is my wrist and hand can be turned to call or text mode. If I want to watch a video simply hold my palms apart and they generate a hologram screen. Everyone is a phone these days. Whenever I think of mum, I flick the switch on my arm and remember I am not only a phone.

A misbelief of Painters- Day 331 – Georgia & Chloe

Georgia donated this link (Ten of the best collective nouns) to me, and Chloe loves collective nouns.

I really liked “a misbelief of painters” which was named that because portrait painters earned their money off painting rich people in a flattering way (kind of like medieval photoshop).

A misbelief of painters filled the small pub with the paint fumes ingrained on their skin and clothes. Their voices were a quiet murmur, but if you listened close you could hear them speaking of the evil deeds their rich employers had done.

“I painted out a slave master’s warts,” piped up one.

“I made the rotund tax man into a handsome slender model,” said another.

They all agreed that their employers needed a reality check. So they devised a plan.

For the next few weeks the painters would ask to follow their employers around for a day, “to get a better sense of their true beauty.”

In their spare time, they painted normal people, the bar lady, the one legged farmer and the paper boy (who was in fact a girl).

All the paintings were displayed as an exhibition, and the misbelief of painters became known as the “true beauty see’ers”. Many of the ordinary people were painted as bright and beautiful creatures while most of the rich customers were painted in repulsive gory detail.

The painters are now very popular, and people come from all around to be “seen” by them. It is believed to be the ultimate test of character and many will not marry a person who receives an ugly portrait no matter how rich and beautiful they may be.

Yowie – Day 330 – Bruce

A man I met in a shop told me to write about a Yowie. 

People do not understand Yowies. Yowies are protectors of the forest. Only one is born every 50 years. They are created by the biggest tree in the forest, and they live for an awfully long time. They must be trained by the plants and the animals before they can begin their job. They are as strong as a trunk, as loyal as roots, and have the natural instincts of all the animals in the forest.

Yowies are sent by the forest to pick up on the vibe of anyone who comes in. If they are friendly, the Yowie will report back to the big tree and she will send word through the root systems to protect that person. But if they are hostile, it is the Yowie’s job to scare them away.¬†They get in the background of photos, make strange noises and sometimes grab at people’s feet.

Dogs Can’t Rockclimb- Day 329 – Ross

I was explaining this project to Ross and said “people give me suggestions like ‘dog rockclimbing’ and then I write it” and then I just had to do it.

The other dogs said he couldn’t climb the building to steal the food. But he knew a master. He met the goat at the bottom of the mountain just outside of town and they trained in secret.
Now the city calls him the rooftop king.

Migration – Day 328 – Jon

Remember Jon? One of my mentors from earlier in the year (read here). We met up again today to talk about how I might survive the real world after locking myself away in the special world of the 365 Day Challenge. We basically concluded that I can just keep making more special worlds. I like this. 

He suggested today’s story be about swallows, because he saw one fly off at the end of our meeting.¬†

The two swallows had always sat patiently on my collarbones. I got them because they were a symbol of freedom and travel. Barn swallows travel all the way from England to South Africa every year. It almost felt cruel that they were trapped, forever sedentary on my skin.

One day I woke up to find them gone. I was disturbed but even more disturbed when my housemate burst into my room screaming that two swallows had appeared on her back overnight.

I couldn’t convince her that it wasn’t a prank I had pulled. I asked to have another look, they might suit her. But when she lifted her shirt they were gone.

We ran out onto the street and saw an old lady with swallows on her ankles, and a small child with swallows on his rosy cheeks. I smiled, they had found a way to free themselves and do what they knew best. The next week the news was filled with reports of swallow tattoos appearing on people all over South Africa.

The Kindling – Day 327 – For you

She lives off the kindling of ideas and the spark of connection between minds. She wouldn’t exist without the people who kindly give her fragments of their brain.¬†She is very grateful and wants to thank everyone. So she decides to burn in all different colours and she puffs embers into the atmosphere like tiny stars, hoping this is enough to thank everyone for not letting her extinguish.

A small story to say thanks to you and the next stories are going to be fun and varied. If you have any ideas for more creative ways of doing stories please tell me. I’m thinking more random story drops and stories hanging from trees…

Jules – Day 326 – Creep

I got the word “creep” in pictionary. This is what I drew:¬†

photo (12)

Jules cannot walk. He only creeps. It’s not his fault. He was born with that walk, the drooling and glasses are his own choice. He decided he would accentuate what nature gave him.

Nuzzlers – Day 325 – Sand Creatures

Today I built some of my favourite characters… Avatar Aang and Appa (and Momo too)…

20141018_165335

I’ve always liked the idea of having a giant creature follow me round as a friend/helper.

We live on the swamp because we were driven out of our hometown by war. It’s hard to get around on the swamp, it can be sticky and slow. We used to envy the Nuzzler’s who flew above us only stopping to graze on the plants that broke to the surface. Nuzzlers are as old as the swamp and they are wise.

When I was born my parents left me out in the swamp to sink, they couldn’t feed another child. But a Nuzzler flew down from the sky and pushed me out of the swamp with her nose. We never left each other’s side after that. She would fly me to the greenest bits of the swamp to get food for my family. And now everyone leaves their babes in the swamp.

It has become the choosing ceremony. Nuzzler’s never let a babe die. No one goes anywhere without a Nuzzler. We are bonded forever.

Word Architect – Day 324 – For Sean

Today I am thanking Sean- another mentor to me this year. 

She’d built a huge pile of words. They were a good pile of words, but she wasn’t sure exactly what to do with them. One day the word architect visited. He chiselled off a word here and there.

She watched apprehensively, he didn’t rearrange much. But when he’d finished, she realised the word pile now had turrets and a door she’d never noticed before.

Small Ones and Big Ones – Day 323 – For Geoff

This story is for Geoff (one of my mentors for this project) to say thanks for all the help. He is always talking about “knowing one’s self” so I am running with that idea.¬†

We’re kept apart as much as possible when we are small. We are told that we must know ourselves before we can understand others. The big ones tell us it is so we can be our unique selves. Not be tainted by others.

I try to know myself. I try different foods, different hobbies, different readings. I still feel there is something missing. They tell me I am not ready, I don’t know myself. I feel alone. I wonder if I am the only one who feels like this.

One day I see some other small ones from next door. I try to talk to them but a big one leads me away. That night I sneak out and find the other small ones. We talk into the morning. They are lonely too.

I try food I’ve never heard of, hear thoughts I don’t agree with and play games. I feel better.

At first the big ones are angry with us, but then one looks at me closely.

“He’s ready, they helped him,” says the big one.

Small ones are encouraged to interact now.

The Pit – Day 322 – Running out of Ideas

“How long will they keep us on the juicer?” asked a new youngling.

“I’ve been here a long time,” I tried to comfort him.”If you have enough ideas they won’t throw you in the pit.”

I’d always believed this to be true, but I’d never seen anyone survive the juicer for as long as me. Everyone goes to the pit eventually, but I was going to change all that. The youngling was crying now.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “It’s alright here, take a look around. There’s nice showers, and we always get fed.”

He stops crying and looks around. I remember when I was a youngling it was hard to find food with no elders around. I can still taste the first meal I ever had in the juicer.

“Will you be my friend?” the youngling asks.

“Of course,” I say. “I’ll look after you.”

The next day I wake to find myself being carried by a hand. I am headed to the pit.

“No!” I yell at the giant. “I still have ideas!”

I rack my brain but nothing comes.

“You served us well,” says the giant. “But everyone is born with a finite amount of ideas.”

The giant drops me. The pit is worse than I’d imagined. Everyone is weak with hunger and the smell of rotting bodies is thick.

One of my old friends from the juicer flings herself onto me.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispers. “I never thought I’d see you here, but I guess the pit gets everyone in the end.”

“I’m hungry,” I say.

“There’s no food.”

“Well lets look for a way out.”

“There’s none.”

“Have you tried?”

“No. What are we supposed to do? There are no ideas down here.”

She was right. I’d failed, the giants had taken all my ideas. There was nothing I could do now.

But that night I have an idea. What if the giant’s were wrong? What if we were just assuming they were right and disregarding our ideas in the pit.

It’s a small idea, but an idea nonetheless. This proved the giants were wrong. I hadn’t failed, I could still change everything.

Sometimes I still get scared that I have a finite number of ideas and that I am using them all up- this story is inspired by that fear. 

Walking Khan – Day 321 – Another dream

Yesterday I wrote a story inspired by a dream I had. Today my dad told me about the only dream he actually remembers – his name was Khan and he walked… people called him “walking Khan.” That’s all he remembers- he has no idea what else happened or why.

My parents were proud squirmers, they used to tell me about how their ancestors lived in had to stay in the sea and the great “land revolution.” They’d tell me how learning to squirm was the best thing that ever happened to us, because now we could go between land and sea.

But I was a freak. I couldn’t swim well and I certainly never squirmed. I was born with legs, at least that’s what I called them. They were like my parents fins but they were bonier, and had little flat pads to balance on (I called them feet).

I was very self concious of it when I was young but now I am older, it’s my defining feature. People even call me “walking Khan” (walking is what I’ve called the way I move about). Even though I’m not a great swimmer I’m very fast on land. I go for long walks into the land and tell the others what is beyond the shore. Many of the squirmers now want to be just like me.

When the Sun Came Down to Meet Us – Day 320 – Honours

Today I handed in my honours exegesis with links to this website. It’s going to be marked!

I feel a lot like Mulan in this clip (only replace the old ladies with academics, replace the grooming with editing/reading, and change the words to “you’ll bring honours to us all!”)

It feels scary and a little anticlimactic.

Also, last night I had a dream that there was a floating road made of sand that led straight to the sun. So I’m combining these two ideas for my story today.¬†

People had lived in the sands for thousands of years.¬†I’d always loved the way the sand moved. Everyday I woke to a new landscape. There were new mountains to explore but everything was still somehow familiar.

One day I awoke to find a ramp that seemed to be leading to the sun. It was beautiful and that day everyone enjoyed playing on it and pretending to touch the sun. But the next morning it was still there.

Every night the wind would howl, but always, the ramp grew larger. People started basing religions off the ramp. They thought it meant all kinds of things, usually involving the end of the world or the start of new one. And the ramp continued to grow, stretching up to the sun.

They say the sun is building it, so she can walk down to meet us. They say it will happen tomorrow. I am scared.

But in the morning when I wake up, its gone. It’s very anticlimactic. People are devastated that the sun hasn’t come down from the heavens to meet us. But I am glad that I get to see new landscapes again, and that I won’t have to shake the sun’s fiery hand.

Breakfast Ladies – Day 319 – Kait

Today it is my dear friend Kait’s birthday. A group of girls went out for breakfast with her this morning to celebrate and ended up having some of the most¬†inappropriate¬†breakfast conversations of all timez. Kait suggested I write about it- and since she is the birthday girl here it is:

They’re called the ‘breakfast ladies,’ and they are natural enemy of the cafe. The two tiny old ladies can be found creeping around cafe strips early in the morning. Equipped with only their frail bodies and their delicate handbags, they can clear an entire cafe. Conversation is their weapon of choice, they know¬†no bounds. Masters of description, they paint every bowel movement, bunion and pustule in vivid phrases. So beware. Do not be fooled by their white wispy hair and soft frail bodies, their tongues are knives and they will carve your business up.

Word Explorer – Day 318 – Tools

Jasper was an explorer. He trudged through thousands of words just find a new phrase.

Tear sucking

Wonder deficit

Eye Flakes

Teeth bending

Biting optimism

Wilted love

Sleeping gusto

and his favourite

giggle nubs

He felt his work was a serious matter but no one else seemed to agree. They laughed their way through his sold out seminars. Years later, after Jasper died. A memorial was built for him. They were the happiest and most literate town in the world. It turned out laughing was a serious matter.

Today I considered my tools: words.

I’d been playing a game where I come up with disgusting phrases made from seemingly¬†innocuous words (eg. crumbly tongue, juicy toilet and toe milk)

The World that Nearly Didn’t Exist – Day 317 – Nearlyology

Across the other side of the world (in the UK) there is a Nearlyologist (that is someone who writes about things that nearly happened). He also invites people to send in their own Nearly stories. Check out the site here.

I thought it would be a nice way to reflect on this project, because I nearly didn’t do it. If I hadn’t entered the National Young Writers Festival on a last minute whim with my idea of writing for 24 hours straight, I never would have done this project.

My world as I know it now wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have a direction, wouldn’t have done honours, wouldn’t have improved my writing, wouldn’t have met my partner, wouldn’t know any cool writing people. Clicking that “enter” button on the submission form was probably the one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

So here is my nearly story:

She wondered if it was worth it. Building a whole new world would be hard, maybe impossible. Would anyone even want to live in it?

First she made the trees (that grew from the sky), then she crafted the ground (bouncy and soft).

When she moved in it was hard to get used to. She had to invent everything herself, and it was hard work. Bouncing and tree climbing kept her entertained for a while, but soon she was lonely. So she created a portal connecting to the mainworld. At first only a few of her friends would come to visit.

But then strangers began exploring as well. They loved the upsidedown trees with their roots sucking the nutrients from the sky. They loved to bounce high into the branches. And soon they were inventing things too.

Giant paper cranes flitted around the roots and clouds, people rode around giant rabbits that swam through the air and ate chocolate drops when it rained.

Sometimes she wondered if she could ever survive in the mainworld again. What would have happened if she hadn’t planted that first tree in clouds?

PS. Here is a doodle I did of the world.

20141010_102811

Desert Reprise – Day 316 – Finish line

221 stories ago I wrote this story about my destination being so far away:

Her mind was an arid desert and thoughts slipped through her fingers like sand. She’d walked for months. She was sure she was making progress, but when she looked back she could still see her house. Her destination was so far away it was hidden by the horizon. Her optimism was fading like the sun.

She sat down in the sand and imagined the day when her supplies would run dry and her people would stop caring. It seemed inevitable on such a long journey. In fact she couldn’t believe they’d supported her this far. She was a fraud, and she would fail them in the end.

Things seem very different now.

She’d always thought her supplies would run dry, but now she’d learnt how to make her own.¬†She’d been walking so long she didn’t know what it was like to rest. Would she be able to rest? When she closed her eyes would she dream of walking?

Am I Okay? – Day 315 – Simon Groth Mentor Part 2

Before I begin, I did a word count this morning and I am now over 38, 100 words. I feel like this:

so many 

Anyway, today I asked Simon to be a mentor one last time.

Me and Simon laughing at the difficulties of selfies with huge height differences. (Simon is stooping... a lot)
Me and Simon at the start of the year laughing at the difficulties of selfies with huge height differences.

Here is a little snippets of my questions and his brilliant answers:

At the start I wanted to see if I could become a writer- so I’m wondering if you think I have become one?¬†What do you do with your time? With your attention? Arrange words? Then yes, you‚Äôre a writer.¬†If you want my opinion as some kind of external confirmation, then yes, you are a writer. Welcome to the club. Silly hats are optional.

I also think after writing everyday it has become a habit and sometimes I’m not entirely sure why I am doing it.¬†Oh yeah, you‚Äôre a writer, alright.

Why do you write or why do you think there are writers?¬†I‚Äôve been writing a long time now. I‚Äôve wired my brain for this. I‚Äôm really not sure I‚Äôm qualified to do much else any more, despite my hodge-podge collection of ‚Äėqualifications‚Äô. I write because I want to express ideas and stories in ways that are succinct, arresting, beautiful, and utterly my own. I want to reach people who don‚Äôt know me, who have never met me and inspire or encourage or entertain them, or even sometime irritate them if I‚Äôm in the mood.

As for why there are writers: there are writers because there are readers. There are readers because we have evolved to recognise patterns and there’s no more pleasing pattern than the narrative. We are storytelling mammals because we are first story-receiving mammals.

And lastly- this challenge has been like school for me. There have been simple rules to follow, but do you think I can survive outside it? What will I need to do to survive outside it? You’ve trained yourself to find stories, craft them, and put them together in a way that other people enjoy. You already have your basic survival kit in order. So where do you envisage this going? What kind of form would you like to use? What kind of help might you need to reach a bigger audience? Think about that for a while and take your time, but don’t dismiss the success you’ve achieved so far. Try and use whatever platform you’ve established to get to the next level and keep thinking ahead.

These answers comforted me a great deal about leaving this challenge behind. I realised the question “am I a writer?” is not the question I am really asking- I’ll have to let go of that question now. ¬†What I really want to know is, “am I okay?” “am I improving” “will I be alright?”: Approval – the golden chalice for most writers… and humans for that matter. It seems ridiculously¬†vain¬†when I see it written down now, but it’s true. Humans: we like approval and we like narratives.

Here’s my story. I imagine it as a picture book.

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the philosopher.

“Depends what you mean by okay,” replied the philosopher.

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the mathematician.

“That’s a bit vague,” replied the mathematician. “Do you want it as a percentage or decimal?”

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the meditator.

“Look inside yourself,” replied the meditator. “Do you feel okay?”

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked a peacock.

“Yes,” replied the peacock.

“Don’t you want to know my definition of ‘okay’ or how to express your answer as a decimal?” asked the bluebird.

“No. I like you, I think you’re going to be okay.”

When We Took to the Sky – Day 314 – Realisation

After that realisation yesterday that everything doesn’t have to end- I feel like I can fly.

Warning: could also be because I just finished the game “Journey” and this is what I currently look like in my head:

journey gif

I’m sitting

Eyes shut

Wishing I could fly

You’re shouting

My eyes snap open

I see

You on the grass

Far below

My feet

Dangling

In the sky

I’m scared

But then I pause

Curios

I shout

“Think about flying!”

Then you’re floating

We’re swimming

Through the sky

I look around

There are others too

No one knows

What happened that day

Only some

Can fly

They tried to regulate it

But we just float

higher

and higher

away.

Fenlan and the Warriors – Day 313 – Lawrence Leung

I went to see one of my favourite comedians, Lawrence Leung, at the National Young Writers Festival this weekend. He ran a great workshop about creative practice. Above is a picture of me being awkwardly star struck. I asked him what I should do after my 365 Day Challenge. His answer was simple, elegant and¬†embarrassingly¬†obvious for me. “Ask your followers.”

Suddenly I was aware that everything I have built during this challenge was my own doing (my connections, my skills and you guys reading!) I won’t lose it once it’s over. I’m not alone. So to anyone who follows this blog- please let me know if you have an idea for my next project or where I should take my writing next.¬†

Here’s my story:

Fenlan made the jagged rocks of the mountain her home for a year. People came from all around to learn to be fine warriors. Most came from warring villages but learnt side by side, for peace is always kept amongst the clouds.

Fenlan was the Queen’s daughter and when she came of age, she would have to fight off the evil spirits who terrorised the region. It was said only a royal daughter was strong enough to defeat them. Unfortunately no daughter had ever managed the task.

She had become a strong agile fighter, but her greatest strength had been making friends. She had even brought some of the feuding warriors together.

On the last night she cried. The thought of fighting the spirits alone scared her. She was used to fighting with her fellow warriors and couldn’t bear the thought of them going back to their homes only to fight with each other.

The next morning, on her birthday, she realised she didn’t have to face the spirits alone, it was always just assumed. So she rallied the warriors. It wasn’t easy convincing them to work together, but even the master agreed.

“I have been waiting for a daughter like you, one who realises their true strength,” she told Fenlan.

So they marched from the mountain. Many people laughed when they saw Fenlan wasn’t alone.

“Only a daughter can defeat the spirits!” they shouted.

Fenlan blocked them out as the spirits came swiftly, gnashing their teeth.

“What do you want? We have killed many daughters like you, what makes you think you special?”

Fenlan introduced herself and the other warriors.

“We have found you a new home in the mountains where peace is always kept,” she said, “and if you do not go, you will face us all.”

“Those warriors are from feuding villages,” the spirits said, “does that mean you are united?”

“Yes,” the warriors answered.

“We are happy to accept,” said the spirits. “We are spirits of war, only when the villages are united can we rest. Thank you.”

The mountains are now home to the spirits and it is no longer a training camp, for there is no need for warriors.

Og – Day 311 – NYWF & Critical Animals

I’m headed to the National Young Writers Festival and Critical Animals in Newcastle today to enjoy the festivities. Perhaps a small part of being a writer is entering that community and being accepted?

Og carve rocks.

Alone in cave.

Og carve friends.

Deer.

Bird.

Even Lion.

But Og still lonely.

Og search for new rocks.

Og will make more

Till Og is happy.

Og find purple rock.

Og run hand over rock.

But rock has soft bit.

A hand.

Og’s eyes follow hand.

Arm.

Shoulder.

Neck.

Face.

Says his name is Ug.

Ug carve rocks too.

The Writing Machine – Day 310 – Chris Currie

Today I asked author and fellow 365 day story writer Chris Currie about how to survive after the 365 Day Challenge and if I am a writer yet. Make sure to read his stuff here and our first interaction here (that is probably one of my all time favourite stories from the challenge). Here is what he told me this time:

Congrats on nearly being at the end of your journey! I don’t really know what qualifies you to be a writer. Personally I think you should always aim to improve every time you write; it’s a non-quantitative skill after all. Discipline is probably the most important thing you have to learn when you’re starting out (trying to take writing “seriously”) and what you’ve achieved I think will go a huge way towards instilling the work ethic you need if want to make a career of writing.¬†Anyone who’s mad enough to write a story every day for a year gets my vote without question.

So discipline will be important when I finish…

The army marched into the city. No one anticipated their arrival. Mum was at work so I hid with my little brother under the stairs. As they reached our street I expected to hear screams and gunfire. But it never came. I closed my eyes and listened. I could hear a menacing clicking noise and a fluttering noise like wings. I wondered if they were some sort of horrible alien. When my eyes opened again I saw my tiny brother waddling toward the front door. His fat fists could barely reach the handle. As I hissed at him to come back, his fingers found the handle and I rushed out to stop him. By the time I pulled him away it was too late. The door flung open.

But there was no horrible winged creatures. The flutter was coming from the papers that filled the street and the clicking was typing. There were thousands of them, armed with writing machines, they were typing and flinging paper onto the street. We walked out onto the street to find several other bemused city folk staring at the army. The writing soldiers seemed to be in a trance. My brother picked up some paper. I looked at it. It was a story about two little brothers who opened a door.

In the aftermath we found out they were the ancient writers from the mountains. Every four hundred years they would go on a training trek. They would travel the land writing about everything they saw, and only stop when they returned home.

Mentees – Day 309 – Josh Donellan

So I am¬†resurrecting¬†the mentor scheme this month and checking up on my progress. I want to know- What is a writer? Why are there writers? Am I one? I think I am comfortable with saying I am a writer (maybe?) but I am scared of the real world… the world outside this challenge. I’ve set up a bunch of rules for myself… what happens when the challenge ends? Will I keep up the writing? My entire life has been centred around this challenge for 307 days and I don’t really know how to do life without it now.

So I asked Josh Donnellan who mentored me in March this year (read more about him challenging me to read my work to someone who would hate it here). Josh has recently put out a new book (go forth and read here Рit has great character names) and had some great answers for some of my questions:

I think you’re a writer if you write. I meet so many people who say “I’d love to be a writer, but I just don’t read much and never really have time to write anything.” and I usually reply “yeah, I really want to be a marathon runner but I usually just sit around eating tim-tams and playing xbox.”

I think you know you’ve found the thing that you want to do when not doing it makes you unhappy as much as doing it makes you happy. Maybe after you finish your challenge take a break for a bit and let it all sink in?

This all made a lot of sense and last paragraph really made me think. At the start of last year- before I had come up with this challenge- I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I didn’t have a “proper job” and I spent my time thinking about writing (but rarely doing it). Now – I have never been happier, and I spend most of my time writing.

Before you read today’s story you’ll need to know one thing: Josh and I have a running joke about the word “mentee.” Here is something he wrote for me a while ago.

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Mentees usually lived between the long reeds of words and grazed on the pages which grew on the lake floor. When they weren’t grazing, they liked to spend their time lamenting the loss of their habitat. For their habitat was shrinking. Soon there would be no words to survive on.

No one knew where the words had come from or when they would come again, they assumed it was a divine treasure. Many Mentees tried to ration the words as a way of coping, but once small Mentee decided to write some more. The other Mentees would ridicule him, some even called the writing blasphemy.

But the little mentee continued to write, he was sure the words had only come from their ancestor Mentees. Eventually the others were forced to ask him for words, and when they tasted them, they knew they had made a mistake. Now most mentees write, and they rarely spend their time lamenting.

Will You Draw with Me? – Day 308 – High fiving a stranger

This month I am going to¬†resurrect¬†the mentor idea and ask you an my mentors from the start of the year to give me advice about leaving the world I’ve created in the 365 Day Challenge. But before that I have a very special story to tell.¬†

Today I sat in the library and was working on the conclusion of my thesis. I’d been thinking a lot about how flippin great it is to follow your natural curiosity, and as I wrote a particularly good sentence, a feeling came over me. So I wrote this note:20141001_150232

And then after wiping nervous sweat from my hands- I poked the stranger next to me in the shoulder and gave him the note.

He read it. Smiled. Our palms came into contact and the quiet library was filled with the sound¬†of our high five. We giggled for a second, then went back to our work. Not a single word was spoken. I’m sitting next to him as I type but I think we’re both too scared to look at each other- it will ruin that perfect unspoken moment.

Here’s my story:

She didn’t understand a lot of people. Why did some have tattoos, why did others wear suits? Why did some only drink juice and why did others eat dead things? Why were they so different to her?

She did however, understand drawing. She drew all the time. At lunch break, in class and at home. She liked to imagine drawing picture with the different people everyone. So one day she left the school grounds. That day she drew 3 pictures before she was caught by her teacher, one with a bearded man and a pigeon from the park, one with the baker and one with a tattoo lady. She wrote them a note “Will you draw with me?” and when they put pen to paper no words were spoken.

At first she was in trouble, but then her teacher saw how much she wanted to draw. Her parents supported it and eventually so did the entire school. She would get one day off every week where her dad would take her around town, and she would draw with people. She drew everyone from politicians to musicians, and she began to understand people, even when they were wildly different to her.

Eventually, she fell ill. And people had to come to her. Then, she stopped drawing altogether. That day in parliament before beginning, as a mark of respect, they stopped to draw together. No speaking, no arguments, just pen on paper. There was said to be no arguing that day, only understanding.