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 – it 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.

Image

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.

Space Invaders – Day 306 – Tom

One of the places that always forces me to reflect is a crowded room full of strangers. Earlier this month I found myself at the Opening Night do for the Brisbane Writers Festival. It was very intimidating- the room was buzzing with experienced writers who all knew each other.

I stood at the side willing myself to go and talk to someone. Hadn’t I learnt my lesson by now? This project had been all about interacting with strangers- yet I was terrified of just walking up to one in real life and introducing myself. Thankfully, after a few minutes that seemed to stretch forever, a man (who also stretched forever) came and stood next to me. I looked up at his tall figure and suddenly we were having a conversation. His name was Tom and he didn’t know anyone either. He was from Melbourne and making video games was his thing- but he’d written a book just recently (read here). It was a lovely chat and we bonded talking about games. He recommended I play Journey, which I did just the other day and now I never want the game to stop. In Journey- almost everything is your friend- but it’s a very quiet game.

This has confirmed something in my mind: That I’ll never be a loud person who is the centre of the party, but if I can continue push myself to talk to strangers and befriend people in my own quiet way- I will get so much more out of things. 

The other day I emailed Tom to ask for a story idea- he said:

“an introvert is playing a Space Invaders arcade cabinet by herself at a fish and chip shop, extrovert comes over and talks to her and they make a connection over aliens, fish and/or chips”

Everyday

At the chip shop

Aliens descend

She mashes the button

Eliminates them

“Can I play?”

He mashes the button

Misses

Her eyes roll

“You’re supposed to stop the aliens.”

“Why are you always here?’

“Because people are aliens.”

“Am I?”

“Yes”

“What happens if you let them in?”

A shrug

“Can I play again?”

A nod

He smiles

Mashes the button

Misses again

She smiles

“I guess a few aliens are okay”

Money Tree – Day 305 – Money Tree

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Forests are nice places to reflect, and sometimes you find weird things too- like this log. I realised, before this challenge I would have seen this log and thought it would make a good story “one day” and “one day” would never come. But now, I take a photo immediately without even thinking and start planning how I am going to write about it. 

It’s a very nice city, I’m lucky to have made it here. But there are no street sleepers, like me. A man walking his dog tells me to go the money tree. I assume it’s just a cruel joke given the state of me but I go there anyway. The park is nice. It’s a huge attraction. People come from all over the world to stick their own coin into it, hoping it will ensure they have a rich life. I don’t even have a coin to stick in it.

I see a dad hand his kid a coin.

“Now go get me that new car,” he jokes.

I decide to join the line. Perhaps just touching it will give me some luck. The boy in front of me looks at me, screwing up his nose at my smell.

When I get to the front they don’t turn me away. So I pretend to put in a coin. But as I do I feel coins dropping into my hand.

I’ve lived in the city 5 years now and even have my own house. There are no street sleepers because of that money tree. I found out later it is a real money tree. Only those who truly need it can pull the coins from its bark. The government is terrified people will find out so they disguise it as a tourist attraction.

Run – Day 304 – Signs You are a Writer?

Here’s a confession – I am often sucked into quizzes and the like. I rarely agree with them but I find them to be a pretty good way to reflect on things. I started this challenge in order to become a writer. I’ve always been hesitant to use that word in relation to myself (even after being occasionally paid for it). I didn’t feel I could call myself one if I didn’t write everyday. So I looked at this Buzzfeed “24 Signs You’re a Writer” to see if I could say it yet. At first I panicked, I’ve never wanted or owned a typewriter, I don’t want to live in New York and I really don’t like coffee.

That Tastes Nasty (The 10th Doctor) 

But then I came to my senses… my writing does not depend on my implements, country or tastebuds. I think I’m finally comfortable to say I am a writer. 

Lee didn’t have nikes or a trademark victory move. He asked his mother if one day he could ever be a runner.

“A runner is someone who runs. You run everyday, I see you outside the house.”

Her Face is Not Important – Day 303 – Adrian

Because I did a sad “memory” story yesterday Adrian told me I should really do a happy one too. Especially since I have now PASSED THE 300 STORY MARK GUYS! (not that I’m excited or anything)

So, I’ve taken inspiration from another thing I learnt from the memory episode of radiolab about a man with amnesia who couldn’t recognise his wifes face if she walked by, but still recognises her by her embrace. 

Her face is not important

I’m can’t imagine it ever was

It was her warmth

Her mind

Her care

That was important

Most people think the important things are

Noses

Lips

Eyes

But I’ve found what’s real

When I think of her

It’s better than a face

It’s a feeling

Her meaning

That’s what survives

Reset – Day 302 – Memories

I’ve been listening to radiolab (listen here) and they were talking about memory and how scientists have determined that the more you recall a memory the further the memory gets from what actually happened (because each time you remember something you change it a bit). 

I thought about him everyday. He left when I was 7. I remembered everything, him pushing me on the swings, buying me ice cream, taking me to the movies. It hurt to remember but I couldn’t stop. He’d been so good to me. I was constantly wondering why he left and trying to track him down. I could only assume I’d done something wrong, been a bad child. Why else would he leave?

After years of searching for him, I heard that the more you remembered something the less true that memory was. I felt cheated, I must have thought of those memories millions of times. I didn’t want to lose what little I had of him.

I wanted to press reset on my memories, so I decided that I would reconstruct them while I waited to find him. I tracked down all the people that I remembered were there, at the swing, the ice cream shop, the movies. Their memories would be clearer. I was going to press reset.

But when I found them, it wasn’t what I was expecting. My childhood friend from the park told me he only remembered me falling off the swing and my dad telling me to get back on despite my tears. The corner shop owner told me she gave us the ice creams for free because he’d spend our money on cigarettes, and the ticket checker said she only remembered us because he left me alone in the cinema to go the pub.

I stopped looking for him after that.

Who is that? – Day 301 – Infinite Reflections

I am in the process of polishing my honours thesis which means I am infinitely reflecting on everything…

In a room of mirrors, she reflected. Was each reflection identical? Or did they lose something of her with each reflection? There were 10 versions of herself she could see in the mirrors currently, each getting smaller and further away.

Meanwhile an even bigger version of herself behind her was watching her in the mirror and wondering the exact same thing.

a very apt bit of art from Kusama.

When We Were 10 – Day 300 – Krysten “talk to younger self”

Krysten donated a very reflective idea weeks ago to write something I would say to my 10 year old self. I talked to young me before- but never this young. Wish me luck.

“Wow, you’re so old, you must be like 22 or something ancient. You must have everything sorted.”

“Hey! I’m not old, I’m a young person! And before you ask, no, I don’t have a proper job or own a house or a dog, and I’m not married. It turns out you don’t just magically know everything when you turn 20.”

“Not even a dog? What have you been doing all this time?”

“Well I have learnt a few things, do you want to hear them or not?”

*little Freya nods*

“Right now you listen to your parents’ music, Madness, The Clash, The Specials. But you’re about to go through a massive “smash hits” phase because you think that’s the key to being cool. It’s not.”

“But how will I be cool if I don’t know all the words to Beyonce?”

“Actually you’re right little Freya, that would make us pretty cool. But that music you listen to at the moment isn’t as uncool as you think. Also I think you’re quite excited that boob growth is imminent, am I right?”

“No… well a little bit, all the other girls are wearing crop tops already!”

“I’m sorry to break it to you but they aren’t coming for another 4 years, and when they do appear… just don’t get disappointed. You’re going to love them one day.”

“Okay stop talking about gross stuff already. What’s next?”

“This is last and most important thing… please don’t pick up the habit of saying ‘like’ all the time. I can’t get rid of it, but maybe you can change the future?”

“Er, okay. I guess I could, like, try or something.”

Remind me of the Babe – Day 299 – Baby Reflections

This month is about reflection, and I want ideas- where are the best places to reflect? Who are the best people to reflect with? What’s the best reflective anecdote you have for me?

Lucy suggested: “kids seeing their reflection for the first few years is pretty entertaining!”

So here we go, written from a baby perspective… 

The mirror lies. The mirror says “you are a tiny sack of fat and dimples and other baby bits.” But I am more than that. Before the mirror I was thoughts and smells and feelings.

Party inside the cardinalfish – Day 298 – Glowing fish science (Adrian)

Adrian linked me to this see-through fish spitting a bunch on microscopic bioluminescent crustacea and suggested the title.

glowy fish

and here’s what the little glowing crustacea look like:

I went to the people’s march for climate action today and I think it really filtered into my brain. So here’s the story:

Long have the crustacea been eaten and oppressed by the cardinalfish. This party is a seaweedroots movement for the crustacea by the crustacea. Please join us for our national day of action against the cardinalfish, where we will be occupying local cardinalfish and glowing inside them. This will alert the other fish to their unjust crustacea eating ways and demonstrate the solution to the issue. Glowing is a little known way of surviving these attacks and we need to spread the word. Lets show glow as one and show them the light!

Imprisoned – Day 297 – Egg in A Milk Bottle Experiment (Geoff)

Geoff says he’s always liked the egg in a milk bottle experiment. Basically you put a lit match in a milk bottle and it creates a vacuum which suck the boiled egg inside like so:

Brian teaches the other kids at school how to suck an egg into a milk bottle. They don’t seem too interested. At lunch they lock him in the toilet. He looks at the egg in the bottle.

“You and me both eh egg?” 

Blue Blood – Day 296 – Horseshoe Crab Blood (Erin)

Erin told me about Horseshoe Crab blood which is blue! It is harvested for it’s bacteria detecting abilities.

“Harvesting horseshoe crab blood involves collecting and bleeding the animals, and then releasing them back into the sea. Most of the animals survive the process; mortality is correlated with both the amount of blood extracted from an individual animal, and the stress experienced during handling and transportation. Estimates of mortality rates following blood harvesting vary from 3-15%to 10-30%”

Blue blood. A man says it’s royal but we are lined up like cattle, being bled for all we’re worth. Drip drip drip. I wonder why they needed it so much. I’d never seen my blood before. No idea it was valuable.

When they unlock us and take us back to sea I feel lucky. I can go home and take care of my sick little crab once more.

Every night I dream of those white coats and the drip of my own blood. Most other crabs try to block it out but I can’t.

I start doing my own tests. Bleed once more. Blue ink on the sand. Most crabs call me crazy but I keep doing it. One day I discover it. We have medicine in our blood.

My little crab is well again now, and I’m feeling lucky once more but I never forget that drip drip drip.

War Bears – Day 295 – Polar Bears

Lucy told me “Polar Bears are almost undetectable by infrared cameras because of their transparent fur” for science week. This is my story:

When war broke out I went straight to the north pole. I knew this was where I needed to be. When I arrived I was met with the sight of a pile of skinned polar bear caracasses. I was too late. That night the enemy broke into our ranks silently, undetected by the infrared surveillance cameras.

Under the Surface – Day 294 – Surface Tension (Myra)

It’s science week and today: Surface Tension! This suggestion comes from Myra. I google imaged it and this picture is what came up:

There’d been a lot of tension bubbling under the surface in our colony lately. Our Queen was teaching us how to walk on water and roll droplets, but she was cruel. She would patronise us antlings. Always telling us we were stupid no good worker ants. So we decided to teach her a lesson, now she knows we understand the power of surface tension.

Print my Breast – Day 293 – Mia Woodruff

Today I bumped into Mia who I met at TEDxQUT and it reminded me that she is doing some truly awesome science! I remember her telling me that in the future her team might be able to PRINT A BOOB! I know- if  that doesn’t blow your mind- watch her whole talk above. Breast cancer patients would be able to have their breasts scanned and then replace the tissue exactly with a 3D printer- rather than replacing it with something only vaguely similar like silicone. Also if you are born with something like a bone defect, they could scan the area and make a little organic scaffold that fits the area exactly and promoted healthy bone to grow there. This has inspired today’s story.

I watched them print my breast. It reminded me of the way my grandmother used to weave cloth, adding stem cells like a new colour into the pattern. I’d never really likes my breasts, they were small and lopsided. But watching the machine precisely recreating the shape of the tissue was beautiful. It made me appreciate how unique they were, they were so special they had to be replicated exactly. After the operation I felt like a walking work of art. Like I’d been drawn into life.

Laughing Rats – Day 292 – Infinite Monkey Cage

Today at work I’ve been listening to a podcast called the Infinite Monkey Cage (with Brian Cox!) all about science. It’s made me reflect on how awesome science is- and that I could incorporate it more. There are thousands of sciency stories to tell. Today’s is just short though- based on a study of rat laughter. I learnt that most mammals laugh and that it is learnt through social situations (particularly tickling). In the study there were scientists whose job it was to be “rat ticklers.”

Rita the rat never laughed. She grew up alone, and when she finally found other rats she didn’t know what the noise was. It wasn’t something she’d learnt. The others called her a freak, so she began to practice the noise in private, never really understanding the true joy of laughing. It never sounded right, so now she is a successful comedirat. She tours the sewers, creating laughter wherever she goes with her famous deadpan act.

Slide into Nothing – Day 291 – Rock slide

People that were bad had to go on the slide. They’d be walked out to the mossy cliff, and made to slide into the misty clouds below. No one knew what lay at the bottom of the cliff beneath the clouds.

Not many of my ancestors were buried in the graveyard. I came from a long line of sliders. My mother was made to take the slide for asking to work the fields with the men and my sister followed her. My grandfather took the slide for asking the leader questions, and my great grandmother slid because she tried to send her daughters to the learning place.

I was no good. I knew it. So I fit in. I tried to prove myself. Yes leader.

But it wasn’t me. I felt as empty and blank as the mist beyond. So one day. I slid. No one even cared why. They liked to watch a sliding, it was a good show.

I expected the mist to be cold, but it was warm. And when it cleared I wasn’t falling any more.

I had the strange feeling I was upside down. But when I looked around, I was standing on a cliff just like the one I’d just slid from.

“I’m so proud of you, I knew you’d slide,” my mother was saying. “You’re a good boy.”

I looked around to see most of my family.

“We wait here often, just in case,” they explained.

I looked back at the mist.

“I wish we’d known. It’s just like home,” his sister said. “The houses, the fields, its all the same. But we’re all sliders here.”

photo (17)

Inspired by this deadly looking rock slide in the forest walk I did today.

Just One – Day 290 – Tweet

She painted thousands of paintings and left them around the city. Just small ones- they’d fit in the palm of your hand. She left them in the middle of the night. Most of them were cleaned up or went unnoticed. But a week later when she got on a train, she saw a young boy who had pasted it to the front of his note book. That was all she needed, just to know that one person enjoyed it.

Today I received one of the best tweets ever. I love the idea of someone being inspired by a story I write. Sometimes I forget that people are actually reading them.

Naked – Day 289 – Doodle (without the doodle)

Brian was scared of most things. Sharks, kettles whistling, not knowing people’s names, being naked, nameless naked sharks whistling, the list was endless. His life was governed by avoiding fears, but he couldn’t avoid them in his dreams. He often had nightmares about his fears.

One morning as he switched the kettle off just before it boiled to make his tea, he decided enough was enough. He walked into town and stripped off.

“Come and get me!” he shouted to the world.

And the world did, in the form of two policewomen. But it wasn’t so bad, they spent most of their time trying not to laugh at him.

After a short hearing where he was deemed mentally unstable, he decided life wasn’t so scary after all.  Brian doesn’t have the dreams anymore and he’s even let the kettle boil once or twice.

I got sent another doodle! This one was from Georgia. Looking at the picture reminded me of how scary this challenge has been in terms of putting my life online. I’m not prone to that, and it did initially feel like I was bare in front of everyone. 

Magnify Me – Day 288 – Laura’s Drawing

Laura answered my call for doodles! I can’t magnify it to make it bigger but it is none the less a magnificent drawing!

We used to argue. I’d tell you to stand back, look at the bigger picture, notice the patterns. But you’d just continue analysing your life in microscopic detail. I was scared it would hurt you, that you’d miss something important. One day I saw you doodling in your notebook. You ripped it out and gave it to me. It was labelled it “patterns from my microscope.” And I realised in that moment that I was missing things too. I was missing the smaller picture, and just because it was small, didn’t mean it was insignificant. 

Brawesome – Day 287 – Sean

Sean challenged me to: A conversation between an adult and a child, with each of them using the made up word ‘Brawesome’ (which I assume is Bro and Awesome). Also don’t forget it’s doodle week- please send in your drawings!

When I stopped wearing dresses my little boy stopped speaking to me. When I went under the knife the only thing that cut me was his silence.

But just the other day I asked him what he’d learnt at school. He told me his friends made up a word ‘brawesome’ something reserved only for the coolest ‘bros’. 

“Am I brawesome?”

He doesn’t answer.

The next day as I dropped him off at school I heard another boy call out to him.

“Hey, is that your mum or dad?”

He spoke answered without hesitation, “thats my mum and he’s brawesome.”

Woolly Wild – Day 286 – Doodle 2 (Sue)

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Sue donated this doodle from a boring work meeting today. Don’t forget to send in your own doodles!

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we live on a giant sheep walking through space. We get so caught up in our little city lives. Barely anyone ventures into the woolly wild, let alone to the head. 

So I decided to do it. It took me a year to trek there. I had to learn to hunt fleas and funnel the water through the thick wool when it rained. But eventually I got to a clearing, the ground was covered with a short layer of fur and I could see out into space for the first time. I climbed down to the nose and looked into the sheeps eye. To my surprise it seemed to notice me, the world was looking back at me. 

And then it spoke…

“Bahhhhh” it said. 

I could pretend that I innately knew that this was some kind of spiritual message, but I don’t think it was. I think the sheep is just a sheep, and that comforts me somehow.

 

All That Talk – Day 284 – Found at Brisbane Writers Fest

I found this in the grass at Brisbane Writers Festival today.

I LOVE ALL YOUR BOOKS

It reminded me that sometimes, speaking is just too scary and you have to write it down instead. It’s part of the reason I like writing. 

Jasmine could speak perfectly well. Though no one ever knew that. She wrote everything. It was easier, slower, more thought out. She didn’t have to see reactions immediately. Most people put up with it as an eccentricity. But they didn’t really get it.

One day she played a game of chess with a woman. The woman tried to strike up conversation but her words fell to the floor with a thud. Jasmine did not dare pick them up. So the only noise was the click of the pieces as they travelled across the board. After their game, Jasmine wrote her a letter. She didn’t usually get replies and if she did they always asked her why writing? Why not speaking? But the woman did reply and there was no mention of talk. Just a time and place for the next game of chess.

They have been writing and playing together for 40 years now, and to this day, they have never heard each others voices. 

You are a Family Tree- Day 283 – Adrian and the Brisbane Writers Festival

I got my first follower from Barcelona yesterday! I was stoked, I jumped around for ages. He sent me a message with some very nice things about my TEDx talk and then said this:

Oh, and I’d like to challenge you, too, if you’ll accept it. 4 years ago I used to visit Sants Station, a very big Station here in Barcelona (Spain) and invent stories about the passersby that caught my attention. Once I saw this old woman with an open umbrella INSIDE the station!!, but I couldn’t come up with a story for her. Any idea why she did not fold her umbrella when she entered the station? Oh, I almost forget! The umbrella’s color matched the color of her hair: liliac

I immediately remembered the opening night of the Brisbane Writers Festival which I attended the other night. Among the speeches was a Maori song, which acknowledged everyone’s ancestors (the idea being everyone carries them with them wherever they go). It was a lovely image so this is my answer to your challenge Adrián. 

She saw family trees everywhere. They sprouted out of your head, gaining branches through the generations and weighing on your neck. Branches would creak under the weight of past ancestors. No one else ever seemed to hear it but her. It was a shame, because other people’s family were often encouraging and their living relative would walk around without ever hearing it. Unfortunately her ancestors were loud, opinionated and rarely supported her choices. They especially hated her lilac hair. At first she wore just wore earplugs to block out their chatter but they’d just throw ghostly leaves at her all day. So now she never takes down her umbrella if she can help it. It blocks their distractions, screens her from obligation, and best of all, it allows her to be herself.

Get the Laughs- Day 282 – TEDx Talk Video!

This month will be all about reflection, yesterday I said I wanted people to send in doodles but today is a special occasion- My TEDx talk just went live on youtube and I couldn’t think of anything more reflective than to watch it.

It was a weird out of body experience which involved a lot of cringing. The most enjoyable bit is the laughter- I remember being stunned at the time that the audience was laughing. I hadn’t really accounted for it while practicing to a wall at home. Proof that I made some people laugh is really nice- making people laugh is one of my favourite things ever. It’s so satisfying- whenever I make people laugh my brain says “hah! I made you have good emotions out loud!”

“You look perfect”

“The princess’ taste is impeccable”

“What a glorious idea”

Everyone was nice to the princess

It was became hard to tell

What was sincere?

But a laugh

A laugh can’t hide

When it explodes

Snorting

Choking

Shrieking

That was the good stuff

And she could weasle it out of anyone

She’d strike at any time

The barrier would come crashing down

They’d see each other for the first time

Person to person

And life would solidify for the princess

Become real in that moment

Language – Day 281 – Cartoons

The archeologists thought the ancient city worshipped art. But the people didn’t even have a word for art. They didn’t have any words at all. Their art was their language. They inked their thoughts onto every surface, and always understood each other. 

At work my boss and I have been drawing little cartoons of the printing computer and graphics computer talking and sticking it on the monitor. We never tell each other we’ve updated the drawings, we just add bits on when we notice it- slowly advancing the story. It’s just a small thing that amuses us, but it has reminded me of the connections I enjoy- and that a conversation can be had without words. So for the next week I’d love to do some drawings. Please send in your scribbles and I will write a story!

If You Are a Stranger – Day 280 – Amanda and Other Strangers

The other day I wrote a story for Amanda who I met at #unleashed14. She commented on my story yesterday saying:

“Freya, this just made my day.
Sincerely,
‘Bright, kind writer and journalist’ x”

It made me realise that this is my favourite thing. When someone enjoys this project- it doesn’t matter if they are the only reader that day- or they never think of it again- as long as they enjoy it in that moment- a moment of connection. I’ll certainly miss the way this project forces me to make these connections- particularly with strangers like Amanda. Without this project I would never speak to strangers the way I do now. It’s made me think of this silly story today:

You there

With the eyes scanning the screen

Lets sync our brains

 

Think about a life sized map

Covering the globe

Now think about Bert Newton’s face

Floating like a moon

Now imagine the universe

Stars going on forever

and ever

keep going

It’s so big that whatever we’re imagining right now isn’t even big enough.

Now replace all the stars with Bert Newton

Infinite Bert

 

Now stop

Shake it out

Let all the little Berts pop out existence

All’s black and empty

Now walk up to me

Can you see me?

I’m walking toward you through the emptiness

Lets shake hands

Not so tight

Better

 

Syncing complete

Beetle Legs – Day 279 – Briohny and Anna

Last night I was talking to Briohny and Anna at Roving Conspiracy. We were having a conversation about how Briohny has a visceral repulsion from velvet and microfiber. She says “it feels like a million beetle legs catching on your skin.” Anna then suggested that as a story prompt. As they spoke I wondered what would happen at the end of this challenge? It’s been so nice having people constantly suggesting things and collaborating with me on a daily basis- I wonder if I’ll be able to achieve the same thing when I finish this challenge? Here’s today’s story:

There were no humans left. What was the point of living out my days with no one to talk to, no one to hold me, no one to laugh with? I leapt, falling easily through the thin cold air. I could hear it whistling in my ear, and something else too, a kind of buzzing. Then something was slowed my progress toward the earth. I felt like a bug caught in an enormous sticky web.

Legs were grabbing at every inch of my skin. Millions of microscopic sticky hairs grasping at me and hooking into my pores. I could hear their wings beating in unison.

It turns out beetles are conservationists. They didn’t think there were any humans left until they found me. Now they’ve built me a little town enclosure and many work night and day taking samples from me to see if they can save my species. I’m not sure they’ll succeed but I’ve got what I wanted. Now I have millions friends to talk to, and laugh with, though I’m not keen on their sticky, hairy beetle hugs.  

Talking to my Knight – Day 278 – Flying Home

As I flew home from Unleashed today I began to think about the end of this challenge. I am beginning to feel like I wont exist without it. 

“…and so you can begin your journey home,” says the King. “Thankyou for saving our grey city.”

The knight stands up and went to saddle her horse. 

“Hey,” says the knight, “you there, telling the story.”

I look around my empty room then back at my computer screen. My characters usually didn’t speak to me like this.

“What happens to me at the end?” she asks.

“Huh” I reply. 

“What happens to me when you stop writing? Do I stop existing?”

“I guess so,” I say. 

“Well I don’t want to,” she says. “You’ll have to keep writing. It doesn’t have to be much, just occasionally write a sentence or two about me relaxing on a beach somewhere. As long as you keep me alive.”

I think about this. She had a fair point. 

“Deal” I say. 

She bows low to show her gratitude.