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.

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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.

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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.

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.”

Swing – Day 148 – Play ground

Wrote this on a swing. Quite a challenge actually.

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The wind runs its fingers through her hair as she swings, weaving it into a tangled mess. It pushes on the chains and rattles the frame. Higher and higher she goes. She watches her feet, they look as if they could kick the big round clouds like soccer balls.

So the wind takes a mighty breath and lifts her off the black rubber seat. Propelled through the sky, she scatters clouds like fluffy white pigeons. Then she falls, like a leaf, lightly back down to the play ground.

When she gets home, her parents don’t believe in her. But it takes hours to untangle her hair that afternoon, and the clouds look like grains of sand spread randomly across the sky as the sun sets.