Musings on an Aftermath of Writing.

Reflective(Allegorical image by the way)

Some of you will be familiar with the opening of this tale.

Commenced I suppose from 2015, maybe, (although there were myriad false starts) and completed end of 2021. A fantasy trilogy written without much respect for the apparent ‘Rules of Writing’. And that was that. Completed.  Like any writer there were all sorts of ideas, whispers of ideas and the like swirling about. The same characters a few years down the line? Maybe the next generation, their children? A few experimental paragraphs suggested; it wasn’t going to work, not now anyhow. The scene was as if I had spent some time with this varied group, recorded these parts of their individual and joint narratives and now a parting of the ways was taking place, all by mutual consent. There was this singular notion any further novels would be intrusive into their lives. The conclusion was almost as if I had indeed strayed upon another fragment of Creation and had been a mere observer. Time for us all to move on.

The obsession to craft three volumes had been, of course unobtrusive. At the time, simply three basic ideas with plots and sub-plots spinning out all weaving into a pattern of cause and effect. The warning how obsessive I had become was the evening I flew into a rage because Kindle would not accept the download of the final cover, normally the solution would have been quite simple, but when Obsession takes hold anything that gets in the way in a foe…right?….Well no, wrong. Toxic.

Anyway, with the whole project completed and ‘Out There’, a calm settled. The urge to read books rather than listen to audio versions returned. An experiment to paint emerged; by numbers I add, because my perception of colours is rather variable; seriously an adult paint-by-numbers is a challenge, with tiny, tiny patches and titchy, titchy numbers therein; fun though and to be worked on at a leisurely pace. Finally there was the focus to stop trying to take up Quantum Mechanics as a serious interest, the maths and the terminology are beyond my capabilities. Back to History reading and in consequence looking into International Relations and the attendant theories. (Yes there are graphs and data but only for those who have made it their Life’s Work or intending to do so, a working knowledge of what is what is sufficient).

Does that mean you have quit writing? Some may ask. No, comes the simple answer. The Muses still flutter around me (or poke me in the back, if thus inclined). The frenetic side has evaporated. There is an idea to work a series of posts from way-back into a neater format and set in the same realms of the trilogy
Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

And there is  https://bbprompt.com/

Which supplies a monthly prompt for short stories and is quite a buzz to join as well as read.

There is a weight lifted though, the notion it was all for fun and relaxation was a flaw in perception, I was in deep. Of course being in deep is something a serious writer should be to embrace, but when you start to live with the characters, muttering phrases of possible conversations to yourself, going over and over in your mind situations, not being able to truly focus on anything else other than the day-to-day living and ‘Your Book’. No, maybe not. It maybe necessary for the true professionals with a contract but for the rest of us; the rest of the world needs to come in.

Maybe therein is the true reason why I’ll not be going back there. Even though it was fun at the time.

Writing eh? You love it. You can’t leave it alone. But it is as well to have boundaries.

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A Mid-Winter’s Tale…Pt II

A Mid-Winter’s Tale

Jagerin without thought of Faigai’s rank, never mind being enemy impatiently signalled for him to stay still and get low. It was quite obvious, someone of slight build would do better surveying the road. She crept to one of the bushes not sporting thorns and making the best of the sparse cover while risking a serve crick in the neck peered towards the oncoming group.

There they were, horses ridden at a slow steady pace, no furtive glancing or the instinctive hunch of the suspicious. Yet, the idea of three locals simply out and about at night time in a remote tense land between two armies struck her being just plain implausible. As the group drew nearer she sensed a steady confidence about them which made her shrink back, one hand behind signalling for the sergeant’s benefit, three extended fingers for the number, then a slow side to side waggling of splayed fingers the universal indication for ‘Uncertain,’

If there had been the correct accompanying sounds, judging by the ‘khmuree’ ‘s reactions and apparent misgivings  Faigai, would have thought she’d seen a small motorised column pop up. Three unknown riders she couldn’t figure out though?  He shuffled up to get his own view, only to be greeted by a pinched expression and one angry finger to her lips. Trying not to feel chastened by this he still proceeded until they were both unprofessionally crowded in the same cover, stilling their breathing. Faigai  trying to come to grip with the idea of two hardened veterans trying to hide from three…

Well dressed middle-aged to elderly riders? Out here, in sparse lands which could be fought over at any time?

‘That is disturbing,’ Jagerin said after the trio had passed by far enough for whispering to start ‘Folk of that age and some wealth have no business being out here that certain of themselves without a large escort. Who or what are they?’

‘Maybe they are,’ Faigai mulled for the right slovan word, not wanting to be the first to break their informal convention ‘Elders?’ her grimace of agreement encouraged him to continue ‘There’s that village, we  are still sanctioned from. There is maybe some council of the local elders,’ 

Jagerin peeked up over the cover in the wake of the riders and tapped her teeth with the rag covered barrel of her rifle.

‘Old guys,’ she began in a passable version of The Mitch’s own twang ‘Doing a stitch up?’ and seemed quite pleased with her grasp of his native slang. ‘Work out some ploy, to fool our commanders into thinking they are buddies with us both? Keep us off their turf? Playing down the middle?’

And there it was. Thinking like that showed she too had worked out in The Wilds. There were always The Wilds. The places where conventional battles were not fought, where you carried Shield for The Cloaks as they wove their webs with the militias, gangs masking as volunteer police, village patrols and criminal cartels; Deal Making, Promise Breaking. A month in that fog and when back at base camp some ordinary rifle carrier said ‘Hi’ you straighways wondered ‘What did they mean by that?’ You could never brush that dust off. Sometimes it paid not to. It seemed here was a time. 

‘I agree Corporal,’ he said realising she was actually looking to him for orders, there was some sort of universality going on here ‘ Whichever way they are choosing, it’ll benefit both our sides to know. After all locals will understandably work to their own advantage, and we are still uncertain about these lands. It would not be the first time fresh commanders have ended up doing fighting for locals,’

‘We’re going down there,’ she gestured in the direction of the village. ‘To listen in? You are used to the language yet?’    

‘No,’ he drawled back ‘But if we hear some brief grim laughter, then we can guess schemes being worked out. Yes?’

‘Yes,’

‘Let’s take a walk then,

As she rose she suddenly wiggled her hips, half-held her hands out fingers rubbing together and her feet shuffling a quick dance while she murmured in a breathy musical chant

‘And the pretty girls, sing

La-dee-dah. La-la-la-dee-dah,’ **

Well, he thought to himself, that was unexpected. Good stuff she had in her slim flask.

To be continued……..

** With respect and thanks to the Legendary Late Lou Reed     

And to Michael Herr of ‘Despatches’ fame, one of my valuable go-to-books

A Mid-Winter’s Tale

They shared the same first thought. If they survived they would seek out and cause severe harm to whosoever fired off that star-shell, even if the culprit was from their own respective side. It was probably only the shock of staring at the equally exposed and surprised enemy soldier which stilled they impulse to do anything more than breath out their own favoured swear word. Here they were experienced scouts and snipers surviving into the third year of the war, gawping and quivering like recruits. He wondered if this was it; he’d finally lost his edge, time to pay. She felt so damn tired she reckoned this was it. But the other one did not fire the shot. His shoulders slackened, his sniper rifle lowering; her knees eased as she crouched, placing her weapon on the frost hard snow. In response to her dulling eyes now shorn of the predatory gaze of their shared craft, he sighed in fatalistic relief and did likewise.

After nervous interlude of crouching, each at their own edge of the clearing in the scrub, She reached for the slim plastic flask strapped to her helmet and took a swift sip, she tossed it across to him.

‘Will keep you warm and awake,’ she said, although heavily accented he admitted she did speak his language well, reassured he took a swift mouthful, the liquid tasted of strong coffee but slipped down with the gathering warmth of a liqueur; feeling unsettled at the lack of an attack to respond to, for want of some response he was returning the social civility in her own lyrical tongue.

‘This is good. Were you issued or did you,’ the pause took the place of a smile ‘Appropriate?’

‘Nothing but the best for scouts,’ she replied the brief dullness in the eyes replaced with a flickering sardonic glint, he responded with a twitch of a smile and a brief snort.

The silence was growing awkward; comforting as it was, the stimulant could make you twitchy if you did not take some positive action in one way or another, and, anyway these days she was prone to twitches, having your cheek skimmed by a stray shot could have that effect.

He had to admit this situation was peculiar. There had been ceasefires. There had been truces to collect wounded. He’d never just sat down with a Khmuree before and he supposed judging by the shifts of puzzlement crossing her face she had not offered a Mitch a drink before as a matter of good manners. Mind you, this was still officially a neutral land and both armies were only here to protect the locals from the depredations of The Other, or so the story went. So with everyone under orders to be tip-toeing  oddness was bound to happen.   

‘Corporal Jagerin,’ her sudden introduction breaking the silence.

‘Banner Sergeant  Faigai,’ he replied, causing her to pull a face of mock respect and a quick universal salute of three fingers side on to her brow, making him realise they did have a sense of humour…not so ‘khmuree’ then.  In the lessening of tension he felt a general question was reasonable ‘Surveying the land and no more?’

‘Those are my orders. Your people are established but do not appear comfy, sentries keep pacing, officers are examining the land more times than they need to,’ she shrugged ‘I expect you found the same. You are returning yes?’

‘The most difficult part will be getting back to our own positions. Nervous soldiers are as dangerous as foes,’ 

‘I wish they would send veteran battalions to these places. People who can read a situation,’

They might well have simply ended the interlude with another exchange of acerbic comments on their own higher commanders and gone their separate ways, relieved at still being alive. Instead they both stiffened, dropped even lower, rifles to the fore.

‘Riders?’ they said to each other, in disbelief.

‘Not even trotting,’ Corporal Jagerin added.

To be continued…..