Project in the making

The greatest sin a writer can make is talking about what they are working on, for announcing it means that the universe will do whatever it can to not make it happen, at least that’s my experience.

It’s even more important to not talk about your projects when they are in the drafting stage as that’s when the project is the most vulnerable. Even so, I’m inclined to tell you I’m working on “something” and the goal is that the first draft will be finished before new years, which is why I haven’t posted much these couple of weeks.

Hope you’re all having a splendid December and hopefully I’ll have something more to post before Decembers end.

 

 

I Abandoned a Story and I Couldn’t be Happier.

 There’s this story that I’ve worked on for about 2 years, and during this time, there’s been a lot of changes to the plot, which is not a good thing…

A short story should be simple, with a clear plot and it should be easy to grasp and explain to anyone who ask about it. But to achieve this, there must be a clear backstory and beginning, much like a gardener planting his seed:

(…) The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what the seed is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or a mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows (…)

 -George R. R. Martin  Full Quote

The backstory is the seed, in my mind.

But as you learn to write, you’ll apply what you’ve learned as you learn them, which will result in an entangled mess of subplots and character motivation until it doesn’t make sense anymore – if it ever made sense to begin with.

I tried my darndest to fix the plot, and to give you an idea: the story was 24 pages at on one point; I ended up with 120.

It was then that I finally realised there was no way… It hurt at first, a lot even. I didn’t want to think about how much time I’ve sunk into the story, but as I came to terms with it, I only felt relief.

But my time wasn’t totally wasted for what I’ve begun was the bones of a novel. I abandoned the plot almost completely and salvaged what I could. I used the worldbuilding I’ve already done and expanded upon it.

I’ve now learned not to be lazy and that everything rides on the beginning/backstory, otherwise, the rest won’t make sense. Hence, I spent a week working on the first chapter alone. There’s  not going to be any loose end this time around.

We’ll see how it all turns out, in worst case, it’s another learning experience…

Invisible Steps – Poem

Their steps can be heard all over the valley

A thumping noise that makes the ground tally

But only at full moon do they show, for they move in the darkness

Even the ground hides their stroll

Nobody had been hurt by their heavy steps

Nor was the forest in tatters

Its as if they does not exist

Perhaps it is the fantasy of the people in the unknown

For life is simple, imagination is what we’ve grown


© Christopher Stamfors

Tales of the Old Coot – Very Short Story

Rain drummed on the copper roof, dripping through that which was missing to hold it together. Water streamed through the cracks onto the moulded wood, soaking through the third floor, then the second, onto the first. The musky smell that had been overpowering upon entry subsided as he ascended the stairs to the top floor. The wind was fresh but chilling and howled in between the gaps where the wall had once been whole. A mist came out his breath as he looked through old books, vials and trinkets. The vials still stood neatly on their shelves with green mould which fused the glass to the wood. The vials were filled with colourful substances as wide and varied as a prism. He didn’t know what they were for and he didn’t care to find out, it wasn’t why he was here, after all.

He searched the wall until he found a shelf filled with books. They were also neatly stored, except on the lower shelves, where they had been torn out in a flurry.

He grinned hungrily at the sight.

There was always something valuable to salvage in these ancient towers, especially in old spell books. Even if only half the formula was readable he would still get a fair price from a collector or a scholar, which the city had many. But a frown touched his lips as the pages turned into a slush as he opened them. The tower was old… too old, it seemed. He should have known it was too good to be true to find such a tower so close to a village, seemingly untouched. He glanced through a gap in the wall and looked down at his vessel – it was still there.

And why shouldn’t it? He was alone, after all. Though, there were the tales…

He shook his head and continued rummaging. He’d stayed one hour too long with the old coot, her tales getting to him. Course, the forest was haunted in one way or another, they always were; stories to keep children from getting lost in the woods or adults away from treasure.

He glanced through the gap again and saw his boat still there on the shore waiting for him.

He considered leaving then.

With his eyes fixated on the vessel, the building howled louder than it had ever before and he shot to his feet. He stood frozen with his blade half drawn, listing. The howl died as the wind did and he swore beneath his breath. He swore again, louder. He stomped on the floor to create noise but stopped as he saw the mushy footprint his shoe had created. The silence; the gloomy surroundings; and the stories, they were getting to him. He kicked the pile of books on the floor and rummaged much more carelessly.

“There’s got to be something…” He murmured to himself.

“Worthless… Garbage… Disgusting,” he announced as he found them. Everything in the tower seems to be one or the other, often all three at once.

After an hour of searching, and the floor littered with items, he sat by the pile and looked at them. This was pointless after all, he thought, letting silence engulf him, once more. Then, there was a faint growl, reverberating through the wood and his body. He stood, slowly, and looked out the shore – his vessel was still there.

It was time go.

With careful steps, he made his way down the first floor and to the outside. He jerked his head around and watched the tower, seeing how it was crooked and parts of the wall littered the surroundings. He wondered why he’d dared to set foot in it and then remembered the promises it had held; it didn’t seem as bad when it held potential treasure… He pushed the vessel into the muddy water and climbed aboard. The mist went thick the further from the tower he went, surrounding him in a dark, yet luminescent, green. Another growl echoed as he went, creating waves in the water. He turned nervously and saw a faint murky light shining, spiralling up and down the tower that was now fully out of sight. Maybe there was something to those old stories, after all?


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

Ghostly Creed – Poem

The alley echoed hollow on the empty street

Silence is a virtue by ghostly creed

Old houses and graveyards, is where they’d like to be

Hollow beings which the living cannot see

They are bound by the earth as long as they are remembered

Cast to the unknown, they prefer to stay unattended

For nobody knows what lay beyond

Are you going to heaven

Or hell as a thrall?


© Christopher Stamfors

Drew the cover image by myself this time around, although very hastily…

Writer’s Advice is Useless…

… is what I’ve come to realise after reading through mountains of writer’s advice blogs and articles: don’t read them. They will discourage you, if anything else. Now, I realise this might be considered writer’s advice as well, but I believe there are exceptions. (1) listen to criticism. It’s a no brainer, and granted, every writer’s advice article will tell this but I believe it’s crucial for any artist and is worth reiterating.

But in the end, the most important advice anyone can give you is, (2) Write what you’d like to read; when you do this, everything else will fall into place because you will sense if something is wrong, if the tone of the scene is out of place or if the characters act strangely because you are intimately close with your story. If anyone tells you How To Write a Story, don’t listen. They can only tell you How THEY Write a Story and is in reality only giving advice to their younger selves, not to you.

Which I’m doing too, ironically.

I believe it can be downright damaging to read such articles because they will often only tell you what you can’t write and that is bullshit. Writing is an artform and you should avoid learning the rules for as long as you can. Come to think of it, there’s actually a third advice: (3) Read, for god sake read as much as you can! Read lot’s of different stories, different genres, fiction, nonfiction, it will all mold you into what kind of writer you’ll become. You’ll absorb styles, the words they use and their voices until your own work become indistinguishable from theirs and thus become your own.

Artists steal, that’s the truth of it, and the reason we have such great fiction today is because there’s a lot of it. There are a lot of inspiration to be had and more means different and your goal is to become different, which is yourself.

Don’t write what is popular or what you think will sell, at least not for the sake of it. Make good art, as Neil Gaiman would put it.

That said, what is different from Writer’s Advice is listening to what other authors do, which has merit, because while we write, we try to find the process that works for us and they can give you some idea to what works for you. So, in the end, what I’m trying to say is, listen to yourself first and others second, only you know what kind of writer you want to be.


© Christopher Stamfors

Night Call – Poem

Had a short poetry session with the artist behind most of my cover art, thought it was pretty fun…


Me: Cresent light shine upon me

Your way-ford light a reminder,

of times ahead

Your command the essence of my being

Tell me what needs to be done and I shall perform

Oh, crescent light,

Of darkness

And mischief

 

Him: Go where you see fit

Until you can’t see no more.

At the edge of the abyss

Where you’ll await my guide.

There we shall converse again and move forward

until that time the journey is sole yours.

 

Me: You speak of grander things

Chris the Cold

Of a time when the Dark Lord’s madness,

Were planned to unfold

But I have wandered between madness and the abyss

And I see no light and the end of the tunnel

Of guidance through the apocalypse

Don’t fool yourself with glory of a bygone past

We will never talk again

Unless you give up your soul,

As the master planned.

 

 

Cold and Deep – Poetry Story

I’ve been considering doing voice over for my stories to broaden my audience. I’m an amature with anything conserning audio and video, so keep that in mind if you choose to listen to it on Soundcloud


Cold and deep

The skeleton lay

Wood enclosed it

Keeping treasure hunters at bay

Life was never the same

When old red found his grave

 

The seas went quite

Trade resumed

Wares from all over the world

Reached the shores without fume

 

But people never forgot

The horrors the old sea dog brought

His sabre high

And his spirits higher

 

For centuries seafarers would turn around

Whenever the mist went thick

A sea chanty they heard in the dimly night

The old sea dog’s voice echoed hoarsely

Chanting merry rhymes

of plunder and of booty

of life on the high seas

But also of his eternal soul

Who limboed at the breeze

 

But centuries went

And people they forgotten

Taking routes nobody dared

In the age of their grandparents

 

But when people learned of great treasure

Hidden in the sea

They dared old superstition

Nothing would satisfy their greed.

 

Greed brought them there

And greed made them stay

In the depths of forever

The captain sang, with new crew-members

in the cold and deep


© Christopher Stamfors

Underbelly – Poem

A glint was found

In the darkness and the damp

Cities have their underbelly

Fear is what makes you stand

Standing before evil, it will face you too

What comes out of the darkness

Only you can have a clue

 

A face can turn evil at the sight of the unknown

Everything is a reflection

Of the past not shown

 

But though the unknown is a reflection

It will turn people away

For nothing stays the same

Except the knowledge that fear will never go away


© Christopher Stamfors

Invisible Touch – Poetry Story

Gusts of wind sprayed water upon the wall, the wind howled between the narrow windows that looked down at the shore.

The walls had protected the city for many years, but this night no invaders would dare to show, for walkers roamed in the darkness and everyone stayed indoors.

The streets were empty, there was silence, only the wind grew louder with compliance. Yet a lone woman scurried down the hall, her steps echoed hollow on the marble floor.

And out she went this restless night, her feet caked the mud, yet she did not slow, for what hunted her would not let her go.

With fear she ran without looking back, the darkness was thick and she did not see where she sprang. The void tipped her over, an invisible touch, the walker had decided this hunt was ending, her cries unamending.

For she was marked, her life was not her own, it would never let her go, with glee it watched her sob.

The creature was invisible, in the darkness of the night, though there were texts that made guesses, for the mere sight would end their lives.

The rain drummed on her body, her gown was thoroughly soaked, the cold made her shiver and fear made her lips they quivered.

But she did not sit for long, this restless night, her skin turned pale and cold, until the walker was satisfied.

Her eyes were empty and her body was the same, not a single drop had spilled, no markers upon her skin.

But the creature did not grin for this was not a joyous night, they once ruled the world, but now, they make due with one restless night.


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

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