Life, On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith, Unlikely

Of smiles, winking water, flesh-eating sows and branded memories month has gone by. I think I’ve finally resigned myself to the simple fact that a year is a short thing, and not as long as it first appears or indeed, ought to be. But still, we can fit plenty of living into it, plenty of love and plenty of laughter (all beginning with ‘l’!) and also, you’ll never guess but … we can squeeze plenty of writing in too. Which doesn’t begin with an l. But then writing uses letters so I suppose it sort of fits.

And despite the often gloomy weather and rain, the sun still peeks through and God is good, always. And also … it is awfully nice to write with the rain pattering against the window. (And if there isn’t any rain to be pattering or storming … have you heard of RainyMood?)

Anyway – below are some bits ‘n’ bobs from March.

– – –

A small smile was attempted, but it ended in a dismal failure; for lips that smile must turn up at the tips and not downwards like a fast sinking rock dropped in a pool of water.

– Unlikely

Staying by the stream I look up at the sky; the sun is low yet, and a soft haze of mist still covers the valley below. I let one hand drift in the stream and hold it just below the surface, feeling the numbing cold trickle between my fingers and watching the sunrays play with the water, causing it to twinkle and wink merrily back at me.

– The Dragons We Hunt

With an unsure glance at Bernice he decided to lay the deer on the table, indoors and out of sight and smell of the scavenging, lolloping pig. Bloody Bernice, they ought to have called her. The Flesh Eating Sow.

– The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

The scene would be forever etched in his memory, branded with all the ferocity of a red-hot iron. The tangled branches of overhanging trees straining over the path, the brown grasses which gave way to the forest, the brightly coloured uniforms of the Captain’s men, the limp body of his brother; awaiting his enemies with all the resistance of a newly born lamb.

– The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

Characters, Unlikely

… she wrote a mirror and stared at her reflection.

Whew! February is over. Now things have slowed down and … goodness gracious! Is it Chatterbox again?

Yes … yes it is. The subject this month is Mirrors. This time, instead of Robert, I’ve written of Peronell Malkyn of Unlikely.

I rather enjoyed writing this, and will not apologise for its length.

A mirror. Just because.

– – – –

The library was empty – Scribe Destrian and his assistants had long since retired for the night. The sole light was a candle, standing on a little desk and casting out its weak beams to the room around, touching with a feeble flicker the high bookshelves which towered forever upwards, the ends of their height hidden in a blanket of darkness; like mountain peaks obscured by cloud.

The only noise was the scratch of a quill upon parchment and the soft breathing of a figure hunched over the writing desk.

Her brow was furrowed and her nose was scrunched as she attempted to write.

It’s all very busy here, one could read (if one was in the line of deciphering scrawled and blotched writing) though I’m like a ghost. Walking the halls with soundless footsteps.

I don’t miss you – the line was written with brutal honesty – as you only ever teased me. But as your younger sister it is my duty to wonder how you fare, I’m trying to do my duty you see, even though our sister has firmly taken most opportunities out of my hands. I can’t say that I resent her, for surely I made a mess of giving the farewell cup at your parting.

She frowned – why give an opening for teasing? A line was drawn through the offending words.

The King is in good health, she wrote helpfully, and so is our brother, the Crown Prince. These too were crossed out with a thick black line (and a droplet of ink which escaped the writer’s best efforts). Of course Linus would know if the Royal Family were suffering any harmful malady; it was foolish to write the obvious.

Sometimes, she wrote with the air of one giving a precious confidence, I think that the Creator made a dreadful mistake – here she bit her lip; did one spell mistake with a ‘c’? The word’s last two letters were given a small inkblot so the meaning was clear but the spelling was not – and should have given the King and our late Mother another prince. A prince who could ride into battle and bravely uphold the honour of our country with the sword.

As it is, she wrote with lips set in a firm line, I am entirely useless. A frown creased her brow; it was not pleasant to describe oneself with such a morbid word.

I am entirely unable – was written instead – to do such a thing. Nor am I suited to be the Mistress of the Palace; a station which our sister so admirably fills.

My Lord Tomas has suggested that reading does not benefit anyone except myself – reading a tale of heroic deeds is not the same as going – here, ‘going’ was heavily underlined – and doing the heroic deeds oneself. Though how a maiden with no knowledge of swordplay can defeat (with a sword) a fearsome foe is yet to be seen.

I don’t know what to do – save be a ghost, of course. I’ve perfected that. You, my dear brother, can do heroic things. Our brother will one day be a king and our sister will always be the shining, gentle Beauty of our country.

The Creator knows what He wants me to be. I hope, truly I do, that it isn’t to be a ghost. I wish He would show me … but until then – would you mind awfully slaying an evil enemy in my name?

I remain your devoted sister.

But her hand hesitated in signing her name. Carefully she reread what she had written and began to cross out words. Lines. Sentences.

It seemed too close – a reflection of herself written in black ink upon a cream page. Too real, too raw.

The silence weighed heavily.

She sat there – in that large room with its multitude of books, tales, stories – utterly alone.

The letter was heavily lined now – everything save the opening greeting was crossed through and she felt almost breathless. She would not send it to Linus, for she knew that if he peeked between the lines and lifting them, looked underneath – he would see her.

Like a mirror that had its image frozen.

She didn’t like mirrors.

Characters, On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith, Unlikely

Headaches, Insults and Meaningful Nods – Writing Snippets

I thought that perhaps it would be fun to post a couple of snippets from my writing in January (‘Snippets of Story’ is a monthly event held at Katie’s blog – Whisperings of the Pen). The latter half of Febuary is going to be quite busy and my writing will probably suffer a wee bit for it – but still, c’est la vie. It doesn’t matter how much I write as long as I’m still writing …

Timothy’s head ached. Nay – this was false; Timothy’s head was being pulverised by a battering ram, clobbered with a hundred cudgels and thrashed by a thousand knaves.

He sat with his head in his hands, leaning on his knees. He felt ill – sick. He never felt sick. He glared at the beam where his blood stained the wood. It looked horrific and he was somewhat oddly cheered by the gruesome sight – it befitted the injury it had bestowed upon him.

– The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

“That senseless man!” Leon gripped Robert’s right shoulder. “We’d best leave.”

“Why?” he asked, bewildered.

“Because she’s coming now; perhaps to beach where we stand. Bah! Fool of a man – son of loon and ostrich, head of mud and mind of spittle; to come now in such mists. Curse him!”

– The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

The chatter in the room ceased as her father entered. He gave a brief nod to his children – to which one it was hard to tell as it was rather an all compassing nod: Good morning, it said. I hope you haven’t shamed me overnight. Oh, by the way, I wish to tell you that I hold some affection towards you all. Not much – forgive me for having a whole kingdom to protect and love and not having enough to pat and kiss your heads. But in my own way, deep down (very, very deep down) I love you. Each one. Even you, Nell.

She was a fanciful creature, she decided as she returned his nod (though he was seating himself at the time and thus was quite unaware of it).

– Unlikely

On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith, Unlikely

Inspiration Can Only Take You So Far

I recently wrote a post about Ideas. Yeah, well … one knocked me on the head. And now I’m on the third chapter with a board of sixty-nine pins on Pinterest.

Never underestimate the power of inspiration.

Inspiration – would you believe it – comes from …







… the Republic, a Daydreamer, and the Mongols.

I can’t believe it either – yet it makes so much sense.


I read a post yesterday on what writing all boils down to – Perseverance.

Because in the end inspiration can only take you so far.

Writing can be fun, but sometimes it can be murder. It can feel like bashing one’s head against a solid brick wall that just won’t. give. way. It can be frustrating – like holding a thousand different threads that are all tangled up and you have to untangle them all. It can be like a crocheted blanket – with a million plot holes. It can be a ginormous, pounding headache. It can bring about the bright red cheeks of embarrassment.

It’s … hard.

But then … sometimes it isn’t. It can be a truly wonderful thing – when the plot comes together, intertwining with perfection. When a scene brings a tear to the eye or a line of dialogue brings a chuckle. Or when a character feels. Or when a bit of description is just right.

But if I give up when everything is tangled; when it seems like I can’t write well, when everything resembles that blanket … then I will miss out on the good things – the glorious moments; when the words flow and the story unfolds before my very eyes, when I can write ‘the End’ with a flourish, a job well done (until the edits …!).

So I guess the thing I need to remember – above all else – is to persevere, and never give up.

[crickets chirp]

Ness: does this mean that I have to finish that chapter – that really, really difficult-and-devoid-of-inspiration chapter – in The Many Trials?


Ness: *whimper*