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Shampoo | Tiles | Shadows

There I was, hunched over the sink for a quick wash. It had been weeks since I left the office, and the only time I was ever alone involved lemon-scented shampoo. Unfortunately, such bliss was consistently short-lived. Just as I turned the squeaking tap off, the restroom door slammed open.

“He’s ready, chief,” my corporal reported.

Tossing my towel at the small-framed man, I crossed my fingers and stalked straight for the interrogation room. I had hope it was the end. That case had gone on for too long – those gruesome bodies and their weeping families – it was time to put it all to rest, as it should’ve been years ago.

“No more games,” I said.

“I was never playing one,” he replied.

“Good. So let’s get to it.”

A man in his mid thirties, with a healthy physique, and a head full of hair – dyed to conceal his premature aging – he mirrored the ordinary. But beneath the average and harmless facade was a monster. I had proof he’d stabbed and numbered his victims over the last fifteen years. And for the first time, I’d caught him.

“Do you plead guilty to the murder of-”

“I didn’t do it,” he casually interrupted, sliding into a comfortable position on his chair.

“You didn’t do it?”

“Without reason. I didn’t do it… without reason, detective. You’ll thank me if you knew.”

I frowned. I entered with intentions of withholding emotions, but that proved more difficult than expected. For one, I had an urge to knock his teeth loose – the devoid of remorse was provoking. But the first to lose their cool would lose the game. And I wasn’t going to lose again.

While I thought of a response to spur a direct confession, my antagonist straightened himself. Leaning forward, he added, “They were bad people, detective. All of them.”

“And that gives you a reason to kill?”

“A good reason.”

“Madeleine Matthews was a seven-year old math genius, about to change the world with her gift, before you brutally ripped her open. How was this child a bad person?”

“One day, she would be. Trust me, I know.”

“So you’ve decided to play god.”

“It’s all part of a greater plan, detective.”

“I see.” Done with the man’s crooked sense of justice, as it merely challenged my self-control, I went for the answer the nation needed to hear. “So, God, where are the other bodies?”

“What bodies?”

“Number three, five, six, nine, twelve, fifteen-”

“Not here.”

“I said, no more games,” I warned.

“I’m not playing any games, detective. They’re not here. You can search the whole country, and you’ll never find them… here.”

“I’m going to give you another chance. You either tell me now, or after I break every bone in your body.”

“Fine. Number three was sprawled on the bathroom tiles of his home in 1956,” he calmly replied. Apparently my threat made no difference, as he’d yet to lose his placid mien nor regain his sanity. “Number five was hung on a tree in a park in 2017. Number six-”

“Which park?”

“August, 2017.”

“I asked which park, not when.”

“It’s May, detective – it doesn’t matter which park. Shall I continue? Number six was left in a river in 1872. Number nine was buried in her backyard in 2038. Number twelve was-”

I slammed a hand on the metal table. “Enough,” I said. “You’re not making sense.” Rising from my seat, I glanced at the two-way mirror. Was my team hearing what I was hearing? Were they deducing him insane or concluding it as part of his game? I contemplated rounding them for a discussion, but I couldn’t shake off the anomalous feeling in the room.

“You’ll find them, detective – if you go back, or if you live long enough. All they are now… are shadows,” he said.

“Do you work alone?” I asked. Despite his modus operandi, it seemed as though he was implying something more with his grotesque accounts of history.

“Yes.”

“In 1873 and 2030?”

“In 1872 and 2038, yes.”

“Why the sporadic numbers and years?”

“I’m not stupid, detective. If I logged linearly, I would’ve been long caught. And not by you.”

“So you wanted me to catch you?”

“I need to tell you something, detective. But you wouldn’t take me seriously outside of this room.”

“I don’t take you seriously now. Do you expect me to believe you can… time travel?” I scoffed.

“That’s not it.”

“Then what is?”

He waved his hand, signaling me toward him. Chuckling, I strode to his side and leaned in.

“Tell me,” I prompted.

“I’m your son,” he whispered.

Pulling back with a laughter of disbelief, I rested my hands on my hip. “I don’t have a son,” I stated.

“Number twenty-six was bagged in the boot of her car in 1988. Her name was Sarah Weber. Sound familiar?”

At the mention of the name, I froze. Yes, it sounded familiar. And so was the beautiful face that came with it.

“Did you murder Sarah Weber?”

“Don’t worry, father. Once I leave this room, you’ll never see me again. I just wanted to meet you, that’s all.”

“You’re not leaving this room, son.”

“Oh, I will.” He smiled. “You’ll see.”

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Shampoo, tiles, and shadows were words given by monkeyeverythingblog. And this story, well, it was inspired by a Korean crime drama I’ve been binge watching. Since I expected a plot twist that didn’t occur on screen, I decided to write my own crime piece with these three ‘horror-inducing’ words. What do you think – would this make a decent drama?

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Since I didn’t go the horror route, perhaps you can do so. It would be pretty cliche though, but who’s to say – my story above is pretty cliche too.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Travel & Write

I love traveling – most of my friends, and even some of you, know that. I actually make it a priority to travel at least once a year. And because I’m not living in luxury – despite few assuming so, due to my escapades – I save as much as I can every month to make travel possible. It has become a ‘need’ in my life. But why?

There is, of course, the reason of ‘taking a break and seeing the world’. That’s the best reason anyone can give. It’s also a very legit one. But aside from that, I’ve found another reason to travel: inspiration. Traveling has inspired my writing. In fact, it has made me a better writer. Flights of fantasy frame a tale, but an experience gives it life. I endeavour to travel because I believe it gives my stories life – it makes them real. But how so, you ask?

#1 Cultural Understanding

Whenever I hop on a plane, I subject myself to a culture unlike my own. There’s a whole new way of doing things in a foreign land – a new mindset, upbringing, and belief. This unfamiliarity is the perfect opportunity to broaden my perception of the world. It corrects my former notions, and opens my mind to different possibilities. This understanding helps in my writing, especially when trying to break from a mold.

Often times, we box our characters in an ideal world – a world with a common set of cultures and beliefs. We do so because it’s safe – it’s what we know. But by experiencing other cultures in the real world, we gain a new understanding. Through the diversity, we’re able to sculpt a story from a fresh perspective. And by infusing the variety of life, we make our stories relate-able. Such stories live beyond the final page.

#2 Sight Beyond The Picture

There’s a difference between seeing a picture of an icy mountain peak and actually seeing it in person. There’s a set of emotions that come from sight beyond a picture. When you stand before a colossal work of nature, you’ll find yourself lost for words – awed at its magnificence. But when you look at a picture, you only feel a pinch of that emotion. You cannot grasps its magnitude and beauty, and your imagination will have to fill in those gaps.

When you’ve seen something in reality, your capacity to describe becomes far greater. The hustle and bustle, of a crowded street, is easier written when you’ve been jostled by the swarm of bodies. Compare that to a snapshot of Shibuya crossing, you can only imagine being sardined. Writing through an experience will leave a sense of reality with your reader. But to paint a real picture for them, you have to see its reality for yourself.

#3 Play Of Emotions

How important are emotions? Very. A writer needs to feel, before a reader can do so. But how can you feel anxious, overjoyed, fearful, and excited in writing, if you’ve not felt it in reality? There are many emotions aside from the common, everyday Inside Out posse. To know what it feels to be truly lost, is to be truly lost. To know what it feels to be wonder-struck, is to be truly wonder-struck. To know what it feels to be… you get my drift.

Traveling gives you the opportunity to experience and play with emotions you normally don’t. It helps you grasps the true meaning of a word. It helps you explain it in words, drawing from your very own encounters. Invoking emotion in a reader requires an author who knows that emotion inside out. And the only way to know an emotion is to feel it.

I know I’ve sold traveling as if it’s the best thing a writer can do. I also know that traveling may not be a luxury for some, while it may not be a priority to others. Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to see the world. You don’t have to board a plane to do so – you just need to try something new. Explore a part of your city you’ve not traversed. Try exotic dishes at a foreign restaurant. Befriend somebody from another country. Go out and experience the world first hand. Trust me, it’ll make a whole lot of difference in your writing – this, coming from a wanderlusting author.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Growing Your Audience

This is a subject many have brought up. I guess… the first thing people do, when they visit my blog, is check out the subscriber count. And a four-digit number is pretty big for most blogs. However, that number doesn’t actually equate to active readers. Having gained a following over time, I cannot confidently say that everyone reads. People come, people go – some stay and lurk – and I don’t have control over my audience. But, I can most certainly grow it. How? Well…

#1 Know Your Audience

The first thing you have to ask yourself is ‘who’ – who’s your audience? Is your audience children, potterheads, Japanese, fitness junkies – who are the people you want reading your blog? This is one of the most important questions you’ll have to ask. Establishing your target audience is of top priority, whether you’re running a blog or writing a book. It’s crucial, because the people who read matter as much as the content you publish. If one is without the other, your blog will just be your blog.

#2 Find Your Audience

Now that you know your audience, the next step is to find them. When I first started this blog, I went on a hunt for readers. Since my initial target audience was potterheads, I scoured the internet for Harry Potter related blogposts. Once found, I’d read them and leave an opinion in the comment section. Doing so helped me build an initial following of Harry Potter fans, who read and supported my fan fictions.

This isn’t something I do anymore – with the amount of writing I need to get done, I don’t have the time to go on a manhunt. However, I can safely say that this is the quickest way to grow your audience. You have to first go to people, before people come to you.

#3 Study Your Audience

Do you know your audience? Yes. Have you found them? Some. Great! Now study them.

Your blog will evolve over time, and along with it… your audience. As mentioned above, you have no control over who reads your blog. You cannot beg readers to stay, nor can you shoo them away (even if you wanted to). They have their own desires – their own needs and wants. So how do you keep them engaged? You study them.

Head over to your stats page and you’ll know where your readers are coming from, and which post grabs their attention. Put two and two together, and you’ll learn what your readers are looking for – you’ll discover what piques their interest. But of course, we don’t just blog for our readers. We blog for our own personal reasons too. And with that said, we’re not obligated to accommodate to their wants. However, knowing what they want, will help you find a middle ground – where you can meet your need, while meeting theirs.

Growing your audience takes time – some people take longer, some people take shorter. So build your empire at your own pace. You’re not in a competition with that other blog. You don’t need a million subscribers by midnight. Racing against a non-existent clock will only result in a burnout. And you don’t want to risk your passion for a follower count that isn’t constant. Just do what you can, while focusing on what’s important: your craft.

At the end of the day, your craft is more powerful than your comment on Draco Malfoy’s hair. Your craft is what keeps people reading. Your craft is you. And the worst thing you can do, is lose yourself in your quest for numbers.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Undaunted | Corgi | Trove

“Let’s go, Pup. They’re coming,” I said.

My trusted friend, an adorable brown-patched corgi, bounced to my side. It didn’t have a collar when it first showed up, so I called it ‘Pup’. I know, it sounds strange. Who would abandon a corgi? But it happened, and I’m glad it did. Because unlike me, Pup knew the map of this foreign land. Pup was part of this world. And boy, I would’ve been long caught if not for this little fellow.

“We have to get there before they do,” I added, pulling the room door open.

Pup barked in reply, and trotted into the crimson carpeted hallway. It promptly headed to the stairway. And just as I caught up, I heard the expected elevator ding. Pup heard it too.

Placing a finger over my lips, I gestured Pup to the stairs. Together, we shuffled down in a fury. I can’t recall the floor we were on, but it was a seemingly long descent. Oddly enough, we touched ground without a gasp for breath. Once in the lobby, I pointed at the revolving door, and said, “Lead the way, Pup.”

Pup hopped in place, and dashed toward the exit. As though having eyes at the back of its head, Pup kept a steady pace. What a funny sight it must’ve been – a man tailing a puppy. But neither of us spared a second on passers-by. We had to reach the cave, before the mercenaries did. We had to find the trove, before shots were fired. We had to live up to our name, coined by the people forever on our heels.

“Keep going, Pup!” I said, as we entered a crowd.

Pup and I were in a country rich with culture, brimming with men, and dense with low-rise shops along mucky, narrow streets. A great chatter rose from its heterogenous society – the noise as obstructing as the bodies. But thankfully, Pup only had ears for my husky voice. And I, only had eyes for its smooth coat.

Swivelling through the hustle and bustle, we made our way to the end of the winding street. Tearing free from the suffocating mass, we spotted the beach. But the second our feet aligned, an eruption of gunshots ensued. I snapped toward its source and found a scurry of people. With no time to lose, I waved Pup to follow.

Jumping over the stone barrier, we raced along the ocean tide with the east end in sight. It was where the wall of a great mountain stood. It fringed the peachy sand, homing the hidden entrance to Blackbeard’s treasure… or so some said. One can only hope at that point of time – with the gunmen bolting after us, the truth would determine our fate.

“Will we live, Pup?” I shouted, in competition with the evening waves. “Will the treasure be ours?”

Arf! Arf!

“I take that as a ‘yes’.”

Arf!

For a moment, I had confidence unbeknownst to men – thanks to Pup. But when my feet skidded five feet short of the sawtoothed wall, pessimism settled. From a glance, I knew there was no entrance. Hoping my initial deduction was erred, I brushed aside the navy green vines. Unfortunately, in dread, I was proven right. Did I read the clue incorrectly? Was Pup mistaken? I’ve not once failed to piece a jigsaw puzzle. And Pup had a track record of finding the right places. So, how could we both be wrong, at the same time?

“We’re done, Pup,” I said.

Now, you must know, I’m not a quitter. Nor am I a stranger to danger. But when bullets are bound to whizz my way, I have no plans to offer myself as target practice. The treasure could wait. I’ll get back to it… once I can account for my life.

“We need to find an escape,” I added.

On cue, Pup galloped to my left and halted where the ocean met the mountain. Calling me over with its bark, Pup turned to look upward. When I hesitated, Pup nuzzled against my leg.

“I can’t leave you,” I said. “We’ll find another way.”

Arf! Arf!

“No, Pup.”

Arf! Arf! Arf!

“I said, no.” I grunted, thoughtlessly lifting my gaze above. And there, right before my eyes, was an opening in the wall.

Arf!

“I see it! But…”

Peering over my shoulder, my burly antagonists were minutes from accomplishing their mission. With weapons lock and loaded, the odds of me finding another escape was slim. But, I knew I couldn’t leave Pup to those men. What would they do to Pup? I didn’t want to imagine. Still, as shameful as it is to admit, I considered saving myself. I’ve not doubted Pup’s intelligence, so perhaps the corgi had a plan. With this belief, could I leave my friend behind? Could I abandon Pup for safety and possibly, gold?

Arf! Pup prompted. Arf! Arf!

“I… I…”

Never have I faced such a dilemma. But before my mind could be made, a pang shot through my right shoulder. It sent my entire back tingling. Did I just take a bullet? I didn’t hear a gunshot. Frozen in fear, I faced no mercy – another pang erupted, and then a third. And since third time’s a charm, I snapped awake.

“Oi! Are you going to sleep through the day?” My sister hovered over me, with her hand poised for another smack.

“You just ruined my dream,” I muttered.

“Oh? Was it about a girl?” she teased.

“No.”

“Then?”

“I… I dreamt…Well, it was something about a treasure. And a dog.”

“Like in those Disney TV movies?” she asked with a chuckle. “What were you guys called – the Undaunted Duo or something?”

I frowned. “We didn’t have a name. Or… did we? Whatever. Go away.”

“The treasure hunting boy and his corgi – ah, that would make a great show for ten year-olds.”

Groaning, I yanked my blanket over my head. Whatever the dream was, it didn’t sound as silly as she’d imagined it to be. But I guess… I would never know, would I?

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Undaunted, corgi, and trove were words given by Calvin Ng on Facebook. What a plot twist, eh? No? Not really? Well… OK. I tried though. Recently, I’ve been having dreams about being chased – for whatever reason – and I thought, why not write about a chase dream. So, here it is. I hope it’s a decent story… from something so random.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. And, as an added challenge, write it based on something in your life – that’s as random as random gets.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Being The Best Writer

Before I begin, I want you to know that you can now grab a paperback copy of The Battle for Oz on Amazon at only $8.33. If you’ve not read my book, here’s a chance to do so at a 50% discount! Buying this book will support my authoring career, allowing me to write more stories for you. So visit HERE to grab your copy today!

So, back to the topic at hand: being the best writer.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can be the best writer, wonder no more. Here are 3 things you can do to be the best writer ever! Trust me, it works.

1. Stop Caring

This is applicable in life as it is in writing. If you want to be the best writer, you have to stop caring about what others think of you. You have to stop entertaining passing judgements. You have to accept, that as a writer, you cannot please everyone. You are you. Seeking the approval of someone who doesn’t like your work simply holds you back from moving forward. And dwelling upon a dislike only makes you self-conscious. This self-consciousness can mold an opinion into truth – which is not the truth. So stop caring about the world’s perception. Perceptions aren’t reality.

2. Find Your Purpose

Why do you write? Do you know that knowing why you write makes you more self-aware? We all have a purpose in life, and we all certainly have a purpose in writing. Knowing our purpose helps us stay true to ourselves. It drives our passion, it reflects our identity, and it reminds us to be us. Whether you write to inspire, to be read, or to share, our writing comes from a meaningful place. These meaningful, purpose-filled words make us unique. And these same words express our uniqueness.

Yes, I believe we’re all special snowflakes. As derogatory as some like to use the term, it’s the truth. There’s no one like you, and knowing who you are makes you a better writer.

3. Endeavour To Improve

If all this while you thought I was writing about being the best writer in the world, let me clarify now: you cannot be the best writer in this world. There’s a sea of writers, honing distinct voices, that it’s impossible to benchmark this skill and talent. So perhaps the better title for this post would be: Being The Best Writer You Can Be. And the only way to be the best writer you can be ever (!) is by endeavouring to improve in your craft.

Writing is a life long journey. When you choose to become a writer – out of passion – you choose to do this for as long as you live. You may not be ‘the best writer you can be’ today, but the more time and effort you put into improving yourself, you will be ‘the best writer you can be’ one day.

“Ah, well Jeyna, I know all this,” you say.

Well, so do I. I’ve said this before in my previous posts. And though I’ve not specifically written a post about it, I’ve repeated myself like a broken record. However, I publish this post today with a single goal: I want to remind, both you and myself, that we can be great writers by staying true to ourselves.

We don’t have to change to fit into a best-seller mold. We don’t need to repurpose our dreams to be accepted by readers. We just have to strive to be the best we can be. And, let’s not just practice this in writing but in life too. Because the only time we experience life at its fullest is when we experience life as ourselves.

(Not-so-random plug; I recently launched my fitness blog over at blogspot. Besides writing, fitness is also a passion of mine. If you’re into it too, I’d love to have you there as well!)

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Pink | Apocalypse | Massage

The neon pink sign flickered overhead. Its buzzing no less perturbing than the placid stray cat by the door. In fact, the sound of its malfunction was comforting. Any sound, for that matter, was comforting. Perhaps there was hope after all.

Welcome to my world. Or, shall I say, what’s left of it. Before this dreary mess, hope wasn’t a preposterous pipe-dream. There was a time where, despite the toil of survival, laughter and cheer prevailed. A time of sound, I call it. Sound of cars whizzing down the highway. Sound of steam hissing from the coffee machine. Sound of trees rustling in the evening breeze. Sound of another – breathing, moving, living. But then they all came to a stop. The world ended – the apocalypse. Sound lost its dominance, as the living that made it drew their last breaths. And the world, as we know it, became silent.

I’ve lived in this quiet – alone – for a while now. There was a time I actually enjoyed it. After the chaos ended, the absence of even the faintest noise was solace. The peace, accompanied with the ringing in my ears, chased the maleficent thoughts away. Alas, it was short-lived. Soon I wanted to hear something – the howling wind, the dripping tap, the heavy footsteps. Soon, I needed it. Unfortunately, there were none. I could make my own to fill the void – to help me keep my sanity – but they weren’t organic. They weren’t real or true. They were contrived. But just before I lost all hope, I heard it – the sliding of paper from under my apartment door. It was deafening in my muted world. Its sound and its black, slanted words, offered to feed my hunger.

So, there I was – under the sign of the dingy massage parlour embracing the buzz. I would’ve continued in my languor, but the creaking of the door broke the spell. As it opened from the inside, I saw my first human. He was a six-foot, clean-shaven man.

‘Are. You. Sure?’ he mouthed. He didn’t speak as though to deprive me further.

“Yes,” I replied.

The man nodded and gestured for me to enter. With hope, I did. Into the forsaken foyer, heavily laden with dust, I went. But inside was noone.

“Where are they?” I asked. “You said there were people.”

Shutting the only exit, the man spared no word and took the lead. I was tempted to ask once more, but I tailed him like a lost puppy instead. When we finally came to a stop, it was before another door. This time, he spoke.

“If you live, you live with us,” he said – repeating the offer on the paper.

“And what must I do to live?” I asked.

“Fight,” he replied.

The man pushed the door open, and a breath-snatching reverb hit me. It was overwhelming. My eardrums thumped. My chest tightened. And I hesitated. In the presence of my heart’s desire, I contemplated.

Ahead was a descending flight of stairs, and at its foot was a room lit in dim neon light. Rising from the unknown were disembodied voices. They shouted my name. And their calls wrapped me around their preternatural fingers. So instead of turning back, where it was bright and familiar, I shuffled down the stairs. Oh, how quickly I regretted it. The moment my feet stepped onto the solid ground, I received a nerve-shocking blow to the jaw. And just as I stumbled backward, a cheer erupted.

Where were the people? Attempting to get my bearings, I found myself in the dark. Despite the light, I could barely grasps my surroundings. Everything was a blur of swirls, alike the sky in a post-impressionist painting. What was happening? Where was I? I knew I had to fight to live – to live with these people – but how, when I couldn’t see?

“I can’t see,” I shouted.

There was no response. The cheering continued as a hand reached for me. To spare myself from another painful punch, I repeated, “I can’t see! Stop! I can’t see!”

To think those words would make a difference proved my naivety. Yet in the oddity of the entire experience, they did. Declaring my weakness, a white light flicked on – blinding me in an instant – as the voices quieted down. And in the return of silence, my eyes adjusted. Where I was, was an empty basement with moulding walls. There was nobody around, not even the man who’d ushered me in. And I was alone, in silence, again. What was going on? Had I lost my mind? I must’ve.

“Hello?” I called. “Is anybody… there?”

No reply. No echo. No ghostly creak. Nothing.

“I can fight now,” I muttered. “I can see now.”

Silence.

At that moment, I knew the only person I’d be fighting was myself. There was only me in this world. But as long as I could see, I could fight – whatever the fight was.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Pink, apocalypse, and massage were words given by Vincent Lim on Facebook. If you have no idea what this story is about, great! It’s up for interpretation.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. But before you do that, leave a comment below with the 3 most random words you can think of. I need your creativity to stir my creativity.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in Original Works

 

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I’m Not Done Yet! Or am I?


Am I done with this novel? Is it good enough? When can I say I’m truly done?

As a writer, I always ask myself these questions. But the fact is, one can never say a novel is truly done. There’s no benchmark. There’s no checklist. There’s just me… and my novel. I’m the judge of when it’s complete. And yet, I cannot judge. I wonder if the extra rounds of editing would make my book worse. I oscillate between editing again or leaving it as it is. I don’t know what to do! Help! The uncertainty drives me crazy. But recently, I’ve come to a realisation.

Whenever I edit my novels, I mostly dislike what I read. I’m rarely happy with the text before me. I always think my story sucks – that I’m not a good writer – and I know I’m not alone. But in the midst of that, there’ll be a moment in time – a second of contentment – that hits me like an unforeseen kiss. It’s rare. It doesn’t happen as frequently as I hope it would. And it only transpires after I’ve grown tired with my work. This emotion comes after my self-loathing is replaced with fatigue.

Have you ever felt worn out from all the editing? Have you told yourself, “I’m done. I’m not touching this again. I’ve done all I can”? This brief moment of unexpected tranquility is how I know I’m done. Because… it only sweeps past me after my final round of editing. And by ‘final’, I mean I decided it would be the ‘final round’ before even starting work. How convenient, right?

You see, subconsciously, we know when we’re done. We can sense it. It’s an innate ability. Like how animals can sense an earthquake, it’s a gut feeling we writers have. But the two things holding us back – driving us to spend years on a single book – are doubt and fear. We doubt we have what it takes. We fear we’re not good enough. So we keep at it, on the same piece of writing, not realising that by working on the same thing over and over again, we’re not growing. We’ve boxed ourselves. We’re unable to learn by exploring other stories within us. We squeeze our creativity, then question why we’re not good enough. And when that moment of contentment hits – when we’ve come to believe we’ve given our all – we quickly brush it aside. We disregard the prompt that’s telling us to stop. And we repeat the vicious cycle of wondering, questioning, and not knowing when it’s done.

I, personally, don’t believe we should work on a single piece of work for years. I know I say this with The Slave Prince being a novel I worked on for 3 years, but I wrote plenty of other work during those 3 years too. And by honing my craft, I’m able to better The Slave Prince as I find my own style and voice. Am I done with The Slave Prince now? Yes. Very done. I’ve given my all. And there’s only so much I can do where I am, right now.

Moving forward, I’m ready to dive into new worlds. I’m ready to challenge my creativity and imagination. And I know I cannot do that if I’m stuck on the same book. Don’t let the question of ‘done’ stop you from moving forward. Because in reality, we’re never done. We will always grow, and we need to let ourselves grow.

So take it from me. The next time a wave of surprising satisfaction washes up your shore, after your ‘final round’ of editing, ask yourself these:

Am I done with this novel? Yes. Is it good enough? No. When can I say I’m truly done? Never.

You don’t have to publish your novel tomorrow. But you most certainly need to start writing something new. Only then can you free yourself from a curse, so cruel, it robs you of your much needed ‘happily ever after’.

The End.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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