Last week I observed the beginning of a new challenge posted by Aisling Weaver on her blog, Rebirth in Buffalo. Every week, Aisling will roll nine story cubes and post a picture of the outcome on her blog.

This is what she said:

Every week I will roll the dice. They will be posted Friday at midnight(EST). I invite all writers, no matter your genre or your style, to try your hand at this challenge. Short, long, prose, poetry, I welcome all!

Your challenge…to write a piece that encompasses the nine elements shown on the dice. Once completed, add your link below and crow your success on twitter under the hashtag #WeekendWriter! If you don’t have a blog to post to, please post it in the comments!”

It is completely ingenious, and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Here are the dice from Aisling’s blog for this week’s challenge:

… and below you can read what I came up with. I couldn’t believe how quickly the images started to trigger new ideas. I also loved reading entries from last week’s #WeekendWriter, all of them completely unique. It just goes to show the real significance of the writer’s mantra: “write what you know”.

There are many themes in life, in writing, in art, and everyone will interpret them in their own completely unique way. 🙂

The Mystery of N

“Open your eyes,” Dawn said. “You have to look at this differently.”

How? I thought.

The map was abstract. It was drawn on a square piece of parchment, depicting a rugged, rocky island with a mountain right in the middle. It was just like a treasure map from a pirate legend.

An arrow drawn above the mountain showed north, but from there, all similarity to a normal, navigational map disappeared. The shape of the island was scrawled over with symbols, hieroglyphs and letters that had no meaning for me.

“I know you have the answer all figured out,” I growled, “so why don’t you just tell me?” (more…)

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Chihiro and the beleaguered river spirit in Spirited Away

2010. It’s the beginning of a whole new decade. I want to start this decade by being more like Chihiro, the young heroine of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated masterpiece, Spirited Away. There are many points I could draw from the film – especially as an example of fantasy that has reality, truth and humanity at its heart – but I’ll be content with just one, for now.

Forced to work in a bath house run by Yubaba the witch, Chihiro has to undergo many trials in the hope of rescuing her parents, who greedily ate the food of the spirits and were turned into pigs as a result. On one particular occasion, a stinking monster comes into the bath house. He wants a bath, and he has lots of gold to offer in return. Greedy Yubaba likes the colour of his money enough to ignore the foul sludge which oozes from him, filling the bath house and scaring off the other customers.

Chihiro is given the rather daunting task of making the guest feel welcome and escorting him to his bath, which she does with heroic determination. As the monster soaks in the hot water, Chihiro realises that something is stuck in his side, and it won’t budge.

With the help of Yubaba and the other bath house attendants, Chihiro succeeds in tying a rope around the mysterious object. Then she pulls. And pulls. And pulls …

(more…)

I said I’d let you know what was happening with my novel work-in-progress. Well, I still haven’t come up with a decent title for it, although it currently lives in a folder in my hard drive entitled ‘Guardian’. This was my first idea for a title (I won’t say why – this is a strictly spoiler-free post ;)), but ever since then I haven’t been able to look at it without thinking of the English broadsheet newspaper which my parents buy every week. I now think of it almost like a code word for my novel.

Hah! My novel has code words.

Since my last post on the subject (the previous post in this blog, in fact – proving that I am consistent in my subjects, if not in regularity of updating), I have written every day. This is immensely satisfying, not only because I’m finally creating good writing habits and sticking to them, but because it proves that the writing techniques I learned last year during NaNoWriMo were not just flashes in the pan of inspiration: what I learned back then has stuck with me over a whole year, and I am applying it to my writing outside the NaNo zone.

Which means – *drum roll* – that I may actually have it in me to finish a novel this time around. Touch wood.

In between feverish bouts of writing, which average at around 1,000-2,000 new words not-all-in-one-go per day, I have found several ways of distracting myself from the task – opportunities to break off and do something else for five minutes. Or several hours. This is admittedly dangerous – if I find the perfect distraction, who knows when I might get back to writing the actual novel? But since I’ve managed to pull myself back from each of these distractions in turn, I think I can safely say that I’m not in danger of abandoning my story just yet. Still, to give them their due, here’s what I’ve been doing in between writing (on top of the obvious things like making unnecessary cups of tea or coffee) …

(more…)