#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 11: A Darkness Falls

Night Dancing by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge,”night,” I had some fun creating my own starry night in the daylight.

OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt, “horses,” took me by surprise. I have odd, mixed feelings about horses. I’ve been to horse camp, a dude ranch; my sister trained a horse in the field I walked through on the way to elementary school every day, but I don’t have much of a fondness for horses. A girl fell during a ride and broke her leg at horse camp, and the horse my sister was training gave her an awful kick. I almost got bucked off during a ride. I guess I see them as unpredictable.

I like the 2018 prompt “Falling through the cracks.” I really like the picture I took of the broken sidewalk in the warm sun of New Orleans, but my poem about watching ants isn’t very exciting. There are a couple of things I like from the poem :

“The alluring scent guides you ever after.” I like the idea of scent and human pheromones, how we fight our natural smells that might be our animal pheromones and yet created an entire industry of scents to attract. This makes me want to re-read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins again.

“Forever in need . . . Famine or greed?” Though I put a line between these two, this is a question that defines everyone’s life: philosophy, religion, politics, everything is need, but the question is why do we need and how do we fulfill those needs. Needs and choices for need fulfillment define every story.

Will my feelings about horses, and falling through the cracks combine in a night of needs and greed?

The Cascade form has a fun repetition that should work well with sonic surrender.

A Darkness Falls

tonight’s moonlight falls
falls through the cracks
the cracks in the panes

shadows gallop through starlight
like wild horses across the walls
tonight’s moonlight falls

rushing like waterfalls
spreading darkness heavy falls
falls through the cracks

blindly crawling over tacks
tracks bleed familiar paths
tracking the cracks in the pain.

A Twinkling of Stars by Maria L. Berg 2021

Writober

Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

Today I’m going to attempt to let the story grow in my subconscious by ignoring it today. Like saying “Don’t think about an elephant,” makes you picture an elephant, don’t think about my story, think about anything but my story, should get ideas rumbling around for drafting tomorrow.

When the Stars Come Out by Maria L. Berg 2021

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 10: Walking on Air with a Wisdom of Owls

Nutty Owls on the Brain by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge “owl,” I woke up with owls on the brain. Then I ate them, so I had to look for more owls. I found a parliament in the bedroom closet.

Parliament by Maria L. Berg 2021

With all the birds and little bats in the area, I thought there would be owls about, but I haven’t seen any. Now that I made an owl filter, I can put owls in the trees and all over the lake. I’ll fill this place with owls when the rain stops. For now, I’ll play with my wisdom of indoor owls.

A Colorful Sagacity by Maria L. Berg 2021

OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt is “End-Stopping.” I find this constraint intriguing in combination with sonic surrender, since sonic surrender has been all about flow. How will it feel to put stops in that flow, like large stones in a river? It also asks about stops and endings. What do I want to stop, to end? And when it stops, what will begin?

The 2018 prompt was “Walking on Air.” I tried the Con-Verse form and wrote a poem called “She Knows They’re Watching.” I think end-stopping each line could work well with the Con-Verse form.

Stop: I Want to Get Off!

I dance on air without care.
My face aches joy, smiles to spare.

I spin, dizzy and sick with love.
Stop the ride! I want to get off.

Is an end but a bend in the road?
A pause in my perceptual code?

Suspense lies between feeling and action.
My gut lost to the free-fall of passion.

That’s not the same ecstasy I yearn for now.
The burn in my mind combines rich words I’ve found.

I climb to new heights as I fight gravity’s pull.
Where my rhyme-rhythms collide with clouds, I stay fueled.

So I turn and I twirl, as in flight, round every bend.
My perceptions connect spaces and make shapes again.

Perched by Maria L. Berg 2021

Writober

Since this weeks twitter chats were both chatting about NaNoWriMo, and I’m looking at plotting today, I thought I’d look back at my detailed NaNoWriMo posts from 2017 for inspiration. Those posts are filled with great prompts, exercises and links.

Logline: An arrogant gossip hears noises coming from his shower. Exploring the drain isn’t enough, after cutting a whole through the floor, he finds that his problems run much deeper.

Plot Points

  1. Opening image/MC’s world: Is the entire story in the bathroom, or do I open with my professor gossiping in class? Maybe the opening scene is him entering the bathroom on his cellphone gossiping about his students or other teachers. Who is he speaking to? Is it the dean with a complaint?
  2. Inciting incident: hears noises in the shower
  3. Refusal: thinks something is stuck in the drain
  4. Meeting the mentor: watches favorite DIY guru video on phone
  5. Point of no return: there is no drain, no pipe, nothing
  6. Tests, Allies & Enemies : I may have a little fun with my setting. Is the toilet a friend or foe? Is the bathtub complaining or offering Sage advice? 🤔
  7. Approach to the inmost cave: false achievement – cuts hole in floor
  8. The ordeal: Has to face childhood trauma of animal attack–an opossum or a skunk, those would both be scary. Then, while he’s freaking out, the animal gossips about him in familiar voices?
  9. Reward: finally sees the harm of his fault, but that’s only the beginning.
  10. The road back: I think the complaint from the dean at the beginning will become a physical threat.
  11. The resurrection: He jumps through the hole he made into the terrifying space under the bathroom floor to hide from the victim of his loose lips and thoughtlessness.
  12. Return with the elixir: he tells the student/other teacher something terrible about himself to save his own life, but then the gossip makes his life unlivable.

Outline

Making progress. I like the turn this took at the end, bringing one of his gossip victims in as his judgement. I have my theme: loose lips have consequences. And my turn: when he has to face his childhood trauma. I’ll work on a chiastic outline and share what I come up with tomorrow.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 9: #SoCS My Skin is a Lid Twisted Tight

Blood on the Horizon by Maria L. Berg 2021

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge “blood,” I played with some fun color filters. For the image above, I used a red lens that screws onto my camera lens. When I put on the red lens, I forgot I was also using a color filter built into my camera that captures everything in black and white except for the color red. Somehow, that turned a small portion of the sky gray ( I think that’s a little mountain peeking through the clouds) .

Bloodletting by Maria L. Berg 2021

It’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and the theme is “lid.” Here’s a section of unedited stream of consciousness from my journal this morning:

This morning as I thought about lids, I kept coming to put a lid on it, put a lid on me, but the first post I read went to blow the lid off. Do I feel I have already twisted the lid off the jar, escaped confines and would be contained, silenced, quieted, tamed, while she sees enclosures, full of pressures building, fermenting, fomenting that without poked air-holes must explode? And upon removing the lid what truth does she expect to reveal? Something both sweet and sour, bubbling and gassing, I assume. . . I keep thinking of jars, twisting lids, but boxes have lids, bins have lids, tupperware lids seal freshness in, treasure chests have lids on hinges, a lid can also be a cover, close something up/away, also good for stacking, flattening, a lid contains a collection, defining as finished, meant to stop the growth, slow additions, unwanted admissions.

Maria L. Berg 2021

Sanguine, Though Brain’s on Wrong by Maria L. Berg 2021

I found the brain lid and red goo of my zombie candy from the other day as a perfect symbol for today’s prompts.

OctPoWriMo

Today’s prompt is to explore what we do to relax and recharge. The 2018 prompt was “Love,” not only passionate but all forms of love: “platonic, familial, charitable (think compassion; love for strangers/animals/etc), and self-love (think self-esteem and confidence).” So some self-love for relaxation and rejuvenation while I think about blood and lids.

Today’s suggested form is a Loop poem.

Loose Lids

Keep your mouth shut
shut mouth, eyes open
open eyelids stay put
put a lid on it
it being knowledge
the ledge you know
know your container
tamer of motion
the motion of notions
potions from mouth to ears
ears to fears can’t roam
roaming fears cause panic
panicked people lash
lash out and run amok
amok-running is not ideal
ideals have boundaries
boundaries lined and ruled
rules measured building pressure
pressure from every side
sides provide surfaces
surfaces to bounce off and collide
colliding with others feeling trapped
trapped and bombarded by projectiles
projections of expectations
expectations and rejections hurt
and hurt feelings grow
grow under the sealed lid
the lid now visibly bowed
bowed out, expanding, from pressure
pressure from gasses unable to escape
escape here, escape now, how
how to blow the lid off
off-gas the soreness
the sore, tight tension
and retain some gains
gain clarity and sincerity
while letting loose
losing the lid but not the liquid
liquidity of fluidity intact
intact in the flow the vessel emptied
emptied anticipating filling
or filled with happy nothingness now
now in this lid-less moment
this moment of free ions
ionic charges attract things
attracting opposites

Blood Splatter After Brain Replacement by Maria L. Berg 2021

Writober

I think this is going to be a very close, closed story of guilt and obsession. A first-person POV with only one character in one setting, a small bathroom. So, I thought I would start with character development this time.

My protagonist is Sage Manos, a chemistry professor who looks like a giant starfish with obsessive elbows. He has odd speech patterns because he’s always saying “but, anyway” and never finishing what he is saying. His destructive flaw is arrogance. His constant gossiping and only thinking of himself have made it hard for him to keep a job. He’s hoping this fixer-upper in a new town will be a fresh start.

His epiphany “once you learn the truth, there’s no going back” combined with his suspicious behavior of spying on people could be interesting for the plot. The trauma of an animal attack when young and his secret money stash could both tie in with the image.

I still need to figure out his story want, the dramatic question, theme and turn, but I think I’ll be ready to brainstorm plot points and play with an outline tomorrow.

Any scary loglines you want to share?

River of Blood by Maria L. Berg
In My Blood by Maria L. Berg 2021

#OctPoWriMo & #Writober Day 8: Moments of Madness, or Clarity through the Fog

For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge “fog,” I jumped out of bed and was rewarded with a little morning fog on the lake. I love the pareidolia of a giant ghost bat in the trees over that mysterious light in the water.

I love how a photograph through the fog made this house look like a painting. All I did was crop the photo.

OctPoWriMo

Here we are starting our second week already. Today’s prompt didn’t appeal to me (my whole life is either before or after the storm), so I took a look back at 2018. I like the prompt Moments of Madness. I didn’t respond to it in 2018, so now’s my chance.

If I truly surrender to love (of words and sound), will it be in a moment of madness that I glimpse genius: perhaps not genius, but the genuine, truth, my truth, the elusive in which I would choose to surrender forever?

Twine Twirling in the Fog

Flowing fog,
the groggy morning mist
kissing frogs
of lingering madness,
mysteries shrouded
through history fester
with testimony
slogging along with hints,
tinted glints
glimmering lint littering
winter darkness bringer,
but the crazed found ways
through the maze,
a chance to dance
along the fine line
between life and divine
and entwine
the obsessed with the possessed
inner-child and beguiled
within this damned pestilence
of tormented sadness
within a ballet of blessings
where delicious gets messy,
fomenting malicious decisions
for salacious reasons,
or threads of sanity.
Is it sanity clinging
that hinders full progression
to wild recession
reminders in the cinders
that logic, though toxic,
still reigns
in this brain
still clinging to meaning, never
truly trusting surrender?
The twine
though unraveled and taut
twirls between
my fingers never released,
teases the flowing
fog burns
then ceases to be.

Writober

The first story

I named the first story of this Writober “But No One Died This Year.” Here’s an excerpt from the draft:

Rafael had to admit that Reese could even make a boar costume look sexy. The tusks jutting along her high cheekbones had accentuated her smile; the shadow from the snout protruding from her forehead made her brown eyes even bigger; and the spiky, glow-in-the-dark fur stripe down her back drew the eye to her tight, curved tail.

She had traipsed so lightly before she tripped, but her bloodied body curled in the wheelbarrow was heavy. Every rock, rut, and twig unbalanced the dead-weight of muscle and bones. The blade of the rusting shovel mercifully covered her face. Full concentration and determination were the only things that kept him readjusting and pushing forward.

The sound of snorting, snout rooting through dead leaves and underbrush, was all he could hear. He thought it was his guilt, bringing Reese’s costume to life, but then he heard footsteps.

Maria L. Berg 2021

The second story

I’m feeling intrigued by the image and microstory from October 14th last year. The image is by Gregory Crewdson. His cinematic scenes are great for story inspiration. Here’s the microstory I wrote:

He couldn’t stand that scraping sound under the bathroom floor for another day. He chiselled through the tile, and cut through the wood. He gripped the hammer, prepared for something to run out: a mouse, a rat, even a opossum, but nothing came. The scratching continued. He couldn’t see anything in the darkness. He grabbed his flashlight and slowly reached down.

Maria L. Berg 2020

Like last week’s story, this image and microstory present an intriguing image, but leave the real story untold. This week, I’ll attempt to remedy that.

During the first #Writober, I wrote a story about something found in a crawlspace. I’ll give it a read and see if the ideas can combine.

Let’s see. What questions arise when I look at this picture? Why did he dig through the bathroom floor? Is he one of those people who refuses to call a plumber? Did he bury something there in the past and is trying to get it back? Did he find out that someone else buried something there? Is he hoping to find something that someone else buried and thinks it’s there? Is this the spot where a sound or smell is coming from? Maybe the linoleum started bubbling up in that spot, or a tile kept hopping around?

Upon closer look, is he supposed to be reaching down the shower drain and there’s nothing there? And why is the cupboard under the sink open? And what’s up with the medicine cabinet over the sink? And the two white lights in the photo, what are those? I think Pinterest is trying to sell me his shower and medicine cabinet, so that’s just plain meta-weird.

There’s a lot to play with there. I have an obsessive do-it-yourselfer with a scary bathroom. Do I need to do some plumbing research? Maybe. Taking a look at A. M. Moscoso’s Halloween Prompt Challenge I might include:

  • A terrifying dark place, such as a basement, attic, or cellar
  • Fear of and contact with spiders or snakes
  • A repetitive scary noise without any apparent source

and maybe my DIYer could be

  • a Weird new neighbours with a secret
  • who finds out he had a close relative he knew nothing about that was insane
  • or Makes the mistake of stealing from witches

How are your spooky stories coming along?