Archive for May, 2008


The Lamb

Something of note happened today that made me realize just how desperate Bellij is for his plan to work.
 
We found a single man who had (as he explained it) become separated from his scouting party. The light armour he wore identified him as one of the Union’s scouts. I ordered Bellij’s troops to surround him, and surprisingly enough they obeyed. Bellij, wondering why the army had stopped moving, walked up to the front lines and demanded answers. I explained to him that this fellow was a Union scout, and Bellij told me that I should give an order for his execution.
 
For a moment, I was horrified. Posing as the enemy was one thing, but ordering the execution of one of my allies? I would not do it, I decided in my mind. 
 
And then I realized that the man was not a Union scout at all.
 
 
 
The armour he wore was indeed the same type worn by Union scouts, and he carried the same reconnaissance equipment that a Union scout would carry, and yet… he was a fraud.
 
Had he truly been a Union scout, Bellij would have been terrified. If a Union scout was here, it meant that a Union scouting party was nearby, and if that was the case then they might have already seen me and be heading back to alert Kakunaman of my presence, thus ruining Bellij’s entire plan.
 
But Bellij was calm about the whole issue. This was another test of my loyalty, I realized. Bellij had dressed one of his own men in the armour of a previously captured Union scout in order to gauge just how far I was willing to go to avoid being executed. I would not play into his hand. I ordered the man to be hung from the nearest tree. Of course I felt terrible for doing so, but there was no way around it. Bellij grunted his approval and returned to the back as the army marched on.
 
He sacrifices his own men for such trivial things? It is no wonder his army has such low morale. They probably destest him as much as me.
 

Delays

Our departure has been delayed for at least a day, if not longer, by inclement weather. It is utterly futile to attempt to advance such a large army through mud.
 
Bellij calls it bad luck. I call it foreshadowing.
 

Go Time

The order is given. We are to begin our long march towards the temple in three days.
 
Never before have I payed so little attention to the strategic elements of this battle. Winning is not something that I will be trying very hard to do. Survival is my goal.
 
You see, I know Bellij’s plan. He does not intend for me to lead his troops to victory. He intends for me to lead his troops in battle up until a certain point. Then, he will give some sort of signal, and his men will turn their blades upon me. With both armies looking to kill me, my odds of survival are low. Beliij would then put my corpse on full display, destroying the morale of the Union’s troops, and giving his own the momentum they need for a victory.
 
Bellij has made one major oversight, however. He seems to have forgotten about Kakunaman. No… not forgotten. Bellij is not that dense. But he seems to be underestimating him. Bellij doesn’t know Kakunaman like I do. In all likelihood, he will be leading the Union’s defenses. Even if he is not, the moment he hears that I am leading Bellij’s forces, he will rush out to meet me. Once him and I meet face to face, Bellij is done for.
 
Bellij would not dare to strike me down in view of Kakunaman. If he did, Kakunaman would become blood drunk, and Bellij would lose much of his main army in the first battle of the war, essentially costing him the war. Bellij could retreat after killing me, but then Kakunaman would surely persue him, the results of which would be similar to the first scenario. Kakunaman would not rest until Bellij himself lay dead at his feet.
 
As such, Bellij would have to kill me before Kakunaman arrives at the front lines. He could use my corpse to give his troops a great deal of momentum. They would slaughter our outermost lines of defense. The casualties would be enormous. Then, he would have to dispose of my body before Kakunaman sees it. Kakunaman does not know that I still live, and as such, he will not be alarmed if I fail to show my face at the battle.
 
That then, is Bellij’s plan. It must be, for it is his only chance at success. I need to survive for one hour. That will be enough time for Kakunaman to receive the news of my presence, and for him to arrive at the front lines, prepared to fight.
 
One hour is all I need. I know the temple’s defenses like the back of my hand. With a little bit of luck, victory is assured.
 
 
 

Goooooo Toby!

"Have you lost your mind?" asked Caryn, walking behind her friend, trying to catch up with him. "Seriously, have you gone fucking insane in the last 24 hours?"
 
"Yes," said Toby shortly. "I have."
 
"What the hell would compel you to try something like this?"
 
"I don’t have any friends," said Toby. He was clearly not in a talking mood.
 
"What are you talking about? I’m right here."
 
Toby glanced at Caryn quickly before letting his eyes stray back into the abyss. "You’re a girl."
 
"So what?" asked Caryn, mildly offended.
 
"You don’t count."
 
"You’re not making any sense."
 
Toby abruptly stopped walking. "Look," he said. "You’re a good person and all, but you’re not what I need. I’m a boy. I need male companionship."
 
"All this is going to get you is ridicule."
 
"And maybe that’s a good thing. I’ve lived my life so far trying to please everyone, and succeeding admirably. The problem is that along with making no enemies, I haven’t made any true friends either. Maybe if I have some enemies, friends will follow."
 
"That’s crazy."
 
"Maybe, but I’m worse off if I do nothing."
 
"But still, coming out as gay?’
 
"Not gay," Toby corrected her. "That would be too easy to mess up. Bisexual."
 
"I don’t get how doing this is going to help you at all."
 
"I’ll try and explain it again then: I’ll say that I’m bisexual, and probably get my ass kicked several times by some jocks. But someone will defend me. Maybe not while I’m being abused, but at least after the fight someone will come to aid me emotionally. That person will be my new friend."
 
"You’ve lost it! You’re not even bisexual!"
 
"Sure I am." shrugged Toby.
 
"No, you aren’t."
 
"Can you prove that?"
 
Caryn remained silent.
 
"Exactly," Toby said, triumphant. He then continued walking down the road, leaving an exasperated Caryn in his wake.

Gifts

In front of me I see a sword, but it is not my sword. Yes, it is real. I can reach out and touch it. I can pick it up and feel the force of its weight on my body. It is not my sword; it is far too heavy, and the grip is entirely different. It is capable of killing a man, just like my sword, but there is no mercy in this sword. My sword can choose whether or not to spare a man’s life. This sword is wild and violent. Untamable. It has a life of its own, and with its life it seeks to end as many other lives as possible, guilty or not. It is not my sword.
 
In front of me I see armour, but it is not my armour. It is comprised of the same pieces as my armour. There is a helmet, chain mail, and plated legs, but these are not mine. The armour is rusted, as if it has been used hundreds of times before in the midst of a hurricane. The helmet is too large, the chain mail has holes in it, and the plate legs do not fit at all. This is not my armour. My armour bears a pleasing pattern of black and red stripes. This armour bears a similar black, but in lieu of the red a disgusting mustard yellow is present. It is not my armour.
 
In front of me, I see a shield, but it is not my shield. It is a flimsy little thing, composed of almost pure iron. When I carry my shield, I feel a strong sense of security, but this is not my shield. When I hold this shield in front of me, I feel as though my life is in danger at every moment. Looking at the holes in the shield where spears have pierced through only worries me further. This is not my shield. Upon this shield is a foreign insignia, one worn by my enemies, one that reminds me that I am surrounded by individuals who wish to see me dead. This is not my shield.
 
And yet, with these three gifts, I am expected to march towards my former home. I am expected to slay my friends with this sword, protect myself from their just vengence with this armour, and pile their bodies upon this shield. All to serve my mortal enemy and thus save my own life. This is truly work for the lowest maggots of the earth. Yet, if I decline to perform these deeds, not only will I perish, but so too will those who I once called friends. To save us all, Bellij must fall, and for Bellij to fall, I must live yet.
 

Break Time

Sometimes I’m left with something to say that none of my characters can, and on those days you get me.

For those of you who haven’t been able to figure out the insultingly obvious hints that I’ve been dropping… I’m writing a book. I’m about two-thirds of the way finished with the first draft at this point, and hopefully I’ll be finished the first draft by the end of the summer.

It’s been an exciting process, for the most part. Writing a novel is way different than writing on this space. 99% of these blogs are written in first person, after all, and I’m writing my novel in third person. That alone is a huge shift, and there are so many other new concepts that I have to keep in mind as I write. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, to use an old phrase. There are days when I feel on top of the world, and I can hardly stop typing. Then there are days where I sit at the computer for hours and watch as Times New Roman mocks me. On those days, I have to struggle just to get out a few hundred words. Since I’m around the two-thirds mark, I get a little bit of motivation from the fact that the finish line is in sight.

That said, I still have a ton of work to do after I finish the first draft. The editing process will be nothing less than grueling, with dozens upon dozens of rewrites to be done. Then, when that’s all done, it’ll be time to try and get it published.

Someone asked me if I was scared of the whole process.

Scared? No.

Scared is what you are when your older brother leaps out from nowhere and yells "BOO!"
Scared is what you are when you’re about to get a Chemistry test back that you know you bombed.

No, I’m not scared.

I’m terrified.

The one thing that I don’t think that anyone really understands is what’s at risk for me here. Let me explain:

I’m not an ‘aspiring writer’. I am a writer. What I aspire to become is a ‘published writer’. That’s my challenge. That’s my goal. That’s my dream. All through my life, I’ve been average, and I’ve been mediocre. Average guitar player, mediocre clarinetist, mediocre hockey player, average baseball player, average soccer player, mediocre friend, mediocre runner, mediocre wrestler, average public speaker. I know that I’m average at all of those things because I’ve tried all of them, and met with limited success.

But writing is different. Writing is something that I think that I’m good at. I consider it a talent. Maybe my only talent. When I do anything else, I second guess myself. Not with writing. When I sit at a computer and type, or when I sit at a desk and write, I’m confident that I can put words together and make them sound good. It’s one of the only things that I’m confident at. Heck, I’m writing a book. No one else that I know is writing a book, and I’m not even sure if anyone that I know has the determination and perseverance required to do so. So, in that regard, I’m special. My family tells me so. My friends tell me so too.

In the not too distant future though, my story will be sitting on a publisher’s desk. Suddenly, I’m not special anymore, because along with my story are the stories of a hundred other people who also had the determination and perseverance required to write a book. The publisher doesn’t have to care about who I am, or what this means to me. He doesn’t have the time or energy to do that.

And that’s the problem, right there.

Despite my hundreds of hours of work, despite the fact that I would do anything to get this book published, the odds are slim that it’s going to happen. More likely is that I’ll get a letter back from the publisher telling me that I’m just another average writer with no talent.

Honestly, that’s the scariest thing I can think of. Writing is my thing, and if I’m not good at it, then what’s left? Nothing.

In the back of my head, I’m aware of all this. I’m aware that all of this effort might be in vain, but I can’t think of that possibility. I block it out of my brain. If I start to doubt my writing, that’s it; I’m finished. I have to believe that I’ll finish this, and that I will see it on store shelves, and that people will buy it. I have to believe that, because the alternative is too horrible for my brain to process.

Maybe I’m just setting myself up for a huge fall by continuing all of this. Sometimes I’ll look at what I’ve written so far, and panic. Just yesterday I looked at some sections and realized that I seriously need to get better at writing scene descriptions. With this blog, I’ve almost never had to do scene descriptions, and so I guess that I’ve gotten used to that over the years. I’ll look at my descriptions and cringe a little, because I know that they aren’t good. It’s only the first draft, so of course there’s plenty of time to fix them, but still, it hurts my confidence that I’m so far off the mark with these things. When my confidence is hurt, I start to think about that terrible probability again, and I go into a downward spiral.

I could give up now, and never find out how good of a writer I really am. I could, but I won’t. Instead, I’m going to put the best effort of my life into this piece of work, and hope that the person reading it will tell me that I have talent.

The stakes that I’m gambling here are frighteningly high. They say that these types of losing battles with ridiculous odds are fought only by morons and geniuses. Morons, because they don’t know any better, and geniuses because they’ve found a way to win.

More than anything, I hope that I’m a genius in this case. If I turn out to be just another mediocre writer, then I have nothing left.

I can’t fail. I just can’t.