It's uncomfortably warm. My mouth is dry. It was the end of a long, humid, intolerable, interminable day, and I wished for rain.
When it rains here, I focus on each individual irridescent incandescent droplet of cool, clear water. I listen to their song, hear the *plop!* of each quiet death on the grass.
I imagine what it must be like to be a raindrop; to be born from the lakes and seas, to be brought up by the deft hands of sugar-spun clouds (they must feel as soft as they look, to raindrops at least), to feel everyone and everything around you sharpen and augment with vicious intensity before the gentle release of rain, to be a part of that chaotic multitude of pitter-patter raindrops and lose yourself in the togetherness of it all. Is it too much to them, or just enough? Are they overwhelmed with the sheer number of their ranks? I wonder if we could count them if we only tried.
What is it like to be a part of that endless, timeless dance? How does it feel not to know how long you have before you hit the ground? Do raindrops know the cycle is endless, do they know when they fall to the lakes and rivers and ponds and fathoms-deep oceans that one day they'll be rain again? Is every storm, to them, their last?
Listen to the rain one day, and really HEAR it as I do, FEEL the thunder in your chest, stand spellbound as the sky attempts with suicidal valor to break itself once and for all, WATCH the lightening and thunder battle (or are they kissing? merely dancing?)
Love and War
Two words that come to mind when I think about writing: love and war. It's my passion, it's what I love and want and NEED to do every single day, but it's a war I wage against myself to get the words to come out right and to say the things that I need to say in a way others will be able to understand. Victory only comes when the project is finished; giving up due to self-doubt makes loss bitter. The words get trapped on the tip of my tongue, stuck somewhere in the back of my brain or the furthest depths of my imagination, waiting for me to bring them to life. Sometimes they die before I get the chance to write them down, their inked bodies piled up inside my head, lying side by side like martyrs of a lost cause.
And the project, THE project, years of work and tears and waiting, must also wait until I am able to defend it myself; the final draft is finished but the mere prospect of publishing is a year away at least, more if (or rather when) everybody who reads it rejects it. I lack the permission I need to make my words reality. You will not understand my situation without proper context and I shall not enlighten you, but this is what haunts me (and perhaps this at least will be clear) : Will my project, THE PROJECT, die too before it gets its chance? There's a world inside my head, but I am trapped alone within its walls as long as no one else can see it.
I turn the corner onto one of the few quieter streets where I live. It's cold, but with my maroon knit sweater and my coat fastened up I hardly feel it. The wind on my face is cool and calming. It's snowing gently, the fresh gusts blowing snowflakes into my hair and face to rest for a moment on my nose before melting. I look up to see a flock of birds fly overhead, too high up for me to notice what kind they are, though their wingbeats make it down to my ears. I breathe in the crispness of the air as I walk. The bare winter trees stand out against the white snow, black against the pale grey sky.
Live as authentically as you are able; judge others as little as possible; see as much of the world as you can; write as though your time runs out tomorrow; read as though you have all the time in the world; put your full trust in at least one person; don't let the past and future overwhelm your present; believe in at least one great cause that is larger than yourself; and remember that it doesn't matter what you are known for, if anything, as long as you lived a full and happy life and neither harmed nor worsened the lives of others with your existence.
There are many different sorts of books, if you know what I mean by that.
Not as in fiction, non-fiction, romances, fantasy, biography, and so on. That's convenient enough for libraries or even personal collections of books, but it is admittedly rather unimaginative. It would be like sorting people by height, weight, hair colour and so on. However useful that might be in certain instances, it doesn't tell you a damn thing about the person themselves. I mean winter books and summer books and books best read alone and books that are best if read to you and books you share only with your closest friends and books that you're quite certain only you rightly understand.
Take The Wind in the Willows, for instance, or the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and Dickens and Tolstoy. Even though the first on the list begins in spring, you feel instinctively upon opening it that it would be better read in winter, while with the others it's clear that they're made to be enjoyed by a crackling fire when it's cold as death outside and the snow is softly falling.
P.G.Wodehouse's books are ideal for summer holidays, spread out in the grass under a particularly shady tree when there's a breeze in the air. Same goes for Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men on a Boat, or pretty well anything by L.M. Montgomery.
Take a look outside, and see what reading material would best complement your state of mind and the present climate. Is there a thunderstorm in your head, even though it may be a fine day? Is the suffocating heat or bone-chilling cold threatening to strip the brisk autumn air out of your thoughts? I pity you then. There are times when I marvel that anybody could hate to read, and times when settling down with a book seems an impossible task.
I'd recommend The Last Bookaneer and Between the Lines for nearly everyone who enjoys reading. Books that are about books might fatigue some, for good reasons or otherwise, but I'll always find them brilliant.
Perhaps I ought to sleep. It's all well and good to call books your air and food and blood, to compare reading to intimate conversation with a close friend, and say that you'd sooner read than sleep any day of the year, but in practice the poetry tends to fade quickly.
It was night. It would have been fitting for it to have been a famously described "dark and stormy night", but that would have ruined the killer's plans. No, it's best when it's clear and quiet out. A bit of cloud cover, to block the light of the moon and stars, but no rain. No one is outside at night when it rains, remember.
The killer waits. A surprising amount of a serial killer's time is spent waiting. Waiting for the right victim. Waiting in the shadows. You've got to be patient. Yes, it's tedious to lurk out in the dark, when it's cold and damp outside and it's tempting to rush the job just for the sake of getting home to a warm fire. But you've got to be patient. It's always the arrogant ones that make a stupid mistake and get caught.
No accomplices, no witnesses.
After that it's almost frighteningly easy, or at least frightening to the victim, perhaps. The killer doesn't get scared, not of anything, not ever. But easy, yes. Very easy. People never think it'll be them, do they? It's always someone else, there's always the frankly idiotic idea that nothing bad can happen to oneself.
Take the right person at the right time, make sure to leave no traces behind, of a body or of yourself. The perfect murder leaves nothing behind at all. Simple, really: no body, no murder and no murder investigation. No suspects, no detectives. No one getting in the way of you and your perfect control. Just someone who went out for a walk one night and disappeared.
Wait. Observe. Don't get cocky, don't get over-confident. It's easy to think of the city as yours when you've removed a fair number of its people from existence, but the thing to do is own the city quietly. Stay in the shadows. Don't seek attention, don't take credit. You're clever, we know that, the world doesn't need to. Follow the rules, quick and quiet, don't get caught.
Hide in the shadows, wait, then strike.
The cat sat on her blanket in her favourite spot: the window seat in the front room of the house. From her perch she observed the comings and goings of all the residents of Appletree Lane, though for now the street was silent enough to allow the cat to devote attention to other things. A minute pair of gold-rimmed spectacles were perched on the tabby’s nose, in danger of slipping down the edge of her muzzle. The cat was immersed in Mr. Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, having just finished Something Fresh by P. G. Wodehouse, the worn copy of which lay on the floor beside the window seat. Twitching her tail, the cat read on, waiting for the rest of the house to wake up.
Outside, the trees whispered to each other as they danced in the wind. Some fresh scandal had been committed, no doubt, so on they gossiped. Only an elderly birch held herself still, primly refusing to partake in the trees’ enjoyment of repeating secrets belonging to the private lives of others. If she had had a head she would have shaken it in disapproval at those foolish young trees less respectable than herself. Saplings, she sniffed, mere saplings who couldn’t keep their branches out of other peoples’ business even if threatened with an axe.
It was early, the pale grey light of dawn still not ready to give way to the sun’s warm glow. The cat was reading her book by lamplight. The trees’ roots were covered by the first frost. The people of Appletree Lane slept. No one realized it, not one living soul on the whole street could feel it, but it was there anyway. There was a subtle sense of a world waiting for something to happen, the feeling that something was amiss, that all was about to change and the natural way of things would not hold much longer before being disrupted. What was it?
If someone was looking for it, it could just barely be felt: In the air there was decidedly the scent of magic, and where magic was present adventure was never far behind.
She lived in a world of words.
Everything she wrote became real. Slowly, slowly, as she wrote she could feel something beginning. A world was being created. Under her hand, in the space between ink and paper, lived thousands of animals and plants and people that she had created.
The sky was blue and it was made of words. The trees, strange as they were, were beautiful and unique and they were made of words. The grass was soft underfoot, the breeze warm, the air crisp, and all was made of words.
She had never seen this land, nor met its people, but she knew everyone who lived there and everything that happened.
Castles were built, destroyed, and they were made of words. Wars were fought and they were made of words. Words shaped and created and burned and erased this world.
Words were in the air here. Every action was described, every spoken sentence recorded. No one could think without it being noted.
She was in the garden. She sat on a bench, her arms folded and her eyes shut. The word-flowers gave off a light, sweet aroma; the word-sparrows hopped and skipped and sang. The trees swayed in their word-breeze, their word-leaves rustling softly. The path was made of stone and cement and words. She awoke from her reverie on cue and got to her feet. Her feet were also made of words, and so was she, and the path she walked on and the air she breathed.
He read. He followed her as she walked, though he never saw her. He imagined the word-flowers and the word-trees and the word-girl. He read her thoughts. He read as she followed her story. Her author was fond of rambling, he noted, and smiled. He couldn’t tell where the story began here, nothing had happened yet. Of course, he was barely past the first page. He would find her, he thought, closing his eyes gently. He could see her as she walked. She turned around, her eyes beckoning him closer, asking him to follow her, let her lead the way. He wondered where they were going.
There was another girl, somewhere else. She sat and wrote. She wrote the word-girl as she word-walked. The boy was also made of words, though he did not know it. He was reading the word-girl’s story, but somewhere the other girl was writing his. She was the one who had written this world of words. She wrote it, he read it, she lived in it. He lived in another world made of words.
She stopped, tired of writing for the moment. She would write again later. She would make new worlds of words, and wonder if her world was of words as well.
It's been snowing all day today. I don't know about you, but personally I've always loved the way trees look in winter, bare of leaves and covered in snow and ice. The world becomes completely transformed in winter. You can stay inside, cosy with sweaters and hot chocolate and tea, and watch it from your window. You can experience it firsthand, shoveling or skating or building snowmen or making snow angels or just looking up at the sky and letting snowflakes fall onto your tongue.
The only thing to dislike about winter is the silence. Your footsteps get muffled with the powdery snow, the birds migrate and aren't heard or seen again until spring. And if there's no one about, all you hear is the wind. Makes you want to start screaming.
If I was a tree, I could stand out there, stretch out my arms, dance in the wind. I could feel my naked boughs be covered in white snow, allow my branches, my fingers, to freeze and be enclosed in ice, and sleep until spring, until the soil thawed my roots and warm breezes blew away the winter chill. I would once again shelter birds and squirrels under my wooden wings and protect them as the cool rain washed over me. My leaves would return one by one.
That's the best part about winter. The anticipation of spring.
I should sleep, but I probably won't. I'm half drunk on words and fancies, revelling in the solitude that's really only possible alone at night. I've been sleeping in much too frequently of late, so it seems an all-nighter is my only option to break back into my typical early-to-bed-early-to-rise sleeping habits.
The ticking clock and my own typing are the only sounds present in the house. Every sane person in the world (or in my time zone at least) is fast asleep. Another reason why I won't be joining their ranks anytime soon, as if I really needed one.
I do enjoy the productive feeling about early mornings; the early-bird-gets-the-worm, crossing-items-off-the-list, energetic feeling that can only be achieved through waking up early in order to get a head start on the day's work. But I do love night. The stillness, the quiet, feeling as though you're the only person in the world, the thought that 4am really doesn't belong to day or night but to the odd, near-magical empty-yet-weighted time in between. Existing in that nameless part of the day/night cycle. Feeling oddly revitalized as you accomplish little tasks you have been putting off for ages, though knowing an afternoon or midmorning nap will be necessary to restore full normal functioning for the rest of the day.
It seems odd to think I'm usually asleep at this hour. I'm half expecting to be called upstairs, called away from my thinking and writing, but of course no interruption will come for hours and hours. Everyone else is sleeping. Maybe I should be too.