Welcome to #elitclass

Welcome to “Writing Electronic Literature” also known as #elitclass.  Soon we will meet each other for the first time as a class, and embark on a journey that will be transformative for all of us.  Some of you might have an idea of what Electronic Literature might be, while others are really not clear.  Some of you might feel relatively self-confident in a technological environment, while others might feel more than a bit of trepidation.  Whether you fall into one of these categories or the other, I guarantee you will learn a great deal in this class.  You will learn many practical things, like how to work with new technologies that you have never been introduced to before.  But more importantly, you will all learn more about yourselves.  You are invited to jump into a new realm and explore and discover.  And you will have ample chance in this class to exercise both your analytical skills and your imagination.

I look forward to connecting with all of you soon, as we discuss what this course can mean to all of us.  We will begin by collectively considering what literature is, and what new media and the digital realm might offer to expand our understanding of what literature can be.  Throughout our class together, this website will be our “home base”, and soon each of you will have your own linked blogs which will be syndicated here on this site under “student blogs”.  

This e-location for our work together will house our collective reflections, our resources, and our continuing conversation throughout the semester.

Here are a few videos to get that conversation started:

“How to Read A Digital Text”

“E-Literature Explained”:

Writer In Motion | Week 3: I am an Adult™ who Can take criticism and only cry for 5 minutes

IT IS A JOKE, I PROMISE. I DIDN’T CRY. PINKY PROMISE I DID NOT.

I am also very late, and I apologize for that.

Suddenly I had Social Plans like every day this week and it’s been a While so I forgot what prioritization of time was.

Anyway, shoutout to @BErixon and @gonzo_rhetoric for their feedback on my story. I really appreciate their critiques and compliments, and their stories are amazing pls go read them.

Here’s my updated draft! With a possible title! And new transition markers! And a kinda new interwoven cyclical theme kinda thing that might be too much! And a shifted scene!


[basis]

3 o’clock hour. 9 hours remain.

It’s warm in here.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.

It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And’ve had every day. For… 

You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would be a bit much, you think. Make this feel too much like a prison.

But, isn’t it?

With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.

This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.

So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities: bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back, table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…

You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet window shutters.

Oh.

The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.

Not a prison, you remind.)

You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid. 

And you hate bugs.

Suffice it to say, the hill your shack is seated on, surrounded sporadically by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.

Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.

She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds—(alright, half a minute)—before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.

“Hey!”

There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not as you raise a hand in greeting. 

Something buzzes near you, then, far too close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.

“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.

There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.

“Are you okay?” 

You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”

Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.

Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, feel a familiar aerosol can, and shout triumphantly.

You douse the window in the stuff and toss the can onto your bed. The minifridge shuts and you look up. She’s shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.

“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.

Maybe later.

“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. “Keeps those nasty things out—” You gesture out the window. “—and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.

She snorts and rolls her eyes, but her smile is sincere. (You feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker, all the way down to your toes. You like when she laughs. Better yet, you like when you’re the one to make it happen.)

“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”

You look around your shack. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop. 

“I have a few ideas,” you offer, and the intrigued look on her face tells you she likes the sound of that.

4 o’clock hour. 8 hours remain.

“Boring day, today, huh?”

You stretch your arms and legs out, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. (She brought it one day near the beginning, calling it “ours” offhand, but neither of you ever mentioned it again.) 

With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles; you grin.

“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”

She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”

You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. “No, I don’t think I could’ve.”

You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on. 

(She asked What do you remember? the first few weeks, but has since stopped.)

With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”

You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”

The two of you stare at the sky for a while. 

6 o’clock hour. 6 hours remain.

Some new tune trickles from the tinny speaker of her phone. (She unplugged it from the radio before and is setting up a movie on her laptop. Some anime thing about firefighters she swears you loved. You weren’t sold until she told you about the homoerotic subtext.)

“What’s this?” you ask, sitting up a bit.

She turns, and it hits you that the sun’s gone down. It’s that exact time when the whole world glows—her included, flyaways lit up white. Some squishy, sappy smile spreads on your face, and the soft beats and acoustic lines amplify and diffuse into the surrounding air. You maybe feel a little drunk, enough that you miss her speaking.

“Huh?”

She clicks her teeth, amused. “I said it’s a new Zico track. You like?”

You lower back down to the blanket to hide the warmth in your cheeks—(firecracker embers)—and spread your limbs out again. 

The chorus repeats. It’s melancholy, but nice.

You sigh. “Yeah, I like.”

8 o’clock hour. 4 hours remain.

“Okay, that was way too long for CPR.”

“Right? Listen. They know what they did. They know who their target audience was.”

You laugh, bodily, almost keeling over while trying to fold up the blanket. “Studio Trigger said gay rights, huh?”

Silence draws out, and it takes you a second to notice she’s frozen still, looking at you intensely. You think so, at least. The sun set a while ago, so it’s hard to see.

“You… remembered the animation studio’s name?” 

Oh. “Oh.” You finish folding the blanket, slower than before. “Did… did you not mention it? Maybe yesterday you—”

“No, I don’t think I did.”

“Hmm.” There’s a pause, and it’s heavy. You kick at a pebble by your foot, eyes fixed to the dirt. “Before you ask, I don’t remember anything else.”

A beat. “Yeah. Okay. That’s okay.”

You want to ask if she even wants you to or not. That was never clear, and you were—are—too scared to ask, so… you breathe. Inhale. Exhale. “Okay.”

10 o’clock hour. 2 hours remain.

“Want a pastry? There’s a few left from the ones I brought. I left the lemon ones since they’re your favorite.”

You hum, fiddling with the tea kettle with a bit more focus. 

She’s staring again. You can feel it at the back of your skull from where she’s sitting at the table.

“Are they?”

You don’t want to disappoint her even further tonight, but the deflating sigh is telling.

“Yeah, they are.”

You take them out to have with your tea.

Turns out she’s right.

12 o’clock hour.

The two of you are at the door. You, inside; she, outside. The air smells like the flowery tea you drank, along with the heady, humid damp that is the forest at night. She’s leaving, and it’s dark, and you never really know when she gets home because you have no communication to the outside world and you never thought to ask why and it’s too late now, isn’t it—?

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? I get off work early, so I’ll try to come by early if I don’t get hung up with anything.” 

She’ll come on time like she always does, but—

“Okay. Thanks again for the bug spray.”

She smiles, something you read as fond. “Sure, anytime. Anything else you need? I can bring it tomorrow.”

I need answers. I need to know what I did. Who I am. My name. Your name. 

I need you to stay. 

“Nah, I think I’m good for now.” You shake your head at the floor. Partially at yourself. Coward. “If I think of anything, I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

She hums, teasing. “Write it down. You’ll forget.” 

You huff out a chuckle. “Probably.” You hesitate, then, “Just add ‘em to the list of things I forgot, then, huh.”

You didn’t expect a laugh, knowing it came out too bitter, but you’re surprised when she pulls you in for a hug.

There’s a jolt inside you—maybe that firecracker relit—but you eventually wrap your arms around her in return. It’s tight, and soft, and warm. 

(You wish it felt familiar.)

It’s over too soon. She pulls away, steps back, mumbles another See you tomorrow, and then she’s off. 

Once she’s over the crest of the hill, hair tufts out of sight, you close the door, kick off your shoes. Fan on low, you don’t bother with washing up, but tumble right into bed, blanket pulled to your chin.

You take a deep, cleansing breath, like she taught you a while ago, in a time you can’t remember. It works for a moment, until it doesn’t. Your next breath is quick and automatic, and you kick the blanket off the most of you with a grunt. 

It’s warm in here.

24 hours remain.


Okay. So I’m liking this whole focus on the passage of time, but I don’t know if the way I have it phrased right now is too blatant or wordy or somethin.

Also gives me Majora’s Mask vibes with that last 24 hours remain bit. I’m also not sure if having that after the “It’s warm in here” repeated line takes away from the impact of that or if it just adds to its own new repetitive-feeling mundane motif of the narrator. HMMM.

Also I didn’t end up cutting 700 words fjdksl there might even be more but I’m too afraid to check and I Apologize.

As far as the title goes. basis was stuck in my head for about a week, and I’m throwing it out there to see if it sticks. I was also thinking unknown basis or basis unknown but I thought they were too… telling, I guess? blunt? [shrug] (I’ll try to come up with an explanation of why I picked basis for next week.)

So! Here it is. Fashionably late. Apologies again!

See y’all next week.

–CM

Writer In Motion | Week 2: [increasingly frantic] oH BOY

I’m bad with length. And titles.

Makes sense I’d be 700 words over with no title yet. Sounds on brand.

It has an ending, though! 😀 That’s new!

She’s. Real emo. But I love her so far.

Let’s get to it.


{TITLE TBD}

It’s warm in here.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.

It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And’ve had every day. For… 

You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would be a bit much, you think. Make this feel too much like a prison.

But, isn’t it?

With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.

This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.

So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities: bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back, table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…

You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet window shutters.

Oh.

The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.

Not a prison, you remind.)

You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid. 

And you hate bugs.

Suffice it to say, the hill your shack is seated on, surrounded sporadically by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.

Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.

She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds—(alright, half a minute)—before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.

“Hey!”

There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not as you raise a hand in greeting. 

Something buzzes near you, then, far too close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.

“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.

There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.

“Are you okay?” 

You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”

Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.

Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, and when you feel a familiar aerosol can, you shout triumphantly.

Once you’ve doused the window in the stuff, you toss the can onto your bed and look up at the sound of the minifridge closing. She shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.

“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.

Maybe later.

“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. “Keeps those nasty things out—” You gesture out the window. “—and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.

She snorts, and you feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker, all the way down to your toes.

“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”

You look around your shack. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop. 

You count your options, hum, think, and grin.

===

“Boring day, today, huh?”

You stretch your arms and legs out, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. It’s soft, but durable enough to handle the dirt on the ground without much needed fussy cleaning.

With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles.

“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”

She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”

You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. “No, I don’t think I could.”

You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on. 

(She asked What do you remember? the first few weeks, but has since stopped.)

With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”

You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”

The two of you stare at the sky for a while. 

===

“Want a pastry? There’s a few left from the ones I brought. I left the lemon ones since they’re your favorite.”

You hum, fiddling with the radio with a bit more focus.

She’s staring. You can feel it.

“Are they?”

You don’t want to disappoint her, but the deflating sigh is telling.

“Yeah, they are.”

Turns out she’s right.

===

Some new tune trickles from the tinny speaker of her phone. (She unplugged it from the radio before and is setting up a movie on her laptop. Some anime thing about firefighters she swears you loved. You weren’t sold until she told you about the homoerotic subtext.)

“What’s this?” you ask, sitting up a bit.

She turns, and it hits you that the sun’s gone down. It’s that exact time when the whole world glows—her included, flyaways lit up white. Some squishy, sappy smile spreads on your face, and the soft beats and acoustic lines amplify and diffuse into the surrounding air. You maybe feel a little drunk, enough that you miss her speaking.

“Huh?”

She clicks her teeth, amused. “I said it’s a new Zico track. You like?”

You lower back down to the blanket to hide the warmth in your cheeks from view—(firecracker embers)—and spread your limbs out again. 

The chorus repeats. It’s melancholy, but nice.

You sigh. “Yeah, I like.”

===

“Okay, that was way too long for CPR.”

“Right?! And the framing?! Listen. They know what they did. They know who their target audience was.”

You laugh, bodily, almost keeling over while trying to fold up the blanket. “Studio Trigger said gay rights, huh?”

Silence draws out, and it takes you a second to notice she’s frozen still, looking at you intensely. You think so, at least. The sun set a while ago, so it’s hard to see.

“You… remembered the animation studio’s name?” 

Oh. “Oh.” You finish folding the blanket, slower than before. “Did… did you not mention it? Maybe yesterday you—”

“No, I don’t think I did.”

“Hmm.” There’s a pause, and it’s heavy. You kick at a pebble by your foot, eyes fixed to the dirt. “Before you ask, I don’t remember anything else.”

A beat. “Yeah, I know.”

You want to ask if she even wants you to or not. That was never clear, and you were—are—too scared to ask, so… you breathe.

Inhale. Exhale. “Okay.”

===

The two of you are at the door. You, inside; she, outside. The air smells like the flowery tea she brought, along with the heady, humid damp that is the forest at night. She’s leaving, and it’s dark, and you never really know when she gets home because you have no communication to the outside world and you never thought to ask why and it’s too late now, isn’t it—?

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? I get off work early, so I’ll try to come by early if I don’t get hung up with anything.” 

She’ll come on time like she always does, but—

“Okay. Thanks again for the bug spray.”

She smiles, something you read as fond. “Sure, anytime. Anything else you need? I can bring it tomorrow.”

I need answers. I need to know what I did. Who I am. My name. Your name. 

I need you to stay. 

“Nah, I think I’m good for now.” You shake your head at the floor. Partially at yourself. Coward. “If I think of anything, I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

She hums, teasing. “Write it down. You’ll forget.” 

You huff out a chuckle. “Probably.” You hesitate, then, “Just add ‘em to the list of things I forgot, then, huh.”

You didn’t expect a laugh, knowing it came out too bitter, but you’re surprised when she pulls you in for a hug.

There’s a jolt inside you—maybe that firecracker relit—but you eventually wrap your arms around her in return. It’s tight, and soft, and warm. 

(You wish it felt familiar.)

It’s over too soon. She pulls away, steps back, mumbles another See you tomorrow, and then she’s off. 

Once she’s over the crest of the hill, hair tufts out of sight, you close the door, kick off your shoes. Fan on low, you don’t bother with washing up, but tumble right into bed, blanket pulled to your chin.

You take a deep, cleansing breath, like she taught you a while ago, in a time you can’t remember. It works for a moment, until it doesn’t. Your next breath is quick and automatic, and you kick the blanket off the most of you with a grunt. 

 

It’s warm in here.


I literally just wrote the last 4 sections tonight. I knew I wanted to have little scenes throughout their day, and I had more planned, but it’d end up being too much, I think.

Welp. I could probably definitely cut more from the first section. Tighten that up more. But it’s 11:30 and I’m tired.

Hope you enjoy my dumb kids being garbage at their feelings uwu

See y’all next week!

–CM

P.S. Brownie points if you know the movie they watched lol

P.P.S. Triple brownie points if you guess the song >:3c

Writer In Motion | Week 1: [exasperated] oh boy

I have this problem with first drafts. They don’t happen.

That’s not to say I don’t have anything, because I do have some stuff to show you, but I rarely write something all the way through before peeking back and editing, restructuring, revamping, rewording, blah blah.

So that bout of perfectionism, sprinkled with some potent procrastination, and here’s what we’ve got so far. Something unfinished and all over the place that will probably get torn apart and stripped down to something that actually fits under a 1k word limit.

I tweeted how I was able to spew out 300 words in one sitting and nothing had happened yet, and now I’m at 1k words and, like, 2 things have happened.

Which is fine, I think. Most of the things I’ve written over the years have been more… characters’ thought processes than anything else. So we are par for the course, friends, lmao.

But anyway. Here’s what I have as of now.


{TITLE TBD}

It’s warm in here.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.

It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And have had every day. For… 

You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would make this feel too much like a prison.

But… isn’t it?

You sit up and give your head a few shakes. Nah nah nah, you don’t wanna think like that. You’re out here for a good reason. Probably several good reasons. 

If only it wasn’t as monotonously warm.

With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this tiny concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the new flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.

This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.

So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities–bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back–and the not-so-much–table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…

You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet red window shutters.

Oh.

The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.)

Not a prison, not a prison, not a prison.

You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid. 

And you hate bugs.

Suffice it to say, the hill your box is seated on, sporadically surrounded by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.

Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.

She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds–(alright, half a minute)–before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.

“Hey!”

There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not.

“Hey,” you call back, and raise a hand in greeting. 

Something buzzes near you, then, and you want to ignore it, but it immediately buzzes again, close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the sharp spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.

“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.

There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.

“Are you okay?” 

You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”

Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you. That was hilarious.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.

Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway, peering inside. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, and when your fingers wrap around a familiar aerosol can, you give a triumphant, Ah ha!

The next solid thirty seconds are spent on you dousing the whole window area in bug spray, along with your arms and legs. You don’t care too much that it’ll get anywhere else with you spraying it in your box. You don’t hate the smell of it, but you hate bugs more.

Done, you toss the can onto your bed and look up at the sound of the mini fridge closing. She shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning back against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.

“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.

You shake your head to yourself a little. Maybe later.

“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. Keeps those nasty things out–” You gesture out the window. “–and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.

She snorts, rolling her eyes, and you feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker from earlier, all the way down to your toes.

“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”

You look around your box. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop. 

You count your options, hum, think, and grin.

“Boring day, today, huh?”

You stretch your arms and legs out in all directions, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. It’s soft, but durable enough to handle the dirt on the ground without much needed fussy cleaning.

With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles.

“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”

She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”

You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. After a moment, “No, I don’t think I could.”

You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on. 

With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”

You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”

The two of you stare at the clouds for a while.


Okay we’re back. You’re lucky, you get the clean, non-highlighted version. Sigh, the whole bit with the bug spray is highlighted bc what is that I could definitely squish that down to like a sentence and is it even necessary–

But aside from chunks of this that I’d like to nix and the fact there’s nO ENDING YET (I have 2 ideas that I’m debating between), I’m liking parts of it. I’ve been intrigued by second person POV, too (tho I might swap to first person if I find I hate it), which I blame on my time working on a choice-based, POV shifting e-lit piece. I also like playing around with ambiguity regarding my characters. I feel like it gives the reader (I really almost just wrote player) a bit of power, almost? Like a game.

I think I wanna write games… huh…

Fair, since I started writing a visual novel with some friends a while back. Really wanna keep that going someday. I miss those dumbass kids. (The characters, not my friends, though I miss those kids, too.)

Anyway. I also have a chunk I cut from the middle–just after the visitor goes “That there’s why you run out all the time.”–that I felt was making the scene too Doom and Gloom too quickly, plus it had a backstory plot I was thinking of cutting (main character’s memory loss). For shits and giggles, here it is:

When you don’t reply, she tilts her head, and her eyes turn knowing. “I left the lemon one. You like those.”

You hesitate, for just the briefest of moments, but cross the room anyway, grabbing yourself one of the other pastries.

Turns out you do like lemon. The realization stills you, and you have to jerkily make yourself nod when she asks if it’s good.

(You don’t talk about it as much as you should–the fact that you don’t remember much from before you were here. You’ll ask her about something later, like you always do. And she’ll be vague but understanding in that sad way of hers, like she always is. It frustrates you sometimes, makes you pause when she says something about you that you don’t know.)

The two of you eat in silence, side by side against the counter. You could use the chairs, but, eh.

I kept it because I like it. But idk. The parenthetical felt a lot, expositionally. (Is that a word? I’m making it a word.) And, do I wanna go with a “main character knows as much as the reader knows aka nothing” or a “main character is unreliable and keeping info from the reader” route regarding the reason they’re out in the middle of nowhere in a box?

Sigh.

The legend of zelda gaming sleep GIF on GIFER - by Cordin
a depiction of my character and also me. ty, Gifer.

Welp.

At the very least, we got somethin’ down.

Have a lovely afternoon, friends.

–CM

(p.s. – pls be prepared for more zelda gifs bc link the the most relatable dude)

Writer In Motion | Week 0: This is Familiar

So when I woke up this morning, I didn’t expect to join a month+ long writing project, but here we are. I think I looked at the site for Writer In Motion for about 3 seconds before I decided, “yeah, this seems relatively manageable during these Stressful Trying Times; I’m in.” (Nyoom over there or to WIM’s Twitter to check out the details for the project.)

Please, @ the world, let this be the moment where I get out of the writer’s funk I’ve been in since May. (Note: not block. funk. i have story ideas. many daydreams’ and notebook app pages’ worth. actual writing tho? idk her.)

So anyway. The prompt dropped yesterday, August 1st, so I’m a day behind in terms of brainstorming for this lovely image:

brown concrete house on green grass field near mountain during daytime
Photo by Rahul Pandit on Unsplash.

And golly gee did I grin when I saw it.

Note: below is a lot of rambling about lighting and themes of isolation and visual/physical storytelling elements of video games. Feel free to skip down to the “tl;dr”–don’t worry I won’t be mad.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve written via picture prompts in recent years and some of my favorite little original stories (1) (2) have come out of them that has me giddy.

Or it’s the vibe of the picture itself. That golden hour light and isolated feel (#mood).

Or it just reminds me of the recent vids of some YouTubers I watch: Julien Solomita and Unus Annus (if you’re reading this after 11/15/20 and the link is broken or leads to nowhere, oops you’re too late, sorry friend). In both of those vids, the YouTubers went out in the middle of the desert to film, but created their own little… “pockets” (that keeps coming to mind) of familiar and safe space to… do what they gotta do. Whether it’s looking at stars, extreme horseshoe, or cooking pad thai.

I mean, Julien’s AirBnB looks just like the one in the prompt pic above.

Kinda.

Idk they’re both boxes.

… I could probably elaborate on that as a theme. Were someone to be staying in that concrete box of a shack on the top of a hill/mountain in the forest… is it for deliberate isolation purposes, comfort, safety for that person, safety for others? How does that person feel about their predicament? Is it even a predicament? … Is there even a person there?

Nah, I’m making a person be there, probably. But I like the idea of someone being like… in hiding there. And the reader isn’t explicitly told why and just has to infer.

In that way, it feels like what’s playing out in this setting is the epilogue of something big that happened, and the reader has to piece it together from the lingering effects of that big thing.

That’s also a really cool vibe to portray. You kinda see it in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the sense that “a big thing happened 100 years ago and you’ve been asleep all that time so here, go forth in the aftermath of what happened. here’s what was left behind.”

Only the game tells you what the big thing was but there were sometimes random parts of the open-world map where there were just random ruins of a stable or village or fort and it just leaves you to wonder what happened exactly here even though you know about the Calamity but like what specifically here–

Am I rambling? I feel like I’m–

Oh my god wait it reminds me of Firewatch, too. I MEAN. LOOK AT THIS.

[9/6 edit: i bought the game, she was on sale for like $5 ayyyy]

THAT LIGHTING. THE ISOLATION. THE SINGLE MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.

The prompt pic could literally be a screencap from the game, wow.

Okay. I think that’s about enough for an initial post.

So tl;dr someone is living in that shack in isolation because of a Big Thing that happened in the past and this is the aftermath. And golden hour will probably be a pivotal time or element. Because I’m a sucker for good lighting and proceeding sunsets are pretty.

OKAY, NOW I’M DONE.

See y’all next week with a draft!

–CM

It Will Be Satisfied

Swamp surrounds the village for as far the eye can see. The soggy soil of our secluded homeland is little more than sponge, sopping up so much water even the slightest of us must strap strings stretched across stiff wooden slats to our feet or else risk being swallowed whole by the sludge. Too many have become meals, preserved in the muck for unsuspecting outsiders to stumble across on a daring jaunt to our far-flung wastes.

It’s why we’re the People of the Mud. 

One of the reasons, at least.

Big sister, unruly and untamable, always donning a reckless sort of snaggled smile, became one such meal.

The night she was swallowed was like most nights in the wastes. Damp air clung heavy to our skin, its dankness cloying in our lungs. Every breath tasted like a chunk of mud we had to choke down. It felt like we would suffocate in our home, like the very air wanted us to.

Who wouldn’t want to escape? Who wouldn’t want to try?

Big sister hushed me in my hammock when climbing down from her own disturbed me, jostled the tenuous ropes holding us aloft and together. Shh, shh… She pressed her lips to my forehead, gave me her softly crooked smile, and then said, in a conspiratorial whisper, It’ll be our little secret little sister, yes? 

I didn’t get a chance to croak out a response before big sister slipped away, over the slim ledge of our room’s tiny window, which was little more than a slit in the wooden slats of our shack, and into the wastes. Her muck- shucks remained, I noticed at daybreak.

She never returned for them.

Flesh and blood, an elder in the hobbled hut stilted ‘side ours said when it was clear big sister was another meal for the wastes. The mud demands it.

Mother and father said nothing in response to the elder. Nodded, yes, but they kept their mouths shut. Held tighter to their silence than they did big sister. I kept my mouth shut too. Choked down the dank air of our home. Swallowed the bitterness.

I said nothing when no vigil was held. Nothing when I was moved into big sister’s hammock and my old one was filled not a year later by another child. Nothing when big sister’s muck-shucks were pried from my protective hold and broken into bits by father, strung together again by mother. Remade, so carefully, for a smaller pair of pitter-patter feet.

I said nothing when bitterness turned sour and seeping. 

In the swamp, the mud is not the only thing that makes demands, that requires sacrifices. The water, too, has wants. Has hungers. There is a ritual that must be performed before it will let our dead lie.

Touch

We must honor the passed with one last memory of a loving touch. Must comfort them a final time, skin to skin, or else risk their disgruntled, starving spirit coming back with a vengeance for what was denied

Flesh and blood. 

This hunger thickens the air, sticks to our skin like soil to muck-shucks. Burrows deep down the backs of our throats and settles solid in our lungs. 

It thrums through our veins. 

It slithers out of the murk and into your hut at night. Up into your hammock. Coils ’round and ’round you till its smooth, scaly touch is all you can feel. 

It sneaks up on you while you’re muck-shucking at dusk. Watches you with beady eyes from razory reeds, saw-tooth grass, biding it’s time till you tempt fate too far and then it is tusks through your soft tissues. 

It is a jagged-jawed maw lying in wait at sundown in the shallows’ shadows. Scaled hide shades of dark red in the day’s dying light. Eyes dim until the moment mother leans too far for the laundry line and topples down into the drink. Till father wades in too deep to rescue her and is sucked under.

It can be a gentle shove too much. A helping hand pressed too hard to mother’s back. A nudge too knowing towards a hopeless rescue. 

Sometimes, it can be a mouth kept shut. A cry for help choked down. Swallowed.

Shh, shh…

The water settles slowly, red ripples staining the surrounding mud. Feeding it. The soggy soil savors the blood as if starved for it. Just above the murky surface, snaggle-toothed snout slinks. Shadows give it a crooked curl, an almost smile. Then, with a single thrash of its reptilian tail, it fades back into the wastes’ muddy maw. Finally able to rest.

Baby sister wriggles in my hold.

“Ma? Da?” She mumble-grumbles, pointing a pudgy finger at the settling murk. “Go?”

Shh….” I soothe her struggling, her searching, my voice less than pacifying from long disuse. “It’s a secret.”

I glance down at the red streaks still swirling in the murk, the bone fragments floating like the broken bits of an old pair of forgotten muck-shucks. They weren’t forgotten.

“Our secret, yes?”

****

I hope you enjoyed that! This is yet another story inspired by a Twitter prompt. In this case, it is a second draft of a story I published on this blog a while back. It will probably not be the last draft of this story, either. Most of my stories are all works in progress. I’m sure plenty off writers can relate! Anyway, let me know what you think!