From Darkness, Light

This time last year, I was a bridesmaid at the wedding of one of my best friends. It was a happy and glorious occasion indeed, but it had certainly not been a smooth ride. They had originally planned to have a longer engagement, but pushed the wedding forward due to an unexpected gift of another life. Unfortunately, my friend lost her baby, and there is never a nice way to finish that sentence, but…but God moves in mysterious ways, and out of such a terrible happening has been one of the most enlightening years of my life.

Of course, there is never praise to the Devil when he interferes with our lives and tests our faith, but I find that the best way to look at evil is for the strengthening of the soul, a la the Irenaean theodicy.

As Godmother to the angel now in Heaven, I experienced the loss quite severely, and it was one of those moments in life – to use the phrase from the recent Arrival film trailer: “days that define your story beyond your life”. I never realised how much I cared for the child until she no longer walked among us. Of course I was upset; of course I felt angry that death had yet again claimed me and my friends.

I didn’t blame God, though. If I had to blame anyone, it would be myself for questioning the events that unfolded, doubted the love two people have, found fault with the most natural of circumstances.

All things happen for a reason, we are reminded. My friend is blessed that she has already been called to her vocation in this life. And me, through osmosis, came to realise how small we all are in life. From the darkness and the pain came a light and trust in God’s plans that I might otherwise have disregarded.

From evil, if it was, comes the joy to keep moving forward and fighting the good fight.

7 Quick Takes – Death, Work, and Lipstick

Look at that Oxford comma usage. Alex is happy. ^_^ I guess it’s time to formally resume my weekly posting, though my university work is a precedent. So maybe you’ll see me, maybe you won’t. 😛

seven quick takes friday 2

~1~

It was a shocking week for culture this week as both David Bowie and Alan Rickman were defeated by cancer at the age of 69. Another legend to add to the list of those who have passed us. They are worthy of giving a thought to as I start this post.

~2~

I’m doing a lot, academically, and somehow, I don’t mind that. I am almost at the point where I start collecting data for my dissertation project, but that also means I am almost at the point of diving into my written report too. Boo.

~3~

My Psych work is yet again being useful for writing – this term, my module is Cognition of Nonverbal Behaviour. Today’s seminar, we concentrated on the basics of gestures – different types, such as beat gestures and indication gestures, how they aid communication, and ‘proxemics’ or use of space.

In WTCB, I have some really aggressive characters in terms of non-violence. What I mean is that the upper-class would never risk scandal by explicit murder, but they are still likely to lash out in a ‘socially acceptable way’, such as showing dominance by posture. Imagine a mob-boss who has his hench-lackies to do the dirty work for him.

~4~

So, apart from that, my week has been pretty usual. Swing dance, creative writing, choir. Lectures, seminars, and meetings…

~5~

I’m still raving about my vintage stuff. The three lipsticks I bought myself for Christmas… The petticoat-and-swing-dress combinations. Maybe I will get round to doing a couple of reviews one of these days.

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And my hair is doing something completely different today… (Using Beet it, the pink lipstick.)

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~6~

However, this has left new writing by the wayside. All of my new is academic or contemplative, but not fiction. If you follow me on Twitter, however, you’ll get the daily update/rant about how my editing is going.

~7~

A little thought for the coming week. Have a good weekend, all.

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

On the Death of a Genius

On Write, Edit, Repeat, Lara aptly talks about how not everybody finds success at an early age, even if, like Rickman, they become celebrated legends by their work. Keep going, keep the mind from making comparisons, and aim for your best contribution to the world, regardless of when that may be. Purpose will come.

Lara Willard

A writer friend texted me the news this morning.

Immediately I wished I was in a courtyard with wand-wielders. As a poor substitute, I watched a scene from Half-Blood Prince and made this.

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This afternoon I was swiping through old photos of me (which my aunt texted a few weeks ago).

I guess with Alan Rickman’s death, I’m getting all “I open at the close”—trying to decide how to live more truly to my child self. The silly, creative girl who didn’t limit herself, didn’t compare herself to others, didn’t fear failure:

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Rickman didn’t get his big break until his forties. He gave us almost thirty years of brilliance—of character immersion so great, people are mourning not only him, but also the various fictional characters he loaned his soul to.

On Tolkien’s birthday, I posted about how long it took him to find success. Earlier this week, I retweeted this from…

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Photo of the Week: Dying Flowers

Sometimes I choose weird decorations. I have to say, these are not the weirdest of mine. I’ve had this half-bunch of flowers for several months – their dried petals perfume my room just a little bit. They were hanging about in shoeboxes and off my wardrobe, before I finally found a vase for them – and, the weirdest of all, is that.

A tiki vase, a little ornate and…uh, odd. But it fits the dead flowers in a dia de los meurtos way.

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And a glimpse of my bedroom for y’all.

Photo of the Week: Moments

A small flower I was keeping in my room, but, cut from the plant, it was never going to last. Yet, in morning light, as I went to throw it away, I noticed the interplay of colours in the dying carnation. (I know nothing of biology, so I couldn’t say what’s happening here, but death comes in processes.) An interesting subject for a photograph definitely.

AlexB_dyingmomentsTaken with my HTC phone camera, though you might not tell. 🙂

My life revolves around backseat driving and half-hearted love letters

And that would be the start of a poem a lot better than the one you’re about to read, but the summer saps my creativity and soul, and I end up writing vapid nonsense to prompts for which I ought to be wittier. It’s kind of creepy.

Last month, The Scribblers creative writing society launched their first book of creative writing, produced in printed, ring-bound form (like any university collection) by the president and English Lit student, based on the prompt The Lake. I thought I’d shared my poem in the collection here.

Into the Lake

Churlish white-grey, wave upon wave

Above her crest and contorted shape

Laps away the life she knew,

Replaced with a deathly show.

Organs melt and boil and bubble, though

Pressure first swells her ears,

Then the petty nonsense gurgles;

Oxygen is a forgotten resource.

The mind leaves little but an inventory

Of life as she drops from sanity.

A single moss-plant by her right,

That arm in green might catch her side,

Yet, they meet and dance and part as if

The weed never existed. Refraction.

Ever-intrepid hands climb the non-existent rope,

Where safety slips, threatens, teases,

And as she downward dips, questions

Of morality flit and forget to float –

Once, perhaps, it bailed her out;

Broken, now it only descends with her,

Descends, transcends and bends the ether

‘Tween consciousness and nullity;

Turn the inner voice away, and

The outer streams far more sense to the deep.

Sight has nothing more than glass

To offer the erstwhile traveller. Glass,

The ever-distorting foe –

Who turns the knife into a rose,

The fist into a palm.

Never mind the hue of blood under her nails –

The water dyes every inch

Blue, like the plant-unlife is blue, unwanted.

One bubble, maybe two, as passing payment,

Then – nothing, and silence, sweet head, weeps.

Maudlin and black now the waves lap;

Her soul rises higher – her body fades back

To depths and the gloom beyond eyelids closed,

In the pit, that lake, morose.

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Beta/CP Match-Up

To cap off the summer long Ready. Set. Write! initiative, hosted by Alison MillerKaty UppermanJaime Morrow, and Erin Funk, a mixer for potential critique partners and beta readers is being held. Today we’ve been invited to talk about our WIP and MSs, so without further ado…

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OF JACKETS AND PHONES

Genre: YA Mystery (contemporary)

Approx. wordcount: 55,000 words

Standalone or series? First of a trilogy. Second book – first draft written; third book – planned, a few chapters written, on hold.

Ready for CPs? On fifth draft editing. Most chapters ready now, but might rewrite a couple of the chapters, so sometimes chapters might not be insta-available.

Small house like Agnetha's

Betas or CPs? Primarily beta(s), as I won’t be able to critique once the academic term starts (Oct), but I’m happy to have a CP or two if they don’t mind intermittent critiques/don’t need

Warnings? Mentions of drug use, but no explicit use in scenes. Murder, obviously, but again no explicit description or gruesome blood and guts stuff.

Elevator pitch: 14-year-old Agnetha fights the police to bring her favourite teacher’s murderer to justice – for better or worse, even when she and the greatest link to the truth are the next targets on the shadowy killer’s list.

body outline

Excerpt

“I do remember talking. But that feeling!”

I glanced at Ms. Peterson. She blinked, wincing as she rubbed a raw temple. It must’ve collided with the corner of the table, and a trail of blood began snaking its way down the side of her thin face. Her speech settled to a rough breath, exhaled in a frustrated puff.

“It’s no use,” she remarked. “I can’t remember a word after that. Fuzziness.”

I nodded to her with a sigh. In a half-twist, I circled around, surveying the room: the glass and the ceramic blown apart, scattering their guts against the opposite wall, and the floor was a bed of plaster. Dishwasher-style disturbed. Dishevelled. Disgusting.

At least three walls and a door hung on their hinges. I shoved the remains of the table against the innermost wall, and, ignoring a bright bruise on my arm, pushed through the stray books.

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I hope this has at least piqued your interest. I am totally up to trading first chapters only to get a feel for each other’s style and voice. (I can’t think of anything else relevant right now…)