Writing: Forests

I found this story in my desktop a few weeks back, and I’m honestly quite surprised by it. I wrote it for school a little over a year ago, and it’s probably as good as anything I write now – I think it was supposed to be about metamorphosis, but it’s more like a very short retelling of Alice in Wonderland plus kitsune. I enjoy making my writing a bit more archaic – ‘rather’, ‘and such’, ‘it is’ etc. – and I think that it’s worked well in this narrator. As ever, let me know what you think; I’m just starting out on my writing journey, so it’s always wonderful for me to hear feedback!


Forests

Forests are not what you think they are.
Many youngsters these days will tell you forests are stupid and boring, and they’d far rather be at home playing on their iPods and Xboxes and all of that nonsense children have nowadays.
This story is about a forest, and I am certain that the forest that I am going to tell you about is not stupid or boring at all. In fact, it is rather exciting, and a little frightening if you are easily scared.

I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not my story is true, but, for the moment, sit down, and listen to my tale.

A sensible child named Alise, around six or seven years old, was standing at the gate of a the forest with her grandparents. After much protesting from a certain younger member of the group, Alise’s grandma had eventually persuaded Alise to experience ‘at least some culture on this wretched trip’.
“But, Grannyyy,” she whined, in a last-minute effort to out off this seemingly unavoidable visit. “Do we haaave to? Can’t we just go back to the toy shop instead?”
But her grandmother with a firm ‘no’, telling her that there were always toy shops back in England.

With a last resentful look at her grandparents, Alise went right ahead and stepped into the forest. It wasn’t at all like the forests you found in England, or indeed anywhere in Europe. This forest was dense and verdant, the trees stretching up higher than Alise could see, the little light that managed to creep through the canopy tinted green.

A well-educated adult might have been rather excited by all this, but since Alise was only a child, she was not. The only function forests served was to play in.
This was when the first flash came, a tantalising glimmer in the fringes of Alise’s vision.
Her voice was lit with excitement. “Did you see that, Grandpop? Over there?”
Before her grandfather could reply, she saw another flash from the bush on the left and could resist no longer.

Alise ran headfirst into the leaves, oblivious to the shouts of her worried guardians. The bush, she realised, was not a bush at all but the entrance to a tunnel of branches, the not-quite-semicircle of warped trunks twisting and stretching above Alise’s little brown head.
It was then she saw the fox, a beautiful rusty red, run off past the corner. Alise ran as fast as her legs could carry her, running to catch a glimpse of that lovely russet tail. And she just kept on running, and running, and running, following the flashes of light through the tunnel that she hoped would lead her to the fox.

The dirt track seemed to stretch on forever, unchanging except for the occasional leaf or twig lying broken on the ground. Still, the lights kept glimmering, disappearing when she came near like a star when a cloud has passed over the sky. But Alise didn’t see her little fox again, and she was starting to worry about what had become of Granny and Grandpop, but she didn’t want to turn back in case the ending was just over this next hill, or round that second corner. It would probably take longer to get back than go on, Alise told herself, sensible child that she was, and she did so want to see what was getting the fox in such a fuss.

Left and right the little girl turned, over hills and roots and more dirt track. Those short legs were becoming rather tired by now, and Alise was quite ready to give up when the tunnel broke apart and light came streaming in to her squinting blue eyes.

The trees, though still tall and imposing, were changing shape and growing as Alise watched. The grain changed and twisted as buds began to sprout and grow. From each those buds, a delicate white blossom grew, and when it was time for the blossom to fall they tumbled down over Alise in glorious white clouds of perfume and beauty. The leaves grew long and green before starting to bronze and then they, too, were falling to the ground in a fiery autumn dance.

Alise reached out to touch a nearby branch of a tree to her right, and frowned. It felt different, somehow, from what her eyes were telling her. The branch felt cold and lifeless, horribly ugly. Alise felt a curdling in her stomach as the world around her twisted and changed shape yet again, this time into a nightmare world.

Branches stretched over Alise, clawing at her hair. The undergrowth withered and died. Everything that had only moments before been full of life was now dead, as if the effects had been reversed to the opposite extreme. Alise twisted and turned this way and that, trying to free herself from the leering branches that stretched across her vision. Twigs scratched her face as she searched for a way out of the horrible nightmare forest. Then, something even more extraordinary happened: Alise saw a flash of red feathers, behind a tree. It was the exact same shade of red that her little fox had been. She darted towards it, desperate now. But fate seemed to be against Alise, and she tripped on a root, tumbling to the ground. Her fingers were outstretched, and by some miracle they just managed to brush the bird’s russet feathers before the world went black.

Alise awoke in the tunnel of trees to the sound of her grandma calling her name.
“Alise! Alise, are you there?”
By her guess, Alise’s grandma was only about two corners away from where Alise lay. She picked herself up, and took a last look back at the beautiful trees that Alise knew were rotten at the core. Just before she started walking, Alise thought she saw a flicker of red in the distance.
But Alise wasn’t entirely sure how much she could trust her eyes anymore.

What’s Up Me and NaNoWriMo?

Nanowrimo 2014 v2

November.

For your average person, November is not a good month. It’s not close enough to Christmas to feel the wintery cheer; it’s probably cold, dark, and drizzly. Altogether, not great news. But look! Over there! A blue badge sitting behind that tab! What is it, you ask? The unassuming icon of Nation Novel Writing Month, of course. And it’s been giving me a real headache.

I participated in NaNoWriMo both last year and in April for Camp NaNo. Both times, my novel fell apart and I was left with 10k. I was determined to do it this year, and I have been commenting as such on preparation posts and other participants’ blogs. But at the same time, I had no fixed idea and I knew from last year that I really didn’t have that much time.

Still, I’m going to do it.

I’m not aiming to write an entire novel. 30 or 40k words would be my minimum for any satisfactory book (I tend to draw things out), and there’s no way I can make time for that considering my writing speed. Instead, I’m aiming for 20k. Maybe 15. I’ve told myself it’s a short story, because if I call it a novel my brain freaks out and I have to get every detail perfectly planned out.

I might disappear on you in the coming month. I’ll be scheduling some posts over the next few days, though, and I’ll probably still be replying to comments and stuff. I hope you understand, and if you have any tips then I’d be very grateful.

Are any of you planning to do NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo? Are you getting in as much of a muddle as me?!

I’m Scared to Write

I'm Scared to Write

I’m scared to write.

I’m not scared to write poetry, or English comprehension answers, or long posts lamenting my writer’s block, but I’m scared to write stories.
I’m scared to write anything that means something in case it ends up meaning nothing.
I’m scared to write because there are a thousand different things that could go wrong and I don’t want to make even a single mistake.
I’m scared that by writing I will enforce the stereotype of bad young writers and therefore let down all the good young writers.
I’m scared to write in case I end up hating my characters, because it’s hard to hate something you’ve created and it’s even harder to write about people you both love and hate.
I’m scared to write because writing is one of the only things that reassures me, and I’m scared that if I write badly then the safety net will fall away.
I’m scared to write because when I think of a blank page, no ideas come to mind.
I’m scared to write because I don’t want to become a hypocrite by making all the mistakes I criticise in others.

I’m scared to write.

(N.B. I do have a Harry Potter Spells Book Tag post coming, but my computer is out of action at the moment and it’s been a bit of a nightmare to add in the pictures on my tablet.)

My Response to Being Asked to Share my Writing

Okay, so, I’m taking a writing course. It’s fun and all, but we have to read out our writing… Which is basically my worst nightmare. It’s not as bad if I’m writing about who and what I want, and I’ve had time to edit and polish it up, but unedited third-person perspective writing about an irritating thirty year-old entrepeneur (thank you, small boy whose name I cannot remember) I care nothing for? Not so much.

Therefore, when we were all asked to read out what we’d written, my response was this:

Response to sharing writing

(please excuse my truly terrible drawing skills)

Dancing in the Rain

We’ve been slowly making our way towards the building, hiding under anything we can find; trees, ledges, stairways, all the while holding up our bright orange plastic bags over our heads. They’re already wet, but my head seems to be a little drier than the rest of me. I don’t want to break the spell just in case it’s actually doing something.

It isn’t raining hard, but it’s the kind of rain that soaks you to the skin before you realise it. I usually call this kind of rain drizzle. Some people call it spitting, but spitting is when a little bit of hard rain falls, usually before it starts raining proper. Spitting is when the clouds spit down on you. Drizzling is not.

It’s been falling on and off all day, like a faulty shower that you can’t get to turn on. In films, it starts raining very hard all at once. I’ve never seen that happen except on a television screen. I haven’t ever really been caught in rain like that.

We’re half-running now, taking long loping strides across the gravel. You take a short cut across the grass, which we’re not supposed to do, but everyone does it anyway. You can see the line where the grass has worn away slightly.

I guess the grass must be slippy, because you slip and tumble to the ground. I run a bit faster in order to catch up with you but try to fall over like you just did. By the time I’ve reached you, you’ve picked yourself up from the ground (I’m not a fast runner). There’s a big mud patch on your trousers where you fell down.

“Elegant,” I tell you.
“I know,” you reply, half-smiling exactly like we were half-running, a long thin smile, “it hurt, though.”
“You okay?”
“Yeah.”

We’re pretty much completely soaked now. I can’t even be bothered to hold up my plastic bag and it joins yours on the grass. I start walking slowly to the gravel because I don’t want to slip, but you don’t follow me.

“What?”
You shrug and glance at your wrist. “We’ve still got another fifteen minutes, and we’re already soaked. May as well enjoy it.”

You’ve already had that moment, the one where you think  ‘stuff it’ and just can’t be bothered to even try and keep yourself a little it dry. I haven’t. I look down at myself. I can’t see any piece of clothing that hasn’t been bathed the rain. My jeans are sticking horribly to my legs, and I know they won’t dry until tomorrow unless I put them on the radiator as soon as I get home.

Damn it. I run out towards you and slip exactly the same way you did. The rain blurs my vision and falls onto my cheeks. It’s cold but I open my mouth to try and catch some. I think you’re doing the same.

We’re running all over the grass, now, slipping and tripping and spinning around and around. I don’t even care a tiny bit. I know I’ll be cold and wet later, but I try to push the thought out of my head.

I know we’ll regret it later, but that’s not what I think about as we turn our faces to the angry sky. In truth, I don’t really think about anything.

***

This turned out to be a whole lot longer than I intended it to be. I was initially going to write a poem or just a little post, but yeah. I was feeling the creative juices. And it’s raining outside.

It’s no wonderful piece of writing, but if you’ve ever been dancing in the rain then I hope you thought it captured at least a little bit of that feeling. 🙂 Is it raining where you are?

Apple xx