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*Music2* Happy Account Anniversary *Cake*

Happy Candlemas to any and all who celebrate! Also, Groundhog Day :)

I shall be consuming ungodly amounts of pancakes.
Just an hour and 15 minutes until I begin a new creative writing course.

I love going to these, not only for the chance to collaborate and practice techniques old & new, but there's just something about committing to a course that reignites the spark in me.

Sometimes that spark is only a feeling inside, and sometimes it manifests as a few small new pieces written down, and maybe even shared here. But for now, I'm going to ride this high where it will take me.

It's not often I feel like this anymore.
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Good. Let the fun begin! I've enjoyed these in the past but my chaotic schedule gets in the way.
Story for Night #5:

Drew awoke to the sound of rain pattering on the top of his polyester tent. He opened his eyes, his senses coming together slowly. It was a light rain, he gathered, as the sound was soft and not overwhelming. It must be at least a few hours after sunrise, given that the tent walls and roof shone a light blue and gray instead of black. He unzipped his sleeping bag and sat up on his cheap airbed. One thing was for sure, it was quite cold. But he knew well that would be the case, having decided to go camping in December.

Winter camping wasn't always an ideal choice, given that weather could be unpredictable. But he always preferred it. Less worry about bugs and large animals, fewer campers, and much crisper air to breathe. He had intended to walk down to the lake this morning and to explore the area, as well as scout out a good fishing location, but now that would have to wait. The sound of the rain outside the tent picked up and it became quite clear to him that going outside would need to wait. Thankfully, he had prepared a thermos the night before with some coffee and had brought along a few books to read, along with ample lantern light to help.

However, after a few minutes of perusing through his literary choices, Drew picked up his leather journal and started to read over some of his past entries. He'd never been much for journaling, but after recent events and the encouragement of his counselors, he'd reluctantly started. It was hard to keep up, but he realized it was one of the only times he ever seemed to hear his own true and authentic voice.

"John came by last Tuesday."

So began the entry for Dec. 5th, 2023.

"I hadn't seen him for a good two years, but he took a bet on my not having moved from the last address he knew, and it paid off. He thought it funny that he knew I'd be there still. Called me as unopen to change as ever."

John hadn't been his best friend and often lacked tact, but Drew appreciated his blunt honesty. That's why he remained one of his only friends after Drew lost his relationship of three years. The kind that make friend groups split as well.

"We'd been catching up and John mentioned how he was dating a Jewish girl. He went with her to celebrate Hanukkah with her family, and he noticed how trying something new, no matter how frightening, always seemed to heal him. He suggested I rekindle an old interest too."

The rain came to a stop and a ray of light broke through, shining right onto the page.

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Great to write a story every day. I wonder about where you are pulling these ideas from though. My sister hasn't moved or changed the family number in the last 60 years. A former teacher once tried to find me by calling the old number. I was thrilled.

I also journaled by hand for 17 years (2003-2020) and my blog in one form or another dates to 2005. I have thousands of photos on bookface from my trips.

I'll never run out of stories to tell.
There's a tradition of storytelling during the eight nights of Hanukkah, so I'll give a "short story" a spin here (and I'll try to do one each night):

After a long and tiring day of reciting the same Christmas songs over and over again, teaching the same dance moves, and listening to the joyful yet painfully loud screaming of excited children eagerly awaiting the slow approach of winter break, I make my way home, exhausted but hopeful. Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, and in the back of my mind I've been looking forward to lighting the first candles and saying the blessings, and maybe eating a fried potato or jelly donut, or both...This gives me a chance to zone out and just be at peace for a moment.

But then a thought occurs to me: what am I doing but reciting the same songs all over again, repeating words I've said countless times, and eagerly awaiting the approach of a special time of the year? Why am I excited by the thought of eating foods that my 30+ year old body can't abide anymore? In many ways, I'm no different than the children that I teach...

Another thought: what a blessing. I'm no different from the children I teach.

As I arrive home, I greet my family and they're all waiting for me so we can light the candles together. We say the blessings, light the first candles, and stare out the window as the light beacons out towards the street. I've been waiting for this moment all year, and it's finally here.

I'm no different from the children I teach.
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I'm in Thailand. I'm so so so so different from the locals... if that's what I choose to see; but, no... they're no different from me. *Heartrainbow*
Story for Night #6:

Benjamin waited nervously behind the curtains of his school's stage. Packed onto the risers with all his 2nd grade classmates dressed in their holiday best, he was straining to see thanks to the stage lights and he pulled at his tight bow tie. His mom told him it made him look extremely handsome, and that made him smile. Now it felt like a doggie collar. All his classmates were talking excitedly, and he felt out of place. The only thing on his mind was his mom and dad. Mom would be there tonight for sure, since she brought him. Dad was still on the road and trying his best to get there on time, but traffic was pretty bad. He'd overheard the phone call his Mom and Dad had just before they left the house.

On the other side of the curtains, the crowd murmured loudly with conversation, crying babies, feet shuffling back and forth as people tried to find a good spot to see their burgeoning child stars. Benjamin's mom stood in the back of the crowd. She'd been unable to find a seat after dropping him off an hour ago during her final work break. When she got back, they were all occupied. On top of that, the show was to start in about five minutes and she didn't know if she could get backstage to Benjamin in time. He'd forgotten his lucky Spiderman doll, the one he always carried in his pocket everywhere.

Benjamin rocked back and forth on his feet in anticipation and placed his hands in his pockets. He froze for a second, realizing that all his worrying and the hurry of getting dressed and getting back to school had made him forget to bring his Spiderman. At first, he felt very disappointed and sad, but decided that he was 9 years old now...much too old to get upset about forgetting a toy. His little sister was on the way soon, and he'd need to be a tough big brother. So he'd do his best anyways, even though he knew it'd be easier with his buddy in his pocket.

Just then, the music teacher came up to Benjamin and motioned for him to follow her behind the risers. "You're not in trouble, dear, I just need you for one second." She smiled and took him by the hand to the back of the stage.

Benjamin's eyes lit up as he saw the silhouette of a tall man slowly approaching him. As he stepped into the light, Benjamin's Dad held out his arms and Ben rushed right into them, happy as he could be.

"You made it! I'm so happy!" Benjamin had started to cry a bit.

"I so glad I did, buddy. I missed you so much. And hey, Mom brought this for you."
Story for Night #4:

We've all heard the song on the radio countless times: "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." If you think about it, the song was definitely written with the wrong people in mind. For some of us, it isn't the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, that's pretty much only true for owners of retail stores...most definitely not the retail workers. Which brings me to my main point: I'm a retail worker, and it's Christmastime.

Sure, I suffer from the same initial high that most people get when they see Christmas items for sale and start hearing Mariah Carey and George Michael on the radio, on REPEAT. But that stuff soon grates on you when you see Christmas all over the floor, busting out of boxes, rolling down the faces of ungrateful children, and parents turning red as Santa's cloak when you tell them for the third time "I'm sorry, we just don't have that item right now. No, sometimes the online catalog is wrong. Yes, I'll get my manager."

I'd suffered one such recent event for the umpteenth time and I decided that it was time to use the ladies' room for just a moment because I was about to cry. I made my way to an empty stall and bawled my eyes out for a good minute (pretty sure I scared the lady next to me because she went dead quiet.) But I came to and comforted myself. It was only five days out from winter break, and I'd soon leave this temp job, leave this cold, snowy college town and drive home to see my family again.

As I came out of the stall, I saw a little girl standing right outside the stall, looking very worried.

"Is everything ok, sweetie?" I asked. I figured she might talk to me since I was in uniform.

"I don't know. My mommy's in there, but she hasn't moved for a while. Sometimes she falls asleep when she shouldn't."

At that moment I remembered that I heard the woman slump just a few moments ago. I peeked into the stall and saw that she was in some trouble, probably a diabetic attack or something like it. I washed my hands, took the little girl with me to the service desk, and notified management. An ambulance came and administered first aid.

After a little while, the woman came to and asked her daughter what had happened. The little girl explained that she was scared and that I'd helped her call for help when we saw that she'd passed out. The mother thanked me tearfully and I gave her a hug.

Sometimes it isn't the most wonderful time of the year. But I'd hope I helped make it a little bit better that day.
Story for Night #3 (Late):

I sit on the edge of the bed and look at my human. He's been acting strangely the past few days. Lying in bed, he often turns to his side, grabs a little bit of what he calls "tissue" and hacks into it. He doesn't look too good, to be honest.

Normally, when he makes that hacking sound he makes, I usually do the same to let him know there's nothing wrong with or embarrassing about getting some fur balls out of your system, but he's been doing it a lot more than usual. He always throws away the tissue before I can really get an idea of what it is he's coughing up. Nobody coughs up that much hair, not even my buddy Charlie, and his coat is so long, you'd be forgiven if you mistook him for a tiny shepherd dog. But don't tell him I said that.

I walk up to him and lay down on his chest. He always seems to appreciate that, and I like it too. He usually pets me (often much too roughly, but he's a big guy and not all that bright no matter how many hints I've given him) and I make sure to purr loudly enough that he can hear that I'm happy. When I'm happy, he's happy too.

I've noticed that he really gets like this when it gets cold outside. Sometimes he makes the same noise after he spends some time on the porch sucking on a little stick. It always smells disgusting and I swear I've heard his friends tell him it's no good for him, but it's one of his favorite things to do and it helps him relax, so I put up with it. But now I'm beginning to wonder if his friends are right. Something that smells that bad can't be good for him. I'm not one to talk, really, I've eaten some questionable stuff in my time. But I can usually get rid of it if it really bothers me. My human doesn't do that so easily.

My human surprises me and sits up really quickly. He starts coughing really badly and coughs up a lot of stuff. I finally see it and it looks like the color of my fur: grey and white. And I think I see a little red. There seems to be a little bit of fear in his eyes, and I can feel it in him. My eyes get wide as I watch him start to shake a bit.

He has his sticks next to his bed along with a little thing that makes fire so he can suck on it. He's about to get one out of the box, so I meow loudly and put my paw on the box to hopefully stop him. It's got to be this stuff that's hurting him. I look at him with the biggest eyes I can muster.

He pets me, smiles, and then after a moment, tosses the pack into the garbage. I purr as loud as I can.
Story for Night #2:

The sound of the approaching bus calmed Adam's mind ever so slightly. It was three hours late. As the bus pulled in, a chilly wind picked up and Adam drew the collar of his jacket up towards his neck. It was just about 6pm and already plenty cold. The sun had set a good hour and a half ago.

Adam's mind raced with thoughts of work as he made his way towards the bus door. His last project which he had spent three months on barely met his expectations, let alone those of his superiors. This two week vacation that managed to line up with his younger brother's birthday party and Christmas was just what he needed to clear his head. But the party was due to start at 9pm. The bus ride would probably take four hours.

Adam and Mason had a strong bond. Ever since Mason went off to college, he'd been keeping in touch with him via letter. Old fashioned as it was, they both enjoyed the medium, and it always gave Adam a bit of hope seeing a new letter sitting in his P.O. box near his apartment. Adam moved for work at about the same time Mason left for university. They hadn't seen each other for almost six months at this point.

Finally, Adam reached the front of the line and showed his ticket to the bus driver. She scanned his ticket, and an error message came on her screen.

"Sir, I'm sorry, there seems to be a problem with your ticket."

Adam, now fully tired and not looking for any more trouble, asked calmly, "What is the problem?"

"It looks like you've scheduled your ride for tomorrow. The office can usually clear that up for you, but they close at 5pm. I'm afraid this ticket is invalid."

Adam wasn't one to fight, so he accepted his misfortune. "Ok, thank you ma'am."

Feeling dejected and unsure of what to do, he went back to the bench he'd previously been sitting on, contemplating what his next steps should be. Then someone tapped him on the shoulder.

"Excuse me..." Adam looked to his left and saw a young man about his age who had just started to take a seat next to him. "I overheard what happened. You won't believe this, but I did the same thing, just the opposite. You can have my ticket."

Adam was so grateful and thanked the young man for his generosity, giving him his ticket instead. The bus driver accepted the exchange and let Adam on the bus. As he placed his belongs in the overhead compartment and took his seat, he looked back out the bus window to wave to the young man who had saved his night. But no one was there anymore.


At least from where I was standing haha
What do you do when there's no motivation to write? Honestly, it feels at times like the idea of writing is more enticing than the actually doing so, which makes me wonder if I really want to do this. Haven't been sticking even to my weekly goals.

Many have told me a have a talent for writing, especially creative, and I'm grateful for their words. Why is it so hard to get going and keep going? Is it a "just get up and do it" thing or is there more to it?
Do you let yourself cheat? Do you accept that the first draft is going to suck? Do you scribble?

Don't put up rules and barriers about what counts. What counts is getting the scene on the page and then another scene and then another. That's honestly the hardest part. They don't have to be sequential. They don't have to be complete. They don't have to be written "properly". Real writing is editing. The first draft is just a sketch.

You're allowed to write down dialogue and put [Kevin] and [Jade] next to the speech instead of writing out everything. You're allowed to write [fight here] and [bad guy org name] and fill it later.

And if you're really stuck, try some of the blogging activities or poetry contests. Try following the October Novel Prep Challenge  exercises even if you're not signed up, or try World Weavers' Workshop . Write notes and experiments even if they "don't count".

Write fanfiction. Write a how-to on something. Write a review for someone's item. It's terrible, but some days the most motivating thing for me is to read something that needs a lot of work and remind myself how strong my own skills are.
When you feel to make story hard, cool your head and wait to return inspirations. Let's start at the point you stopped.
Socrates recommended this therapy.
Sometimes even a low level of depression that we might not really notice can slowly suck the excitement out of things we used to enjoy. *Think*
Happy Belated Birthday to the one and only Sonic the Hedgehog (though I will forever fight for the recognition of your true B-day, December 25th.
Just signed up for my first creative writing course after a long while! Very excited *Delight* Six weeks!
What course did you sign up for study?
A general creative writing course offered by a local adult school :)
*Party* Happy Writing.Com account anniversary. *Party*

Currently editing "Five Miles High." Going to try to gear it for later elementary age kids. Some of the phrases are all over the place :D
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