Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Library and the Writer

When I have a dozen things to do in a few days I try to avoid libraries. Wait, what?!? Don't writers love books? Yes, they do. My particular problem is that when I am busy I will go into a library with the intention to accomplish something without the distractions of my dorm cubical that is called a room, surrounded by all those books the temptation is just too great. I see a book across from my chair on pagan religions, I see another book in a side isle of Irish Poetry. Basically, I don't get anything done if I sit in the library among all those books. If I use a study room it is fine, but if those books are within sight, if I can smell their delicious pages, if I can imagine the limitless volumes of knowledge stored on those shelves...ah, nothing gets done...ever. When I am busy the library is my nemesis.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Driuna and the Dragon

Driuna and the Dragon
A Short Story by Joshua A. Spotts

    In a deep and long valley there was a village that was not as it appeared. The precise rows of houses, the brilliantly laid roads, the lovingly arranged gardens, and the gilding upon every door, all these things were masks. Even the people, those gorgeous boys and girls with their perfect bodies, were masks. Deep down, the soul of the town, underneath those perfect masks, was rotten. The people, constantly searching for imperfection, were blinded to themselves and each other. And so the hate and disgust of the entire village was turned upon one girl. All spurned her.
    This wretch was named Driuna. She was, however, labeled by all the others as the "Plain Lass."  She spent her days begging for food, which gave the townsfolk amusement. They cast pieces of moldy bread from their ornate windows and laughed as she groveled in the mud for those rare morsels. When passing her on the street those perfectly formed people would kick her to one side.
Driuna, patient behind her pallor, allowed them their amusement as she grew strong in knowledge, stronger even than those who called themselves wise in distant lands. At night she left the city and wandered about in the woods, examining and gaining knowledge of all sorts of plants, befriending the animals. She loved being surrounded by all those green crowned trees while dangling her feet in clear, blue water.   
    It was a stormy day when, high above the village, flashes of lightning and fire flared across the darkened sky. Driuna watched with mild amusement as the lightening crackled horizontally across the dark amidst plumes of fire. All the townsfolk fled inside. Driuna was left outside in that pouring, rushing rain, but she really did not mind it. A great blast of fire burned the darkness and single bolt of lightning careened slowly down into the woods. There its light died. The fire vanished over the northern mountains.
    Rising from her meager bench, her one possession, Driuna crept from the town boundaries, hurrying into the woods. The storm was clearing quickly overhead and the curious townsfolk came out, they began to blame and curse Driuna for the storm, which had caused several buildings to become ash. Driuna paid no attention to their shouts, feeling the storm-kissed wind blow through her brown hair and across her skin. Running through the woods a laugh broke free, she loved the woods; she loved existence after the beautiful terror of a storm. She watched all the life around her and her laugh was considered beautiful by the host of creatures she had befriended.
    The woods held its breath as she approached the scarred place where the lightning had fallen. The trees were scorched and a crater was carved from what was once a gentle green bed of peaceful grass. Chaos had intruded upon the tranquil complexity of Driuna’s wood. That which she found in the chaos-formed crater was terrible and beautiful at the same time. It was a silver scaled dragon, a thing hated by all humans, when it should be loved, for its beauty is far greater than many things. Blood ran from a large wound in its underbelly. Driuna returned into the forest and gather mounds of herbs, she boiled some in a nearby hot spring and crushed others between rocks. Slipping down into the pit she began to apply the mixtures she had made, the dragon awoke and snarled. Driuna continued her work. The magnificent creature felt her care and trusted her.
    In three days the dragon was healed and she pulled herself from the crater with Driuna on her back. Driuna got off and stood before the creature. The eyes of the magnificent creature observed its tiny healer. "I thank you for your deed. I am in your debt. If there is anything you want, take it now."
Druida stood for a while, silent. Not even the woods creaked, no animal called out, no bird sang, everything waited on her answer. She had the power to obliterate the entire village which had been so cruel to her. She held the lives, nay, even the beauty of those people in her scarred, thorn-pricked hands. The wind swirled about her, awaiting her decision. The dragon did not move a muscle. It was as if time had stopped as she pondered whether or not to exact revenge. She realized that true beauty was not external but internal. She realized that beneath her plain, base body, there was a heart and a soul that were exceedingly beautiful. She looked up into the dragon's eyes and said. "No, I need nothing."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Division

I have been considering deeper things since being brought into this group of writers here at Taylor. The similarity that rose to sight among us right off has now drawn back, revealing the differences among us. Each of these differences, I realize makes each of us what we are, it makes each of us a writer. If we were completely similar we would be a boring collective. We would all write exactly, we would not be writers. We would be a writer. The differences make us all what we are and the similarities unite us. This is a glorious thing.
       There is one problem I have observed among us. It shows that not all writers' look out for others or at least seek to encourage them. It is the problem that one writer, who admittedly is smarter than many of us, acts like he wants to help and then offers advice that is not insightful and only proves to confuse. It seems that he does this on purpose. I do not know why. As writer's we all share a common goal, successful communication, and should help each other achieve that goal. This means that when another writer or even a non-writer asks a question concerning their writing we should be willing to help, even through constructive criticism, but it must be constructive. In no way should we make each other feel stupid for asking a question or insignificant. We are called to be writers, let us help each other. If not by the writer's bond, then by the bond we share as Christians! 
     

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Round Table of Writers

Writers are an odd breed. Sure, there are people out there who will talk about books. Who enjoy books. But writers are a class to themselves. They go deeper. There is a passion when they talk about their favorite author or when they proclaim how much they disliked a book. Now, take a six of these writers and stick them at a round table. This is what happened tonight in Taylor University's Dining Commons, though this group of six accidentally sat away from the majority of the writing majors. 
They discuss, they laugh, they disagree, but they do not get angry at each other, or seek to make mockery of one another. They all now the travails of writing. They all fear the red ink of editors. They all celebrate each others'  success while competing in the same market. These are writers. We are writers. I am a writer!
Such fellowship is a wonderful thing!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New out of the Old

In an effort to refrain from cliche in my writing I spent an hour today speculating how to describe the movement of leaves of trees and of slender plants in the wind. Easy? You think it's easy? Eliminate the use of the words, dancing, swaying, bowing, and then see how easy the description comes. Finally I set upon the use of the word, shiver, because if you watch closely everything moves in the wind. Indeed they shiver to varying degrees as we do according to varying degrees of cold.
Avoiding cliches is one of the chief challenges of a writer. The English language is powerful, broad, and magnificent. With enough thought a new phrase can be thought up to replace the old cliches. Nature and the description of her intricate actions help me to train my mind. This training, hopefully, will make it easy to replace old cliches with new, bold descriptions. Even old phrases can be made new if a writer rearranges the wording, perhaps replacing a word here or there. 

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