Monday Challenge: Guess Who’s Back?

“I had a headache once. Then I danced on some text.”

Today’s Monday Challenge is inspired by this goddamn migraine, which I thought was gone. It should be gone. I took the medication, got some sleep, did all the right things*. And yet, after a small intermission, it’s back.

Maybe it just slept in this morning.

I sometimes wonder if the part of my brain that gives me weird story ideas and insults like ‘shambling pubefarmer’ is also responsible for the migraines. I mean, there’s got to be something twisted about that little nest of dendrites, right? It can’t be totally normal. When it’s working as it should, I get stories about blood and magic and guns and monsters. But every now and then it throws a rod and the energy that would go into making an idea goes into trying to force-eject my brain from my skull.

Just a speculation, of course.

Anyway, Monday Challenge: something that should be over—that whoever it was happening to thought was over—has continued. Perhaps in a different form, or in a different place. Or maybe in the exact same shape it used to take, stalking around your life or your head. And is it possible to make it go away, once and for all?

*As opposed to the shit I would have done ten years ago, when my thought process could have been described as “just take the edge off with some rum and half a pack of cigarettes, because you’ve got another section of your thesis due tomorrow and that fucker ain’t gonna write itself.”

Advertisements

Monday Challenge: Unassailable Truths

“I’m beautiful, so I can do whatever I want. LOL.”

Aaaaand I’m back. Good things: Australia was awesome! I have a new tattoo! Peacocks are assholes! Bad things: Krys* wouldn’t fit in my luggage! I’m still so jet lagged I got confused by a fork!

You know one of the best things about vacation? Aside from the new places and new people and familiar people and food? It shakes you out of your routine. Me, I love my routine. I helps me get shit done. But that doesn’t mean a break from it isn’t a good idea now and then.

After coming back from a three week break from virtually everything that defines my days–home, writing**, blogging, art, exercise, gaming, continent–I find myself rejuvenated and refreshed. And a hell of a lot more creative. On vacation, it was actually getting weird at a certain point: I hadn’t written or painted for weeks, and I was starting to feel…full. Like if I could have juiced my brain, pure artistic endeavour would have come out. And maybe some lol cats.

I learned many things on vacation. Among them:

  • -Peacocks are assholes
  • -Lamb ribs are a big fucking deal
  • -Scrotums can appear unexpectedly***.

Anyway, if I’m back, you know what else is back: the Monday Challenge. Now updated in real time instead of scheduled weeks in advance!

Today’s Challenge: write me someone learning a fundamental truth about the world. Fire is hot. Things fall. Australian rules football makes no sense but is awesome. Someone somewhere has learned an inalienable truth about their world and must now incorporate it into their life.

Out. I got stuff to do.

(Housekeeping: I didn’t have much access to the blog whilst meandering around Melbourne, so some comments went unapproved until recently. If you submitted one but still haven’t seen it, let me know and I’ll check the spam filters. Sorry for the delay and thanks, as always, for the comments!)

*You might remember her from her blog, On The Road To Ithaca, or guest posts like this and this.

**Okay, I did some of this while I was away. But it was different stuff, all right?

***Related: if you have a wardrobe malfunction, you should just own it.

 

Monday Challenge: Tech Gone Wild

Cleaning up after robot parties is the fucking WORST.

Hopefully, by the time this is live, my computer will have been resurrected from the dead shell of aluminum and silicon that it’s been for the last couple of weeks.* If not, then hopefully I will have managed to replace it with something. Maybe a brain implant.

Funny how even the near-complete failure of technology recently hasn’t turned me off from the idea of implantable computers. I mean, yeah, it’d probably be even more of a problem if the hard drive in my brain failed, but until then I’d be able to do research by thinking of it. And I could stream movies directly to my optic nerves.**

Until that slightly unsettling day, though, I’ll have to work with this stuff. On the upside, I’ve been learning even more about how my computer actually works, which will be a valuable skill when I someday have to troubleshoot my cerebral cortex.

If I’ve learned anything floating through forums and advice columns and tutorials, it’s that most people know jack shit about how their computers work. About technology in general, really. We use it every day–in some cases we depend on it–but we have no more understanding of it than my cat does of how the fridge works.

Just to be clear, I’m not slagging those who don’t know how to fix everything in their house. I have a theoretical understanding of how my car works, but I still take it to the garage. And I only started learning about computers a few years ago, when I had to. And then, trust me: my cat trying to figure out the fridge was an apt comparison.

She knows food comes from it; she knows you need hands to open it; she knows that if she’s cute, one of the Hand-Owning Giants will open it for her and extract food. Beyond that, she doesn’t really give a damn.

And why should she? It does what it has to, and she’s happy. Just like we are with our technological devices.

Until they fail.

Monday Challenge: write me the failure of technology. What do the characters do? Has it failed, or has it gained sentience? Can they survive without it, or do they need to attempt to fix it? What happens when they do?

I’m going to go back to fixing my hard drive.

*As of this writing. Man, prepping stuff in advance is hard. It’s like trying to figure out the right verb tenses for time travel.

**I wonder if they’re HD.

 

Monday Challenge: Chicks Dig Scars

Not the scar I had in mind, but judging from the Internet, a lot of chicks dig this guy, too.

I’ve got a huge scar on my right knee. The full details of the incident can be read here, along with accompanying pictures of the original injury, but these days it’s healed into a weird crater-like mark over the bottom half of my kneecap. It still looks odd and as of yet I haven’t regained feeling in the whole thing. Pretty sure I left some nerve endings on the pavement that day. On the bright side, when I inevitably fall down again—because I will—it will likely hurt less.

Scars have stories. Sometimes they’re silly ones, like mine; other times they’re dangerous and daring tales full of adventure. Or, if you’re my dad, cautionary tales related to work accidents.* But there’s always a story, always something that goes along with the mark. Because scars are your body’s notation system. They’re the way you remember to do things, or not do others. They’re reminders.

But for some scars, and for some people, there are two stories: the one that happened, and the one they tell.

We shift things for a lot of reasons. I’ll be the first to admit that I edited some of the details of the above story. Not out of a desire to conceal anything, but because, hell, I’m a writer. I want to make a story out of everything. There has to be a narrative flow instead of just things happening one after another. And sometimes we change the details of our stories because we wished it had happened slightly differently. Or that it hadn’t happened at all.

Your characters do the same thing.

Monday Challenge time, you grubby little wombats: What scars does your character have, and what story do they tell about them? It might be the truth, or a version of it. Or it might be something a little more…colourful. Or less, depending on the provenance of those scars. Sometimes the version we tell is the less exciting one.

Show me their scars and tell me their stories, people. Get to it.

*Lesson learned: never believe the other guy when he says he shut off the air pressure to the valve you’re about to open, because if he hasn’t, you’re gonna lose a finger.

Monday Challenge: Draw A Card

You’ll never look at Pac-Man the same way again.

I played Cards Against Humanity with some friends this weekend*. Actually, in point of fact, we played Crabs Adjust Humidity, which is a third-party expansion, because we’ve played the regular game and all the expansions so much we needed to look to outside sources in order to fulfill our Being Horrible People quota. In our defence, we all have a high threshold for that sort of thing, so it takes some doing to fill our needs.**

If you’ve never played the game, I highly recommend it. It’s kind of horrible, but, if you’re reading this blog, I assume that you are also, in some small way, kind of horrible. It’s okay, though. So am I. This is a safe space.

Anyway, the game consists of drawing question cards from a deck and attempting to answer them in the most creative way possible from the answer cards in your hand. It wasn’t much of a stretch from there to writing prompts. The only difference is that you will have to come up with your own answers. They can be strange or obscene, they can be unusual, but they should be yours.

So, drawn directly from the deck of Cards Against Humanity on my dining room table, I present today’s Monday Challenge: What’s that smell?

Dazzle me.

*The regular group, that my husband insists on calling the Wolf Pack, mostly because it annoys me.

**While setting up the links for this post, I discovered a fourth expansion pack for Cards Against Humanity that I don’t have. ORDERED.

Monday Challenge: Which Inane Buzzfeed Quiz Are You?

This is a trap. Go take the ‘Which Creepy Cult Are You?’ test instead.

There’s always a black hole of the internet ready for new victims. It used to be Wikipedia links. Then YouTube videos. Instagram, Vine, Twitter…all these have their followers. My new time-sucking black hole? Inane Buzzfeed quizzes. And I mean fucking inane. Somehow, I managed to go my whole life without knowing what haircut I should have, or who would play me in the movie of my life. But no more.

In the last week, I’ve discovered that I am Captain Kirk, a dragon, the colour red, Faith from Buffy, Commander Riker, a member of Dauntless*, and that I should be living in the Netherlands. Future quizzes will probably reveal what Elder God I should worship, the detailed sketch of my next tattoo, and which one of you will be responsible for my death.

God, how did we know anything about ourselves before internet quizzes?

To break up the inanity—or play into it, I’m no longer sure which—I started taking quizzes as characters and recording their results in the Story Bible for the rewrite. Why? I don’t know. Why do I do anything?**

Some of the results were spot on. Some were completely off base. Others were somewhere in the middle. But, whatever the result, I had to try and think like those characters to take the quiz. Fun mental exercise. Or introduction to having multiple personalities. One of those.

Monday Challenge: Take a random Buzzfeed quiz as your character. Does the result suit them? If so, why? If not, why not and write the result they should have gotten.

To get you started, here are some fucking random quizzes:

Which Late Night TV Show Host Are You?
Are You Hungover?***
Which Street Fighter Character Are You?
Which Miyazaki Character Are You?
Which Gay Sex Position Are You?****

For extra super bonus points, post your results in the comments below.
*I have neither read the book nor seen the movie, so I don’t know if this if a good thing or not.
**’Because I wanted to see what happened’ narrowly edges out ‘for the lols’.
***I don’t feel you should need a quiz to know this.
****Stay classy, Buzzfeed.

Monday Challenge: Character EDC

The EDC: because going out without your Tuesday knife would be silly.

A while back, I did a post on my Every Day Carry*, or the junk I always have on me. It’s the bare minimum I consider essential for my average day, and I always have those items in either my purse or my pockets. Or, in the case of the jewelry, actually on my body. Whatever. You get the idea: it’s with me.

I was writing a scene with a character going through her bag the other day, and had to sit down and think about the items in it. In other words, I had to write her EDC.

The EDC tells you a lot about a person. Just like this post I did about bedrooms, the things a person always has on them tells you what kind of person they are. A sentimentalist? A minimalist? A survivalist? All those people will have different things. And what about their job? A sword-for-hire will have different stuff from a computer programmer, who will in turn have different stuff than a D&D-style mage with pockets full of spell components. What do they need? What do they take even though they don’t need it?

Monday Challenge: Write the EDC of one of your characters. What do they always have?

And, because I like the connection, I’ll turn out the pockets of my characters from that bedroom post:

The first one carries a lot of stuff lately, because she’s on the road and the EDC is everything she owns. Or at least everything she owns that she didn’t have to leave behind in a hurry after that bloodbath six months ago. Aside from her money and the religious pendant she inherited from her mother, most of the important stuff is in her shoulder bag: notebook, emergency rations, water bottle, knife, bandages, matches, extra clothes, uppers. She believes in being prepared now. If she’d believed that six months ago, she wouldn’t be in this situation.

The other carries very little these days. Mostly weapons. They’re all she needs to do her job, and her job is pretty much all she is now. One pocket always has cigarettes and matches: a vice she’s had since childhood. And around her wrist is the leather thong her brother tied there years ago, the one with the little carved-bone bead. She spins that bead so often the leather’s on the verge of wearing out. She knows that soon it will break, and the last little piece of him she has will be gone forever.

*Interestingly, three of the eight items in that picture are no longer with me. The phone died—RIP, first smartphone, you made my life so awesome—and had to be replaced. Those particular glasses got lost on vacation, though I have other pairs. And the wedding band** disappeared somewhere in the house. No idea where, and I tossed the place a dozen panicky times when I realized it was gone.
**It’s okay. Snowman let me pick out a new set for both of us, and I went with a hammered titanium set, inscribed with a quotation from The Hobbit: “I am going on an adventure.” NERD LOVE RULES.