Attempting Authenticity

pursuing an authentic life
November 18th, 2014 by africanstardust

Day 18 and Thoughts

my writing buddy extraordinaire

Guys, it’s the 18th! We’re over halfway there! My writing companion Aragorn (look at that face) has now finally realized that he can’t actually type, so thankfully he is now content to simply watch me.

So, even though I’m way behind on my personal goal for the month and will probably not make it, that’s okay because a) I’ve now written 31,000 more words than I ever have in a month’s time, and b) I’ve actually been writing every day, even if it’s only 727 words like yesterday. The discipline of writing daily has always been a struggle for me, even during NaNoWriMo, so this is kind of a big deal. My recent search history also includes such fascinating tidbits as the Mary Celeste, black spiced rum recipes, pub crawl (I forgot to add the ‘wordcount‘ part to it), and how to make bumbo. Things always get interesting in November, and Google possibly now thinks that I’m an alcoholic who lives in a shack on the beach and sees sea monsters and pirates on a regular basis. My friend sent this to me on Pinterest and I find it rather fitting:

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.53.03 AM

I’m sure we can all relate! Anyway, my tip for the next portion of NaNo is this: Do not be afraid to write badly. Because, really, it might end up not being bad after all, or at the very least it might end up being salvageable. So don’t not write because you’re afraid it isn’t going to be pretty. Just write.

And now for some snippets.

Snippet 1: A man receives a message from Cahmeelle.

Just then the cry of a hawk lifted him out of the mire of this dark thoughts and he looked up to see the bird descending from the sky. He recognized it; the bird was Cahmeelle’s, and she used it often to send messages, especially urgent ones she did not want anyone else reading. The hawk landed on his shoulder and the two exchanged pleasantries, and then the man took the message from the hawk’s foot.
“Going,” it read in elegant script. “Danger.”
He frowned. What on earth did that mean? What sort of danger? He knew short messages were necessary, but for the love of all things, could she not embellish a little? “What does she mean?” he asked the bird.
“She would not say, my lord. She simply rolled up the message and told me I was to stay with you for a time.”
The man sighed. “Typical,” he muttered, increasing his pace. “And I suppose I am to simply guess, then? She must know that in these times she cannot be so vague.”
“Perhaps,” said the hawk very cautiously, “she was afraid.”
“Of what?”
“On my last flight back to her, I was nearly captured by one of Tsifira’s griffins. They patrol the skies looking for me. Perhaps she thought that Tsifira might get hold of the message somehow and did not want to divulge more than necessary.”
The man looked with some admiration at the bird. “You do not seem afraid.”
“Neither do you, my lord.”
The man smiled sadly and stroked the bird’s head. “Fools who hope against hope have no time for fear,” he replied.
“Quite so,” the bird agreed and then busied himself picking at his feathers.

Snippet 2: Elizabeth’s nightmares.

“It took you long enough,” said the horse.
Surprised, I stared at him. Had he spoken? Impossible.
“There is blood on your hands,” he remarked.
I looked down and saw that he was right; both of my hands were soaked in blood, dripping with it, and the ground soaked it up thirstily. Where was it coming from? I did not feel pain or appear to be wounded. But there seemed to be an endless supply of it.
Come back, the wind whispered, and the hair on the back of my neck raised as goosebumps covered my body. Come back. Come back, it begged mournfully. I gripped my sword more tightly instinctively and felt its power roll through my body, as though it were alive in and of itself. I looked down at it, frowning. It grew warm beneath my hand. Come back. What once was lost is restored. What once was stolen has been returned. Come back. Blood was bubbling up from the ground now, and it was as though veins beneath the earth had been opened up and they were bleeding profusely. I jumped to my feet and tried to get clear of it, but soon there were streams of it everywhere, flooding the clearing and rushing off into the forest with a sickening gurgling noise. Come back. Come back. I raised my sword and looked into the forest. Steeling myself, and ready for anything, I plunged ahead into the darkness, while the gentle wind grew ever more insistent. Come back. Come back…

November 15th, 2014 by africanstardust

A Well-Worn Traveler

This morning, I woke up and had kind of a radical realization. I was reading my Bible and praying, as I try and do every morning, when suddenly it hit me. I am not afraid. (Pardon the long post, but this is something I have to write down, especially since fear and dealing with it has been a huge theme on this blog).

Those of you who know me and who regularly read my blog will know that the past year or so has been very intense. Job, David, and I became good friends. Not that I lost everything physically, but God certainly had plans for some major, major pruning. And just when I would relax and think, “Okay, this has to be it. I can rest now,” something else would happen. I mentioned in a post long ago that I had somehow managed to convince myself that because I am a Christian, nothing bad will happen to me, which of course is the opposite of truth. We have only to read the Bible to know that this is not the case. But when we are afraid of things, we will subconsciously twist words to mean what we want them to mean so that we can be falsely comforted. But I was wrong: something bad did happen. And it rocked my world view for months, and then more bad things happened, and they seemed to never stop.

You know those people who you look at and go, “He/she is weathered but they’re still here.” The well-worn travelers of the world, those people who have suffered and come out of it and they’re still standing. They are not afraid, because they know that no matter what happens, they will come out of it. They will be okay. God is sovereign. Life will go on; maybe not immediately, or even soon, but eventually, one day, life will go on, even if it is only in eternity.

I was not one of those people. I was afraid. Because, if I’m being honest, I was missing the point. If I live for myself and my own comfort, of course I’m going to be afraid. I have everything to lose. If my happiness, contentment, strength, and identity lie in the things I do, or the people around me, or what I own, or any circumstances around me, then of course I’m going to be afraid. Losing something of that, or, say, almost being mugged on my way home from campus, will shatter everything.

But I’m not here for me. I’m here for Him. And this morning I realized that I know that. That I can honestly say, as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” (13:15). Because, quite simply, I’m not the point. HE is the point. And quite easily and suddenly, my fear seemed to simply melt away and a brilliant peace took its place.

November 12th, 2014 by africanstardust

We’ve Been Here Before (I Recognize That Tree)


The number of posts I have written that have something to do with learning to love yourself, or becoming free, or letting yourself grow and breathe and create, are insane. You would think that by now I would have it down…that I would be an amateur expert on this sort of thing. From my posts it might seem as though I have it all figured out and know exactly what I’m doing. I Have Arrived.

Sadly, no. I wish I had arrived. I wish I knew how to do this every day, consistently, regardless of circumstances. I wish I knew by now how to love myself and let God love me and never hit a bump in the road. But what can I say? I am human and humans struggle with this. In fact this is probably one of our biggest struggles, because if we can’t love ourselves or let God love us, we’re paralyzed. Perfect love drives out fear, and lots of other things, so if that is neutralized, then we are neutralized. There are moments of freedom – it’s getting better. But it’s not where it should be.

At the end of every semester, after the chaos ends and I am left alone with my thoughts in the quiet of my room, I find myself having to re-re-learn. Because despite what I might believe and know in my head, I sometimes do still find my identity in the marks I earn. I do still compare myself to others, in academics and in every other part of life. I do still, sometimes, catch myself thinking that I can’t do this, or that I’m not good enough, or not intelligent enough, not pretty enough, not creative enough, not interesting enough, not academic enough, not <insert every positive adjective here> enough.

What is that, even? How dare I tell myself those things? I would never tell my friends that they’re not enough and I would never think that about them. I would have to restrain myself from breaking the face of whoever said that about anyone. So why do I treat myself so badly? I think that most of us do this, and I think it should stop. I think we should decide, once and for all, to believe what God says. Because we believe the other things He says, but when it comes to our identities – when it comes to passages like Psalm 139 – it suddenly becomes difficult to believe Him. But let’s just decide, shall we?

All I know is I don’t want to be 50 before I figure this out. So this is me, deciding.

Have no fear, you will
find your way.
It’s in your bones.
It’s in your soul.

Mark Z. Danielewski

November 10th, 2014 by africanstardust

Day 10 and Snippets!


Holy cow, we’re a third of the way through! Crazy. I, for one, have some major catching up to do, but this coming week should allow me a lot more time to write. I’ve barely seen my friends this semester because of how insanely busy everyone has been, so we’re trying to catch up on all of our socializing, which includes hiking, movie nights, and coffee shops. But this week has to be catch up week, so fingers crossed! Also, I am completely ignoring the plot holes that are popping up everywhere, and I will sort them out later.

For today, to mark the 1/3 milestone, I thought I would post some snippets of Shard. Normally I don’t like doing this, but these are short and will be tweaked again anyway, so it’s all good. Anyway, keep in mind that these are very rough and written in the NaNo frenzy :) I hope all of you are still going strong and writing like mad!

Snippet 1: The Black Ghost catches fire and nothing helps to douse it until Adyah steps in.

Just then I spotted Adyah off to her side, standing dangerously close to the fire and reaching toward it with both hands. Instinctively I ran toward her, watching as the flames licked at her hands, and grabbed her around her waist to pull her back. But the moment I touched her, I was thrown into what seemed to be a different world. Everything was brighter and purer, and she was glowing like hot coals in a fire, but she was glowing a pure, white gold instead of red. I stared in awe at the ship before me, which was now bathed in black flame, more like poisonous smoke than fire, and the light coming from Adyah seemed to repel it. She was muttering something that I could not make out, and the fire roared back at her as if it were a beast, but it began to withdraw like smoke that the wind blows away. I was unable to let go of her, as if the hot glow had seared me to her, but finally I wrenched myself free and threw myself back. I landed with a crash into a stack of barrels and crates behind us, and blinked as the real world came back into sharp focus.
The vision was gone, and now only the ship remained, free of fire, and the world was back to normal, though now it seemed dull and colorless in comparison. I sat staring at the Black Ghost for a few moments, at its perfect, unscarred wood, at its many ropes and sails, still intact and without any marks left by the flames. Everyone was in an uproar; pointing and talking and shouting and demanding. Goulius and George were in some great argument with a group of pirates from various vessels, and Daan was holding out his arms, guarding some of the younger pirates from the pressing crowd who were demanding that he hand them over. Adyah walked over to me and reached down to help me up. I took her arm, a little cautiously, and stared at her.
“I’ll ask you what just happened once we sort out this mess,” I told her.

Snippet 2: The Kraken approaches.

Suddenly I was aware of someone else standing there, and I turned around to find Anaru, a young Maori man we had rescued from a slave ship, staring at the water. He did not seem to be aware of anything else, and his eyes were black, glazed over in what seemed to be some kind of trance. I frowned and reached out to touch his shoulder, and when I did, he suddenly blinked and looked at me.
“What is it?” I asked, concerned. His expression sent chills up my spine.
“Ta Wheke-a-Muturangi,” he said. “We have come to his playing place.”
“Who is that? What do you mean?”
He nodded at the dark water. The ocean always seemed to have a blacker look in cold climates than it did elsewhere. “He is sleeping now, but he does not sleep for long.”
I looked at the ocean. The water was still and calm for now, although that never lasted long in the Atlantic. But I saw nothing out of the ordinary. “The Kraken?” I asked, turning back to him. “Is that what you mean?”
“Why don’t we shout his name and hang out some bait, while you’re at it,” Goulius said wryly, coming up behind us. He handed Adyah and I a large mug of bumbo and shoved a smaller cup at Anaru. “And you of all people should know not to summon him by speaking about him.”
Anaru shook his head and gave the drink back to Goulius. “He will come if he wishes to come, whether or not we say his name. He answers to no man.”


Snippet 3: Elizabeth explains how Captain Shard really died.

“So he was not killed by Wellington?” Daan asked, frowning.
I bit my lower lip and shook my head. “No. He was not.”
“What happened, Elizabeth?” George asked gently. “You can tell us.”
I took a deep breath and tried to gather myself. “I told you that he had just come into my room when Wellington burst in with three of his men and there was a fight, and Shard was killed, and that I killed Wellington afterwards.”
“Yes, that is what you told us,” Daan said.
“That is not the truth.” I could not sit anymore, and I stood, crossing my arms. “The truth is…the truth is that I heard him in the room and thought that it was Wellington, and we fought, and somehow I ended up with a knife in my hand, and I killed him.”
The words hung like mist in the air, but somehow rather than worse I felt better, and the heaviness I had felt for two years was eased, if only a little. Still, the mere fact that I was not the only one in the world who knew this anymore was a great relief, no matter how they would react.

November 6th, 2014 by africanstardust

Day 6 and We’re Still Alive!


Well well well, it’s day 6 and we’re all still here. I hope all of you are writing on and pushing forward in your stories! Be prepared that Week 2 is right around the corner and things might start feeling a little uphillish, so don’t get discouraged. You can do this.

I have consumed a surprisingly small amount of coffee this year, partly because exams finished early and I had a 2-day migraine afterwards which was fantastic. But I’m happy to say that I actually made my 50k day this year, so that’s cool!

I have now moved on to my next novel: the rewrite of the second part of the Shard trilogy. And when I say rewrite, I kind of mean first-write, because the original book was only one book long, and so this is almost all new content. I’m enjoying it and it feels fresh and new, and there are a lot of exciting new things happening. At the moment, Captain Grey and her crew on the Crystal Blade are in the middle of the North Atlantic, making their way towards the newly founded village of Upernavik in Greenland (which, if you are at all familiar with sea lore, should give you a hint as to what comes next). I know this has been done to death, but I really can’t help myself and it will be original, so in my book that makes it okay.

So that’s where I am! I love this month because I can write and write whatever I want and write as much as I want. So here’s to all of us, and let’s do this!

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