Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Took ages to find him. I’d ask at writer’s conferences, libraries, weird old book-stores. Searched online. Most said Thoth quit, he’d died, never existed. Or sold out to Amazon, was running a bed-and-breakfast in Thebes. I gave up. One more god crossed off the list.

Then at a bus stop I notice this bag lady reading ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but that book? It’s like the first fantasy novel game-manual. We chatted, she dropped a few crazy hints, then trundled her shopping cart away. The wheels squeaked like harpies giggling.

So I found the god of writing. In New York, in the alley back of the Random House offices. I don’t think that was irony. The spot happened to be sheltered from the wind, with a good steam-vent and dumpsters stuffed with slush-pile rejects you could read or toss into the trash-barrel flames. Pretty sure one of those manuscripts was mine. I always print my submissions on ivory paper; expensive but gives the MSS an old-scroll feel. Not that editors even send a reject email. Snobs.

Thoth was a tall guy in a couple of coats, a ragged hoody, long beak of a nose sticking out. He wasn’t alone. Fellow homeless stood around, warming hands, debating the worth of what they found in random pages of manuscripts before tossing them to the fire. A lady wearing ten sweaters hummed in Greek; she might have been Thalia, Muse of Poetry. But mortal or deity, we stood together staring into the flames, listening to city sounds: sirens and cars, trains, planes and the eternal wind.

At length I asked Thoth: how did it all begin? Not what was the first story; but why had some lunatic made up that first tale? He took his time answering. As the gods do, when they answer at all. At last he spoke, in whisper low and sing-song as the wind.

“It began just like this. A circle of lonely eyes staring into flames. Hunger in the belly, fears for the dark beyond firelight’s edge. A circle of survivors who saw no story in life but this: eat till you are eaten. And then, and then… some conjunction of thought and sound and heartbeat came. I remember far-off a wolf howled, while fire-wood shifted, sending sparks to the stars. And a sick child coughed. And some man or woman began talking to the flames. Someone who felt suddenly filled with wonder, yet drowning in worry. Wonder for the joy that is this life, and worry for the sick child. Who’d feed them, fend away the wild dogs? And when it became their own turn to be sick, to fall behind in the hunt? What then?

“And so the first story came. Words out the mouth. With plenty of hand gestures, I recall. I forget the tale itself. Some tangle about a forest, a spear and a monster that could only be defeated by a tribe working together. A hunter, a farmer, a pot-maker, and a funny dog who kept stealing the scenes. A mess that needed blessing from the Muse of Editing. It seemed an absurd waste of breath to those practical survivors about the fire. And yet… the idea stuck. Caught, as fire does. They had a vision of a united tribe, caring for one another. Life as a tale finding meaning not in surviving, but in helping to live.

“You ask what was the seed of that first tale? Caring. At least concern. But give credit to the dancing flames, the circling dark and the wolf-howl wind. Most of all to the heart’s cry that life must be more than sparks rising, vanishing, gone.”

I stood there silent, weighing Thoth’s words. Not the first time someone has claimed the origin of storytelling is in the heart’s tangles, not the brain’s wrinkles. Nor that the highest stories turn our heads from the pages, to look at one another with new eyes, with opened minds. Bit old fashioned, I suppose. I’d expected something more grim-dark, but perhaps that’s a style for a darker age.

I was just about to ask the God of Literature if he’d review my new work-in-progress but the cops came, blowing whistles. They put out the trash-barrel fire. Arrested the Muse for being an illegal, confiscated my manuscript though I explained it hadn’t even had a chance to be tossed to the trash yet. My third tazing over a review this year. The rest scattered. Haven’t seen Thoth since.

But I like to think he has a high opinion of the One Million Project.


OMP Admin Note: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

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A Writer’s Wish List ~~ by John Nedwill

A Writer’s Wish List ~~ by John Nedwill

“Ho ho ho ho, little boy! And what’s your name?”

“John. John Nedwill, Santa, sir.”

“Hmm. Let me just check my list. Ah – there you are! I see there are some black marks against your name – “

“Oh.”

“- But there are also some good marks. Enough to put you on the ‘nice’ half of my list. So, what would you like for Christmas, John?”

“Ooh – I’ve got my list here. Can we go through it?”

“It looks like a long list, and you haven’t been that nice. But, we’ll see what we can do.”

“Alright. First of all, I’d like a new pen – one with a nice, broad nib that makes my handwriting look neat.”

“That’s a worthy thing for a writer. Go on.”

“And then I’d like some ink. Some really black ink.”

“That will be for the pen? Would you prefer cartridges or a bottle?”

“Bottle please. I’l like a notebook as well. One with good paper that the ink won’t bleed through.”

“Of course. But don’t you want a new tablet or a shiny new laptop? Lots of writers want one of those.”

“Never for first drafts. Next … Some whiskey please.”

“With an ‘e’, I note. You can have it, but only if you can prove you’re over twenty-one.”

“Are you kidding? My beard’s almost as bushy and as white as yours. And could I have some inspiration as well?”

“Hmm. I might have some lying around. But you’ll have to wait for it.”

“Last thing on my list – could you get me an agent? Please?”

“Ho ho ho – no! Remember what I said about only being so good?”

“Maybe next year, then?”

“Maybe. Now, off you go John. Merry Christmas!”

“Thank you, Santa! Merry Christmas to you!”

“Now, who’s next?”


OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

How Now, Kowtow? ~~ by Christine Larsen

How Now, Kowtow? ~~ by Christine Larsen

There’s a new kid on the block. He goes by the name of C.W. Writing [C.W.? Ahh, glad you asked. That’s Cringe Worthy]  He’s your basically wimpy little squirt, always blaming someone else for his shortcomings. Cringe moans and groans and spends half his life looking back over his shoulder, filled with regrets and remorse for his lack of skills, knowledge, finesse, whatever… peering way back in his personal evolution from a scribbler to a storyteller as if with a high-powered telescope.

Does he not recognise the insult he inflicts on his tender, vulnerable self of yesterday with his judgmental and negative thinking? How much his inner child suffers from his harsh rejection of his beginnings?

And you have to wonder – does he scrutinise his first words [maybe Ma-ma or Da-da], his first teetering stand-up, his first stumbling steps, with the same unforgiving attitude? And those earliest stick figure family portraits. They continued on for some time. What about them? And that eternal Sun shining in the top corner of every priceless piece of art, even when it rained? And has he forgotten the first Mother’s Day card he made with ultimate concentration [and tongue sticking out the side of his mouth]? The one painstakingly drawn on a page torn out of his brand new writing book? Maybe he doesn’t remember it, but his Mum surely did. That was the first of a long line his Mum hung with pride on her fridge door. Stayed there for the whole rest of the year… guessing he doesn’t remember that, either.

Failure? How can he believe his earlier, stumbling,  ungrammatical, typo and spelling error-filled attempts were failures? How can he underestimate the massive learning curve he embarked upon all those words ago when first he picked up a pencil? How else should he have learned his skills of today?  Did he never heed the famous words of Robert F. Kennedy – “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Maybe all those loving family, friends who heaped so much longed-for praise upon his passionate efforts were white-lying because of their love and/or admiration, or simply a dear wish to encourage and a desire not to squash a budding talent. If this helped Cringe to reach the level of expertise he enjoys today, does yesterday’s questionable acclaim matter?

Does Cringe ever take a moment to recognise and take pride in the monumental progress he’s made? It surely doesn’t sound that way when you hear him express gratitude his earliest ‘stuff’ is lost somewhere, way back; or the wish to burn early efforts or flush them away. How daunting to find some words are out there somewhere, in print maybe, or part of a recorded interview gathering dust on some back shelf. He believes none of these count? Really?

Ohh dear, Cringe, my friend. Those first faltering steps along your wordy journey launched all that you are today. They deserve celebration, not condemnation. The dream of admiration and notoriety [even a dash of filthy richness?] was the catalyst to bring you to today’s hopeful recognition that in the final analysis, you write for you and only you. And then wrote it all down for others to see and weep over… or not?

Do yourself a favour, Cringe. Next time you embark upon a writing reminiscence, make sure the main part of that vision of yesteryear features the irresistible buzz that walked hand-in-hand with your enthusiasm. And the passion that lit a fire in your belly to create whatever poured out of your heart and head; the belief an untapped genius had arrived… to be unleashed upon a gasping, wondrous world.

Be honest, Cringe. Felt good, huh? In those halcyon days, there were no recriminations… only blood, sweat and tears as you strived to learn more; to be more enough for your own self. And that’s no shabby ambition. Ever.


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, AuthorIMG_7208

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

 

Prompt Response

Prompt Response

A year ago, I wrote a couple of stories in response to a writing prompt. I don’t usually do that and, honestly, I really dislike writing prompts.  They’re too much like that old favourite: write about what you did at the weekend.

I always hated that as a kid. Wherever I was, my weekend was full of aliens, magic, spaceships and adventure, but it was really clear that what my teachers wanted was a description of how green the trees were in the park, or how the sea sounded at the beach. Perversely, I now blog about what the animals did around the farm, which is barely a theme or two from writing about my weekend, without the aliens and magic.

I think, perhaps, that my perception of and reaction to writing prompts is the problem. It’s all about creativity and the prompt is just that, something to set the thoughts rolling. Why is it any different to write a story triggered by a deliberately chosen phrase, or by seeing one of the geese racing around the paddock whilst tangled in a bucket? 

I’m blaming it on pressure, on the need to react, to meet someone else’s expectations, which probably says more about me than the prompts or the people who generate them. Perhaps it’s the lurking feeling that it’s like an exam question, subject to that all-important guidance– read the question carefully and answer exactly the question asked. That’s great advice for an exam, but stifling when in search of creativity. 

Inspiration is a rare and precious thing, to be seized and nurtured whenever it pops up. Read the question and then ignore it; answer what you think they should have asked. Especially on those prompts which really are like an exam question and nail you down to a detailed scenario – “you’re a duck and you’ve been swimming on the same pond all your life, eating the same bread and then someone tosses a croissant in the water, so write about your new diet”. Given the prompt, are you now seeing a safari expedition to study pink elephants and go abseiling on sunbeams? Why not?

A year ago, I wrote two stories based on a pair of prompts. I’ve just done it again, for the same venue. The difference, I suppose, is I’m no longer worrying about meeting anybody’s expectations. I’ve taken the prompts, parked them for a week, looked again, parked again… been utterly uninspired… and then, out of nowhere, I have something, and now I’m having fun. Oh, and those prompts were just a handful of words, not a whole world.

Of course, as I stared at this year’s prompts (printed and pinned to the back of a door, two words to define each topic, albeit with an array of explanations, hints, and suggestions not to be constrained by anything in the explanations…) I grumbled about not being inspired. In fact, I got annoyed enough to mutter and makes puns about it, even thinking that it was taking so long to come up with a story so I could scarcely call it a prompt response…

I’m still not a fan of writing prompts, but they do serve a purpose, something to make me look at the world differently, find a different angle on something mundane.

Yup, take inspiration wherever it comes –making the tea, hanging the laundry, rescuing that goose from the bucket, or deliberate writing prompt. It’s all the same – alien invasions, magic lands, amusing chickens – if it finds a story in you, then write.


OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC )and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third.

He can be found online at his blog http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.



Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology