Rising from the rubble
An update on my Labor Day writing experiment and new ideas
Welcome to Story Cauldron, where I’ve been sharing my fiction, my writing journey, and occasional articles about storytelling in real life. Today, I’m sharing an overdue update about a writing experiment I tried at the beginning of September and a new bit of writing I’m rather fond of.
The last time you heard from me, I felt a bit burned out from trying to finish a novel project. I was so close to finishing it, but I was pretty stuck. Just before Labor Day weekend (the beginning of September), I decided to try an experiment. I set aside all of my existing writing projects to dive into something new, just for fun.
The goal was to try to get myself out of what I termed the “writing slog.” Here’s my post about that:
Well, it’s the end of September, and I’m here to report that it was an interesting, if not altogether successful, experiment. Over the course of four days, I wrote about 8500 words on a new project, what I was hoping might turn into the start of the Attic Witch novel I always intended to write.
As an experiment, it was fun, and I did enjoy writing about something else. It was also honestly nice to spend a weekend focused just on writing. That having been said, I don’t know if I want to keep it going. It just didn’t come together for me, and I struggled for ideas, which is the reason I only managed to write 8500 words in four days (that might sound like a lot, but I was really hoping for about twice that.)
But fear not. It did help me shake off some of the mental sludge that had built up as I worked on finishing my Hidden Moon project, and I think I have a better idea of what I need to do in order to wrap it up.
The Subterranean Faerie
The break also inspired some new ideas. Last weekend, in fact, I fiddled around with the start of a new Favor Faeries piece about a faerie living in the abandoned brewery tunnels in downtown St. Louis (these really exist, and some of which have collapsed, causing sinkholes around the city). The idea actually came from someone’s comment on one of my older Substack posts, and it was too good to pass up. (A hungry creature emerging from a dark hole also feels like it’s a bit too on the nose as a metaphor for my life right now…)
In my story fragment (it’s incomplete), a faerie emerges from the tunnels, having mutated from its normal state into something more terrifying than my typical faeries (which is saying something). This faerie poses a new problem for the local witches who deal with these things.
I don’t know yet if this will be a short story or if it will turn into an entire novel, but I wish I had come up with this idea to work with over Labor Day.
Just so you can see where this could go, here’s a snippet when the creature surfaces for the first time.
The road surface buckled, cracking slowly like a dinosaur was pecking its way out of its shell. As Alfred stood there, transfixed, the newly-hatched creature poked its head out of the rubble, and then used its forearms to pull itself from its subterranean incubator.
It was enormous, the size of a gravel truck, with pale and luminescent skin that glowed under the street lights, and teeth that could crush granite cobblestones. Unconcerned with the traffic or bystanders, it shook its head before commencing to preen itself, cleaning bits of roadway and membrane from its scales. Then it shimmied its translucent, veined wings, as if invigorated by the feeling of fresh air for the first time. Finally, becoming aware of its surroundings, it swiveled its head to and fro, its eyes, wide like a cat’s, and opalescent, catching a glimpse of Alfred for the first time. Using its front legs, on feet that ended in sharp claws, it took a step forward, those claws sinking into the undisturbed pavement as if it were clay.
The appearance of the creature transfixed Alfred, and he couldn’t move. For years he had longed to get a glimpse of one of these creatures, who were said to survive on nightmares, but confronted with it now, he couldn’t begin to imagine how they would deal with it before it caused widespread panic.
I shared one possible version of this faerie creature at the top of this post. Here’s a different rendition. Both of these images came from me inputting the text above into Midjourney, with a few tweaks, and then manipulating the output a bit more.
Which version do you like more? And what should the witches do with this thing? Let me know in the comments.
In October, I will be blazing through the rest of my Hidden Moon novel so I can move back to the Favor Faeries world for NaNoWriMo. I will be revising/writing Book 3 of that series, taking what I wrote a while back (was it NaNo 2021?) and trying to pull it all together.
Adding some spice to my writing life, this year I’ll be hosting a discussion on how to write a novel in November at the Maplewood Public Library on Oct. 24th, as well as weekly write-ins on Wednesdays (as well as continuing my Friday write-ins) so if you’re in St. Louis, be sure to join my meetup Write It Already STL to get all those deets. I’ve also started a new history meetup called Unseen STL History Adventures, and will be checking out some sites around the city, mostly on the weekends.
And that’s (mostly) everything for now. Hopefully, October and November will be filled with lots of ideas and lots of writing for us all!