Sunday, November 22, 2015

Remind yourself often

Several months ago, mid-confidence crisis (I can't write! I have no business writing! Who am I fooling?), my youngest brother suggested I take a break from emotionally whipping myself and do something completely different and exponentially more fun. Namely: write a novel. For teenagers. With him.

I have a quotation of Susan Orlean's on my desktop, where I can look at it every day. It reads:
"You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it."

We're now 10,000 words into this YA caper, and it has done more to remind me of why I love writing than just about anything has in recent years.

So, because fun shared is fun doubled, here's a snippet from the work-in-progress.

Prologue: The people who watched
When she had been old enough to ask, Ziya had asked her grandfather about the Burning.

“We made the ancestors angry,” Babu said. 

“How?” she asked.

“We forgot them. They can be prideful, you see. Like children. So they came to shake us from our trees of metal, to remind us of the old ways. They were angry, and they did not realise the power of their anger. They set a fire they could not put out.”

But Babu’s story is not true. Ziya knows this.

At six o’clock on a Tuesday morning a large white orb had ignited in the sky, searing bright. It hung there for minutes, as people came out blinking into the intense light of a dry summer afternoon, half-dressed, trailing blankets and part-remembered dreams.

Ziya imagines them all watching with the strange unfamiliarness of sleep. Standing in that space after the orb appeared and before the air was sucked from their butterfly lungs. 

She has seen lungs on the transparencies at the ward. Sometimes they forget her there, while they run up notes in the files or answer the phones. They forget to close doors. Once, she had found her way into a dark room where paper-thin slices of people’s bodies hung illuminated on the walls. The lungs were beautiful, spreading outwards from the spine. 

Like wings, she told Felis. Wings of air.

This is how she imagines the people standing in the streets, who will soon be dead. She sees them sometimes when she sleeps. They are standing in the quiet - breathing, just breathing. And when the fire comes for them it happens so fast that they do not know. Felis has told her there was nothing left, afterwards, not even ashes. As if they all might have filled with air and simply lifted away. 

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