fiction writing practice

I put in an offer on a house. There's so much paperwork, and it's all moving so quickly.

There's so many i's to dot and t's to cross—and the house won't finish construction until fall. I know 2020 wasn't great for most people. In 2018, I changed jobs. From 2019 to now, I feel like I'm growing into who I'm supposed to be and learning who I am as a person.

Career changes, taking on various roles, and purchasing this house make me feel like I'm on a new adventure. For some parts of 2020, I did feel like I lost my sense of purpose. I felt like a passenger on a ride with no destination. Acknowledging what I could control, and identifying goals I could start on helped me stay motivated.

In drafting and thinking about Barry's story, those emotions and feelings got captured in my outline. Hopefully there's room for another cliche fantasy story of opening up, personal growth, and adventure.

Past Postings

Barry Learns Some Truths

They're fine, Terrance said. Barry placed one hand in front of Uncle Bernard's face, and the other hand on his neck. He could feel Uncle Bernard's pulse and breath. They're fine. Barry sighed with relief.

Barry grabbed his bag and ran out the door. His heart was pounding. How will Uncle Bernard and Aunt Lynn react when they woke up? Would they know Barry was to blame? Will the boy be at Adventure Lake?

Once you've drugged your guardians, the only choice is forward, Barry thought to himself. He increased his running pace. You're smiling, Terrance noted. Is this how it feels when people feel alive?

The boy's red hair was as visible as the sun in the sky. The fear of no one showing up left Barry, but a new fear took over.

“This is the Druid I was talking about,” the red-headed boy said. Around him were a girl with silver hair, a blonde boy wearing metal gloves, and a kid in a large hoodie. They were all staring at Barry. This must be the boy's party. Was there some sort of initiation? They were all looking at Barry expectantly.

“I'm Max.” The red hair boy broke the silence.
“I'm Sheila,” the silver hair girl introduced herself.
“Marshall,” said the boy with gloves.
“Cassidy,” said the girl with the hood.

They were all staring.

“I'm Barry,” Barry spurted out. He wasn't accustomed to introducing himself.
“And who's that?” Max asked gesturing to Barry's pocket.

Barry lifted Terrance out of his pocket, “This is Terrance—”
“See, I told you I found a druid,” Max proclaimed.

Terrance crawled down Barry's arm and went back into his pocket. “Please join our party,” Sheila said. “We need one more,” Marshall added.

“I'm not a druid—,” Barry started.
“If you can talk to spiders, you're a druid.” Max interrupted.
“Or a Bard.” Cassidy corrected.
“He's talking to the spider without an instrument.”
Max and Cassidy continued bickering over what sounded like make believe.

“Don't worry, we'll keep you safe.” Marshall reassured Barry, “and if not, Sheila's the best healer around.”
“What are you all talking about?” asked Barry.

“Are your parents not druids?” asked Sheila. Barry didn't know.

Max cupped his hands to his mouth and began whispering to them. His hands slowly started to glow with a warm orange light. Max brought his hands out in front of him. He uncupped his hands and floating in them was a small flame.

Max threw his hand out towards the lake. The flame grew and shot out to the lake. It split and rippled across the lake like a firework until it fizzled out.

“Show off.” scolded Cassidy. Barry had never seen something so beautiful. Was it magic? He wondered.

“You shouldn't be casting spells out in the open,” a stern female voice bellowed.
“Shit, it's the Dungeon Master,” Marshall remarked.

Marshall, Cassidy, Sheila, and Max all stood at attention.

#fiction Day 4 of #100DaysToOffload 2021

I've been reading books on how to write books. I wrote my outline and “key points.” Connecting them is the hard part.

I wound up putting in an offer for a house. The market is moving too quickly. There were so many legal documents to read. The people paid to write and read these things are of another world.

The house is close to a lake. There are dozens of small coffee shops around it. Hopefully the change in environment will improve my writing.

Past Postings

Barry Smells of Fire

I'm back, Barry said to himself as he entered the Walton's household. The Waltons were usually in the den watching TV after Barry's “alone time.”

Just how Barry usually wouldn't climb a mountain, today was not usual. “Why are you covered in dirt?” Aunt Lynn asked with disgust. Sniff, sniff, Uncle Bernard paced around and smelled Barry anxiously. “And why do you smell like ash?” he inquired.

“Go take a shower,” Aunt Lynn commanded. The Waltons rarely involved themselves in Barry's life, unless they were getting him out of the way. Barry placed his herbs in the island and grabbed a change of clothes. As he walked up stairs to take a shower he could hear the Waltons talking.

“This could be our chance to get rid of him,” Aunt Lynn said. “But he is my nephew,” replied Uncle Bernard. Confused yet hopeful, Barry continued his way to the shower.

As Barry undressed, he looked at where the boy from earlier touched him. Sniff, sniff, Barry smelled his arm. I do smell of ash, Barry thought. Barry hopped in the shower. He couldn't recall the last time he washed off so much dirt. Barry thought about what happened at the lake. He never accomplished a goal before. He had never been asked to be a part of something. What if Barry showed up, and the boy wasn't there? There was nothing to lose if Barry did not go but possibly so much to gain. Barry's stomach growled. This was too much to think about on an empty stomach. After drying himself off and changing, Barry made his way downstairs.

This time, the Waltons were in the den watching TV. Lukewarm leftovers sat on the island. As he ate, Barry told Terrance he was going back to see the boy. Barry did not know what a party was, nor did he know about Dungeon Crawler Academy. Barry knew life alone in an island was not enough. Time to start your own adventure, Terrance remarked.

Barry washed, dried, and put away the dishes. He crawled into his island feeling exhausted. Barry and Terrance fell asleep without trouble or assistance.

The next day, Barry woke up and did his chores. He looked forward to returning to Adventure Lake. The time grew closer for Barry to go outside. Barry grabbed Terrance and started heading for the door.

Aunt Lynn was working on afternoon tea, but Uncle Bernard was in none of his familiar locations. Barry was about to head out the door when—

“Where are you going?” Uncle Bernard asked.
“Alone time,” Barry replied.
“Why not join us for tea?”

A shriek came from the kitchen.

“I'm fine—”
“Nonsense!” Uncle Bernard interjected and grabbed Barry by the shoulder. Uncle Bernard dragged Barry into the kitchen and had him sit.

Today of all days Barry thought. Terrance crawled out of Barry's pocket. Don't worry, I've got this, Terrance said.

“Sweetie, darling, honey buddy,” Aunt Lynn pleaded, “are you sure about this?” Uncle Bernard glanced at Barry, then turned back to Aunt Lynn. Out of the corner of his eye, Barry could see Terrance carrying the sleeping herbs out of the island.

“Just for today,” Uncle Bernard reassured her. “Okay,” Aunt Lynn sighed. Aunt Lynn started to turn towards the teapot—
“What type of tea is it?” Barry inquired. Aunt Lynn paused and breathed in.
“Monkey Picked Oolong,” she stated turning towards Barry, “an expensive, top-grade tea.”

Terrance had finished slipping the herbs into the tea pot. He scurried back towards Barry. Uncle Bernard placed some mugs on the island.

“It sounds delicious,” Barry tried to make conversation.
“Next time I should prepare some Lipton for you to enjoy.” Aunt Lynn said while glaring at Uncle Bernard.

Aunt Lynn began pouring tea into the mugs.

Don't drink, Terrance whispers to Barry.

“Tea tastes worse with unexpected company.”
“Don't say that sweetie, you always make delicious tea.”

Uncle Bernard and Aunt Lynn were both drinking there tea when—kerthunk. Both their heads hit the table.

“We didn't kill them did we!?” Barry said aloud.

#fiction Day 3 of #100DaysToOffload 2021

I watched Raya and the Last Dragon. It was pretty good. I feel like I didn't realize until Frozen that Disney Princess's always have some adorkable sidekick.

In life, I feel like adorkable sidekicks helps us out. In programming, there's Rubber Duck Debugging and elsewhere, there's the Think Aloud Protocol.

I've noticed how many times I go to ask someone a question or explain something, and the answer comes to me. I'm not sure if spiders are adorkable, or if I've watched one too many Disney movies.

I didn't mean for the spider to become a sidekick. When outlining more of the story, the spider seemed like a good long-term addition.

Barry Discovered

Barry had come to enjoy his alone time outside. The Walton's would lock him outside to feel “unburdened”. The neighborhood kids would always avoid Barry. This avoidance would make Barry aware of how alone he truly was.

Barry had a new friend in Terrance—or at least a new spider to talk to. Terrance ventured from afar before winding up in Barry's cupboard. With Terrance, Barry was willing to take his alone time outside the neighborhood.

Today, Barry ventured to Adventure Lake. Terrance was not the only spider Barry could hear. One of the other spiders told Barry of an herb at the peak of Adventure Mountain. The herb helped people sleep, even in the most uncomfortable of positions.

Barry and Terrance decided to scale the mountain. Looking around, Barry saw spiders joining them on their journey. Ever since Barry and Terrance met, spiders would travel close to Barry whenever he was outside. At first this bothered Barry, but now it provided comfort. Barry always felt unwanted, but now someone—or thing—wanted his company.

Be careful, it gets slippery up ahead Terrance told Barry. Barry could feel his sneakers losing traction on the damp grass and moss. You've got this some spiders motivated Barry. A smile grew on Barry's face. He never had a goal before, and Barry never would have climbed a mountain on his own.

At the top, Barry fell onto his back and breathed in the mountain air. “Ha, ha, ha, I did it!” Barry yelled. Where are the herbs? Terrance asked. Barry turned onto his stomach and picked himself up.

At the top of the mountain, all they saw was grass and skyline. Barry took a few steps and looked around. Then he saw it: a tree hanging off the edge of the mountain covered in herbs. Well, I've come this far already thought Barry.

Barry climbed onto the tree. He could feel the soft bark move and squish with his grip. Barry reached the herbs and stuck them into his hoodie pocket. Turning around, Barry felt his foot slip followed by his grip.

He was falling. Barry's life flashed before his eyes. There isn't much to see, thought Barry. Why me? Barry lived a lonely life. Would anyone miss him? Barry felt darkness.

We've got you Terrance yelled. As he fell, Barry could see the thousands of spiders jump towards him. Barry felt his fall slow down. The spiders had wrapped Barry in their webs. Traditional schooling would teach spiders do not show emotion. As Terrance climbed onto Barry's chest, Barry could see a sense of fear and relief in Terrance's eyes. I got you, Terrance assured Barry.

The spiders lowered Barry gently to the ground. “Thanks,” Barry said to the spiders. I'm glad your safe, Terrance replied from Barry's shoulder. Barry felt his pulse racing as he let out a deep breath.

As Barry turned around, his eyes locked with a red-haired boy that appeared to be around his age. The boy's mouth hung open. Barry wasn't sure what to do, so he started walking home.

Barry heard footsteps approach from behind. The boy's warm hands wrapped around Barry's forearm.

“You're a druid, aren't you?” the boy asked. A druid? Barry had no idea what the boy was talking about. “Please join my party,” the boy pleaded.

Barry had never been asked to join another person before—let alone a party. The Walton's were stuck with Barry. He looked down at the hands holding him. They were warm, unlike the cold hands Uncle Bernard or Aunt Lynn used to push Barry into his room.

Barry shook the boy off. “Your party?” Barry asked. “Yes,” replied the boy, “We need one more to go to Dungeon Crawler Academy.”

Barry laughed. Dungeon Crawler Academy? This must be a joke. The boy must have sensed Barry's disbelief. “Please come back this time tomorrow, you can meet the rest of the party,” the boy pleaded.

“Maybe,” replied Barry. No one had ever made fun of Barry. Before this, no one cared enough to even talk to him. If this was a bully, should Barry risk coming back? If this was a joke, Barry at least wanted to understand the punchline. Barry had never interacted with someone his age this long. He did not know what to do.

Barry started to walk away. “I'll see you here tomorrow then,” the boy called out after him.

The walk home was quiet. Will you be going back tomorrow? Terrance asked. I don't know, thought Barry. He could be your first friend, Terrance stated. You're my first friend Barry replied. Terrance blushed, I think you should go.

Barry and Terrance made it home. Terrance crawled into Barry's pocket. The door was unlocked, so it was safe to go in.

#fiction Day 2 of #100DaysToOffload 2021

I've been house hunting lately. I always thought I was going to rent, but I guess like how my sister was “never going to have kids”, sometimes the bug bites and action happens.

House hunting doesn't seem as interesting as baby making, but I've seen some pretty interesting art and structural choices.

One of the houses had a hollowed out island with a single door. No shelves, no drawers, just a single door. It looked like it could be a small room, but the owners claim they designed it as a place for their kids to store backyard toys and items.

It got me thinking. What if some other sad magical boy lived in the kitchen island? What if the family he was staying with needed their coat closet?

I've been struggling to write. The biggest tip I read is Never Stop Writing. I stopped, but I think it's time to start again. Good or bad, I can't improve if I never try.

Dinner without Barry

Barry did not like when the Walton's had company for dinner. Dinner guests meant Barry would not be eating that night. Tonight, Uncle Bernard and Aunt Lynn had Pastor Mark over for dinner. Barry would have to stay quiet, locked in his room.

For most children, this wouldn't be too bad. Barry, however, was not like most children. Barry's room was not much of a room at all. His room was the storage cupboard under the Walton's kitchen island. Barry would have to lay silently, cramped up in the cupboard smelling everything he could not eat.

“Quick to your room!” Uncle Bernard said as he ushered Barry to his room. The door pressed against Barry's back, and he could feel the latch lock. Barry felt around his room until he was able to turn on a dim light.

“Quiet!” Aunt Lynn yelled, “he'll be here any minute.”

Barry opened his copy of Harry Potter to read. A room under the stairs must be wonderful compared to this Barry thought to himself. Barry could hear the lids coming off the pots. The oven door clanged down as it fell open. The scent of chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy crept into the cupboard.

Barry could feel saliva drip down the side of his mouth. As his stomach began to rumble, Aunt Lynn put on some classical dinner music. If I close my eyes now, tomorrow will be here when I open them Barry hoped. He closed his eyes and did his best to sleep.

“I can't believe your generosity!” An unfamiliar booming voice woke Barry. The voice must belong to Pastor Mark. Dinner was still going on. Barry could hear the clanging of forks and knives from the dining table. However, Barry was not concerned about the sounds coming from the table.

Barry should have been concerned about his stomach. He should have been concerned about the painful crick in his neck. But, Barry was concerned about none of that. What concerned Barry was the gigantic spider that had somehow made it into the cupboard—the same cupboard that trapped Barry.

Go Away! Go Away! Barry's thoughts pleaded with the spider. Barry slid back putting distance between him and the spider. Go Away he thought as his back hit the cupboard wall. Thunk!

“What was that?” Pastor Mark asked. The sound of forks hitting plates stopped.

Barry's heart sank. If Pastor Mark discovered him, a grim punishment would await. Barry's thoughts raced between the spider and Pastor Mark. Go Away! echoed in his mind.

Something like a thought entwined with Barry's own thoughts. I see, you want him to go away was the thought. It wasn't Barry's thought, and the thought was not in Barry's voice.

The spider crawled out of the cupboard. Barry could not comprehend what happened next. A shriek of a scream rang throughout the house: “Spider!” Thundering, fast-paced footsteps followed by a door slam signalled dinner ended.

“Blasted spider!” Uncle Bernard yelled. The sound of thwaps against the table and cupboard echoed. Into the cupboard crept the spider. He's gone, Barry heard the voice from earlier in his mind. The spider crept into a corner of the cupboard. Thanks, thought Barry. You're welcome, thought the voice.

Barry sighed a breath of relief as he positioned himself to sleep. He was not discovered. Uncle Bernard and Aunt Lynn would blame the spider for dinner.

Barry did not understand what happened between him and the spider. It may have been coincidence Barry pondered as his eyelids became heavy. The hum of the dishwasher and rushing water pulled Barry closer to sleep.

Barry's eyes smiled as they closed while looking at the spider. Today was a good day Barry thought. Even if it was all coincidence, Barry had felt like he had made his first friend in the Walton's home. Although, can a spider be a friend? Barry thought as he drifted into sleep.

#fiction Day 1 of #100DaysToOffload 2021

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