Based on The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
I don’t claim to be a poet. The last time I studied poetry was probably in high school. That was a while ago. Recently, I was watching a new show (The OA), which featured a scene at the Statue of Liberty. Being from the west coast, I’ve never witnessed the statue in person, and I didn’t know anything about the poem that is featured at the exhibit. But as I listened to the words while watching the show, I felt my chest tightening in sadness and anger. The words really struck a chord with me. Strangely, the following day I saw quite a few news reports referencing the poem and describing feelings I’d become familiar with. With the recent moves the leadership has taken in this country, I felt compelled to amend the original poem by Emma Lazarus. The original words are in italic, my changes are bolded.
I keep telling myself that I will fight the urge to be public with my opinions when it comes to politics. But I feel like we’re at a point where it’s not about politics anymore. It’s about humanity. This is my way to work through it, I guess.
“What you fail to understand, Hailey, is that we’re just worker ants in this scenario. And we’re going to continue to be just worker ants, unless we aspire to be more.” Annette flipped her hair over her shoulder and shook her head, causing her blonde tresses to shimmer like sun hitting water in a stream. She dipped her chin and looked at me over the rim of her glasses, “I’m aiming to be queen of the hill. Where does that leave you?”
I was quiet for a moment. A wave of irritation washed over me at her revelation, and I tried my best to push it aside. Ambition was a double edged sword, and I was certain Annette had no clue which side did what. She struck me as the type of person who just lashed out blindly, hoping any slice she made got her closer to her goal. The mask she wore was crafted by layers of designer makeup, which she no doubt lost sleep over to apply each morning. As I stared at the empty, relentless vessel before me, I considered where I might be in five years if I held her position.
This is an evolving story, if you missed the beginning, start here.
Ald let out a heavy sigh and lead Pistol past Ellie towards the tack shed. After a few steps he said, “An animal with big eyes, then?”
Ellie followed to the side, she knew better than to follow directly behind a horse. She kicked at a loose rock in her path and replied, “Well, sort of, I think. In The Book of Three it was a pig named Hen Wen. I guess pigs do have big eyes…” she trailed off as Ald spun to face her.
Pistol jerked his head, not expecting Ald’s sudden motion. The horse lifted his top lip and laid his ears back in annoyance. Ald reached a hand to stroke Pistol’s muzzle and frowned at Ellie, “Come on Elle, really? Am I missing something? How is a bug-eyed animal going to tell us where the treasure is?”
“I know where it is!” Ellie persisted. Her arms were cross across her small, flat chest. She tapped one toe in obvious annoyance.
“Oh really?” Ald asked. He paused at the gate, looking over his shoulder at her. “Let me guess, you figured it out from another story?”
Ellie rolled her eyes and then glared at Ald. Being her best friend, his skepticism was the toughest to bear. It wasn’t her fault that she was the better reader between them. Perhaps his disbelief stemmed from him not having read any of the stories. She figured he also bore some irritation at the fact her introducing him to The BFG by Roald Dahl had been a red flag to his parents, prompting them to pay closer attention to Ald’s reading habits and blacklist titles as they saw necessary. It was a complicated situation for two kids to be in.
And as swiftly as it arrived, it was over. National Novel Writing Month of 2016 concluded with a small whooshing sound, as it passed me by while I juggled too many projects to keep up.
In the end, I reached nearly 25k words, half of what I set out to do. The fighter/winner in me is ashamed to admit I did not slay the NaNo beast. But the sensible/insightful in me is proud that I put myself out there. It was important for me to take a step forward, to take a chance. I may not have finished as I intended, but I still tried. Sometimes trying is more important than achieving.
It doesn’t matter what kept me from achieving my goal. What is important is that I learned a lot about my writing process, and I allowed my mind to fully immerse in a world again. It has been a long time, and it felt like I was returning home after a long absence.
And now I know I owe it to myself and my world to continue on, and get the story out. So that’s what I’ll continue to do – just on a different schedule!
So congrats fellow writers that beat NaNo, you are awesome! And congrats fellow writers who tried, you are awesome too! Regardless of how many steps we took during the crazy month of November, they were all advancements towards a goal, and that itself is important to be proud of.
Her senses were heightened as she flipped through the faded photographs. The smooth surfaces slid easily beneath her fingertips, like a fresh deck of cards. A musty scent wafted from the wooden box, mingling with the cool summer air. The sprinkler clicked rhythmically, spraying water on the yellowing grass to the side of the house. The mist drifted on the breeze to tingle against her arm, prompting gooseflesh. As she slid her tongue along her lips, she could taste the tangy remnants of the lemonade from the empty glass sitting on the table. She stared at the features of the girl in the photo at the top of the stack before her.
He remembered the day the crown was placed upon her brow. The power she immediately commanded. The instantaneous praise of those bowing before her.
As NaNoWriMo 2016 is winding down, I found myself reflecting on what I’ve learned during the last month. I wanted to take a moment to share it with anyone thinking of attempting NaNo, or just writing for that matter. I’m not a pro, and this may or not be helpful to you, but here are a few things I’ve taken away from the experience of trying to write a novel in 30 days.
It’s hard to believe it’s already the halfway point for NaNoWriMo. I have been enjoying my first foray into the event. I like my main character (good thing, since it’s all about him!), and my companion character that I recently introduced makes me laugh a lot. All in all, it’s been a fun adventure to push myself into the story and just let it happen.
My stats aren’t where I had hoped they would be. Being the halfway point, I should be at/near the 25k word count, but sadly, I am not. After an okay-ish start, I unexpectedly had to travel out of state for a few days. Riding in a car for 12 hours there and back, one would think I had a pretty good chance of staying on task, but nope. Turns out keeping a 1 1/2 year old happy and fighting my own battles with carcolepsy (car narcolepsy – seriously, put me in a car if you want me to take a nap) makes writing a difficult task.
My brother and I use to fish the rivers to the north. We would make a day of it, waking before dawn and driving up in the mountains that further delayed the sun’s rise. The fish are more fierce there, my brother once explained to me when I was young. I had believed him, because to a young child, anything that could survive under the ice of frozen rivers and lakes were more than just a little awe inspiring.
I remember the peace that would come over my brother as he cast. The natural ease in the motions spoke of his devotion to the craft, and it always motivated me to try harder with my own casts. I could never make the line dance like my brother, but he would always smile at my attempts. He always took the time to teach me, to slow down my eagerness to throw the line as far as it could fly. Through his patience I learned so much. Continue reading