I have serious reservations about writing what is, in essence, a fan-fiction piece associated with Mary Shelley’s brilliant and gripping Frankenstein. That didn’t stop me from doing it, but it’s worth noting that I had serious reservations about it.

I don’t really feel there’s more to this story, per se, certainly no more action or content, but I do feel the end just sort of drops off. I struggled to know how to end it, but, given the limitations of the prompt (500 words), I decided that the abrupt ending would work, at least for now. I may try to polish it up more later or I may decide I was crazy to ever mess with Shelley’s story. Who knows, really?

(Vye probably knows, but she’s never been one to be straightforward.)

The prompt for this week came from the 500 Club:

Someone comes to town, someone leaves town. Both of today’s prompts are about running away, or coming home. Breaking out of jail, or being incarcerated. Falling out of love or into it. First day of school, or graduation. A birth, or a death. Pick one that sparks you, and get ready for the catch.

Write a scene of leave-taking or homecoming that contains ten words or less of dialogue. Be cinematic.

For better or worse, here’s what I came up with. Particularly if you’re a fan of Shelley’s beautiful work, feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.

in the mist and smoke

Hawthorne was cold. He was always cold of late. His travels brought him to the mountains again, now headed northeast, his quarry having gained significant distance while he was dealing with the aftermath in the previous town: 3 goats, 1 horse, a rather large number of chickens and, regrettably, 1 boy of six.

The boy looked like William, and perhaps that was a much reason as anyone would ever know.

His arrival in a near identical town two days later was anticlimactic. None of the townspeople were in a state of panic. No livestock was dead or missing. No harm had fallen on anyone. In fact, he questioned if he was in the right town at all, for there was no sign of any kind that a monster had been here.

When he entered the town’s inn asking about an 8 foot tall grotesque and a doctor, they nearly threw him out. He had to beg to be allowed the privilege of a room. These were quiet people. People who were suspicious of strangers and superstitious about bad omens. Hawthorne probably made the hairs on the back of their necks stand on end. In fact, he might have been…strongly encouraged…to leave town that very night had it not been for the fire.

It started in the stables. Hawthorne saw its glow from his room and rushed out. Several townspeople were running back and forth from the well with buckets of water, trying to extinguish the flame before it leap to the nearest buildings. If not contained, the entire town could have burned up.

Hawthorne instructed the men and women to form a line, passing the bucket from one person to the next. They were soon moving twice as many buckets with half the water spilled, and the fire quickly came under control. As the last of the flames were dying out, through the mist and smoke, Hawthorne saw a huge form lumbering towards the woods and, following closely, the ragged figure of a much smaller man chasing him.

“They’re here,” he said to no one. Without thought, he ran to his room and scooped up his things, thinking to chase them into the woods, hoping to overtake the doctor and put an end to this madness. Hoping, perhaps, to find some way to reconcile man to beast, creature to creator.

On his way out the door of the inn, he bumped into a priest–an old fellow who worn his wisdom in the creases of his face. “My son,” he said, and then, seeing Hawthorne’s urgent expression, his arms full with his luggage, he put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Wait until morning.”

Something about the way the man spoke halted Hawthorne. It was a warning. He returned to his room.

The next morning Hawthorne collected his things and left, heading further northeast, a peace having settled in his heart.

And somewhere in the mountains, he lost Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.

Somewhere in the mist and smoke.

Last week I posted an inspirational video featuring Neil Gaiman, who is, in my humble estimation, one of the more talented writers alive today. That video is well worth your time. It is nothing short of inspiring.

But a lot of things inspire. If you’re like me, you probably have a couple of videos, or songs, or passages from favorite books, or blogs, or something that motivate you to write and help you re-affirm your belief that you can and do kick ass. My list of inspirational fodder is long and varied. It includes my favorite piece of classical music by Haydn, as well as passages from Jim Butcher, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Martin Millar, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Anne Lamott, and Joe Hill. It even includes a scene or two from some iconic movies, like Dead Poets Society.

And…um…oh yeah–this song by Weezer.

That’s right. Weezer. Turn your speakers up and revel in the 3 minutes and 34 seconds of awesome. And if Weezer’s not your thing, then feel free to substitute something that inspires you. The point is to remember to invite your muse to speak to you through the things that encourage and inspire you. Intentionally expose yourself (no snickering) to the things that make you want to write. The things that make you feel strong and courageous and talented and good at what you do.

Perhaps your muse is more tame than mine. Vye, however, is something of a rocker chick. The smart-ass ways of Weezer appeal to her. And me.

The prologue is done.

Okay, so that doesn’t sound like awesome news. The prologue is merely the first 1500 words of the book. But here’s the thing–I got 26,000 words in and realized, after a very nice but very honest friend pointed it out, that my main character was severely flawed. Entirely unbelievable. In need of some substantial changes.

So I had to scrap that draft (draft 0.5?) and start again. In the midst of starting again, I needed to address some basics in the prologue as well. It’s the foundation of the entire story and provides my main character with her primary motive, at least in the beginning. Big stuff.

But rewriting it was killing me. I couldn’t seem to iron out all the kinks and it was driving me nuts.

What I have now is not the final draft of the prologue, but a workable beginning. It’s a foundation…of the foundation. (The building metaphor clearly breaks apart at that point.) I had to get through it, though, to get on with the re-write of the rest of the first third of the book so that I can write the last two-thirds.

Truly, it’s good news. I’m happy. Vye is happy. We’re pushing forward.

Happy Monday.

Not dead. Violet insisted that I made that declaration. I am not dead.

I will come back to blogging regularly, I promise. Like all writers with day jobs, sometimes life presents me with too much to write as much as I would like. So there you have it.

I would ask Vye if she’s happy now, but that coy smile tells me all I need to know.

I’ve mentioned Violet (or Vye for short; rhymes with “dye”) and it’s about time I gave her a proper introduction. Though, to be honest, the what-the-fuck responses I’ve gotten to calling out my muse by name have entertained me. And her.

According to Wikipedia, “The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature are the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge…that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.” Or, as dictionary.com puts it, a muse is “a goddess that inspires a creative artist.”

Muses, according to myth and legend, are mystical beings. They are the soft voices inside our heads that we typically call inspiration. When they whisper, we dream.

My muse’s name is Violet. She is not one of the classical muses, not one of the nine daughters of Zeus, at least not as far as she’s told me. She’s something of a quiet spirit unless you get to know her, which I have, and then you discover that the girl can talk. Sometimes she doesn’t even seem to be breathing, she prattles on so quickly. Other times she will go days or weeks without uttering a single word.

I would call her flighty, but that’s not really fair. She is what she is. Muses can’t always be inspiring. Sometimes artists just have to work for their craft. But as partners go, she more than pulls her share. When I’m on, I mean really on, she’s right there with me helping me to navigate the pell-mell landscape of my own fiction as though she’s lived there all her life.

If you’ve bothered to read the “about” section of this blog, or if you know me beyond these blog posts, you already know that I, myself, go by several names. Dex is merely one of them. (Note that I am not saying “Dex Raven” is a pen name. It would be more accurate to say that most of the people who think they know me, calling me some other name, would know me a great deal better if they met me as Dex.) Given this odd truth, you may well wonder about this Violet stuff. Is she real? Is he just pulling my leg? He doesn’t actually believe in goddesses, does he?

In answer to those questions, I’ll simply say this: I write fiction, and more specifically fantasy fiction, because I not only want to believe in a world in which magic really happens—I do believe in it.

And what a loss if magic is real and goddesses aren’t.

Oh, and Violet insists that I say hi on her behalf. She’s pleased to meet you all.