Stir the Writing Fire in Your Belly

Once upon a time, if you asked me if I believe I could write a novel, I would have said, “No.” That changed when I started “Picture Bride”, a book I have now completed after working on it for two years. Determination was the single most important factor for my finishing this project. But how do you get this fire in your belly?

For many years, I had this vague notion in my head that I would write a novel. It was just a seed, blown about and unable to take root as life kept happening and other priorities would uproot this little sapling. When I finally decided that I had a book in me, the seed grew and took hold this time. If you’re contemplating whether you should start writing a book, and you need assistance in motivating yourself like I did, here are some of the things you can do.

  1. Take a writing course. The positive feedbacks can leave you glowing with pleasure and wanting more. I took an online program and thoroughly enjoyed working with my coaches.
  2. Turn the internet into your friend. The resources online are limitless. When my writing bug first nibbled, I couldn’t find anything helpful in the bookstores and the libraries—the internet was only just emerging. The best I could lay my hands on was a book that put me to sleep each time I attempted to read it. Needless to say, I never finished it. 
  3. Read about the writing craft, advice from bloggers, books…anything that helps you improve your art and teaches you about the publishing world. 
  4. Join writing forums, the ones that allow you to post your stories and poems for other members to critique in a constructive environment. I found writing.com to be extremely helpful in fuelling my creativity during the early part of my novel.
  5. Join social media. I was hopelessly lost on Twitter during my newbie attempt and turned away for a long time. When I came back, I was determined to figure out what the buzz was all about. What I discovered was a whole new universe where writers and others are more than happy to share all kinds of useful information. Follow the links on some of the tweets to find out what other writers, social media gurus, and sometimes, unsavoury characters—you can skip these, are doing.
  6. Attend a writers’ conference. When I attended my first one, I received the biggest boost to my writing side…I can’t begin to quantify the benefits.
  7. Create a writing routine and stick with it. Make your goals achievable so you don’t come down hard on yourself with the guilt trips. My target was not word count…that was too difficult given that some days my left brain was more active than the right.
  8. Write short stories and poems to take breaks from your book. It’s like flexing the smaller creative muscles to feed the bigger ones.
  9. Find out if there’s a writer in your community or amongst your contacts. Befriend him or her. Somewhere along my writing journey, I was introduced to one. She not only fanned the sparks that sometimes threatened to fizzle, but we’ve become good friends too.
  10. Buy a tablet or an ebook reader. It’s so easy to download books and they cost a fraction of the printed ones. Sometimes they cost nothing! And you’re supporting the writing community in the process.

So write on.

Monster in the Closet

Monster

Thump! Bonk! Bam! What’s that noise? Six-year-old Alex jolts upright on his bed as his heart bounces and pounds against his rib cage. He looks around the room. The little nightlight by his bedside table casts dark shadows. Creak, creak. His body turns rigid as his eyes fix on the closet door. Another creak…the door moves.

Alex is afraid of nothing, nothing that is, except his imagination and the dark. The blackness inside the space that holds his clothes and toys petrifies him every night. Certain that creepy crawlies and monsters will jump out, he insists that Mum always shut the closet door after she tucks him into his bed.

Although his lungs want to burst, he holds his breath not daring to make a sound. Nightmare of nightmares…an object darts across the carpeted floor. But wait, it looks like one of his GI Joe action figures, except bigger. The creature stops beside his bed. His initial terror turns to curiosity as he watches the strange miniature human-like form. It jumps up and down reaching to grab the comforter drooping over the bedside.

Alex reaches down and scoops it up just as it is about to leap again for the dangling fabric. Surprisingly, it does not resist. His eyes widen as he inspects the figure squirming in his palm. His own face—much smaller and on top of a frame no longer than his lower arm—stares back at him.

Alex whispers, “What are you?”

“I am Xela. I’m a Minusian.” The little fellow responds in a squeaky voice.

“What are you doing here?”

“I guard against monsters in your closet,” the voice drops an octave.

Alex’s heart beats a little faster. “Are there any in mine?”

“Not as long as I’m there,” Xela says with an impatient sigh.

Alex releases a long breath. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here.”

Just then he hears a rat-a-tat-tat and then Mum breezes in. “Who are you talking to?”

He quickly puts Xela down. “Uh, I woke up because I thought I heard a noise.”

She strides the short distance to his bedside and tucks the covers around him. As she plants a kiss on his forehead, she glances at the Minusian lying still beside Alex. She picks up Xela, turns him one way and then the other. “Where did you get this?”

“Grandpa Don gave it to me.”

“Hmm…he’s a cute one. He looks like you.” She drops Xela on the bed, laughs and leaves.

Xela springs up. “Whew, that was close. Promise me you won’t tell anyone about me. I must go now. If you want to see me again, leave your closet door slightly open and say my name three times, after the lights are out.”

“Will you come again? Oh, that would be awesome.”

The next evening, as Alex prepares for bed, Mom asks, “Which book shall we read tonight?”

“Can we skip the reading? I’m not in the mood.”

“Of course, Sweetie. Are you alright?” She lays a hand on his forehead.

“I’m fine. I just want to go to sleep.”

She turns to leave, but her gaze rests on the closet door left slightly ajar. She reaches to close it.

Quickly Alex says, “Don’t do that, please. I don’t mind it.”

She looks at him strangely. “Are you sure?”

“Really,” he says with a vigorous nod.

“Okay then, goodnight.” Mom’s lips graze his cheek.

Alone in his room, Alex’s bravado evaporates as he steals a glance at the gaping blackness. Too late for regrets. He sits up and squeezes his eyes shut dispelling the horrid images popping into his head. He whispers, “I can do this. Xela, Xela, Xela.” He waits.

“Peek-a-boo.”

Alex opens one eye, and then the other. His mouth curves into a wide grin at the sight of Xela standing on his bed. He has somehow managed to hoist himself up. Alex’s head buzzes with questions for the Minusian. “Xela, why do you look like me?”

“That’s because there is a Minusian for every kid in this world.”

“Can you come out to play with me in the morning?”

“You can’t see us during the daytime because we sleep in Minusian Land. Every night, we go to all the children’s closets to keep out the bogeyman.”

“How can you do that? Aren’t the monsters a lot bigger than you?”

“We may be small, but we have magic powers that turn them to dust.” Xela puffs his chest and looks bigger than before.

Alex nods with understanding. He asks in awe, “Is that why there’s dust in my closet sometimes?”

“Yes,” Xela replies. “That’s how you know we’ve battled the bad guys.”

A cold draft wafts through the room. Alex shivers. Turning toward the source of the chilly air, he sees smoke-like, dark fluff billowing out of the closet. It swirls and curls, growing bigger and taller, until it turns into the shape of an ogre. Alex shrieks. Xela stands and inhales long and deep with a wheezing noise. He points both index fingers at the hideous creature and then blows out. “Skitter scatter, I command you to leave,” Xela bellows. The booming voice echoes in Alex’s ears.

The sinister cloud writhes as if in pain, creeps underneath the door, and then recedes behind it.

Shaken, Alex asks, “Did you kill it?”

“No, but it won’t bother you anymore. Smokey is a clever monster though, so I must go back and stay on guard.”

Xela slides down the bed and disappears. Not a moment too soon. Mom walks into the room and flicks the light switch.

“What was that sound?”

Alex squints as the bright light stabs his eyes. “Ugh…nothing, I didn’t hear anything.”

He smiles mysteriously and slides deep inside the covers.