What you are about to read is a really shitty first draft, the kind of thing you’re not supposed to show anyone, not even your mom. I’m trying to get my head around the truth that you have to let yourself write some laughably terrible stuff, because that’s the only pool where anything good or finished ever comes from. Those initial words on paper. I don’t know when writing became equal parts longing and fear for me, such an internal battle. But I know that it sucks, and I’m ready for a new approach.
This piece is over-written, too descriptive, corpulent with adjectives and adverb, repetitive, meandering and likely boring and/or confusing as hell. Bad writing, is what I’m trying to say. It’s one thing to allow yourself to write shitty first drafts, but why am I bothering you with them?
Because I’m still the praise-junkie exhibitionist I was in high school, when I was writing bad vampire serial stories for my friends. I’m sorry, Stephen King, you may be my writing guru, but I am incapable of writing with the door closed. I guess I want SOMEONE to read my words, even the worst of the dreck. Maybe someone will even like it. I know there’s no accounting for taste, since I couldn’t tell you how many best sellers I’ve picked up that made me throw up in my mouth a little.
So this is just a thing I write on every day, and I’m going to take a puddle dive and post the bits here. May as well use this blog for something.
Chapter 1: House of Rose
I was to meet the boat on the silver and gray shores of the lakes. Pebbles slid and clicked under my sandals. Mist hung, pearled in the air. It touched my face, my clasped hands. Water lapped the tongue of worn stones and rough sand. I ventured to the water, and paused. I could see nothing, no sign of the boat I was promised. I kept my body still, pretending a placidity I only wished I truly felt.
The air was cool and windless, and the mist created a clinging sort of dampness on my clothes. The hem of my dress was soaked; my cloak, heavy. I could smell the metal tinged water of the lake, wet stone, the green reek of the forest behind me.
Soon, my ears registered the drip and trickle of water from oars, and with a slight rushing sound, a small wooden prow crunched into the pebbly beach, inches from my defenseless toes. The vessel was a rowboat, solidly constructed of weathered wood, once painted brightly, but now faded and textured by wind and water. It rocked complacently in the tide. The oars were still, no oarsman evident.
I leaned and reached for it, grabbing a pleasantly rough edge. I dragged it toward me, stepping into the water to meet it. It bumped against my shins. I gathered up my suddenly excessive-seeming clothing with one hand, bunching it against my waist, gingerly climbed in. Somewhat without grace.
After a moment, I figured out that although the boat may have propelled itself to the shore, I was responsible for propelling it hence. I took up the oars, their surfaces dragging on the skin of my hands. I had never done this before, and it took several moments of floundering before the boat moved in a way I liked. I did not know where I was rowing to, but if I had no faith, I wouldn’t be here at all.
A cliff loomed through the veils of mist, layers` of stone, stacked centuries. Wet and gleaming mellowly– ochre, taupe, gunmetal gray. The prow of the boat turned gently, as if attracted by a magnet, and I found myself headed toward a dark, yawning break in the stone. I and the boat slid smoothly into it, and for a long moment, all was dark and chill. My hands faltered on the oars, letting the blades dip and drag in the water. I no longer needed to row, anyway. The current of the water had picked up and I could feel the boat slipping along with it.
A faint silver-green light began to grow, and I could see that I traveled through a narrow tunnel, the sides of it lined with shaggy moss that bore tiny, star-shaped flowers. The light was being emitted by these flowers. The tunnels twisted and turned, but now so wildly that it was difficult to balance. Holding onto the sides of the boat for stability, I looked over the side and into the water. It seemed I could see vague figures made of ripple and pebble and shade, twisting in the swift current. Fish, perhaps. A turtle just the size of my palm, turquoise and jade green, swam past, its tiny webbed and scarlet-clawed forefeet propelling it.
I looked ahead again as the tunnel began to grow brighter and the heavy mist, which had slacked, once again grew thicker. Before me was the end of the tunnel, glowing with subdued daylight.
Soon enough, I was out of the tunnel, the current still carrying me, making water-chime music. The mist still hung in veils, but it seemed to me there was a more pearly shine to it. This lakeshore was a turf of thick tough grass, some of it the green of an emerald, some of it faded gold, all of it dripping.
The rowboat ran aground once more at a conveniently low spot in the bank. As I climbed out, the long blades of wet grass seemed to twine themselves around my ankles and calves. One arm held out for balance, the other clutching a huge hank of my dress and cloak, I picked my way slowly to a narrow path of round white gravel. I stepped gratefully onto the path, swiped my now-sodden hair off my forehead and looked down at my feet. They were covered in clods of mud and grains of coarse sand. My soles gritted against the worn leather of my sandals’ insole. I took a deep, cool breath.
The mist was thickening into drizzle. I looked up to see where the path might lead. It was a gray stone building, shaped like a castle but the size of an ordinary house. It looked to be chiseled entirely from a giant boulder; I couldn’t see a join or crack anywhere on its front. My eyes riveted themselves on the disproportionately large door. It was was made of thick-carved wooden panels, a honey-brown wood that glowed– that was suddenly the only color in sight. I never remembered what, if anything, else I saw on my short journey up the path, as the round stones clicked and rolled around my feet. It was only as I neared the short flight of stairs to the door, that I realized I was walking on hailstones. A path made of piled hailstones. My feet were numb.
I climbed the steps, and found myself hesitating at the door, reluctant to make any further move. Not only my feet felt frozen– my breath was cold in my throat, my lungs. I looked at the utterly smooth, polished wood of the door. Then I glanced down and was fixated again. It was a handle, not a knob. Long and tapered, it ended in an elaborate swirl of silver. Drops of moisture clung to it, both absorbing and generating the light. I pushed it down, shuddering against the chill of it, bone deep. With a click I felt in my hand, the door unlatched and swung open.
I stepped through, over the broad wood threshold, pushing the door open. I glanced around the dimly lit entry hall and then pulled the door shut behind me. I jumped a little at the sound of it shutting, a louder sound than I would have predicted. I dripped on the flagstones and shivered.
“Hello?” I whispered. There was no response. All was still.